It had been previously reported that Democrats took over funding for the opposition research from anti-Trump Republicans after Trump won the GOP nomination. On Friday, lawyers for The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative publication, told the House Intelligence Committee that the outlet originally funded the dossier’s production.
The FBI also reached an agreement before Election Day to continue paying Steele for his work, though the plan was terminated after BuzzFeed published the dossier in January.
The Journal’s editorial board said revelations about who had financed the Steele dossier indicated that the “FBI’s role in Russia’s election interference must now be investigated.”
Mueller, the board continued, is a former FBI director who worked closely with former FBI director James Comey. Mueller was appointed special counsel after Trump fired Comey in May, and he is tasked with investigating Russia’s election interference, as well as whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the election in his favor.
Comey was spearheading the bureau’s Trump-Russia investigation in 2016, when it was in possession of the Steele dossier. “It is no slur against Mr. Mueller’s integrity to say that he lacks the critical distance to conduct a credible probe of the bureau he ran for a dozen years,” The Journal’s editorial board said. “He could best serve the country by resigning to prevent further political turmoil over that conflict of interest.”
It continued and said the revelations about who funded the Steel dossier posed a “troubling question” regarding the FBI’s involvement in what it called a “Russian disinformation campaign.”
“Did the dossier trigger the FBI probe of the Trump campaign, and did Mr. Comey or his agents use it as evidence to seek wiretapping approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Trump campaign aides?” the editorial said.
The board was likely referring to CNN’s report in April that the bureau used information in the dossier to support its request for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant targeting Carter Page, an early foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign.
Legal experts told Business Insider at the time, however, that if CNN’s report was true, it indicated that the FBI had enough confidence in the dossier’s validity to work to corroborate it and present it in court.
And while the document does contain several unproven allegations, it has been reported that the FBI is using it as a “roadmap” for its investigation. The Senate Intelligence Committee also revealed earlier this month that it has been “working backwards” to verify the document’s allegations.
Nevertheless, The Journal’s editorial board called for Congress to home in on the FBI’s role in producing the dossier and to reinstate the embattled Rep. Devin Nunes as chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Nunes recused himself from the panel’s Russia investigation after it emerged that he briefed the White House on classified information without briefining his committee first.
Despite recusing himself, Nunes quickly began conducting his own investigation into “unmaskings” by the Obama administration and the credibility of the dossier, and subpoenaed Fusion GPS to appear before the committee.