We have now received 48 pages of emails
among top Obama State Department officials and a U.S. Ambassador expressing skepticism about Steele reports by Steele's London-based private intelligence firm Orbis Business Intelligence.
Steele was the author of the Clinton-funded, anti-Trump dossier. One assistant secretary of state says some of Steele's reports sound "extreme" and others "do not ring true," while the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine calls some Steele reports "flaky."
We obtained the heavily-redacted emails in our FOIA lawsuit
filed on April 25, 2018, on behalf of the Daily Caller News Foundation against State after it failed to respond to three separate FOIA requests (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State
(No. 1:18-cv- 00968)). The lawsuit seeks:
- All records of communications between State Department officials, including former Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, on the one hand, and British National Christopher Steele and/or employees or contractors of Steele's company, Orbis Business Intelligence, on the other hand.
- All records and/or memoranda provided by Christopher Steele and/or his firm Orbis Business Intelligence or by others acting on Steele's/Orbis's behalf to State Department officials.
- Any and all records in the custody of the State Department related to the provision of documents to British national Christopher Steele and/or his firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, or the receipt of documents from Steele or his firm. Time period is January 20, 2009 through the present.
- All records created in 2016 by Jonathan M. Winer relating to research compiled by Christopher Steele.
In a mostly redacted, July 1, 2014, email exchange
between then-Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Winer concerning "Two Pieces from Orbis on Russia-Ukraine,"
Winer tells Nuland at one point, "Chris is a good friend and I do trust him. I find them fascinating snapshots too. [Redacted] I told him we don't leak, that would be other parts of the USG and not to worry."
In a July 22, 2014, email
, Winer tells Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Paul Jones and Nuland, "I've told Chris Steele at Orbis I think the material is great, and I will continue to retransmit as he sends them to me."
In a September 4, 2014, email
, Jones tells Winer and Nuland of Steele's reports, "Credible, useful — tx as always!"
In a December 29, 2014, email
to Ambassador Pyatt, under the subject line "O [Orbis] Report: Coal Scandal and Ukrainian Politics,"
Nuland says, "This is one of those industry intel reports. Rings a bit extreme to me. You guys?
Winer sends an almost completely redacted email
on February 12, 2015 to his assistant Miller instructing her to forward "high side to three usual persons"
(Nuland, Jones and himself) an "O" [Orbis] report "concerning company said to be secretly owned by Putin, Putin's Mistress and Friends."
In a declassified but heavily redacted, March 23, 2015, email
from Nuland to Jones, Winer and his special assistant Nina Miller, under the subject line: "RE: O Report, March 13 — Growing Political Instability In Kiev and Yulia's Return to Power?" Nuland remarks, "Some of this rings true, some not. [Redacted]"
In an otherwise redacted November 9, 2015, email
to Nuland, under the subject line "Three Recent O [Orbis] Reports on Ukraine Security and Politics,"
United States Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt says, "So I would put this in the same category as their other flaky reports."
In a February 2018 op-ed
in The Washington Post Winer admitted to working with Steele on the dossier. Winer told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he "destroyed all the correspondence
" he had with Steele, apparently at Steele's request.
"The sad truth is due to the over-redactions by a government intent on hiding the truth from its own people, it's not really easy to make out what's fully going on from this newest batch of documents. It is becoming clearer that there were unprecedented levels of collusion between Obama administration officials and outside partisans in an effort to harm Trump, even though some government officials recognized that Christopher Steele's intel was questionable at best,"
said Daily Caller News Foundation President Neil Patel. "Our lawsuit with Judicial Watch will keep going until we get all the truth out to the American people."
Christopher Steele had a willing partner with the Obama State Department — despite top officials having little confidence in his work. These documents demonstrate that the Obama administration had multiple warning signs that Steele was unreliable-yet they used his garbage Dossier to target and spy on President Trump.