The Senate weighs in

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs today released an interim report of their ongoing investigation into how the Department of Justice and FBI handled the discovery that Hillary Clinton used an unauthorized personal email server, through which a considerable number of classified emails flowed.  Per the interim report, the committee’s investigation is looking into the following questions:

Whether, and the extent to which, any personal animus and/or political bias influenced the FBI’s investigation;

Whether, and the extent to which, the Obama Department of Justice or White House influenced the FBI’s investigation; and

Whether, and the extent to which, any personal animus and/or political bias influenced the FBI’s actions with respect to President Trump.

Unlike the brief House Committee memorandum released a few days ago, this 25-page report uses extensive footnotes to document the material from which their conclusions are drawn.  As it points out, the release of thousands of text messages between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page raise many questions.  The entire report is available here.  While noting the Senate Committee continues to investigate the matter, this interim report concludes (emphasis added):

The information available to the Committee at this time raises serious questions about how the FBI applied the rule of law in its investigation of classified information on Secretary Clinton’s private email server. We know that:

• The FBI did not use a grand jury to compel testimony and obtain the vast majority of evidence, choosing instead to offer immunity deals and allow fact witnesses to join key interviews.

• There were substantial edits to Director Comey’s public statement that served to downplay the severity of Secretary Clinton’s actions, and that the first draft of the memo was distributed for editing two months before key witnesses were interviewed.

• Director Comey stated that he had not consulted with the Justice Department or White House, when text messages suggest otherwise. We have text messages in which two key investigators discuss an “insurance policy” against the “risk” of a Trump presidency,and “OUR task.”

• Messages discuss “unfinished business,” “an investigation leading to impeachment,” and “my gut sense and concern there’s no big there there.”

• Senior FBI officials—likely including Deputy Director McCabe—knew about newly discovered emails on a laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner for almost a month before Director Comey notified Congress.

• Over the period of at least four months, the FBI did not recover five months’ worth of text messages requested by DOJ OIG and two Senate committees; however, when pressed, (The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General) was able to recover missing texts in less than one week.

It’s a mark of how divided our nation is that what is known so far hasn’t raised a bipartisan cry for major reform of the DOJ and FBI, including greater accountability for the secretive FISA Court process.  When our criminal justice agencies act as they have in this instance, it’s a clear and present danger to the liberties of every citizen, regardless of party affiliation.
The question now is whether accountability will make a comeback as a result of these current investigations.  Stay tuned.


Laying out the timeline

UPDATE: (Feb 8, 2018) – It seems Forbes took down the timeline after a couple of days.  No explanation I’m aware of as to why.  Nevertheless, the Internet is forever, and a copy of it remains available here.


ORIGINAL POST:  One of the challenges for the American public right now is keeping up with the drip, drip, drip of scandalous information coming out of Washington.  The pieces of the puzzles are being slowly dribbled out, and thus it’s difficult for the average citizen to piece together a picture of just how bad the malfeasance of the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation is.

So Forbes has done the nation a great service by assembling the known pieces at this point.  The Epoch Times produced a visual summary in January, but Forbes’ product brings the chronology up to date and provides disturbing clarity.  Keep in mind while reading it there is considerable information that remains redacted or unreleased, and the parties involved will clearly go to great lengths to keep it that way.  The magazine rightly concludes (emphasis added):

It is right to say that this episode is the worst abuse of political power in American history related to elections. Watergate is nothing by comparison. That involved people not employed by the government.  Later it involved a cover-up in which Nixon participated.

Watergate did not involve the DOJ and the FBI – two institutions which must be non-partisans for this Republic of ours.

This case does involve the FBI and DOJ.  It also is foolish not to assume that Loretta Lynch and President Obama were ignorant of the goings on – if not involved in them.

Finally, the dishonest investigation of Hillary who committed actual crimes should not be acceptable. Nor should FBI or DOJ officials be allowed to alter events and Court proceedings for political purposes.

If we let this go, and people are not brought to justice, we will have forever damaged our Republic and the World’s view of us as a nation of laws.

Not to mention that in the eyes of those of us paying close attention, the credibility of our government has taken a body blow from which it may never recover.  Only seeing the key figures in this melodrama in handcuffs and behind bars will suffice to start the process of restoration.  Nothing short of that will matter.

The Nunes memo

President Trump agreed to the declassification of the House Intelligence Committee memo.  What follows is the text, with certain information and names highlighted in red:


January 18, 2018

To: HPSCI Majority Members
From: HPSCI Majority Staff
Subject: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation


This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.

Investigation Update
On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (not under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is a U.S. citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. §,1805(d)(l)), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Then-DAG Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.

Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including renewals) before the FISC are classified. As such, the public’s confidence in the integrity of the FISA process depends on the court’s ability to hold the government to the highest standard—particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens. However, the FISC’s rigor in protecting the rights of Americans, which is reinforced by 90-day renewals of surveillance orders, is necessarily dependent on the government’s production to the court of all material and relevant facts. This should include information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application that is known by the government. In the case of Carter Page, the government had at least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts. However, our findings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant information was omitted.

1) 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. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

a) 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 Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.

b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of—and paid by—the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.

2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News—and several other outlets—in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington D.C. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.

a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations—an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn. Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September—before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October—but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.

b) Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling—maintaining confidentiality—and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.

3) Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele. For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” This 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.