By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) A federal judge has ordered the FBI to search for and produce all documents related to the bureau’s one-time asset, former British spy Christopher Steele, who produced the long-discredited “Russia dossier” fired FBI Director James Comey and others used to obtain surveillance warrants against the 2016 Trump campaign.
U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper, in issuing his ruling, said that the public’s interest outweighed Steele’s privacy rights and ordered the FBI to complete the search within 60 days.
Steele, who was dismissed by the bureau for unauthorized contact with the media, produced the infamous dossier that was central to the “Spygate” scandal. Comey and others in the bureau used it to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to spy on 2016 Trump campaign figure Carter Page.
The dossier, which was never verified, was used to obtain at least four surveillance warrants, including two after President Trump was inaugurated.
Ultimately, though the FBI used the dossier, it was funded by the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, which essentially laundered the money through a law firm, Perkins Coie, to the opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, that hired Steele.
“The court was right to turn aside the FBI’s fake concerns for Clinton spy Christopher Steele’s privacy and order the agency to search for more records on its use of Steele and his Dossier to target President Trump,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.
“That the FBI is still protecting Christopher Steele and the Clinton spy ring at Fusion GPS should tell you there is much more corruption to be exposed in the coup efforts against President Trump.”
Judicial Watch, a right-leaning government accountability legal group, first sought FBI documents pertaining to Steele in 2017 via a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
A federal court ultimately ruled in favor of the FBI but the case was reopened after evidence surfaced in 2018 that Steele was actually an informant for the bureau.
Documents released as part of the same lawsuit in 2018 confirmed that Steele was fired for leaking to the media.
The FBI, via Justice Department lawyers, argued that after Steele was fired his communications were subject to constitutional privacy protections. But Cooper did not find that argument convincing, especially taking into account that Steele was involved in “such a politically sensitive subject.”
“Communications post-dating Steele’s time as an informant might reveal a great deal about why the FBI developed him as a CHS [confidential human source], his performance as a CHS, and why the FBI opted to terminate its relationship with him. Those records might either bolster or weaken Steele’s credibility as a source,” Cooper wrote.
“Of course, the records Judicial Watch speculates about might not even exist—and even if they do, they may not reveal anything significant about the FBI’s operations. But that they might do so makes them a matter of potential public interest.”
Previous reports have noted that the FBI paid Steele at least 11 times during the 2016 presidential election cycle. He would eventually admit in a British court that he was hired to challenge the results of the election.
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