A redacted criminal referral released on Tuesday by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, revealed that a former official of the Department of State relayed uncorroborated salacious allegations about President Donald Trump from two persons working for the Hillary Clinton campaign to ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who passed the report to the the FBI. Steele was working for Fusion GPS -- an opposition research firm funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign -- and produced the salacious dossier that sought to denigrate then-candidate Trump in 2016.
Former State Department official Jonathan Winer confirmed, therefore, the events reported in the criminal referral Grassley sent to the Department of Justice for Steele, asking for an investigation into Steele for alleged lying to the FBI. While the criminal referral identified “a friend of the Clintons” as having shared a document about Trump with a State Department official, Winer revealed that he is the friend in question.
The dossier eventually came to the hands of the media. Buzzfeed published the so-called Steele dossier in January 2017, before Trump’s inauguration.
Winer, who served as special envoy to Libya while John Kerry was secretary of state under Barack Obama’s, confirmed in a Washington Post op-ed titled “Devin Nunes is investigating me: Here’s the truth,” that he passed on the smut from Clinton operatives Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer. Observers in Washington contend that this confirms that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was paying Steele, and that her supporters were conveying raw intelligence that was added to the Steele dossier that was used by the FBI to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to snoop on the Trump campaign.
In the Washington Post, Winer wrote he first met Steele in September 2016 and that he turned over elements of the dossier in a two-page summary to Victoria Nuland, a career diplomat who notified then-secretary of state John Kerry. Winer wrote that Shearer’s smutty allegations resembled Steele’s. Admitting that he was an “old friend” of Blumenthal, Winer wrote that he had received Steele’s reports in the past. He wrote that he when met with his old friend, “Blumenthal and I discussed Steele’s reports,” adding, “He showed me notes gathered by a journalist I did not know, Cody Shearer, that alleged the Russians had compromising information on Trump of a sexual and financial nature. What struck me was how some of the material echoed Steele’s but appeared to involve different sources.”
Winer wrote, “On my own, I shared a copy of these notes with Steele, to ask for his professional reaction. He told me it was potentially ‘collateral’ information. I asked him what that meant. He said that it was similar but separate from the information he had gathered from his sources. I agreed to let him keep a copy of the Shearer notes.”
Steele was in contact with Winer and had been “desperate” to see Trump defeated in the 2016 election.
Among the salacious charges in the dossier prepared by Steele and financed by Democrats was the unsubstantial charge that Trump had prostitutes at a room in a Moscow hotel in 2013. Trump has denied the allegations, which his supporters have sometimes characterized as “fiction.”
Prepared by Grassley and his committee, two reports came from the State Department to Steele from Clinton’s collaborators, Blumenthal and Shearer. The origin of Blumenthal and Shearer material was a “foreign-sub-source.” Steele paid for others to produce his uncorroborated accusations about Trump from sources in Russia. The Senate report was part of Grassley’s referral to the Justice Department, in which he asked the DOJ to investigate Steele for lying to the FBI -- a violation of federal law. The referral said Steele told the FBI that he had not talked to Yahoo News when in fact he did. Grassley’s referral to DOJ contains new information about the dossier, and also confirms Nunes’ findings. It also expands on a January 10, 2017, report by BuzzFeed: Grassley’s referral noted that Steele had written a memo on October 19, 2016, that was based on the relationship between Winer, Blumenthal, and Shearer.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has announced, as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, that he will investigate roles played by State Department officials and Clinton’s collaborators. His investigation into the FBI and the Department of Justice has uncovered alleged abuses by government bureaucrats, and identified the source of funding for the dossier. It was Nunes’ probe that revealed that the FBI used the Steele dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to snoop on Carter Page -- a volunteer advisor to the Trump campaign.
Nunes has also discovered that the FBI paid Steele to investigate Trump during the presidential campaign. However, the FBI terminated its relationship with Steele after he made his allegations public in the days before the November 8, 2016, presidential election.
Winer claims that his meetings with Steele were not improper.
Steele was providing, separately, reports on geopolitics involving Russia and Ukraine while also cooperating with the FBI and Fusion GPS. Winer’s op-ed confirms the chain of events Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) detailed in a criminal referral for Steele, in which he asks the Justice Department to investigate the former intelligence agent for allegedly lying to the FBI about his contacts with the media.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.