Newly declassified documents show that in order to build its dubious case of Russian collusion to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, James Comey’s FBI utilized the misleading Democratic Party talking point that Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign had the Republican Party platform gutted so as to “not provide defensive weapons to Ukraine.”
Last Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham released a trove of documents from the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation into Trump’s campaign, including a less redacted version of Comey’s FISA warrant applications to spy on Page, who served as a tangential adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The declassified sections underscore that it order to obtain four successive warrants to spy on Page, the FBI relied heavily on the Christopher Steele dossier alleging debunked Russian collision charges. The dossier was produced by Fusion GPS, which was paid for its anti-Trump work by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
One section shows just how thin the FBI’s arguments to the FISA court were in a bid to build a background narrative alleging Russian collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. This narrative was successfully utilized by the FBI to obtain four successive warrants to spy on Page. Comey personally signed three of the four warrant applications.
The disclosure reveals that the FISA warrant cites a “July 2016 article in an identified news organization” claiming that Trump’s campaign “worked behind the scenes to make sure” the GOP “platform would not call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces, contradicting the view of almost all [the Republican Party’s] foreign policy leaders.”
Without offering any evidence, the FISA application claims “the FBI assesses that, following Page’s meetings in Russia, Page helped influence Political Party #1 and Candidate #1′ s campaign to alter their platforms to be more sympathetic to Russia.”
Political Party #1 refers to the Republican Party and Candidate #1 is Trump. Page repeatedly denied having the meetings in Russia referred to in the FISA applications.
There are several layers of problems with the FBI’s claims to the FISA court about the Republican Party platform.
Firstly, the “July 2016 article” is actually an opinion piece by the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin titled “Trump campaign guts GOP’s anti-Russia stance on Ukraine.”
Second, the charge, which comes mostly from that Washington Post opinion piece, remains so unproven that even the left-leaning PolitiFact failed to reach a judgement on the issue, allowing “it’s hard to use those news reports as evidence in this fact-check.”
The entire issue revolved around one platform committee member, a Ted Cruz supporter, who wanted to use language calling for the U.S. to provide “lethal defensive weapons” to the Ukrainian military. Instead the platform eventually called for “appropriate assistance” to Ukraine – which leaves open the possibility of providing “lethal defensive weapons” – and called for “greater coordination with NATO defense planning.”
That was enough for the Washington Post’s Rogin to pen his piece.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow used the tidbit to claim on television that “something weird” happened regarding “that Ukraine and Russia thing” on the platform. She claimed the Trump campaign “jumped right up on that and they insisted that that plank only, that one, had to be taken out, that language could not stand.”
Writing at the Washington Examiner, media critic Byron York noted:
Missing from all the talk is what the Republican platform actually said before it was allegedly “gutted” by Trump. What did the original draft of the platform say about Russia and Ukraine? Was it, in fact, changed? If so, how?
As it turns out, a look at the original draft of the platform — which has never been released publicly — shows that it always had tough language on Russian aggression in Ukraine. And not only did that language stay in the final platform — nothing was taken out — it was actually strengthened, not weakened, as a result of events at the convention. …
Not only that, the later, final platform contained a few additional words on Russia and Ukraine that weren’t in the original draft. To the first passage cited above, after “from the Baltic to the Caucasus,” the GOP platform committee added this:
“We support maintaining and, if warranted, increasing sanctions, together with our allies, against Russia unless and until Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are fully restored. We also support providing appropriate appropriate assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine and greater coordination with NATO defense planning.”
The past two weeks, numerous documents have been declassified showing major issues with the FBI’s Russia collusion probe, including exposing the agency’s repeated reliance on the dossier.
Declassified footnotes from the full Inspector General report released in December probing the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation document numerous glaring issues with Steele and his dossier claims.
For one, the footnotes show the FBI obtained information from a source that the dossier’s most infamous claim, the unsubstantiated “golden showers” charge about Trump, was not only false but was likely a product of Russian disinformation.
Another footnote says the Russian Intelligence Service may have targeted Obris, Steele’s company, and that Russian intelligence was aware of Steele’s investigation into Trump.
Another bombshell footnote documents the FBI was not only aware Steele’s dossier was potentially influenced by Russian “disinformation”, the agency also had information from sources totally denying some of Steele’s main claims.
One FBI document shows that as early as 2015, a unit within the FBI was skeptical of Steele’s Russian contacts and recommended that his work be put through a validation review.
The FBI, however, didn’t conduct such a review until 2017 and even then, didn’t include the results of the review in Steele’s official file at the agency’s electronic record-keeping system.
Before those footnotes, there were already questions about whether Steele’s so-called sources were a product of Russian misinformation.
As Breitbart News previously reported, a book by the co-founders of Fusion GPS disclosed that Steele was unable to travel to Russia because the Russian government had reason since 1999 to suspect he was an MI6 intelligence officer. The information raises questions about the credibility of any supposed information on Trump that could be obtained by Steele from alleged Russian sources given that Russia had already suspected his ties to British intelligence.
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.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKlein_