A recently-released Justice Department Inspector General report revealed that a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent who was assigned to give an intelligence briefing in August 2016 in order to surveil then-Trump campaign adviser Michael Flynn also took notes on then-candidate Donald Trump.
DOJ IG Michael Horowitz’s report, released last week, revealed that the FBI used a routine intelligence briefing to brief presidential candidates and their top national security advisers to secretly surveil Flynn, who was a subject of FBI investigation at the time. But the report also revealed that the FBI supervisory special agent (SSA1) at the briefing also recorded comments by candidate Trump in his notes.
Although the FBI’s portion of the intelligence briefing lasted for 13 minutes, the agent stayed throughout the entire briefing, which lasted about two hours. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) had no idea of the FBI’s dual plan, the report said.
The report said SSA1 wrote a three-page document that recounted the briefing provided, but “woven into the briefing summary are questions posed to SSA1 by Trump and Flynn, and SSA1’s responses, as well as comments made by Trump and Flynn.” The report said the agent also documented two questions Trump asked the ODNI briefers.
SSA1 said he also documented instances where he was engaged by the “attendees” as well as “anything related” to the FBI or pertinent to the FBI Crossfire Hurricane investigation, such as comments about the Russian Federation. SSA1 said that he also documented information that may not have been relevant at the time he recorded it, but might prove relevant in the future.
The purpose of the intelligence briefing was to warn the campaign how Foreign Intelligence Services might target them, but the report detailed how the FBI used it to surveil Flynn, who was the subject of an investigation. The report said the FBI specifically selected SSA1, the supervisor for the its Crossfire Hurricane investigation of the Trump campaign, to provide the FBI’s portion of security briefings to candidates Trump and Clinton, because it learned Flynn would be at the briefing with Trump.
SSA1 told the DOJ IG he wanted to assess Flynn’s overall mannerisms and then also if Flynn mentioned anything specific to Russia or to the FBI’s investigation. But he also said, referring to Trump and another national security campaign adviser, “And any of the other two individuals in the room, if they, any kind of admission, or overhear, whatever it was, I was there to record that.”
Then-top FBI lawyer James Baker also told the DOJ IG the use of the FBI briefer was not just limited to surveilling Flynn. “[I]f somebody said something, you want someone in the room who knew enough about the investigation that they would be able to understand the significance of something, or some type of statement,” he said.
He claimed the agent was “focused on the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation and Russian activities” and not any “political intelligence about campaign strategy, about campaign personalities, or anything that could be used in any political way.”
Baker said discussions about using the agent as the FBI briefer occurred at “higher levels” at the FBI — specifically to include FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, head of FBI counterintelligence Bill Priestap, Chief of the Counterespionage Section Peter Strzok, possibly FBI lawyer Lisa Page, and the FBI’s then-Executive Assistant Director of the National Security Branch Carl Ghattas.
Horowitz acknowledged at a hearing on Thursday that the dual purpose briefing was used to capture “anything” said during the briefing that would be useful for Crossfire Hurricane purposes and would not rule out that another briefing, to President-Elect Trump in January 2017, was not used the same way.
“I have no information, one way or the other, to make a judgment on that but, as mentioned earlier, one of the concerns with doing that here is that it leaves open the possibility that people might ask, did it happen elsewhere,” he said.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) during the hearing blasted the FBI for using an intelligence briefing to collect information on both Flynn and Trump without their knowledge.
“Well, it strikes me as fraught with danger, just like it was for General Flynn for the director to go in the White House, the Oval Office in the White House, not to tell the president that anything he says could be used against him in an ongoing investigation, potentially, including criminal charges,” he said.
“If this is going to happen to a presidential candidate, or the president of the United States, what kind of protection do average American citizens have that their government won’t array this vast power against them and, essentially, ruin their lives? To me, that’s a profound concern, as a result of your investigation.”
Even though the FBI claimed it was investigating Russian efforts to interfere in the election, the agent did not memorialize his briefings with Hillary Clinton or Tim Kaine — despite their campaign being attacked by Russians, or then-Vice President candidate Mike Pence, because they did not include a subject of an FBI investigation.
The report said that ODNI provided a second briefing to Trump, Flynn, and another Trump campaign adviser, which the FBI did not attend. However, the report said “instant messages indicate that the FBI had contacted ODNI about including SSA 1 at the briefing.”
Horowitz in his report criticized the FBI and recommended safeguards in the future. He said:
The briefings are important because they attempt to prepare both national political party candidates, on an equal footing, for the national security threats facing them if elected. The transfer of information, the exchanges of questions and answers that can occur, and the effectiveness of this process rely on an expectation of trust and good faith among the participants.
The FBI’s use of such briefings for investigative purposes potentially interferes with this expectation and could frustrate the purpose of future counterintelligence briefings. For this reason, we recommend that any decision to use FBI counterintelligence and security briefings to members of political campaigns for investigative purposes should require the approval of senior leaders at both the FBI and the Department, and approval should be documented and based on factors set forth in FBI policy.
Flynn’s lawyer, Sidney Powell, alleged last month in a court filing that when two FBI agents went to interview Flynn in January 2017, he was also not aware he was being interviewed as the subject of a criminal investigation.
“The upper echelon of the FBI met to orchestrate” the Flynn interview in “such a way as to keep from alerting him from understanding that he was being interviewed in a criminal investigation of which he was the target,” she wrote, according to the Daily Mail.
“In short, they planned to deceive him about the entire scenario, and keep him ‘unguarded,”’ she said.
Follow Breitbart News’ @Kristina_Wong.