Judicial Watch, the government watchdog group, is suing the FBI for records about its contacts with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the uncorroborated dossier alleging that Trump advisers colluded with the Russian government during the presidential campaign.
The suit seeks all records of communications between FBI officials and Steele, who runs the London-based consulting firm, Orbis Business Intelligence.
Judicial Watch is also seeking records of any discussions of payments from the FBI to Steele for his work compiling the dossier.
Steele’s dossier consists of 17 memos dated from between June 20 to Dec. 13.
The FBI has reportedly relied on the dossier to aid its investigation into whether Trump advisers colluded with the Kremlin. FBI officials are said to have cited the document in the bureau’s application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) warrant against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
A FISC judge reportedly granted the warrant in September, just after Page left the campaign.
Steele’s dossier asserts that Page, an energy consultant, met secretly with Russian government officials in Moscow in July to discuss lifting sanctions against Russia. Page has denied the claims in Steele’s report, which he calls the “Dodgy Dossier.”
FBI agents met with Steele on several occasions, according to various news reports. They first met in July, and the FBI started its investigation weeks later. Steele met with FBI agents again in October. At that meeting, the two sides informally agreed that Steele would continue his research on Trump. A payment of $50,000 was also offered to Steele if he could corroborate some of his previous reports. The payment was never made, though it is unclear why.
Steele’s dossier was published by BuzzFeed News on Jan. 10.
Some Republicans have questioned the FBI’s relationship with Steele, who was working on behalf of a Washington, D.C.-based opposition research firm that had been hired by an ally of Hillary Clinton’s. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley has repeatedly pressed the FBI about its relationship with Steele.
“The so-called Trump dossier is at the center anti-Trump Russian collusion conspiracy theory,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in a statement.
“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.”