On March 9, 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey met with congressional leaders, the “Gang of 8,” to brief them on the status of their counterintelligence investigation of former President Donald Trump. He met first with Senate leaders and then with House leaders.
Comey was armed with a seven-page memo containing talking points that had been prepared the previous day by former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
According to RealClearInvestigations’ Paul Sperry, the newly declassified memo and additional documents show that Comey “deceived the House, Senate and the Justice Department about the substance and strength of evidence” against Trump. Sperry reported that Page’s memo was “riddled with half-truths, outright falsehoods and critical omissions” and that Comey’s “misrepresentations” prompted both the Senate and the House to open investigations of their own.
(Note: Sperry provides a screenshot of one page of the memo in his article.)
Comey told congressional leaders about reports the FBI had received in 2016 from a former confidential human source (who turned out to be Christopher Steele), which claimed that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and junior campaign advisor Carter Page had allegedly conspired with the Russian government to sway the election.
The informant, Comey explained, “told the FBI that Manafort initially ‘managed’ the relationship between Russian government officials and the Trump campaign, using Carter Page as an intermediary.”
In addition, Comey told lawmakers that “[Carter] Page was reported to have had ‘secret meetings’ in early July 2016 with a named individual in Russia’s presidential administration during which they discussed Russia’s release of damaging information on Hillary Clinton in exchange for alterations to the GOP platform regarding U.S. policy towards Ukraine.”
By the time of these briefings, the FBI already knew none of these allegations were true.
In the memo, [Lisa] Page advised Comey that if pressed, he should tell lawmakers that “some” of the reporting “has been corroborated” and that the CHS’ “reporting in this matter is derived primarily from a Russian-based source.”
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At that point, none of the reporting had been corroborated. And we’ve known for a long time that none of it ever was corroborated. Also, both their CHS, Steele and Steele’s primary sub-source, Igor Danchenko, were America-based.
Not only did Comey withhold their identities from the Gang of 8, he did not inform them that Danchenko worked for Steele, that Steele was collecting dirt for the Clinton campaign or that Steele did not have “any sources inside the Kremlin.”
Danchenko was arrested in November of 2021, for lying to the FBI during multiple interviews in 2017 about “where and how he got his information,” The Washington Post reported.
His was the third indictment in special counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the FBI’s investigation into Trump-Russia collusion. His trial is set to begin on Oct. 11, according to Fox News. Sperry noted that Page’s memo was declassified as part of pre-trial discovery process.
As mentioned earlier, Comey did not identify Steele or Danchenko by name to the lawmakers. He referred to Steele by the codename, “CROWN.” (As per screenshot.) Sperry pointed out that Steele had not worked for British Intelligence in years, but was likely trying to give the impression that the “dossier was a product of British intelligence.”
Nor did he tell Congress that the FBI had fired Steele after he leaked to the media. Sperry concluded: “Comey hid the truth about his star informant from the nation’s top lawmakers.”
The memo stated, “If asked about CROWN/Steele” by lawmakers, Comey was to tell them only that “CROWN, a former FBI CHS, is a former friendly foreign intelligence service employee who reported for about three years, and some of whose reporting has been corroborated.”
None of that was true.
At the same time, the FBI was submitting the dossier in their renewal applications to the FISA court for warrants to spy on Carter Page.
Sperry reported that the former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former counterintelligence official Peter Strzok misled former acting Attorney General Dana Boente during a March 6, 2017, briefing by referring to Steele’s dossier as “CROWN source reporting” as Comey would do three days later.
Additionally, Strzok told Boente that he opened the investigation after Trump called upon Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails. You may recall Trump’s sarcastic remark during a campaign event in July 2016. He said, “Russia if you’re listening, I hope you are able to find the 30 thousand emails that are missing.”
The reality, Sperry wrote, was this incident is not mentioned on the documents filed to open the case and Trump’s remark came after “Strzok stated the FBI determined probable cause.”
Strzok and McCabe told Boente that “the secret FISA monitoring of Page’s phone and emails was ‘fruitful.’” It was not.
On March 20, 2017, testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, Comey announced the FBI had opened an investigation to determine if any members of the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russian government to help win the election.
He stated: “The FBI, as part of our counter-intelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”
His remarks triggered a media frenzy around the former president which truth be told, has never really stopped.