Judicial Watch Sues for Records of FBI Special Agent Who Helped Circulate the Clinton-Funded Dossier
Bruce Ohr testified that Christopher Steele provided two of his dossier reports to FBI Legal Attaché in Rome, Special Agent Michael Gaeta
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) for records about FBI Special Agent Michael Gaeta, who was the Legal Attaché in Rome who helped circulate the Steele dossier (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-02722)).
The suit was filed after the Justice Department and FBI failed to respond to an August 10, 2018, FOIA requests seeking:
- All records of communications, including emails (using [his or her] own name or aliases), text messages, instant chats and encrypted messages, sent to and from former FBI Legal Attaché in Rome, Special Agent Michael Gaeta, mentioning the terms “Trump”, “Clinton”, “Republican”, “Democrat”, and/or “conservatives.”
- All SF50s and SF52s of SA Michael Gaeta.
- All expense reports and travel vouchers submitted for SA Michael Gaeta.
On August 28, 2018, Bruce Ohr testified before a joint task force of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees that Christopher Steele, author of the Clinton funded dossier, gave two reports from the dossier to Gaeta.
In the July 30 meeting, Chris Steele also mentioned something about the doping — you know, one of the doping scandals. And he also mentioned, I believe — and, again, this is based on my review of my notes — that he had provided Mr. Gaeta with two reports…”
The only thing I recall him mentioning is that he had provided two of his reports to Special Agent Gaeta.
Gaeta reportedly was authorized by then Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland to meet with Steele at his office in London to receive reports from the dossier
The purpose of the London visit was clear. Steele was personally handing the first memo in his dossier to Gaeta for ultimate transmission back to the FBI and the State Department.
For this visit, the FBI sought permission from the office of Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Nuland, who had been the recipient of many of Steele’s reports, gave permission for the more formal meeting. On July 5, 2016, Gaeta traveled to London and met with Steele at the offices of Steele’s firm, Orbis.
“The FBI is covering up its role in the Russiagate hoax,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch has had to fight the FBI ‘tooth and nail’ for every scrap of information about the illicit targeting of President Trump.”
On May 21, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton ordered the FBI to begin processing thousands of pages of previously undisclosed records between FBI officials Strzok and Page. In July 2019, the judge ordered a hearing: “Upon further consideration, the Court is concerned that the processing rate adopted by the Court may be inadequate.” The court’s July 24 order follows a joint status report by the FBI and Judicial Watch that discloses that only 6,000 of almost 20,000 responsive records have been processed since May 2018.
In August 2019, a federal judge ordered the FBI to conduct a search within 60 days for records of communications with former British spy and dossier author Christopher Steele post-dating Steele’s service as an FBI confidential source. The court initially ruled in favor of a DOJ “Glomar” response to Judicial Watch’s March 8, 2017, FOIA request stating that it could “neither confirm nor deny the existence of records responsive to [Judicial Watch’s] request.” On March 26, 2018, subsequent to the declassification of records revealing Steele’s role as an FBI informant and his firing by the FBI in November 2016, the court reopened the case at Judicial Watch’s request. The FBI, however, continued refusing to search for records post-dating Steele’s dismissal, contending that any records discovered would be exempt from disclosure on privacy grounds.