A thorough review of the Justice Department’s Inspector General report about the FBI’s Russia collusion investigation makes clear that separate probes are immediately needed to check questionable actions taken by the Obama-era State Department under John Kerry in fueling the Russia hoax.
The IG report further did not investigate the roles played by senior Obama administration officials in the controversial early stages of the Russia investigation, including those of Joe Biden and Susan Rice.
It is not immediately clear whether federal prosecutor John H. Durham’s criminal investigation into the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe will focus specifically on the State Department or on the executive branch of the Obama administration.
The “methodology” section of IG Michael Horowitz’s report makes clear the activities of other U.S. government agencies outside the FBI did not fall within the purview of the report. Relevant State Department officials refused to participate and Horowitz lacked the subpoena power to compel their testimony.
That section of the report states:
We reviewed relevant information that other U.S. government agencies provided to the FBI in the course of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Because the activities of other agencies were not within the scope of this review, we did not seek to obtain records from them that the FBI never received or reviewed, except for a limited amount of State Department records relating to Steele.
Two witnesses, Glenn Simpson and Jonathan Winer (a former State Department official), declined our requests for voluntary interviews, and we were unable to compel their testimony. The OIG does not have authority to subpoena for testimony former Department employees or third parties who may have relevant information about an FBI or Department program or operation.
The Winer mentioned is former State Department official Jonathan Winer who exchanged documents and information with anti-Trump dossier author Christopher Steele, and passed the dossier contents to other officials at Kerry’s State Department. Winer admitted to receiving information from Clinton associate Sidney Blumenthal that originated with Cody Shearer, a shadowy former tabloid journalist who has long been closely associated with various Clinton scandals. Winer conceded that he passed Shearer’s anti-Trump material to Steele.
Winer is one of several State Department officials who played key roles in disseminating the dossier and even in reportedly greenlighting the FBI’s original contact with Steele where the ex-British spy fed the FBI unsubstantiated dossier information. Steele’s dossier, financed by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, played a key role in not only guiding the FBI’s Russia probe but also in the Obama administration’s successful applications to obtain successive FISA warrants to spy on former campaign adviser Carter Page.
Victoria Nuland, a senior official in Kerry’s State Department, has come under repeated fire for her various roles in the anti-Trump dossier controversy. Nuland, by the way, happens to have worked closely with alleged Ukraine “whistleblower” Eric Ciaramella.
Muddying the waters, Breitbart News previously reported that Winer and Nuland gave seemingly conflicting accounts of Nuland’s handling of the Trump hoax dossier.
In their book, Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump, authors and reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn write that Nuland gave the green light for the FBI to first meet with Steele regarding his dossier’s claims. It was at that meeting that Steele initially reported his dossier charges to the FBI, the book relates.
FBI notes cite career Justice Department official Bruce Ohr as saying that Nuland was in touch with Fusion GPS co-founder and dossier producer Glenn Simpson. Horowitz’s report only mentions that glaring detail as an aside in one footnote.
Sen. John McCain, who infamously delivered the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey, reportedly first dispatched his aide, David J. Kramer to inquire with Nuland about the dossier claims.
Besides Winer and Nuland, Kerry’s former chief of staff John Finer reportedly circulated a dossier summary while at the State Department.
Also, Winer wrote in a Washington Post oped that Nuland recommended that the dossier be taken to Kerry, raising questions about whether Kerry played any role in the dossier scandal that helped spark the FBI’s Russia probe.
Biden, meanwhile, is not once mentioned in Horowitz’s extensive IG report even though he was reportedly one of the few Obama administration officials who participated in secretive meetings during the controversial early stages of the Obama-era intelligence community’s initial operations regarding suspected Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
That tidbit was contained deep inside a 7,700-plus word Washington Post article published June 23, 2017 in which the newspaper also detailed the highly compartmentalized nature of the original Russia interference investigation and the manner in which other U.S. intelligence agencies were deliberately kept in the dark.
Colin Kahl, who served as Biden’s national security adviser, also participated in the early principals’ meetings that took place at the White House to discuss the questionable early stages of the Russia investigation, according to the book by Isikoff and Corn.
What roles did Biden and Kahl play in the Russia probe? We still don’t know.
Biden was also documented as being present in the Oval Office for a conversation about the controversial Russia probe between President Obama, Comey, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and other senior officials including Obama’s national security advisor Susan Rice.
In an action characterized as “odd” last year by then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Rice memorialized the confab in an email to herself describing Obama as starting “the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities ‘by the book.’”
In light of Horowitz’s inability or perhaps even failure to extend his report beyond its narrow confines within the FBI, Durham’s investigation becomes all the more necessary. The Durham probe is reported to be broader in scope than Horowitz’s, but if he is going to get to the bottom of the Russia hoax Durham’s roadmap must run through the State Department as well as Biden, Rice and other key players.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this story.