By Chuck Ross –
- An FBI spreadsheet released on Monday provides insight into the bureau’s efforts to verify allegations in the Steele dossier.
- FBI analysts cited a tweet from the sister of a DNC operative for its analysis of the dossier’s most salacious claim: that the Kremlin had recorded Donald Trump with prostitutes in Moscow.
- A Senate report criticized the FBI’s efforts to investigate the dossier, saying that the process was “lacking in both thoroughness and rigor.”
FBI analysts relied on a tweet from the sister of a DNC operative as part of its analysis into the Steele dossier’s most explosive allegation: that the Kremlin was blackmailing Donald Trump with a videotape of him with prostitutes in Russia.
An FBI spreadsheet declassified last week and released on Monday shows that investigators cited an allegation from author and activist Andrea Chalupa.
Chalupa’s sister, Alexandra Chalupa, was a contractor for the Democratic National Committee through at least June 2016. The two sisters have been staunch critics of President Trump, and have helped push the since-debunked allegation that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
The spreadsheet, which the FBI provided to two Senate committees, provides the first glimpse inside the FBI’s attempts to prove or disprove allegations in the dossier, which was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC.
The Senate Intelligence Committee said in a report released in August that the FBI’s analysis of the dossier was “lacking in both thoroughness and rigor.”
The committee also said that within the FBI, “the dossier was given a veneer of credibility by lax procedures, and layered misunderstandings.”
The FBI spreadsheet points to a story published in the Australian press on Nov. 1, 2016, quoting Andrea Chalupa regarding a report of an alleged Russian sex tape of Trump.
“An uncorroborated source, journalist and author Andrea Chalupa, was cited in an Australian magazine article dated 1 November 2016 as mentioning Trump having an orgy in Russia,” the FBI analysts wrote in a column labeled “Corroboration/Analyst Notes.”
“The details in the Steele reporting differ somewhat from the Australian reporting (‘golden showers’ versus ‘orgies’), although these differences may have been a result of how the writers decided the characterize the information.”
Chalupa had actually made the remark about Trump in a tweet a day earlier.
In intel circles, the story goes FSB filmed Trump in an orgy while in Russia. Yes,this all ends in a Trump sex tape. https://t.co/h5EXta5tRe
— Andrea Chalupa (@AndreaChalupa) November 1, 2016
Chalupa’s tweet was an apparent reference to a story published by Mother Jones on Oct. 31, 2016 that cited a “former Western intelligence officer” who claimed that the Russian government had sexually compromising material on Trump.
The source for the Mother Jones story was Steele, the dossier author, though that would not be revealed until after the dossier was published in January 2017.
A memo from Steele dated June 20, 2016 contained the Trump sex allegation. It said that Russia’s intelligence service, the FSB, had recorded Trump engaged in “perverted sex acts” in Moscow in 2013. Steele alleged that a video showed Trump with prostitutes performing a so-called “golden showers” scene.
The spreadsheet also shows that the FBI investigated allegations contained in a dossier on Trump that was compiled by Cody Shearer, a longtime associate of the Clintons.
Shearer’s dossier contained allegations similar to those in the Steele dossier. Shearer shared the materials with fellow Clinton operative Sidney Blumenthal, who in turn passed it to a State Department official named Jonathan Winer.
Winer shared the document with Steele, who provided it to the FBI on Oct. 19, 2016.
The FBI spreadsheet says that on Jan. 14, 2017, four days after the dossier was published, an FBI confidential human source (CHS) told the FBI that an individual who claimed to have compromising tapes on Trump “was allegedly willing to defect to the U.S.”
FBI analysts said in a note referencing the Shearer dossier that “it is unknown” if the alleged tapes are the same discussed in the Steele dossier.
Trump has vehemently denied engaging with prostitutes in Moscow during his 2013 visit, and people who were him during his Moscow visit have also cast doubt on the dossier’s allegation.
Steele’s primary dossier source, Igor Danchenko, told the FBI in January 2017 that he unsuccessfully attempted to verify the allegation by visiting the Moscow hotel where the incident allegedly occurred.
The IG report said that the FBI received evidence in February 2017 that the claim about the videotape may have been disinformation planted by Russian intelligence operatives. An FBI document declassified last month showed that the bureau had investigated Danchenko as a possible Russian spy in 2009.
The FBI’s handling of Steele’s information has come under intense scrutiny from congressional Republicans, the Justice Department’s inspector general and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which grants surveillance orders against American citizens.
The FBI relied heavily on Steele’s unverified information to obtain four warrants to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page.
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