“An FBI agent faulted for some of the most significant problems laid out in the Justice Department’s inspector general report on FISA abuse against a Trump campaign associate has been identified.
The New York Times, citing people familiar with the FBI’s Russia probe, identified Stephen A. Somma, a counterintelligence investigator who works out of the bureau’s New York field office, as “Case Agent 1” from the inspector general’s (IG) report.
(…) According to the IG report, he was the FBI agent who initially sought a surveillance warrant against Page. Somma pushed for a FISA warrant “almost immediately” after the FBI opened Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016, the IG said.
Somma’s initial request was rejected, but FBI lawyers later approved seeking a FISA warrant on Page after the bureau received information from former British spy Christopher Steele. In his dossier, Steele alleged that Page was a key player in the Trump campaign’s “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.
The IG report said the FBI failed to verify the allegations about Page before using Steele’s information in FISA applications. The special counsel’s investigation undercut the idea that Page or anyone on the Trump team worked with Russians.
Somma was in charge of verifying the accuracy of information included in the FISA applications. He was also the FBI handler for Stefan Halper, a former Cambridge professor who met with and secretly recorded Trump campaign aides Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos.
The IG report said Somma failed to disclose potentially exculpatory information that Page and Papadopoulos told Halper. He also failed to disclose that the CIA told him on Aug. 15, 2016, that Page had been an “operational contact” for the agency years earlier.
Perhaps Somma’s most egregious omission deals with an interview he conducted in January 2017 with Steele’s primary source for information in the dossier.
According to the IG report, the Steele source, referred to as “Primary Sub-Source,” told FBI agents that Steele misrepresented information attributed to him in the dossier, including about Page. The FBI and Justice Department failed to disclose the information in its final two applications for FISA orders on Page.