“Shortly after the release of the special counsel report last year, I posited that Robert Mueller’s failure to investigate whether Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election by feeding dossier author Christopher Steele disinformation established that Mueller was either incompetent or a political hack. Now, with the release of the inspector general’s report on FISA abuse, we know the answer: He was both.
(…) As the IG report noted, “on May 17, 2017, the Crossfire Hurricane cases were transferred to the Office of the Special Counsel,” and the FBI agents and analysts then began working with the special counsel. A little more than a month later, the FBI asked the Department of Justice to seek a fourth extension of the Page surveillance order. That fourth renewal obtained under Mueller’s leadership included the 17 significant inaccuracies and omissions the IG identified.
(Timeline editor’s note: It is our understanding there are not 17 individual significant inaccuracies that were found in each FISA application. Instead, it is a grand total of significant inaccuracies in all of the Page FISA applications, combined.)
(…) Most significantly, in June 2017, the FBI’s office of general counsel falsely represented that Page had not been a source for another federal agency, when, in reality, Page had been approved as an “operational contact” and the FBI’s attorney had been told so in an email. Yet the final surveillance renewal application failed to inform the FISA court that, while Page had connections with individuals connected to Russian intelligence, he had provided information about those contacts to another agency as an approved source.
(…) Not only did Mueller’s team continue to push the same inaccuracies and omissions to the FISA court in the June 2017 renewal, the FISA court was not informed of the many mistakes and omissions for another year—even though the special counsel’s investigation should have uncovered many of the errors contained in the applications early on in the probe.
(…) Mueller’s team also knew, by July 2017 at the latest, that Joseph Mifsud—the Maltese professor who supposedly tipped then-Trump aide George Papadopoulos to the Russians having dirt on Hillary Clinton—had denied telling Papadopoulos that the Russians could assist the Trump campaign by leaking negative information on Clinton. Prior to the special counsel’s appointment, the FBI had interviewed Papadopoulos and Mifsud, but it would be the special counsel’s office that indicted Papadopoulos in late July 2017, charging him with lying to the FBI.
(…) It also wasn’t mere incompetence on display: The special counsel’s office also engaged in much of the same misconduct the IG identified. For instance, emblematic of Mueller’s complicity in misconduct Horowitz identified is the fact that the special counsel continued to use Bruce Ohr as a conduit to feed “intel” to the FBI from Steele after Steele was terminated as a confidential human source.
(…) That the special counsel’s team engaged with Ohr without notifying to Ohr’s superiors shouldn’t surprise, though, as that was the M.O. of Mueller’s pit bull, lawyer Andrew Weissmann. The IG report exposed this reality, in detail. Specifically, the IG report explained that shortly after Trump was elected president:
…between November 16, 2016 and December 15, 2016, Ohr participated in several meetings that were attended, at various times, by some or all of the following individuals: Swartz, Ahmad, Andrew Weissmann (then Section Chief of CRM’s Fraud Section), Strzok, and Lisa Page. The meetings involving Ohr, Swartz, Ahmad, and Weissmann focused on their shared concern that the [Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section] MLARS was not moving quickly enough on the Manafort criminal investigation and whether there were steps they could take to move the investigation forward. The meetings with Strzok and Page focused primarily on whether the FBI could assess the case’s relevance, if any, to the FBI ‘s Russian interference investigation. MLARS was not represented at any of these meetings or told about them, and none of attendees had supervisory responsibility over the MLARS investigation….
On January 31, 2017, one day after Yates was removed as DAG, Ahmad, by then an Acting CRM Deputy Assistant Attorney General, after consulting with Swartz and Weissmann, sent an email to Lisa Page, copying Weissmann, Swartz, and Ohr, requesting a meeting the next day to discuss ‘a few Criminal Division related developments.’ The next day, February 1, Swartz, Ohr, Ahmad, and Weissmann met with Strzok, Lisa Page, and an FBI Acting Section Chief. None of the attendees at the meeting could explain to us what the ‘Criminal Division related developments’ were, and we did not find any.
Meeting notes reflect, among other things, that the group discussed the Manafort criminal investigation and efforts that the Department could undertake to investigate attempts by Russia to influence the 2016 elections. MLARS was not represented at, or told about, the meeting.