Carter Page

January 10, 2020 – An Ex-DOJ official who is chosen by FISC Judge James Boasberg to assist in FISA reform, was ardent defender of FBI’s surveillance of Carter Page

Judge James Boasberg (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM/The Associated Press)

“A former Justice Department official picked Friday to oversee the FBI’s reforms of its surveillance procedures in the wake of a damning inspector general’s report was one of the many pundits during the Russia probe to defend the bureau’s surveillance of Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

David S. Kris, a former assistant attorney general for national security, was also an outspoken critic of Rep. Devin Nunes and other congressional Republicans who accused the FBI of misleading the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) in applications to wiretap Page.

An inspector general’s (IG) report released Dec. 9, 2019, largely vindicated Republicans and Page. The report identified 17 errors and omissions the FBI made in its four applications to surveil Page. The IG also said the FBI was unable to corroborate allegations that Page was a Russian agent.

Judge James E. Boasberg, who presides over the FISC, tapped Kris [to] serve as amicus curiae for a review of the FBI’s handling of the Page surveillance warrants. In that role, Kris will “assist” the FISC in assessing the FBI’s implementation of a series of reforms to address the problems uncovered in the IG report.

Assistant Attorney General David Kris (l) of the Justice Department’s National Security Division testifies with Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson before the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 7, 2009. (Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Nunes and Page both panned the choice of Kris given his past commentary defending the FBI.

“It’s hard to imagine a worse person the FISC could have chosen outside Comey, McCabe, or Schiff,” Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.  

“The choice is shocking and inexplicable.”

Page also weighed in on Kris’s selection to oversee the FBI’s reforms.

“If there were any hope for the system fixing this FISA mess, it extinguished with David Kris’ appointment,” he told The DCNF.

“Nobody trying to fix the rampant abuse and coverup plaguing the entire FISA process would have picked Kris,” continued Page, who called Kris a “longtime FISA apologist.”

“Instead, you appoint Kris for only one reason: you don’t want the system fixed. You just want it to look like you do.”

(Read more: The Daily Caller, 1/11/2020)  (Archive)

December 20, 2019 – FISA Court Owes Some Answers

Kimberly Strassel

“Federal Bureau of Investigation for “misconduct” in the Carter Page surveillance warrant. Some would call this accountability. Others will more rightly call it the FISC’s “shocked to find gambling” moment.

Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer issued her four-page rebuke of the FBI Tuesday, after a Justice Department inspector general report publicly exposing the FBI’s abuses. The judge blasted the FBI for misleading the court by providing “unsupported or contradicted” information and by withholding exculpatory details about Mr. Page. The FISC noted the seriousness of the conduct and gave the FBI until Jan. 10 to explain how it will do better.

The order depicts a court stunned to discover that the FBI failed in its “duty of candor,” and angry it was duped. That’s disingenuous. To buy it, you’d have to believe that not one of the court’s 11 members—all federal judges—caught a whiff of this controversy until now. More importantly, you’d have to ignore that the court was directly informed of the FBI’s abuses nearly two years ago.

On Feb. 7, 2018, Devin Nunes, then chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to Judge Collyer informing her of its findings in his probe of the FBI’s Page application. He wrote that “the Committee found that the FBI and DOJ failed to disclose the specific political actors paying for uncorroborated information” that went to the court, “misled the FISC regarding dissemination of this information,” and “failed to correct these errors in the subsequent renewals.” Mr. Nunes asked the court whether any transcripts of FISC hearings about this application existed, and if so, to provide them to the committee.

Judge Collyer responded a week later, with a dismissive letter that addressed only the last request. The judge observed that any such transcripts would be classified, that the court doesn’t maintain a “systematic record” of proceedings and that, given “separation of power considerations,” Mr. Nunes would be better off asking the Justice Department. The letter makes no reference to the Intelligence Committee findings. (Read more: The Wall Street Journal, 12/20/2019)  (Archive)

December 20, 2019 – The FISA court does not call for a review of all FBI FISA deceptions

Submitted to Zero Hedge by Twitter journalist Techno Fog (@Techno_Fog)

“This week, Presiding Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) Judge Rosemary Collyer, released two stern Orders taking the FBI to task for its repeated failures, omissions, and misrepresentations in its application and subsequent renewals to surveil Carter Page.

And while one FBI employee has received a criminal referral for doctoring evidence in the scheme to defraud the court, key players with oversight responsibilities – under penalty of perjury – have been given a pass.

(…) While it’s laudable that Judge Collyer has ordered the government to double-check their submissions in the prior FISA applications that involved Clinesmith, what about the previous FISA applications verified by the FBI agents who lied – under penalty of perjury, we might add – in the Carter Page applications and renewals?

In other words, whether an FBI lawyer changes an e-mail about a target’s history of cooperation with the CIA or an FBI agent lies about the underlying intelligence, the goal is the same: secure the warrant through deception. Both these acts are criminal. Why is only one deserving of review?

Related: A Techno_Fog thread on Joe Pientka, and the FBI’s efforts to keep him out of the spotlight (click a tweet to read the rest):

(Read more: Zero Hedge, 12/22/2019)  (Archive)

December 20, 2019 – Adam Schiff says he has no sympathy for Carter Page, doesn’t regret writing memo defending FBI

Adam Schiff appears on PBS Firing Line with Margaret Hoover on December 20, 2019. (Credit: PBS clipping)

“Rep. Adam Schiff said in an interview aired Friday that he has no sympathy for Carter Page and that he also has no regrets about writing in a memo released in 2018 that the FBI did not abuse the foreign surveillance process in order to spy on the former Trump campaign aide.

Schiff offered the remarks when asked in a PBS interview about the Justice Department inspector general’s (IG) report, which found the FBI withheld exculpatory information in applications seeking Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Page.

(…) “I have to say Carter Page came before our committee and for hours of his testimony, denied things that we knew were true, later had to admit them during his testimony,” said Schiff.

“It’s hard to be sympathetic to someone who isn’t honest with you when he comes and testifies under oath. It’s also hard to be sympathetic when you have someone who has admitted to being an adviser to the Kremlin.”

The report stated the FBI relied heavily on the Steele dossier in the applications, which asserted Page was a Russian agent. But the IG found the FBI was unable to corroborate any of the dossier’s allegations about Page. The report also said a major source for dossier author Christopher Steele told the FBI in January 2017 that parts of the dossier were exaggerated and misrepresented.

(Read more: The Daily Caller, 12/21/2019)  (Archive)

UPDATE: Carter Page tweets a response to Adam Schiff the following day:

December 20, 2019 – The FISA Court orders a review of all FISA filings handled by FBI lawyer facing criminal investigation

Carter Page, petroleum industry consultant and former foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential election campaign, in Washington on May 28, 2019. (Credit: Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ordered a review of all Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act filings handled by Kevin Clinesmith, the FBI lawyer who altered a key document about Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

The FISA court confirmed Clinesmith had been referred to the Justice Department for a possible criminal investigation. Judge Rosemary Collyer, who leads the FISA court, ordered the DOJ to bring it up to speed on everything it had learned about Clinesmith’s conduct and to explain why there was a delay between the conclusion of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s investigation and the court being told what misconduct had been unearthed.

Specifically, the FISA court ordered the DOJ to “identify all other matters currently or previously before this court that involved the participation” of Clinesmith. The court also ordered the DOJ to “describe any steps taken or to be taken by the Department of Justice or FBI to verify that the United States’s submissions in those matters completely and fully described the material facts and circumstances,” unlike the Page FISA filings. Third, court ordered the DOJ to “advise whether the conduct” of Clinesmith has been “referred to the appropriate bar associations for investigation or possible disciplinary action.”

Several months before its first FISA filing against Page, the FBI was informed Page had been a source of information for the CIA in the past, a fact the bureau failed to include in its initial filing or any of its renewals. A liaison from the CIA reminded Clinesmith, who was a part of the team reviewing the Page FISA filings, about Page’s previous relationship with the agency. But instead of accurately informing the FBI supervisory special agent so that the FISA court could be properly informed, Clinesmith altered the email to falsely state that Page was “not a source.”

This public order follows a scathing letter from Collyer directed at the bureau released earlier this week.

“The FBI’s handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the [Horowitz] report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above,” said Collyer, who approved the initial surveillance warrant against Page.” (Read more: The Washington Examiner, 12/21/2019)  (Archive)

December 9, 2019 – The IG FISA report notes James Comey’s inconsistencies in his statements re Carter Page

James Comey on his book tour in July 2019. (Credit: Frank Franklin II/The Associated Press)

(…) “Comey also told the IG that “he did not recall himself having any knowledge of Carter Page’s existence until the middle of 2016.” But, as the IG report stressed, Comey’s statements are called into question by “internal email communications” that reflect that in April 2016, the New York Field Office “prepared summaries of the information that ultimately led NYFO to open a counterintelligence investigation on Carter Page on April 6, 2016.” Those were provided to officials at headquarters “for a ‘Director’s note; and a separate ‘Director’s Brief’ to be held on April 27, 2016.”

Notwithstanding these inconsistencies, the IG report stressed, that the IG “was unable to question Comey further using classified details Lynch described to us because, as noted in Chapter One, Comey choose not to have his security clearances reinstated for our interview.”

The IG report then stresses twice more Comey’s lack of a security clearance as a reason investigators were unable to assess Comey’s level of knowledge of the facts misstated in the FISA applications. In discussing “the extent of FBI leadership’s knowledge as to each fact stated incorrectly or omitted from the FISA applications”—seven significant inaccuracies and omissions in total—the IG stressed that multiple factors made it difficult to assess the knowledge of the FBI hierarchy.

“These factors included, among other things,” the IG report noted, “limited recollections, the inability to question Comey or refresh his recollection with relevant, classified documentation because of his lack of a security clearance, and the absence of meeting minutes that would show the specific details shared with Comey and McCabe during briefings they received, beyond the more general investigative updates that we know they were provided.

However, while noting the IG’s inability to determine the “extent of FBI leadership’s knowledge,” the report highlighted reasons to believe such knowledge existed: “As the FBI’s senior leaders, Comey and McCabe would have had greater access to case information than Department leadership and also more interaction with senior [Counterintelligence Division] officials and the investigation team. Further, as described in Chapter Three, [Counterintelligence Division] officials orally briefed the Crossfire Hurricane cases to FBI senior leadership throughout the investigation. McCabe received more briefings than Comey, but both received oral briefings of the team’s investigative activities.” (Read more: The Federalist, 12/09/2019)  (Archive)

December 9, 2019 – IG Report: The FBI doctored evidence to falsely paint Carter Page as a Russian spy

Kevin Clinesmith (Credit: public domain)

“A wide-ranging investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general (IG) found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) deliberately doctored evidence it presented to the nation’s top spy court in order to gain authority to spy on a key Trump affiliate.

The 476-page report from Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that the FBI falsely claimed to the FISA Court not only that Carter Page was a Russian agent, but also falsely claimed that an unnamed intelligence agency had told the FBI that Page was “not a source” in their efforts to surveil and curtail Russian intelligence efforts.

Page, who had previously been an informant and witness for the United States in a federal espionage case against a Russian intelligence official, was targeted by the Obama FBI as a Russian spy helping Putin to steal the election from Hillary Clinton in 2016. According to the IG report, before the FBI and DOJ went to the FISA Court to apply for a warrant to spy on Page, an unnamed U.S. intelligence agency had told the FBI that Carter Page had previously assisted that agency’s efforts against Russian spies. Although exculpatory information about potential spy targets is required in spy warrant applications, Obama’s FBI and DOJ deliberately withheld that information from the spy court in order to paint Page in the worst possible light.

Carter Page (Credit: public domain)

The FBI’s malfeasance in the matter did not stop there. Ahead of an application to renew the spy warrant in 2017, a top FBI lawyer doctored evidence from the unnamed agency which confirmed that contrary to FBI claims that he was a Russian spy, Page had in fact assisted the United States in its efforts to counter Russian operations. An e-mail from the agency that clearly stated Page was “a source” for them was doctored by Kevin Clinesmith, a top FBI national security lawyer, to give the opposite impression to the federal spy court.

“The [Office of General Counsel] Attorney altered and sent the e-mail to a [supervisory special agent], who thereafter relied on it to swear out the third FISA application,” the IG report notes. Upon learning that a top FBI lawyer doctored evidence against a former Trump campaign affiliate to justify spying on him, the IG referred the attorney to DOJ for criminal prosecution.

Text messages from that same lawyer after the 2016 election revealed that he was an anti-Trump activist. “Viva la Resistance!” he texted on November 22, 2016, while in the midst of investigating Trump. He would later be terminated from the Mueller probe for conduct which a previous IG report said “brought discredit” to the FBI. Of FBI documents he approved authorizing spying on Trump campaign, Clinesmith wrote: “[M]y god damned name is all over the legal documents investigating his staff.”

“[W]ho knows if that breaks to him what he is going to do,” Clinesmith continued, apparently worried about the ramifications of his illicit behavior against the Trump campaign. It is unclear whether he doctored evidence against Trump to protect his own career and reputation or simply because of anti-Trump animus. At the time, Clinesmith worked under James Baker, the FBI General Counsel who was a close confidant of fired former director James Comey. Baker was one of a slew of former deputies who resigned or were fired as the Russia collusion hoax imploded.” (Read more: The Federalist, 12/10/2019)  (Archive)

December 9, 2019 – The DOJ IG report misses yet another lie from the FBI

“Left-leaning politicians and the press spent more than three years pushing the Russia collusion hoax. Yet, following the inspector general’s release of his 478-page report on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse, after making quick mention of the top-line findings, the media moved on. As a result, much has been missed, including one significant misrepresentation contained in all four of the Carter Page FISA applications—an inaccuracy even the IG’s team overlooked.

Two passages, separated by more than 50 pages, when read together reveal an eighth significant inaccuracy and omission from the first FISA application, and one repeated in the later three renewals: Steele’s sources and sub-sources were not ones he used or developed during his time with the British intelligence service MI6, contrary to the impression created in the FISA applications.

This detail was dropped in a footnote in the IG report, following this text: “Steele told us he had a source network in place with a proven ‘track record’ that could deliver on Fusion GPS’s requirements. Steele added that this source network previously had furnished intelligence on Russian interference in European affairs.”

The relevant footnote, footnote 214, then read: “Steele told us that this source network did not involve sources from his time as a [redacted] and was developed entirely in the period after he retired from government service.” The redacted language undoubtedly referred to Steele’s British intelligence work.

That Steele’s “source network did not involve sources from his time” with British intelligence proves extremely significant when considered in tandem with the details the IG provided about the FISA application process in general, and the specifics of the Page FISA applications.” (Read more: The Federalist, 1/02/2020)  (Archive)

December 9, 2019 – The IG FISA report reveals James Comey and Loretta Lynch contradictions

James B. Comey and Loretta E. Lynch during a news conference in 2016. (Credit: Mandel Ngan/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

(…) “The IG report also stressed Comey’s lack of a security clearance in discussing inconsistencies between his and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s statements to the IG. The report noted that “Lynch told the OIG that after one of her weekly security meetings at FBI Headquarters in the spring of 2016, Comey and McCabe pulled her aside and provided information about Carter Page, which Lynch believed they learned from another member of the Intelligence Community.”

Lynch further stated that Comey and McCabe informed her that “Russian intelligence reportedly planned to use Page for information and to develop other contacts in the United States, and that they were interested in his affiliation with the campaign.” According to the IG report, Lynch’s “understanding was that this information from Comey and McCabe was ‘preliminary’ in that they did not state that any decisions or actions needed to be taken that day.”

Lynch added that “they discussed the possibility of providing a defensive briefing to the Trump campaign, but she believed it was ‘preliminary’ and ‘something that might happen down the road,’” but that “she did not recall receiving any further updates on this issue following this conversation.”

The IG report noted that “Lynch’s recollection of what Comey and McCabe told her is consistent with information referenced in connection with the 2015 [Southern District of New York] indictment and subsequent conviction of a Russian intelligence officer referenced earlier in this chapter.” However, “Comey told the OIG that he did not recall having such a conversation with Lynch and that he did not think it was possible for such a conversation to have occurred in the spring of 2016 because the FBI did not receive the [Friendly Foreign Government] information concerning Papadopoulos until late July.” (Read more: The Federalist, 1/06/2020)  (Archive)

December 9, 2019 – Sketchy changes to IG FISA report covers up major discrepancy in first version

“There was a major discrepancy in the Inspector General report on FISA abuse, that appears to have been overlooked and casts a considerable cloud upon the DOJ Office of Inspector General and Michael Horowitz.

In chapter ten of the report, on page #312 you will find the following information.  The claim is that no-one in the FBI initiated any use of “Confidential Human Sources” into the campaign prior to opening the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.  Read Carefully:

However, in the very next chapter (#11, page #400), in the original IG report as released on December 9th, 2019, you will find the following statement:

The two statements are completely contradictory.

Carter Page and George Papadopoulos started working for the Trump campaign in early March 2016.  The Crossfire Hurricane investigation began on July 28th, 2016.

If the FBI tasked CHS’s before and after they were affiliated with the Trump campaign, that was certainly before the opening of Crossfire Hurricane.   That statement was also included in the original Executive Summary (page xvi) as below:

The IG report was modified after publication to change this paragraph to:

“We determined that the Crossfire Hurricane team tasked several CHSs and UCEs during the 2016 presidential campaign, which resulted in multiple interactions with Carter Page and Papadopoulos, both during and after the time they were affiliated with the Trump campaign”…

However, that still presents an issue with this statement:

“In our review, we did not find any evidence that the FBI used CHSs or UCEs to interact with members of the Trump campaign prior to the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.  All of the members of the Crossfire Hurricane team told the OIG that no investigative steps of any type were taken prior to receipt of the predicating information for the Crossfire Hurricane investigation on July 28, 2016, and we found no evidence to the contrary.

If no investigative steps “of any type” were taken prior to July 28th, 2016, then how does George Papadopoulos run afoul of meeting(s) being monitored in March 2016 with the “overseas professor” Joseph Mifsud (DOJ Statement of Offense – Papadopoulos):

Indeed the original IG report text would indicate that George Papadopoulos was subject to Confidential Human Sources (CHS’s) and/or Undercover Employees (UCE’s) during the earliest part of his activity with the Trump campaign (literally within a week), and would refute the claim “we did not find any evidence that the FBI used CHSs or UCEs to interact with members of the Trump campaign prior to the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation” (July 31st, 2016).

That revelation and conflict is likely why the IG had to modify the text of the report after publishing it.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 1/15/2020)  (Archive)