IG Report helps define bias in prior memos

IG Report “Cliff Notes”Prior Memos “Cliff Notes”

  • Steele’s election reporting on September 19, 2016 played a central and essential role in the FBI’s and Department’s decision to seek the FISA order.
  • Carter Page’s alleged coordination with the Russian government on 2016 U.S. presidential election activities-the application relied entirely on the following information from Steele Reports 80, 94, 95, and 102
  • The FBI did not have information corroborating the specific allegations against Carter
    Page in Steele’s reporting when it relied upon his reports in the first FISA application or subsequent renewal applications.
  • The problems we identified were primarily caused by the Crossfire Hurricane team failing to share all relevant information
  • We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page.
  • Determined that the Crossfire Hurricane team was unable to corroborate any of the specific substantive allegations regarding Carter Page
    contained in Steele’s election reporting which the FBI relied on in the FISA applications.

  • Based upon the information known to the FBI in October 2016, the first application contained the following seven significant inaccuracies and omissions Omitted Page had been approved as an “operational contact” for the other agency from 2008 to 2013
  • Overstated representations about Steele’s prior reporting and had not been approved by Steele’s handling agent, as required by the Woods Procedures
  • Omitted Steele himself told members of the Crossfire Hurricane team that Person 1 was a “boaster” and an “egoist” and ” may engage in some embellishment. Including omission that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation on Person 1 a few days before the FISA application was filed;
  • Omitted Papadopoulos’s 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
  • Omitted Page’s 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
  • Omitted Page’s statements that were inconsistent with its theory, including denying having met with Sechin and Divyekin, or even knowing who Divyekin was

  • We identified 10 additional significant errors in the three renewal applications, based upon information known to the FBI after the first
    application and before one or more of the renewals.
  • Omitted the fact that Steele’s Primary Subsource, who the FBI found credible, had made statements in January 2017 raising significant
    questions about the reliability of allegations included in the FISA applications
  • Omitted Page’s prior relationship with another U.S. government agency, despite being reminded by the 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
  • Omitted information from persons who previously had professional contacts with Steele or had direct knowledge of his work-related performance, including statements that Steele “[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
  • 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”
  • Failed to disclose that Simpson was hired by someone associated with the Democratic Party and/or the DNC
  • 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
  • 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
  • Omitted the finding from a FBI source validation on Steele’s past contributions as ” minimally corroborated,” versus “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings”
  • 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
  • Omitted Joseph Mifsud’s denials to the FBI that he supplied Papadopoulos with the information Papadopoulos shared with the FFG
  • Omitted information indicating that Page played no role in the Republican platform change on Russia’s annexation of Ukraine

  • FBI and officials did not ‘abuse’ the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.
  • DOJ and the FBI would have been remiss had they not sought a ISA warrant and repeated renewals to conduct temporary surveillance of Carter Page, someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government.
  • Christopher Steele’s raw intelligence reporting did not inform the decision to initiate its counter-intelligence investigation in late July 2016
  • The FBI viewed Steele’s reporting and sources as reliable and credible and disclosed the fact of and reason for his termination as a source; and the assessed political motivation of those who hired him.
  • Nunez memo was a profoundly misleading memorandum alleging serious abuses by the FBI and DOJ
  • Made only narrow use of information from Steele’s sources about Page’s specific activities in 2016
  • Papadopoulos revealed that individuals linked to Russia, who took interest in Papadopoulos as at Trump campaign foreign policy adviser
  • The FBI would have continued its investigation, including against – individuals, even if it had never received information from Steele
  • The initial warrant application and subsequent renewals received independent scrutiny and approval by four different federal judges
  • In subsequent FISA renewals, DOJ provided additional information obtained through multiple independent sources that corroborated Steele?s reporting.

  • The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an
    essential part of the Carter Page FISA application
  • Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or_ any party/campaign in funding
  • The Yahoo article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.
  • Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate beputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr. Clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications.
  • After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally collaborated.
  • In early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary ofthe Steele dossier, even though it was – according to his June 2017 testimony-“salacious and unverified.”
  • The Page FISA application a1so mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign
    advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy
    between Page and Papadopoulos.

  • It appears that Mr. Steele gathered much of his information from Russian government sources
    inside Russia. According to the law firm Perkins Coie, Mr. Steele’s dossier-related efforts were
    funded through Fusion GPS by that law firm on behalf of the Democratic National Committee
    and the Clinton Campaign.
  • It appears that either Mr. Steele lied to the FBI or the British court, or that the classified  documents reviewed by the Committee
    contain materially false statements.
  • Both relied heavily on Mr. Steele’s dossier claims, and both applications were granted by the FISC
  • Similarly, in June 2017, former FBI Director Corney testified publicly before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that he had briefed President-Elect Trump on the dossier allegations in January 2017, which Mr. Corney described as “salacious” and “unverified.”
  • Around the same time Yahoo News published its article containing dossier information about Carter Page, Mr. Steele and Fusion GPS had briefed Yahoo News and other news outlets about information contained in the dossier.
  • “is in touch with , a contact of , a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to .” It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.
  • In the British litigation, which involves a post-election dossier memorandum, Mr. Steele admitted that he received and included in it unsolicited-and unverified-allegations.

Now that the IG report is out, I wanted to take time and reread the source documents regarding the FISA “abuse” of Carter Page and the Trump campaign. I wanted to refocus on what was said in each and assess it for truth and for bias. In compiling the above and reading the “same” information from each source, I ran across from interesting findings that go beyond the simple true/false tagging.

The base allegations from the GOP was that the FISA process was abused by the FBI to gain approval to spy on the Trump campaign leading into his election, his inauguration and the months after. On this high level and very basic point, it seems that they were nearly 100% correct. It specifically was four people within the campaign, including Page which continued after he left the campaign. Details, details, but the overall story is not affected. The democratic response, though almost a full reversals is not 100% false. I was surprised at how elegantly their truth wandered around the edges. The statements being mostly true, but the overall message being almost completely wrong. It seems that their responses rely on the FBI itself as proof that the FBI conducted itself properly. Son once that basis begins to crumble the argument has no basis.

Statements like
– “they would have been remiss if had they not sought a ISA warrent… someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government.”
– “the FBI viewed Steele’s reporting and sources as reliable”
– “Steele did not inform the decision to initiate its counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016”

These are half truths of the FISA application itself, restated from the FISA and meant to persuade and/or confuse. Of course they would be remiss if they did not investigate a legitimate concern. But their job is to vet legitimate from “unsolicited-and unverified-allegations.” Based on their own inter-agency emails and verification processes, they had little evidence to suspect Page was an “agent of Russia” and reams of documentation to not trust the information Steele was feeding them. Yet they constructed the straw man, downplayed Steele’s bias as a means to seek a warrant to confirm what they were hearing. And the Democrats recycled that narrative. The Democrat memo refers to July 2016 attempts to look into Page as legitimate “other information” or proof that the dossier just tipped the scales. It seems reasonable on it’s face.

That FISA was rejected by a judge. Why? We may never know for sure. Some woudl argue it was proof of the system. That it was not complete, but the dossier
confirmed or elevated similar concerns and tipped the scales. However, based on what else we now know, can we construct an alternative? Could it be that it was rejected because his relationships and travel in Russia were in connection to his relationship with another government agency (assumed to be the CIA)? I say this because the “modified e-mail” refers to documentation provided to the FBI in August 2016. So the timing is close enough to an overlap to conclude the request was flimsy and contradicted by the relationship within the other agency.
It is that first FISA that may educate us more.

However, this hits a main point of my concern. Maybe, just maybe the first application was legitimate to confirm the rumors peddled by Steele. But surely the information being gathered was contradicting that theme. Every 90 days, every renewal request was chance to step back and evaluate. A chance to learn from new information. It seems that this was the largest and biggest failing of the process. Though the IG report does lay out seven points that contradict even that glowing assessment of this mess.

The Democrats wanted to believe that the stories they tell themselves and their friends over drinks were true. They were not interested in the process used or the contradictions, they simply restated the FBIs FISA application bullet points as is those were new facts to confirm the process itself. likely, not realizing that those same stories they were hearing where the same allegations told over drinks between Russians and to Steele. None of it corroborated and confirmed, but fun to repeat and embellish.

The GOP on the other hand was concerned about the process, the abuse of the system to spy on an American. In this case they were right. The facts contradict the narrative. And in America, we still hope that the facts will win out; over half-truths and bias. But I do wonder (ok I know) how little the GOP would defend the process if the target was someone that they wanted. There are a precious few that I believe would, I only wish there were more on both sides.

We all are angry when a “guilty” person goes free because of the process but that is our justice system. But we accept the risks that the burden is on the accuser. The fact that some guilty may go free is a small price to pay for the majority to
be free from government oppression and false allegations. The power entrusted to a very few to manage the process is what is being tested. Political bias should not matter to the outcome. Facts and the proper execution of the process, is what keeps our system functioning. This is why the IG report was so important. It presented facts, laid out abuses, misdeeds and/or mistakes conducted by people within the current process.

Many will focus on correcting the process. The will add more belts and suspenders, slow the FISA court down, even argue to remove it all together. Maybe process change is an answer or part of one. However, I think the current process was abused by those that are entrusted to know. Not honest mistakes and exclusion or omission, but pre-meditated actions to give a false impression to a judge and get a desired outcome. I think of this as getting a warrant on a false pretense. Ok, the warrant is invalid and anything gathered from it is inadmissible. But do people go to jail over false or misleading information to gather a warrant? Are those abuses criminal? I am not a lawyer, but until evidence proves pre-meditation, I doubt it. So in the end, the only protection we have is the honesty and integrity of biased human beings executing a flawed process.


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