by Chuck Ross
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday released transcripts of 11 interviews conducted as part of an investigation into the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe.
The interviews were conducted with current and former FBI and Justice Department officials between Mar. 3 and Oct. 29, 2020, according to a press release from Sen. Lindsey Graham, who chairs the committee.
It is unclear why the committee released the transcripts days before President Trump is set to leave office.
The committee interviewed several FBI and Justice Department officials who contributed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications against Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide.
The FBI obtained the first FISA warrant against Page on Oct. 21, 2016 as part of Crossfire Hurricane, the investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.
A Justice Department inspector general’s (IG) report found that the FBI misled the FISA Court regarding the veracity of the Steele dossier, which alleged that the Trump campaign was part of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” with the Russian government.
FBI agents relied heavily on the dossier in the FISA applications. But according to the IG report, investigators failed to verify allegations in the dossier before including them in the FISA applications.
The IG report is particularly harsh towards a counterintelligence FBI agent identified as “Case Agent 1.” The report said that the agent, who has been identified as Stephen Somma, was “primarily responsible” for “some of the most significant errors” found in the FISA process.
Somma was the handler for Stefan Halper, a former Cambridge professor who the FBI used to meet with and secretly record Carter Page and other Trump campaign advisers.
Somma and an FBI supervisory intelligence analyst, Brian Auten, also took part in interviews in January 2017 with Igor Danchenko, the primary source for Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier.
Danchenko undercut some of the allegations in the dossier, which Steele compiled as part of a contract with the DNC and Clinton campaign.
The Senate Judiciary panel release transcripts of interviews conducted with both Somma and Auten.
Graham also released transcripts of interviews with former Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, who was a point of contact between Steele and the FBI.
Other interviews were conducted with Justice Department official Stuart Evans, former FBI official Michael Steinbach, former FBI official Dana Boente and Michael Gaeta, an FBI legal attaché who served as Christopher Steele’s handling agent.
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Chuck Ross is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Background Photo “Department of Justice Building” by Another Believer. CC BY-SA 3.0.