congressional testimony

October 3, 2018 – Top FBI lawyer Baker offers ‘explosive’ testimony on ‘abnormal’ handling of Russia probe into Trump campaign

James Baker (Credit: Fox News)

“Former top FBI lawyer James Baker gave “explosive” closed-door testimony on Wednesday detailing for congressional investigators how the Russia probe was handled in an “abnormal fashion” reflecting “political bias,” according to two Republican lawmakers present for the deposition.

Some of the things that were shared were explosive in nature,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told Fox News. “This witness confirmed that things were done in an abnormal fashion. That’s extremely troubling.”

Meadows claimed the “abnormal” handling of the probe into alleged coordination between Russian officials and the Trump presidential campaign was “a reflection of inherent bias that seems to be evident in certain circles.” The FBI agent who opened the Russia case, Peter Strzok, FBI lawyer Lisa Page and others sent politically charged texts, and have since left the bureau.

Baker, who had a closely working relationship with former FBI Director James Comey, left the bureau earlier this year.

The lawmakers would not provide many specifics about the private transcribed interview, citing a confidentiality agreement with Baker and his attorneys. However, they indicated in broad terms that Baker was cooperative and forthcoming about the genesis of the Russia case in 2016, and about the surveillance warrant application for Trump campaign aide Carter Page in October 2016.” (Read more: Fox News, 10/03/2018)

September 14, 2018 – Opinion: Lisa Page testifies FBI couldn’t prove Trump-Russia collusion before Mueller appointment

Lisa Page arrives on Capitol Hill July 16, 2018, to participate in an interview with the House judiciary and oversight and reform committees. (Credit: Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE)

By: John Solomon

To date, Lisa Page’s infamy has been driven mostly by the anti-Donald Trump text messages she exchanged with fellow FBI agent Peter Strzok as the two engaged in an affair while investigating the president for alleged election collusion with Russia.

Yet, when history judges the former FBI lawyer years from now, her most consequential pronouncement may not have been typed on her bureau-issued Samsung smartphone to her colleague and lover.

Rather, it might be eight simple words she uttered behind closed doors during a congressional interview a few weeks ago.

“It’s a reflection of us still not knowing,” Page told Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) when questioned about texts she and Strzok exchanged in May 2017 as Robert Mueller was being named a special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation.

With that statement, Page acknowledged a momentous fact: After nine months of using some of the most awesome surveillance powers afforded to U.S. intelligence, the FBI still had not made a case connecting Trump or his campaign to Russia’s election meddling.

Page opined further, acknowledging “it still existed in the scope of possibility that there would be literally nothing” to connect Trump and Russia, no matter what Mueller or the FBI did.

“As far as May of 2017, we still couldn’t answer the question,” she said at another point.”

(…) “For those who might cast doubt on the word of a single FBI lawyer, there’s more.”  (Read more: The Hill, 9/14/2018)

August 31, 2018 – Senior FBI attorney Trisha Anderson, did not read Carter Page Title 1 FISA warrant application before signing off on it

Trisha Anderson (Credit: public domain)

Congressional testimony by Trisha Anderson highlights unusual process used by FBI and DOJ to obtain FISA warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Trisha Anderson, the Principal Deputy General Counsel for the FBI and head of the National Security and Cyber Law Branch, signed off on a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application on former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page—before it went to FBI Director James Comey—despite admitting not having read it.

Anderson, whose division was also assigned the Mid-Year Exam—the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server—was responsible for legal oversight of the FBI’s FISA process, and provided a final sign-off before FISA applications were sent to the FBI Director level. Anderson, who supervised the FBI attorneys involved in FISA applications, including the Page FISA, characterized her role as being “involved at a supervisory level within the legal chain of command.”

Although she did not voluntarily reveal the information, she admitted during questioning that she was the individual responsible at the senior executive service (SES) level for signing off on the original Carter Page FISA application:

Mr. Breitenbach: You had mentioned earlier that all FISAs have to be signed off, have an approver at an SES level. In OGC? Or is that anywhere inside the FBI?

Ms. Anderson: In NSLB, in my particular branch.

Mr. Breitenbach: In NSLB?

Ms. Anderson: Yeah. Uh-huh.

Mr. Breitenbach: Okay. Who was that SES approver for the Carter Page FISA?

Ms. Anderson: My best recollection is that I was for the initiation.

In her Aug. 31, 2018, testimony, a transcript of which was reviewed for this article, Anderson described her role in the FISA process as “a backstop” whereby she would serve as “a last check in the process to ensure that all necessary elements of the FISA package were present and that it met the basic requirements of probable cause.”

However, there appears to be significant latitude in the “backstop” review process. According to Anderson, the Department of Justice (DOJ) attached a “cover note” that identified potential issues, if any, for her to review with every FISA application. If no issues were identified by the DOJ, then according to Anderson, there would be no need for her to read the FISA application:

Ms. Anderson: [So] there typically would be a cover note that would summarize the FISA. That cover note is generated by DOJ. And because of the time pressures involved and the sort of very-last-stop-in-the-process nature of the review, the SES review, that’s done, I wouldn’t read a FISA unless there were some sort of issue that was identified based on the cover note.

Mr. Breitenbach: You are, though, reviewing for the sufficiency of probable cause —

Ms. Anderson: After many people have reviewed that assessment. And so, as I mentioned, this was essentially a backstop to all of the other processes and the rigor that had been applied by DOJ attorneys and by FBI investigative and legal personnel.

Despite its politicized nature and obvious sensitivity, it appears that no issues were identified in relation to the Page FISA as Anderson testified that she had not read the FISA application, only the DOJ cover note:

Mr. Breitenbach: Does that mean you read the FISA —

Ms. Anderson: No.

(…)

Mr. Breitenbach: Okay. So you did not read the FISA, but you would’ve been familiar then with at least part of the FISA with regard to the legal predication for probable cause in the FISA in order to be able to sign it?

Ms. Anderson: I would be familiar based on the cover note, yes.

Mr. Breitenbach: On the cover note. Okay. So —

Ms. Anderson: In the case of the Carter Page FISA, I was generally familiar with the facts of the application —

Mr. Breitenbach: Okay.

Ms. Anderson: — before I signed that cover note.

Anderson claimed that in the case of the Page FISA, her approval was “more administrative in nature” because “all necessary approvals, including up through and including the leadership of the FBI and the leadership of the Department” had been obtained by the time the Page FISA came to her desk for sign-off.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 2/07/2019)

July 13, 2018 – Lisa Page admits Obama DOJ ordered stand-down on Clinton email prosecution

“Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page admitted under questioning from Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe last summer that “the FBI was ordered by the Obama DOJ not to consider charging Hillary Clinton for gross negligence in the handling of classified information,” the congressman alleged in a social media post late Tuesday, citing a newly unearthed transcript of Page’s closed-door testimony.

(Credit: Twitter)

Page and since-fired FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, who were romantically involved, exchanged numerous anti-Trump text messages in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, and Republicans have long accused the bureau of political bias. But Page’s testimony was perhaps the most salient evidence yet that the Justice Department improperly interfered with the FBI’s supposedly independent conclusions on Clinton’s criminal culpability, Ratcliffe alleged.

“So let me if I can, I know I’m testing your memory,” Ratcliffe began as he questioned Page under oath, according to a transcript excerpt he posted on Twitter. “But when you say advice you got from the Department, you’re making it sound like it was the Department that told you: You’re not going to charge gross negligence because we’re the prosecutors and we’re telling you we’re not going to —”

Page interrupted: “That is correct,” as Ratcliffe finished his sentence, ” — bring a case based on that.” (Read more: Fox News, 3/13/2019)