They used bogus opposition research as a pretext to spy on Americans. FBI relied entirely on National Enquirer style dossier by ex-British spy who got his intel from RUSSIAN sources. OUR FBI never asked WHO was FUNDING Steele’s “research.”
IG Horowitz investigated whether exculpatory evidence was provided to FISA court in “timely manner” about Papadopoulos, Steele Dossier. 2018 former Director Comey deposition, “I don’t know whether there’s a legal duty. We certainly consider it our obligation.” #FISA Monday. pic.twitter.com/MuLizvH0Bf
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) December 8, 2019
DOJ inspector general finds 17 ‘significant errors or omissions’ in Carter Page FISA applications
The Justice Department watchdog excoriated the FBI for relying upon British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s dossier in obtaining Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants to monitor onetime Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who released a report on Monday showing his findings regarding allegations of surveillance abuses, also found the FISA process was significantly flawed and marred by serious mistakes and missteps, but determined that the initiation of the Trump-Russia investigation itself crossed the low threshold to be properly predicated and was not influenced by political bias as some of Trump’s allies have alleged.
Horowitz “identified at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications and many errors in the Woods Procedures” which guide the FBI’s FISA process, according to the 476-page report.
“These errors and omissions resulted from case agents providing wrong or incomplete information to the National Security Division’s Office of Intelligence and facing to flag important issues for discussion,” Horowitz said.
But Horowitz’s team “did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations” into former Trump campaign associate Carter Page, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in the summer of 2016.
Horowitz’s findings provide Trump and his allies fodder in their criticism of FBI and DOJ officials who investigated him, while Democrats, who have defended the FBI’s actions, are engaged in an impeachment effort examining whether the president abused his office.
Horowitz completed his investigation on Sept. 13, and the past weeks have been dominated by a back-and-forth between the DOJ and the inspector general related to classification, speculation, and spin in the media. The lengthy report finally dropped on Monday afternoon.
Horowitz’s team examined the FISA application and three renewals beginning in October 2016 to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The applications relied on the unverified dossier compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who was hired by opposition research firm Fusion GPS and funded by Democrats.
Republicans had alleged the FBI and the Justice Department misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court about the dossier’s Democratic benefactors, which included Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and had complained that the dossier’s flaws and the author’s anti-Trump biases were left out of the FISA applications. Democrats had countered that the FBI acted appropriately, saying the DOJ and the FBI met the rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis for probable cause.
The FISA filings required approval from top members of the FBI and the Justice Department; and targets of Horowitz’s investigation included the approvers of the four applications and renewals: former FBI Director James Comey; former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates; Dana Boente, the only signatory in active government service and currently President Trump’s top lawyer at the FBI; then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to be special counsel the month before.
The 412 pages of redacted FISA documents released in 2018 show the DOJ and the FBI made extensive use of Steele’s unverified dossier, which he put together in 2016 at the behest of Fusion GPS. The Clinton campaign hired the firm through Marc Elias of the Perkins Coie law firm and was briefed about Steele’s findings throughout the race.
The DOJ inspector general said when he launched the investigation last year at the behest of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions he would “examine the Justice Department’s and the FBI’s compliance with legal requirements” related to FISA filings against Page and review the DOJ’s and the FBI’s dealings with Steele.
Officials such as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec knew by October 2016 portions of Steele’s dossier were inaccurate. And State Department officials such as Jonathan Winer and Victoria Nuland were involved in spreading Steele’s information within the U.S. government.
Many members of the media also received info from the Steele dossier at the behest of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson.
There was speculation by Attorney General William Barr, the National Security Council’s former Russia expert Fiona Hill, and former intelligence officials that the dossier may have contained Russian disinformation, though Steele claimed there’s no way he was duped by the Kremlin.
The Steele dossier’s central thesis was “a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation” between the Trump campaign and Russia, but Mueller didn’t agree. Although Mueller concluded the Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election, the investigation did not establish the Kremlin and Trump’s campaign criminally conspired. Mueller’s report also seemed to shoot down at least one of Steele’s biggest claims — that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen met with foreign hackers in Prague.
The Horowitz team’s two-year investigation included reviewing over one million records and conducting over 100 interviews.
U.S. Attorney John Durham, at the behest of Barr, launched his own broader inquiry earlier this year into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, and this fall it was reported that Durham’s administrative review had shifted to a criminal investigation.
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