When Do We Investigate The Investigators?

John Solomon posted an article at The Hill today dealing with some new information about government spying on the Trump campaign during the Obama administration.

The information is contained in some emails that have not as yet been made public.

The article reports:

Sources tell me the targeted documents may provide the most damning evidence to date of potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), evidence that has been kept from the majority of members of Congress for more than two years.

The email exchanges included then-FBI Director James Comey, key FBI investigators in the Russia probe and lawyers in the DOJ’s National Security Division, and they occurred in early to mid-October, before the FBI successfully secured a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The email exchanges show the FBI was aware — before it secured the now-infamous warrant — that there were intelligence community concerns about the reliability of the main evidence used to support it: the Christopher Steele dossier.

The exchanges also indicate FBI officials were aware that Steele, the former MI6 British intelligence operative then working as a confidential human source for the bureau, had contacts with news media reporters before the FISA warrant was secured.

The FBI fired Steele on Nov. 1, 2016 — two weeks after securing the warrant — on the grounds that he had unauthorized contacts with the news media.

But the FBI withheld from the American public and Congress, until months later, that Steele had been paid to find his dirt on Trump by a firm doing political opposition research for the Democratic Party and for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and that Steele himself harbored hatred for Trump.

If the FBI knew of his media contacts and the concerns about the reliability of his dossier before seeking the warrant, it would constitute a serious breach of FISA regulations and the trust that the FISA court places in the FBI.

The chain of emails involved has been kept from Congress for two years. It was recently declassified.

The article illustrates how the FBI used the FISA court in an attempt to keep Donald Trump from becoming President and later in an attempt to cripple his presidency.

The article reports:

The bureau, under a Democratic-controlled Justice Department, sought a warrant to spy on the duly nominated GOP candidate for president in the final weeks of the 2016 election, based on evidence that was generated under a contract paid by his political opponent.

That evidence, the Steele dossier, was not fully vetted by the bureau and was deemed unverified months after the warrant was issued.

At least one news article was used in the FISA warrant to bolster the dossier as independent corroboration when, it fact, it was traced to a news organization that had been in contact with Steele, creating a high likelihood it was circular-intelligence reporting.

And the entire warrant, the FBI’s own text message shows, was being rushed to approval by two agents who hated Trump and stated in their own texts that they wanted to “stop” the Republican from becoming president.

If ever there were grounds to investigate the investigators, these facts provide the justification.

It is truly sad that a government agency acted in this way. The even bigger problem is that if the people involved in this are not held accountable, this will happen again in the future.

Who Was Actually Running The Show?

On Friday, John Solomon posted an article at The Hill about the events that led up to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mr. Solomon reminds us of some of the investigative techniques used to gather information on the mafia.

The article reports:

Back in the mafia’s heyday, FBI and IRS agents had a set of surveillance rules.

If one mobster showed up in town, pay notice. If two arrived, be suspicious. If three or four were in the same vicinity, something was going down.

…Mobsters would always have the same calling card, or excuse, to be in town. Attending a funeral (the mid-1980s mob meeting in Chicago) or a vacation in the sticks (the infamous 1957 gathering in upstate New York) were some of the more memorable ones.

Early in my reporting that unraveled the origins of the Trump-Russia collusion probe, tying it to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and possible Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses, I started to see patterns just as in the old mob meetings: FBI or intelligence-connected figures kept showing up in Trump Town USA during the 2016 campaign with a common calling card.

So exactly who showed up where during the 2016 presidential campaign? The article continues:

  • At least six people with long-established ties to the FBI or to U.S. and Western intelligence made entrees to key figures in the Trump business organization or his presidential campaign between March and October 2016;
  • Campaign figures were contacted by at least two Russian figures whose justification for being in the United States were rare law enforcement parole visas controlled by the U.S. Justice Department;
  • Intelligence or diplomatic figures connected to two of America’s closest allies, Britain and Australia, gathered intelligence or instigated contacts with Trump campaign figures during that same period;
  • Some of the conversations and contacts that were monitored occurred on foreign soil and resulted in the creation of transcripts;
  • Nearly all of the contacts involved the same overture — a discussion about possible political dirt or stolen emails harmful to Hillary Clinton, or unsolicited business in London or Moscow;
  • Several of the contacts occurred before the FBI formally launched a legally authorized probe into the Trump campaign and possible collusion on July 31, 2016.

The people who were approached during that time–Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., Michael Cohen, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Sam Clovis and Roger Stone, to name a few. Obviously these are the names that form the crux of the Mueller investigation. Can you say entrapment? Can you say Peter Strzok’s insurance policy?

So who was controlling the people approaching members of the Trump team? The article has a few educated guesses:

At least two important bodies in Congress — the House Intelligence and Senate Judiciary committees — demanded to be secretly briefed on payments to “undercovers.” They’ve been pretty tight-lipped since, except to express concerns that the public would be alarmed by what was divulged.

From those members of Congress, we can deduce that some of the contacts that occurred in 2016 were related to the political opposition, anti-Trump research funded by the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign and driven by Steele and his Fusion GPS employer. That work became known as the Steele dossier.

Others of the contacts appear to have been instigated by Western allies, such as an Australian diplomat’s barroom conversation in May 2016 with Papadopoulos.

And the rest are likely to have come from the FBI itself, which clearly dispatched informers, agents and other operatives to gather evidence to bulk up the uncorroborated Steele dossier, so agents could get a FISA warrant in October 2016 to spy on Page, the Trump campaign adviser.

The article concludes:

If this were a mob case, agents would not stop until they knew why each character appeared and who sent them. President Trump can help answer many, if not all, unanswered questions by declassifying the documents as he promised months ago. Congressional leaders and the Justice Department can impose accountability based on what is disclosed.

The American people deserve to know how much of the Trump-Russia probe was the result of agent provocateurs and political muckrakers and FISA cheaters, and how much was legitimate law enforcement work. 

Rumor has it that there will be some answers coming and some justice served this coming week. Frankly, I am getting tired of waiting.

What We Learned From Congressional Hearings Yesterday

This article is based on an article at The Federalist today which lists five things Mollie Hemingway learned from the hearings. I agree with her conclusions.

Here is her list:

1. This Is What DOJ Obstruction Looks Like

2. Strzok Somehow Came Off Even Worse Than He Did In His Texts

3. Democrats Run Interference

4. DOJ Clearly Hiding Its Relationship With Democratic-Funded Smear Group

5. The Mystery Of Why The Investigation Started

The goal of the obstruction seemed to be to minimize where the authorization to spy on the Trump campaign came from. There were a number of questions about how the FBI got hold of the Steele Dossier and the links between the dossier and the Clinton campaign. Generally speaking, those questions were not fully answered. Peter Strzok replied to any substantive questions by saying his lawyers at the Department of Justice told him not to answer questions about an ongoing investigation. Basically he very carefully told us nothing.

Peter Strzok came across as the snotty little kid who lived on the block who simply annoyed everyone with his arrogance and self-righteousness. He could not have been more obnoxious if he had tried.

The Democrats were almost comical in making sure no significant information came out in the hearings. They made sure that the hearings took on the appearance of a rather undisciplined circus. It has become obvious in recent years that the Democrat party is expert at circling the wagons around any Democrat, regardless of what they have done. President Trump was trashed for what he said about women, Bill Clinton was never trashed even when he was believably accused of rape.

The article details the relationship between the DOJ and Fusion GPS (these were questions Peter Strzok generally refused to answer):

But Strzok did admit that Bruce Ohr, husband of Fusion GPS operative Nellie Ohr, funneled documents to the FBI related to the Russia case. He refused to say what those documents were. Yesterday, Sen. Chuck Grassley asked DOJ to declassify the dozen reports summarizing Ohr’s 12 information-sharing meetings with the FBI.

The FBI used Fusion GPS-hired Christopher Steele until the end of October, when he was terminated for lying about his leaks to the media. But Fusion and Steele were able to continue funnelling information to the FBI using colleague Nellie Ohr and her husband Bruce Ohr, a top DOJ official who worked closely with acting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

When the Russia story first broke, Americans didn’t realize that the dossier was a secret Clinton/DNC operation, or that the unverified opposition research was sent to various Obama officials in multiple agencies. Americans didn’t know that a top DOJ official was married to an employee of the group that created the dossier, or that he was used to get information into the government.

The article concludes:

The entire investigation has major problems from start to finish, whether it’s the use of a dossier that Steele created and Bruce Ohr sent to the FBI, or the fact that Strzok ended up having to be removed from the investigation for his obvious and extreme bias. Strzok said Mueller never asked him about his texts, and didn’t seek to find out more from him about what his “insurance policy” or “impeachment” rhetoric meant.

Again, the hearing was less than substantive because of the ongoing obstruction and stonewalling campaign engaged in by DOJ. That was itself instructive.

It will be a miracle if anyone in the DOJ or FBI is ever held accountable for their use of government agencies to influence the 2016 election. Russia is not guilty of election meddling–our own government is.

 

Do You Believe That Any Of These Questions Will Be Answered?

The Conservative Treehouse posted an article today about questions Representative Devin Nunes has submitted to a number of Obama Administration officials about the Clinton-Steele dossier.

The article lists the questions:

Get out the popcorn and stay tuned.