Politics

FBI Kept Using False Evidence to Spy on Trump After 2016 Election

For months after all the votes had been counted, investigators were still using the infamous Steele dossier to justify surveillance

Image Credit: Win McNamee / Getty Images

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Tuesday that senior FBI officials knew they were using false evidence to justify their surveillance of President Donald Trump during and after the 2016 election campaign.

“That’s an area in which, basically, a fake dossier turns into real evidence and is used to spy on candidate Trump and then president-elect Trump,” Issa told a crowd of reporters outside a closed joint hearing of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

“I think that is what we’re learning, that well into the president-elect Trump period, they were continuing to use false evidence to maintain surveillance, effectively on President Trump,” Issa said before returning to the hearing.

He was referring to the infamous Steele dossier used by DOJ and the FBI to obtain approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

“Comey knew in December that the dossier was not verifiable and yet used it as if it was real evidence to maintain, not once, but multiple times, the eavesdropping or spying on the president.”

The joint hearing is taking testimony from former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr (pictured above) regarding his role in the Department of Justice (DOJ) involvement with former British spy Christopher Steele and the opposition research dossier popularly bearing his name.

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Ohr was in continuous communication with Steele during the campaign and appears to have been the go-between for the former British spy and the FBI. He was called before the closed hearing as part of the two committees’ joint investigation of DOJ and the FBI investigations of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to do official government business and allegations of collusion between Trump aides and Russian interests in 2016.

Related: Meadows Says Ohr Should Be Fired Unless He Was Taking Orders

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said earlier in the day that the FBI knew the dossier had credibility issues even before the FISA court’s initial approval. The agencies asked the court to renew the approval three subsequent times.

Issa also claimed that former FBI Director James Comey knew that the dossier was unverifiable but did nothing. Comey became a national figure for his questionable handling of the Clinton email probe.

The DOJ inspector general said in a report released in June that Comey departed dramatically from normal procedures. Comey told Congress the dossier was based on “salacious and unverified” information.

“We are aware of that,” Issa said. “I think what’s noteworthy to come out of this — that you need to be aware of — is that Comey knew in December that the dossier was not verifiable and yet used it as if it was real evidence to maintain, not once, but multiple times, the eavesdropping or spying on the president.”

Ohr was demoted from his post as the associate deputy attorney general after it became known he had failed to disclose on a required DOJ financial disclosure form that his wife was being paid by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm, to work with Steele on the dossier.

Fusion GPS was paid by Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) through a cutout, the law firm Perkins Coie, which specializes in representing Democratic candidates and committees.

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