The previous month, Yahoo News had published an article that contained information that overlapped with claims in the dossier, and the F.B.I. later learned that Mr. Steele had been a source for it, prompting the bureau to sever its relationship with him. At the time, as the bureau told the court in its wiretap application, it assumed the source had been someone else who had received a copy of the dossier.
Mr. Durham is said to have asked why F.B.I. officials at that October meeting apparently did not ask Mr. Steele whether he was the article’s source — before using his information to apply for permission to wiretap the former Trump adviser, Carter Page.
The focus raised the possibility that Mr. Durham has been exploring whether F.B.I. officials knowingly misled the surveillance court. But if Mr. Durham has found credible evidence of such a crime — as opposed to sloppy investigative work — he has yet to file any such charges.
Mr. Durham interviewed the former C.I.A. director John O. Brennan in August, but told him he was not the target of any criminal inquiry. But he has yet to interview former F.B.I. officials who held senior roles in 2016 and have been demonized by Trump supporters, including the former director James B. Comey; his former deputy Andrew G. McCabe; and a former senior counterintelligence agent, Peter Strzok, according to people familiar with the matter.
To the extent any eventual Durham report focuses on criticizing the F.B.I.’s handling of issues related to the Steele dossier, it would risk largely retreading ground already covered by the 2019 report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz.
Mr. Horowitz has already brought to light the fact that the F.B.I. botched its wiretap applications in numerous ways, including uncovering numerous material facts that law enforcement officials failed to tell the court and that might have undermined their case for receiving wiretap authorization or renewals — including about the dossier.
Mr. Horowitz’s report also already unearthed the fact that Mr. Danchenko had been the subject of a counterintelligence investigation when he worked at Brookings, in a footnote that was initially classified before Mr. Barr decided to make it public.