Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his long-awaited report on suspected abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court on Monday, and since then several news organizations have had an opportunity to pore over it.
The report contains some scary, disturbing findings that really ought to concern every single American, because it lays out in detail how some of the most powerful entities in our government abused their power in order to target a leading presidential campaign.
— The report substantiates earlier independent media reporting that claimed the FBI used an unsubstantiated, uncorroborated “dossier” to justify its spying on the Trump campaign. In particular, the FBI failed to inform the FISA Court that information contained in the dossier was never confirmed and that the document itself was, in fact, political opposition research paid for by the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party.
— Counterintelligence Division Assistant Director E. W. “Bill” Priestap decided not to warn then-candidate Donald Trump and his campaign about Russian interference in the election because “if someone in the campaign was engaged with the Russians, he/she would seek to cover-up his/her activities, thereby preventing us from finding the truth,” he said, according to the IG’s report. Meanwhile, the FBI warned Hillary Clinton that Russia likely hacked her campaign manager’s email.
— Justice Department and FBI policy did not require the bureau to consult with any DoJ officials before using spies to infiltrate a major political party’s presidential campaign, and Comey’s FBI chose not to. But “consultation, at a minimum, is required by Department and FBI policies in numerous other sensitive circumstances,” the report said.
— “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,’” Breitbart News reported.
— The “Crossfire Hurricane” team (the codename given the Trump campaign probe) did not inform DoJ officials of significant information available to them at the time the FISA applications on Page, the Trump campaign official put under surveillance, were written and filed. The report said, “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.”
— FBI officials made false claims on their FISA applications. Specifically, FBI agents “did not question dossier author and former British spy Christopher Steele about his role in a September 23, 2016 Yahoo News article headlined, ‘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 communications channels with Kremlin officials.” But the bureau claimed in Page FISA warrant applications, with no supporting data, that Steele hadn’t “directly provided’ information to Yahoo News. (Related: Didn’t Horowitz just give Trump permission to spy on ALL his political opponents using the deep state apparatus?)
— FBI leaders relied on Steele’s dossier information to seek a surveillance order on Page even after being told it was simply political dirt paid for by Team Clinton and there could be some 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 agents and personnel fell “far short” of rules ensuring that “all factual statements” on FISA warrant applications were “scrupulously accurate.” Spying on American citizens in almost all circumstances is highly illegal; it can only be done in very specific cases and for very specific threats — and only after agencies are granted a surveillance warrant by the FISA court.
The report said, “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.”
— Even after Steele was fired as a source more than a dozen times, the FBI continued to solicit him for information.
— The FBI sent a field agent to a Trump campaign briefing to spy because the bureau knew that Michael Flynn, Trump’s first (short lived) national security adviser who had been deemed a subject of investigation, was going to be there. The FBI used a campaign briefing to spy on Flynn, in other words.
Some heads need to roll.