In an op-ed for The Hill, investigative journalist John Solomon surmises that the FBI under the leadership of Director Christopher Wray looks as if it is attempting to block the public from knowledge of the machinations FBI operatives committed to target Donald Trump during the 2016 election.
Solomon notes that the FBI is stonewalling the release of documents authored by British intelligence operative Christopher Steele that the FBI received from the State Department (which Hillary Clinton headed at the time). Those documents have been requested by Citizens United relying on the Freedom of Information Act.
Solomon write that an FBI assistant section chief stated of former Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Kavalec’s documents, “We know that terrorist organizations and other hostile or foreign intelligence groups have the capacity and ability to gather information from myriad sources, analyze it and deduce means and methods from disparate details to defeat the U.S. government’s collection efforts,” adding that the FBI shouldn’t “jeopardize the fragile relationships that exist between the United States and certain foreign governments.”
Solomon added the FBI said, “FBI special agents have privacy interests from unnecessary, unofficial questioning as to the conduct of investigations and other FBI business.”
Solomon points out that 1) Steele’s “research he provided to State and the FBI in fall 2016 was being provided to Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, and to the media,” and 2) Steele was fired from the FBI Nov. 1, 2016, for leaking information, so claiming the need for secrecy, privacy or classification makes no sense.
Solomon posits that the FBI’s agents “knew derogatory information about Steele and his work before they used his dossier to support a surveillance warrant targeting the Trump campaign and failed to disclose that information to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).”
Solomon cites one five-page memo that Kavalec downloaded from Steele which she forwarded to then-FBI section chief Steven Laycock, and claims his (Solomon’s) sources perused it, finding a claim that “Steele and some liberals spread late in the 2016 campaign that unusual computer pings between a Trump Tower server and Alfa Bank in Russia might be a secret communication channel by which Trump and Vladimir Putin were hijacking the election.”
But Solomon adds that the information was debunked by no less a personage than special counsel Robert Mueller. Solomon asks, “So if Mueller could talk about it and the information was transmitted in a non-classified manner, why would the FBI go to such lengths to fight its release?” He adds, “Eight days after Kavalec sent Laycock her annotated version of Steele’s Alfa Bank research, the FBI submitted to the FISC an application that won the agency permission to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.”
Solomon concludes, “Claiming FBI agents have a privacy right to avoid facing hard questions, portraying public source documents as national secrets and doing the Muhammad Ali ‘rope-a-dope’ dance to thwart disclosure is not an acceptable alternative.”