03:27 GMT04 March 2021
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    Investigators with the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) asked witnesses about an assessment MI6 officials provided the FBI regarding Christopher Steele, the New York Times reported. In response, they said Steele was a persistent investigator, but had a tendency to pursue targets others viewed as a waste of time.

    UK foreign intelligence service MI6 informed the US Federal Bureau of Investigation that its former operative Christopher Steele, author of the controversial ‘Trump-Russia’ dossier, sometimes showed questionable judgment regarding investigative targets, the New York Times has reported.

    The FBI’s handling of information provided by Steele on then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s alleged connections with Russia is central to the OIG investigation into potential Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant abuse by the Bureau.

    ​Material provided by the Orbis Intelligence chief proved pivotal to securing surveillance warrants for Carter Page, a low-level Trump campaign staffer, despite internal appraisals casting doubt on his reliability and integrity.

    The timeline of when the FBI received MI6’s assessment could be pivotal in the OIG probe – it is presently unclear whether it was provided to the Bureau before it obtained the first FISA warrant against Page, and if so, whether the FBI disclosed its contents in the warrant applications.

    Republican lawmakers have long accused the Bureau of relying on dubious, unverified and politically-interested information in its investigations of Trump and his campaign team, not least because Steele was hired by opposition research firm Fusion GPS in June 2016, which was employed by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee specifically to source ‘dirt’ on the Presidential hopeful.

    The disparaging dossier contained unverified allegations that Trump took part in activities that could make him vulnerable to Russian blackmail attempts. The White House has flatly rejected the allegations, with POTUS blasting the dossier as “fake” and “discredited”.

    Likewise, Russia has denied any interference in the US election process, emphasising that the allegations were made up to excuse the defeat of Trump’s rival.

    Despite not having worked on MI6’s Russia desk since his retirement in 2009, Steele allegedly relied on a network of sources he developed over his time working with the foreign intelligence service to author a series of 17 memos alleging the Trump campaign was involved in a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election result.

    ​The OIG has conducted over 100 interviews – including Steele, who was originally hostile to cooperating - and reviewed in excess of one million pages of documents over the course of its probe, which has evolved into a wider investigation of Steele’s contacts with the Department of Justice and FBI.

    However, Carter Page claims at no point has he been even contacted by investigators.

    FBI, Russia, MI6, Christopher Steele, Donald Trump
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