Former FBI Director James Comey was either “asleep at the switch or politically biased against” Donald Trump, determined Charles “Cully” Stimson, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, in a Tuesday interview with Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily.
Marlow invited Stimson’s analysis of Justice Department Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz’s report regarding the Obama administration’s use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court authorizations to surveil associates of President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
“The 30,000-foot view for me is that these were serious performance failures — that’s a quote from the IG — that the mistakes, errors, and omissions related to the FISA application for Carter Page did not even come close to meeting the DOJ’s standards of having scrupulously accurate information,” replied Stimson.
“The FBI had information that was truthful, and they chose not to put it in the applications for the federal judges… As a former DOJer and a former federal prosecutor, I’m shocked [and] I’m saddened that the FBI that I worked with would be okay with this,” he stated.
“The other big-picture item here is that this report is focused only on what the FBI and the DOJ had, and a little bit of State Department information,” noted Stimson. “John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, who’s looking at this broadly, and the genesis of this — why it started in the first place — came out yesterday which is really extraordinary, and really stepped on the IG’s report.”
Stimson said, “There was no documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decision to start this, I think Durham’s going to come out the other way. It’s either gross incompetence, which it clearly was pathetic, or something else, or both. I think Durham’s going to tell us what the other side is.”
The gravity of an FBI investigation regarding allegations of the Russian state’s conspiracy with a major political campaign would require the attention of the bureau’s director, explained Stimson.
“When you’re the captain of a ship, and here [James Comey] was the head of the FBI, and there is an allegation — a credible allegation — that the Russians were trying to mess with our election, which they tried to and they really tried hard, and that a major candidate [or] a political party might be in cahoots with them — or people in their campaign might be cahoots [with Russia] — do you think you might want to spend some time paying attention to details?” asked Stimson.
Stimson went on, “Do you think you may want to spend some time personally reaching down and looking at those FISA applications if you’re going to go down that road and make sure that you honor the scrupulously accurate piece of information, scrupulously accurate standard to put everything in that FISA application is 100 percent true?”
“[James Comey] was either asleep at the switch or politically biased against the president, and allowed this sloppy pathetic errors and omissions to take place,” assessed Stimson. “When you’re the skipper, you have to take charge and you’ve got to own it. If he wants to own this report? Good on him. It is terrible work on behalf of the FBI.”
Stimson listed some of the FBI’s misconduct identified by the IG report.
“Senior management supervisors and senior officials that this report talks about had information and made 17 significant errors or omissions, not only seven or eight in the first FISA application, but then more information came to light to them and they doubled down on the second, third, and fourth FISA applications,” Stimson highlighted.
“[The FBI] specifically [and] deliberately omitted exculpatory information that — in the world I used to live in is called Brady information — the other side should know,” Stimson added.
Stimson said, “The government had an obligation to tell the judge, ‘Oh, by the way, Steele isn’t credible. Steele’s funding is coming from here.’ So, they had an obligation to tell the court that, and in fact, I think that if they bowled the ball right down the middle and they looked at this and they stuck to their scrupulous standard, they wouldn’t even have gone to the FISA court in the first place.”
The FBI did not advise the FISA court about Carter Page’s “prior relationship with the CIA to get information about the Russians” in its application for a surveillance warrant against him on suspicion of his being “in cahoots with the Russians,” remarked Stimson, adding, “I think the judge, and I used to be a military judge, I’d like to have known that. That would have been helpful to me. That’s a biggie.”
“[The FBI made a] false claim that Christopher Steele’s prior reporting was — as a source for the FBI — reliable and had been corroborated in criminal proceedings,” added Stimson. “It wasn’t reliable, and it hadn’t been used in criminal proceedings. That’s a biggie. That is a big, big deal. [The FBI also omitted] that Steele himself admitted that the primary subsource — that’s the source to him — of information in his report was a boaster, an egotist, and may engage in some embellishment. Let me call that what it is: a liar.”
Stimson said, “[The FBI] hid the stuff that would discredit or cast a weird light on [Christopher Steele] and his connections or his subsources. They just omitted it. And to make it worse, then when they removed the applications, it contained a statement that the FBI found the primary subsource — Steele’s source — to be truthful and cooperative. So they doubled down on this. This is an intentional act to try to prop a source up as if they’re truthful and credible, and they’re [telling] the court that that’s true. That’s amazing.”
“These judges should be mad as a wet hen — I mean mad, mad, mad — that they got used for whatever reasons and found out on these warrants,” argued Stimson, adding, “Another major faux pas is asserting that Christopher Steele was not responsible for the Yahoo News report on the election-related research on Trump, and when the FBI hid [that] information, they knew he was the source. They didn’t tell the court that.”
Stimson remarked, “Any one of these 17 factoids that they omitted on purpose would’ve been enough for a judge to say, ‘Uh, uh, I need more. I can’t sign off on this warrant.’ Any one alone would have been enough to knock this out, but it’s the cumulative effect of all of these that show a deliberate pattern of deception, deceit… These were not innocent mistakes… These were deliberate acts.”
“This is a foreign government — Russia — trying to mess with our election, our country,” added Stimson. “We should all be offended at that, and [the FBI thinks] that a major party candidate — Trump — was in cahoots with the Russians to win the election, this is where leadership matters, scrupulously accurate matters, you own it, so Comey owns every one of these 460-some pages of this report. If he’s proud of it, that’s an odd thing to be proud of.”
Marlow asked about difficulties in establishing motives on the part of FBI officials involved in the aforementioned misconduct in the event of future prosecutions.
“In the hundreds of cases I’ve prosecuted and the dozens I’ve defended as a criminal defense attorney, motive has never been an element,” replied Stimson. “It’s not an element of any crime that’s on any criminal book, federal or state. Now, the jury’s always wondering, ‘Why did Suzy or Johnny do that?’ That’s lurking in the background, but there’s an old southern saying, ‘If you go into the woods and see a turtle high on a tree stump, you know he didn’t get there by himself.'”
Stimson went on, “If [John Durham] decides that a crime was committed, and that X committed the crime, and he has evidence that can prove beyond a reasonable doubt to each and every element of the offense, then he can march into court, try that case, and then try to explain why it happened.”
“So the why — the motive — is not an element, but people are curious as to why it happened, and then let the defense figure out an alternative defense and try to defend against that, but I’m not worried about the motive, because that’s never an element of an offense in a criminal trial,” stated Stimson.
Stimson recalled Christopher Steele’s relationship with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign while addressing other omissions of information in the FBI’s applications for surveillance warrants against Trump campaign associates.
“When you’re filling out an application before any judge … and you have to abide by the scrupulously accurate standard so that they can find probable cause to issue the warrant, it would have been helpful to put in the fact that Steele’s dozen dossiers were going straight to the Clinton campaign,” Stimson said. “That would have been helpful for a judge to know, that Fusion GPS was paying Steele to discuss his reporting in the media, that he was a paid songbird, basically. A court would’ve loved to know that, I’m sure, and that Steele was, quote, ‘desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and passionate about him not being the U.S. president,’ unquote. If you’d put that in front of any judge and you said, ‘This is our top guy,’ the judge would’ve gone, ‘That’s all you got? You don’t have anyone else?'”
Stimson went on, “That’s clearly political bias… Steele was their main, and the Steele dossiers were the sine qua non, the be-all and end-all of these four FISA applications. In fact, the language they used is that the Steele dossiers played a, quote, ‘central and essential role in the FBI and Department of Justice’s decision to seek a FISA order,’ so it was the sole pillar — the main pillar — upon which their case was built, and here you have all of these warts for Steele, and the court wasn’t made aware of it, so they pulled the wool over the eyes of the court, and that’ despicable misconduct”
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