The Justice Department inspector general report released on Monday shed light on some disturbing findings with how the FBI handled the investigation and surveillance of the Trump campaign.
Most disturbing was that the report proved that the FBI used uncorroborated allegations in the infamous “pee dossier” to convince a court to grant it an intrusive surveillance warrant on a former campaign aide, which gave the FBI insight into the Trump campaign.
However, the report also exposed a number of other disturbing findings, some related to the obtaining of the initial and subsequent surveillance warrants, and some related to its use of confidential human sources, and other practices.
Here are ten of the most disturbing findings in the report:
- The FBI’s Counterintelligence Division (CD) Assistant Director E.W. “Bill” Priestap considered whether the FBI should conduct defensive briefings for the Trump campaign to warn the campaign of Russian interference in the 2016 election but “ultimately decided that providing such briefings created the risk that ‘if someone on the campaign was engaged with the Russians, he/she would seek to cover-up his/her activities, thereby preventing us from finding the truth.’”
- The FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team tasked to investigate the Trump campaign sought help from a foreign intelligence agency to surveil Trump campaign members. “The Crossfire Hurricane team submitted name trace requests to other U.S. government agencies and a foreign intelligence agency, and conducted law enforcement database and open source searches, to identify individuals associated with the Trump campaign in a position to have received the alleged offer of assistance from Russia.”
- DOJ and FBI policy did not require the FBI to consult with any DOJ official before using confidential human sources — or spies — involving advisers to a major party candidate’s presidential campaign, and the FBI did not do so. However, “consultation, at a minimum, is required by Department and FBI policies in numerous other sensitive circumstances.”
- The FBI wanted a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant on former Trump campaign member Carter Page in August 2016, but the FBI’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) and its National Security Division’s Office of Intelligence (OI) determined more information was needed to support probable cause that Page was an agent of a foreign power. Only after the use of the “pee dossier” were they successful.”Immediately after the Crossfire Hurricane team received Steele’s election reporting on September 19, the team reinitiated their discussions with OI and their efforts to obtain FISA surveillance authority for Page, which they received from the FISC on October 21. … We determined that the Crossfire Hurricane team’s receipt of 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.”
- The Crossfire Hurricane team failed to inform department officials of significant information that was available to the team at the time that the FISA applications on Page were drafted and filed. “Much of that information was inconsistent with, or undercut, the assertions contained in the FISA applications that were used to support probable cause and, in some instances, resulted in inaccurate information being included in the applications.”
- The FBI made false assertions on their FISA applications. FBI agents “did not question Steele about his role in a September 23, 2016 Yahoo News article entitled, ‘U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump advisor and Kremlin,’ that described efforts by U.S. intelligence to determine whether Carter Page had opened communication channels with Kremlin officials.” However, the FBI asserted in the Page FISA applications, without any support, that Steele had not “directly provided” the information to Yahoo News.
- FBI leadership supported relying on Steele’s reporting to seek a FISA order on Page even after being advised it was political dirt paid for by the Clinton campaign and there could be blowback: “FBI leadership supported relying on Steele’s reporting to seek a FISA order on Page after being advised of, and giving consideration to, concerns expressed by Stuart Evans, then NSD’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General with oversight responsibility over OI, that Steele may have been hired by someone associated with presidential candidate Clinton or the DNC, and that the foreign intelligence to be collected through the FISA order would probably not be worth the ‘risk’ of being criticized later for collecting communications of someone (Carter Page) who was ‘politically sensitive.’”
- FBI personnel fell “far short” of a requirement to ensure that “all factual statements” in the FISA application were “scrupulously accurate.” “Our review found that FBI personnel fell far short of the requirement in FBI policy that they ensure that all factual statements in a FISA application are ‘scrupulously accurate.’ We identified multiple instances in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time the application was filed.”
- The FBI knowingly continued seeking information from Steele even after he was fired as a source — 13 times. “The FBI closed him as a CHS for cause in November 2016. However, as we describe below, despite having been closed for cause, the Crossfire Hurricane team continued to obtain information from Steele through Ohr, who met with the FBI on 13 occasions to pass along information he had been provided by Steele.”
- The FBI sent an investigative agent to a Trump campaign briefing specifically because it knew Michael Flynn would be there, and it had deemed him a subject of an investigation — in other words, the FBI used a campaign briefing to spy on Flynn. “In August 2016, the supervisor of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, SSA 1, participated on behalf of the FBI in a strategic intelligence briefing given by Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to candidate Trump and his national security advisors, including Michael Flynn, and in a separate strategic intelligence briefing given to candidate Clinton and her national security advisors. The stated purpose of the FBI portion of the briefing was to provide the recipients ‘a baseline on the presence and threat posed by foreign intelligence services to the National Security of the U.S.’ However, we found that SSA 1 was selected to provide the FBI briefings, in part, because Flynn, who was a subject in the ongoing Crossfire Hurricane investigation, would be attending the Trump campaign briefing.”
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