MAY 16, 2017
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice for records of communications and payments between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and his private firm, Orbis Business Intelligence (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-00916)).
This is the fifth Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (see here, here, here, here) related to the surveillance, unmasking, and illegal leaking targeting President Trump and his associates.
The suit was filed after the Department of Justice failed to respond to a March 8, 2017, FOIA request seeking:
- All records of communications between any official, employee, or representative of the FBI and Mr. Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer and the owner of the private firm Orbis Business Intelligence.
- All records related to the proposed, planned, or actual payment of any funds to Mr. Steele and/or Orbis Business Intelligence.
- All records produced in preparation for, during, or pursuant to any meetings or telephonic conversations between any official, employee, or representative of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Mr. Christopher Steele and/or any employee or representative of Orbis Business Intelligence.
The Trump dossier was purported to contain “embarrassing material” which could be used to blackmail Trump. BuzzFeed published the 35-page document following a January 10, 2017, report by CNN stating President Obama was presented classified documents alleging Russian Intelligence had “compromising personal and financial information” about Trump.
CNN and many other news organizations refused to publish the dossier because they had not “independently corroborated the specific allegations,” and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reportedly said “we couldn’t corroborate the sourcing, particularly the second and third order sources.” According to Fox News, former FBI Director James Comey insisted that the dossier be included in January’s intelligence report on alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election.
“The so-called Trump dossier is at the center anti-Trump Russian collusion conspiracy theory,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is disconcerting that the Obama FBI and Justice Department trafficked this document and evidently used it to justify unprecedented surveillance of the Trump team. Our new lawsuit seeks to expose the truth about this dossier. Maybe with new leadership at the FBI, we’ll finally get some answers.”