WASHINGTON – Newly released material raises the possibility that Russian disinformation made its way into a dossier of opposition research that the FBI relied on when applying for warrants to eavesdrop on a former campaign adviser to President Donald Trump.
The new material, contained in footnotes to a Justice Department watchdog report that were recently declassified by the Trump administration, indicates the FBI was advised even as it sought the warrants that some of the information included in the dossier was not accurate or was potentially influenced by Russian disinformation.
It may add to accusations that the FBI did not take seriously enough concerns that were raised about the dossier's reliability as it investigated ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. A Justice Department inspector general report from December that included the blacked-out footnotes faulted the FBI for failing to reassess the credibility of the dossier after receiving information that called into question some of its reporting.
The FBI did not rely on the dossier when it opened the Russia investigation in July 2016, instead using other information about possible Trump campaign links to Russia.
But it did rely in part on the document a couple months later when it applied for a warrant to monitor the communications of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The fact that the dossier was used at all is one of the main points of contention Trump supporters cite in challenging the legitimacy of the probe.
The footnotes were released by two Republican senators, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who said in a joint statement that the information makes clear that the FBI's justification in targeting Page “was riddled with significant flaws.”
On Thursday, the senators asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to provide all intelligence records received and reviewed by the FBI team that conducted the Russia investigation.
“These recently declassified footnotes raise another issue of significant concern: what other parts of the FBI’s investigation were infected by Russian disinformation?" they wrote.