Richard Grenell, the former acting director of national intelligence, said Wednesday that U.S. intelligence officials who expressed doubts early in the Trump-Russia investigation about the infamous Steele dossier were ignored.
In an interview on Newsmax TV, Grenell said that documents that have yet to be released will show that career intelligence officials pointed to red flags about the dossier, which the FBI used in its investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“But there are several [documents] that still need to come out,” Grenell told Newsmax. “And these reports will show voices within the intelligence community early on, unheard of voices so far, but voices nonetheless, from the intelligence career officials saying: ‘This doesn’t stack up. This is not something we should be relying on.’”
“Those voices were ignored, and their comments were pushed aside and classified information.”
As acting intelligence chief, Grenell began the process of declassifying documents related to the Russia investigation and the dossier, which former British spy Christopher Steele wrote while working for the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.
Grenell declassified footnotes from a Justice Department inspector general’s (IG) report which showed that the FBI received evidence in 2017 that Russian intelligence operatives fed disinformation to Steele.
Grenell said that some in the intelligence community ignored those red flags regarding the dossier.
“The Russians are knowing about this [sic]. They’re putting out disinformation. Propaganda is what we used to call it. This was an early warning system that was ignored,” Grenell said.
“I think that the FBI and the other intelligence agencies have to come clean. They have to say what they knew and when they knew it,” Grenell added.
The FBI cited Steele’s information in four applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders against Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide and prominent figure in the dossier. But the Justice Department invalidated the last two of the orders based on revelations from the IG report, released on Dec. 9.
The report said that the FBI made at least 17 “significant” errors and omissions in its FISA applications. According to the IG, investigators failed to tell the FISA Court that Steele’s primary source of information told FBI agents in January 2017 that Steele misrepresented and embellished parts of the dossier, including about Steele.
Investigators also found that Steele’s claim that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin insiders was inaccurate.
Grenell did not indicate if he expects documents related to the dossier to be released anytime soon. Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Tuesday that he is working to declassify a 40-page FBI memo of the interview conducted with Steele’s primary dossier source.