Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his findings on the mismanagement and origins of the Russia investigation earlier this week. The focus of his investigation was the FISA warrant application the FBI applied for, was granted, and continuously reapplied for over the course of many months, in an effort to gather intelligence on Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.
The report also revealed the relevance of the now infamous and largely debunked Steele Dossier, which members of the Right say was the chief piece of evidence in acquiring the FISA warrant.
His findings revealed 17 damning mistakes, omissions, and acts of negligence committed by the FBI during the initial submission of the FISA warrant and throughout the entirety of the process which can range from character flaws of British spy Christopher Steele, to statements made by officials which weaken the claims of Russian ties, and even selectively editing testimony for the courts to review.
To no one’s surprise, every failure described by Horowitz was in favor of Democrats and to the detriment to then-candidate Trump.
Though Horowitz concluded these failures and potential biases met the minimum bar of legality, on whether he thought the report proved unbiased and ethical actions of FBI, the Inspector General told Congress, “I think the activities we found don’t vindicate anybody who touched this.” He added in a later statement during his testimony, “there’s got to be a change in the culture.”
The FBI originally insisted Carter Page was a Russian asset, who relayed information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin and used that influence to sway Trump’s stance on Russia. However, the FBI omitted Page’s prior connections to US government agencies which would have lend credibility to their original assertion. Page’s statements which weakened his connection to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was also covered up.
Trump’s stance on getting out of Ukrainian issues was seen as being influenced by Russia, but Page’s statements, which were not included in in the FISA applications, indicate there were no outside influence in this shift.
By over stating Steele’s credibility, and ignoring statements by credible witnesses that said Steele himself had poor judgement, targeted political opponents, had a personal vendetta against Donald Trump, and omitting, among other things, was on the DNC’s opposition research payroll, the FBI put a massive shroud over the questionable reliability of Steele’s findings.
When the political origin of the Steele Dossier came to light, the FBI conveniently avoided adding it this information to any FISA renewals.
Steele’s sources, dubbed Person 1, was described by credible sources as a chronic exaggerator. Information was also omitted which contradicted Person 1’s claims of there being improper channels between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
The origins of the Russia investigation, at best, is seriously flawed. One can only wonder whether the FISA court would have approved the FISA application if all this information were fairly included. Because all errors and omissions lean against President Trump, it’s clear this was not an attempt to gather information, it was an attempt to surveil the candidate.
Full List of FISA Errors:
1. Omitted information the FBI had obtained from another U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Page, including that Page had been approved as an “operational contact” for the other agency from 2008 to 2013, and that Page had provided information to the other agency concerning his prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers, one of which overlapped with facts asserted in the FISA application;
2. Included a source characterization statement asserting that Steele’s prior reporting had been “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings,” which overstated the significance of Steele’s past reporting and was not approved by Steele’s handling agent, as required by the Woods Procedures;
3. Omitted information relevant to the reliability of Person 1, a key Steele sub-source (who was attributed with providing the information in Report 95 and some of the information in Reports 80 and 102 relied upon in the application), namely that ( 1) Steele himself told members of the Crossfire Hurricane team that Person 1 was a “boaster” and an “egoist” and ” may engage in some embellishment” and (2) the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation on Person 1 a few days before the FISA application was filed;
4. Asserted that the FBI had assessed that Steele did not directly provide to the press information in the September 23 Yahoo News article based on the premise that Steele had told the FBI that he only shared his election-related research with the FBI and Fusion GPS, his client; this premise was incorrect and contradicted by documentation in the Woods File-Steele had told the FBI that he also gave his information to the State Department;
5. Omitted Papadopoulos’s consensually monitored statements to an FBI CHS in September 2016 denying that anyone associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia or with outside groups like Wikileaks in the release of emails;
6. Omitted Page’s consensually monitored statements to an FBI CHS in August 2016 that Page had “literally never met” or “said one word to” Paul Manafort and that Manafort had not responded to any of Page’s emails; if true, those statements were in tension with claims in Report 95 that Page was participating in a conspiracy with Russia by acting as an intermediary for Manafort on behalf of the Trump campaign; and [REDACTED]
7. Included Page’s consensually monitored statements to an FBI CHS in October 2016 that the FBI believed supported its theory that Page was an agent of Russia but omitted other statements Page made that were inconsistent with its theory, including denying having met with Sechin and Divyekin, or even knowing who Divyekin was; if true, those statements contradicted the claims in Report 94 that Page had met secretly with Sechin and Divyekin about future cooperation with Russia and shared derogatory information about candidate Clinton.
8. Omitted the fact that Steele’s Primary Sub source, who the FBI found credible, had made statements in January 2017 raising significant questions about the reliability of allegations included in the FISA applications, including, for example, that he/she did not recall any discussion with Person 1 concerning Wikileaks and there was “nothing bad” about the communications between the Kremlin and the Trump team, and that he/she did not report to Steele in July 2016 that Page had met with Sechin;
9. Omitted Page’s prior relationship with another U.S. government agency, despite being reminded by the other agency in June 2017, prior to the filing of the final renewal application, about Page’s past status with that other agency; instead of including this information in the final renewal application, the OGC Attorney altered an email from the other agency so that the email stated that Page was ” not a source” for the other agency, which the FBI affiant relied upon in signing the final renewal application;
10. Omitted information from persons who previously had professional contacts with Steele or had direct knowledge of his work-related performance, including statements that Steele had no history of reporting in bad faith but “[d]emonstrates lack of self-awareness, poor judgment,” “pursued people with political risk but no intelligence value,” “didn’t always exercise great judgment,” and it was ” not clear what he would have done to validate” his reporting;
11. Omitted information obtained from Ohr about Steele and his election reporting, including that ( 1) Steele’s reporting was going to Clinton’s presidential campaign and others, (2) Simpson was paying Steele to discuss his reporting with the media, and (3) Steele was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being the U.S. President”
12. Failed to update the description of Steele after information became known to the Crossfire Hurricane team, from Ohr and others, that provided greater clarity on the political origins and connections of Steele’s reporting, including that Simpson was hired by someone associated with the Democratic Party and/or the DNC;
13. Failed to correct the assertion in the first FISA application that the FBI did not believe that Steele directly provided information to the reporter who wrote the September 23 Yahoo News article, even though there was no information in the Woods File to support this claim and even after certain Crossfire Hurricane officials learned in 2017, before the third renewal application, of an admission that Steele made in a court filing about his interactions with the news media in the late summer and early fall of 2016;
14. Omitted the finding from a FBI source validation report that Steele was suitable for continued operation but that his past contributions to the FBI’s criminal program had been ” minimally corroborated,” and instead continued to assert in the source characterization statement that Steele’s prior reporting had been “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings”;
15. Omitted Papadopoulos’s statements to an FBI CHS in late October 2016 denying that the Trump campaign was involved in the circumstances of the DNC email hack;
16. Omitted Joseph Mifsud’s denials to the FBI that he supplied Papadopoulos with the information Papadopoulos shared with the FFG (suggesting that the campaign received an offer or suggestion of assistance from Russia); and
17. Omitted information indicating that Page played no role in the Republican platform change on Russia’s annexation of Ukraine as alleged in the Report 95, which was inconsistent with a factual assertion relied upon to support probable cause in all four FISA applications.
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