FISA Abuse

August 25, 2019 – Carter Page: FBI wanted me to make false testimony about Russians

Former 2016 Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page joined FNC’s Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures” for a conversation about his experience as a government witness:

CARTER PAGE: Great to be with you, Maria.

MARIA BARTIROMO: You had an esteemed career. I want to start there because our viewers know that we’ve covered this story very effectively from the get-go, poking holes in this whole idea of collusion, poking holes in the FISA court situation, but you had worked with the government for a long time before they actually turned on you. Tell me your career as a government informant after you worked at the Pentagon and after in the Navy tell us about it.

CARTER PAGE: Well I got out of the Navy in ’98 and I was on a research fellowship at a foreign policy think tank and that was actually the first time as a civilian (as you mentioned I spent a lot of time doing intelligence tasks in the military) but that was the first time when I actually did stuff as a civilian, and so one of the guys I worked closely with was Chris Stephens, [sic] who was the Iran desk officer at the State Department in ’98-99, and we had a long ongoing dialogue, and so a lot of similarities between what happened with him, and the lack of responsibility by these Democrat administrations. That was during the Clinton administration, but the loss of his life was really a continuation of that.

MARIA BARTIROMO: So the bottom line is you’ve worked as a government informant for what, two decades?

And somewhere along the line, they obviously turned on you, because they wiretapped you.

CARTER PAGE: Yeah.

MARIA BARTIROMO: And somewhere along the line, they obviously turned on you because they wiretapped you. Fast forward to 2013 or so when you are an informant for the government about a spy ring in New York, involving three Russians.

CARTER PAGE: Yeah, well listen. It was something where there was a lot, they did an indictment. I spent time with the FBI in 2013 giving them all of the information they needed.

MARIA BARTIROMO: This is under the Obama administration.

CARTER PAGE: It was under the Obama administration and then a number of top officials, Attorney General Holder, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, and [former Assistant Attorney General] John Carlin in January of 2015, a year before the start of when I joined the– I was a volunteer on the Trump campaign, they had this indictment… of the three Russians. So I was one of the main sources on “Male #1.”

MARIA BARTIROMO: That’s interesting because you were “Male #1” — we’re looking at a timeline in 2013 you’re male number one and they indict these people and the indictment comes down in January 2015 and they name you as Male #1.

CARTER PAGE: Well there’s this big thing about masks and unmasking, and I was very lightly masked and there are a lot of problems in that indictment and they really kind of put me out on a limb.

MARIA BARTIROMO: That’s what I want to ask you because then you start getting death threats your life was in danger… We’re taking a pivot looking at how the government has treated government informants…

I’m back with former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor Carter Page and you were telling us about this case that you helped the government with. Tell me what happened in 2015 after the indictment was handed down on the Russians.

CARTER PAGE: Well really, in March of 2016, they called me in to come to testify in the Southern District of New York on that case.

There were so many falsehoods and misrepresentations in their indictment the prior year. I said I am not going to lie in court. Similar to their false court filings, which the DOJ and the FBI has submitted in this case. So it was a long back and forth with them but I told them, I am a man of my word and I’m not going to, you know, provide false testimony like they’ve done. It is very similar between the false testimony which they did and that case against the Russians, and the false testimony which they did a few months later in October of 2016 with their start of the FISA abuse.

MARIA BARTIROMO: You never actually testified in the spy ring circus in terms of that, but this all goes to government informants and you could look at Patrick Byrne from Overstock.com, right?

CARTER PAGE: Well its basically, the government is taking control of people’s lives I mean, look, I’ve lost tens or hundreds of millions of dollars and he lost a couple hundred million off his market cap just based on these falsehoods.

MARIA BARTIROMO: You mean the stock lost hundreds of millions of dollars, not you?

CARTER PAGE: Well I’ve lost, you know, massive amounts of money.

(RealClearPolitics, 8/25/2019)

August 12, 2019 – IC IG Michael Atkinson who forwards the hearsay whistleblower complaint against Trump, was Senior Counsel for the DOJ-NSD, the very epicenter of the political weaponization and FISA abuse

Michael Atkinson at his nomination hearing in May 2018. (Credit: public domain)

(…) “It should be emphasized the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community; the guy who accepted the ridiculous premise of a hearsay ‘whistle-blower‘ complaint, who was “blowing-the-whistle” based on second-hand information of a phone call without any direct personal knowledge, is Michael K. Atkinson.

Atkinson’s self-interest:  Michael K Atkinson was previously the Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ-NSD). That makes Atkinson senior legal counsel to John Carlin and Mary McCord who were former heads of the DOJ-NSD in 2016 when the stop Trump operation was underway.

[Irony Reminder: The DOJ-NSD was purposefully under no IG oversight. In 2015 the OIG requested oversight and it was Sally Yates who responded with a lengthy 58 page legal explanation saying, essentially, ‘nope – not allowed.’ (PDF HERE) All of the DOJ is subject to oversight, except the NSD.]

Put another way, Michael Atkinson was the lawyer for the same DOJ-NSD players who: (1) lied to the FISA court (Judge Rosemary Collyer) about the 80% non compliant NSA database abuse using FBI contractors; (2) filed the FISA application against Carter Page; and (3) used FARA violations as tools for political surveillance and political targeting.

Yes, that means Michael Atkinson was Senior Counsel for the DOJ-NSD, at the very epicenter of the political weaponization and FISA abuse.

Immediately after the Carter Page FISA warrant is approved, in the period where DOJ-NSD head John Carlin has given his notice of intent to leave but not yet left, inside those specific two weeks, the National Security Division of the DOJ tells the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) they have been breaking the law.  The NSD specifically inform the court they are aware of contractors who have been using FISA 702(16)(17) database search queries to extract information on political candidates.

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has looked into the FISA application used against U.S. Person Carter Page.  Additionally, U.S. Attorney John Durham is said to be looking at the intelligence communities’ use of systems for spying and surveillance.

If the DOJ-NSD exploitation of the NSA database, and/or DOJ-NSD FISA abuse, and/or DOJ-NSD FARA corruption were ever to reach sunlight, Atkinson -as the lawyer for the process- would be under a lot of scrutiny for his involvement.

Yes, that gives current ICIG Michael Atkinson a strong and corrupt motive to participate with the Schiff/Lawfare impeachment objective.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 9/22/2019)

August 8, 2019 – Trump appoints former Admiral Joseph Maguire as acting DNI

Admiral Joseph Maguire (Credit: Tom Williams/Getty Images)

It’s interesting that Joseph Maguire (pictured above), comes from his current position as Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). The NCTC was first organized by John Brennan, and we have suspected this part of the intelligence apparatus ties directly into the 2015/2016 use of the FBI and NSA database search issue.

All of that is laid out inside a 99-page opinion from FISC Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer who also noted that none of this FISA abuse was accidental in a footnote on page 87: “deliberate decisionmaking“:

This specific footnote, if declassified, would be key.  Note the phrase: “([redacted] access to FBI systems was the subject of an interagency memorandum of understanding entered into [redacted])”, this sentence has the potential to expose an internal decision; withheld from congress and the FISA court by the Obama administration; that outlines a process for access and distribution of surveillance data.

Note: “no notice of this practice was given to the FISC until 2016“, that is important.

Here’s the list of material possible for declassification, and the intelligence offices who hold custodial authority over the compartmented documents. This was the original list as outlined in 2018: (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 8/08/2019)

July 5, 2019 – Reluctant witnesses in FISA abuse probe agree to talk to DOJ inspector general

Michael Horowitz (Credit: Getty Images)

“Key witnesses sought for questioning by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz early in his investigation into alleged government surveillance abuse have come forward at the 11th hour, Fox News has learned.

Sources familiar with the matter said at least one witness outside the Justice Department and FBI started cooperating — a breakthrough that came after Attorney General William Barr ordered U.S. Attorney John Durham to lead a separate investigation into the origins of the bureau’s 2016 Russia case that laid the foundation for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

While the investigative phase of the inspector general’s long-running probe is said to be complete, the sources said recent developments required some witnesses to be reinterviewed. And while Barr testified that he expected the report into alleged Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse to be ready in May or last month, multiple sources said the timeline has slipped.

(…) A spokesman for Horowitz would not comment on the report’s status. But during largely unrelated testimony in November, Horowitz offered some guidance for the timeline of the FISA abuse probe in response to questions from GOP Rep. Jim Jordan.

“What I can say is given the volume of documents we’ve had and the number of witnesses it looks like we’ll need to interview, we are likely to be in the same sort of general range of documents and witnesses as the last report,” Horowitz said, referring to his team’s review of the Clinton email case. “It wouldn’t surprise me if we are in that million or so plus range of documents and a hundred-ish or so interviews. The last review, as you know, took us about … 16 months or so.” (Read more: Fox News, 7/05/2019)

May 31, 2019 – AG William Barr gives a clear explanation of the various “investigations of the investigators” carried out by the Justice Department

Michael Horowitz (l), John Huber (c) and John Durham

In an interview with CBS’s Jan Crawford, Barr described what tasks U.S. Attorney John Durham, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, and U.S. Attorney John Huber have been assigned regarding the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation and the conduct of the DOJ and FBI as they carried it out.

(…) Barr said Huber “was essentially on standby” in the event that Horowitz “referred a matter to him to be handled criminally.” That apparently has not been necessary, as Barr said: “he has not been active on this front in recent months.” Barr said Durham would now be taking over Huber’s role in handling any criminal referrals from Horowitz and Huber’s involvement with Trump-Russia matters was done.

Sessions had also asked Huber in 2017 to look into issues related to the sale of Uranium One and allegations that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been improperly involved in the process, as well as broader claims of corruption at the Clinton Foundation. Barr seemed to suggest that what evidence Huber found, if any, may soon be revealed.

“The other issues [Huber has] been working on relate to Hillary Clinton” are “winding down and hopefully we’ll be in a position to bring those to fruition,” Barr said.

In regards to the DOJ inspector general investigation, Barr said he would not describe Horowitz’s role as small, but rather as very specific. “He’s looking at a discrete area that is, you know, important, which is the use of electronic surveillance that was targeted at Carter Page,” Barr said. Page was a former Trump campaign adviser who was surveilled by the DOJ and the FBI for months beginning in October 2016.

(…) Barr, who has said that Horowitz’s probe should be ending in May or June, called him a “superb government official” in this latest interview, but pointed out that Horowitz “has limited powers.”

“He doesn’t have the power to compel testimony, he doesn’t have the power really to investigate beyond the current cast of characters at the Department of Justice,” Barr said. “His ability to get information from former officials or from other agencies outside the department is very limited.”

That’s why Barr said he selected Durham, a U.S. attorney for Connecticut, to head up DOJ’s newest inquiry. Barr was recently given broad declassification authority by Trump, and Durham will have greater investigative powers than Horowitz has at his disposal. Barr praised Durham, saying, “He has, over the years, been used by both Republican and Democratic attorneys general to investigate these kinds of activities. And he’s always gotten the most laudatory feedback from his work. So there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to conduct a thorough and fair review of this.”

Barr defended his scrutiny of the actions of the DOJ and FBI in his interview, saying, “I think it’s important to understand what basis there was for launching counterintelligence activities against a political campaign, which is the core of our … First Amendment liberties in this country.”

“And what was the predicate for it? What was the hurdle that had to be crossed? What was the process? Who had to approve it? And including the electronic surveillance, whatever electronic surveillance was done? And was everyone operating in their proper lane?” Barr asked.” (Read more: Washington Examiner, 5/31/2019)

April 20, 2019 – The FISA Court, Woods Procedures and Carter Page

(…) “So, what are the Woods Procedures? They were instituted in April 2001 and require the FBI to vet and support the facts it presents to a FISA court when it seeks a warrant to eavesdrop on a U.S. citizen. The individual who knows this process best is none other than the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller. In a response to questions from Sen. Leahy back in August of 2003, then FBI Director Mueller explains the significance of the procedures highlighting that they were instituted in order to “minimize factual inaccuracies in FISA packages.”

Mueller continues, “specifically, the goal of the procedures is to ensure accuracy with regard to: (1) the facts supporting probable cause; (2) the existence and nature of any related criminal investigations or prosecutions involving the subject of the FISA; (3) the existence and nature of any prior or ongoing asset relationship between the subject and the FBI.”

Testimony

Starting in 2003, field offices were required to follow an eight page FISA request form when eliciting information about a targets status as well as the facts and circumstances that establish probable cause to believe the target is an agent of a foreign power.

Reading the testimony from Mueller a decade and a half ago is truly stunning as it shows just how hypocritical the “Special Counsel” was in both his actions and inactions by failing to investigate, let alone acknowledge, the violations of the Woods Procedures he once so vehemently defended. This may come back to bite the government as Department of Justice court records from 2015 have provided details about how Carter Page previously cooperated with FBI agents in exposing and helping to catch Russian spies working inside the United States.

If Page’s prior asset work was not included in the FISA application or the three renewals, then what is the point of the Woods Procedures to begin with?”

(Read more: Politically Short/4/20/2019

March 7, 2019 – Lindsey Graham reboots FISA abuse investigation with expansive DOJ document request

Senate Judiciary Cmte. Chairman Lindsey Graham leaves the Senate after voting to confirm William Barr to be attorney general, on Feb. 14, 2019. (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

“Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham is resuming an investigation of potential surveillance abuse by the FBI with an expansive request for records related to the bureau’s vetting of the Steele dossier.

In a letter sent Thursday to Attorney General William Barr, Graham asked for all FBI and Justice Department documents related to investigators’ attempts to verify allegations made in the dossier, which was authored by former British spy Christopher Steele and funded by Democrats.

The FBI relied heavily on Steele’s report to obtain four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Republicans investigated whether the FBI misled the FISA court by relying on the dossier even though its allegations about Page were unverified. They also asserted the FBI failed to tell surveillance court judges that Steele was working on behalf of the DNC and Clinton campaign on an investigation of Donald Trump.

Graham also indicated in the letter that he is investigating the FBI’s decision to open up investigations of Trump campaign associates in 2016.

He said the Judiciary Committee is concerned vetting proper vetting procedures and the full presentation of facts to the FISA Court “may not have occurred with regard to the applications for FISA warrants for (and the opening of the underlying investigation on) Carter Page and other individuals associated with the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 3/07/2019)

January 21, 2019 – Lindsey Graham to continue oversight of the FBI investigation into Clinton’s private email server and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications

Lindsey Graham (Credit: Fox News Sunday)

“New tensions are flaring on the Senate Judiciary Committee over plans by newly minted Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to dig into Obama-era scandals.

Graham, a close ally of President Trump’s, has outlined several areas he wants to probe now that he has the Judiciary Committee gavel.

They include the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications targeting former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

(…) Graham told reporters earlier this month that he would do a “deep dive into the FISA issue” as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. And he told Fox News last month that he believed the FBI “phoned in” the Clinton probe and were “in the tank” for the Democratic presidential nominee.

“There’s a certain unevenness here about how you investigate campaigns,” Graham said, adding that he believed there was “100 percent” a double standard between how the bureau handled the investigation into Clinton compared to investigating the Trump campaign.

Graham also said late last year that he would “totally” investigate the FBI’s handling of its investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Clinton’s email. He added separately last month that he would “get to the bottom of” the FISA warrant applications against Page and that he wanted to have “an in-depth discussion” with former FBI Director James Comey.

Asked about his investigation plans and the criticism from Democrats, a spokeswoman for Graham pointed to a pair of tweets from the GOP senator on Friday where he doubled down.

Graham described as “stunning” a Fox News report that Justice Department official Bruce Ohr discussed his views on a controversial research opposition dossier on Trump with individuals now on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

“These purported revelations will NOT get a pass in Senate Judiciary Committee,” Graham added.” (Read more: The Hill, 1/21/2019)

October 18, 2018 – DNI Declassifies FISA Judge James Boasberg 2018 Ruling – FBI conducts “tens of thousands” of unauthorized NSA database queries

“There is a lot to unpack in a decision today by the Director of National Intelligence to declassify (with redactions) a 2018 FISA court ruling about ongoing unauthorized database search queries by FBI agents/”contractors” in the period covering 2017/2018.

BACKGROUND: In April 2017 the DNI released a FISA report written by Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer that showed massive abuse, via unauthorized searches of the NSA database, in the period of November 2015 through May 2016. Judge Collyer’s report specifically identified search query increases tied to the 2016 presidential primary.  Two years of research identified this process as the DOJ/FBI and IC using the NSA database to query information related to political candidates, specifically Donald Trump.

Judge James Boasberg (Credit: public domain)

Now we fast-forward to Judge Boasberg in a similar review (full pdf below), looking at the time period of 2017 through March 2018.

The timing here is an important aspect.

It is within this time-period where ongoing DOJ and FBI activity transfers from the Obama administration (Collyer report) into the Trump administration (Boasberg report).

It cannot be overemphasized as you read the Boasberg opinion, or any reporting on the Boasberg opinion, that officials within DOJ and FBI are/were on a continuum.  Meaning the “small group” activity didn’t stop after the election but rather continued with the Mueller and Weissmann impeachment agenda.

Remember, the 2016 ‘insurance policy’ was to hand Mueller the 2016 FBI investigation so they could turn it into the 2017 special counsel investigation. Mueller, Weissmann and the group then used the ‘Steele Dossier’ as the cornerstone for the special counsel review.  The goal of the Mueller investigation was to construct impeachment via obstruction. The same players transferred from “crossfire hurricane” into the Mueller ‘obstruction‘ plan.

Within Judge Boasberg’s review of the 2017 activity, he outlines an identical set of FISA violations from within the FBI units and “contractors” as initially outlined by Judge Collyer a year earlier.  Judge Boasberg wrote his opinion in October 2018 and that opinion was declassified today (October 8th, 2019). Boasberg is reviewing 2017 through March 2018.  [Main link to all legal proceedings here]

(Via Wall Street Journal)  The intelligence community disclosed Tuesday that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court last year found that the FBI’s pursuit of data about Americans ensnared in a warrantless internet-surveillance program intended to target foreign suspects may have violated the law authorizing the program, as well as the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.

The court concluded that the FBI had been improperly searching a database of raw intelligence for information on Americans—raising concerns about oversight of the program, which as a spy program operates in near-total secrecy.

(…)  The court ruling identifies tens of thousands of improper searches of raw intelligence databases by the bureau in 2017 and 2018 that it deemed improper in part because they involved data related to tens of thousands of emails or telephone numbers—in one case, suggesting that the FBI was using the intelligence information to vet its personnel and cooperating sources. Federal law requires that the database only be searched by the FBI as part of seeking evidence of a crime or for foreign intelligence information.

In other cases, the court ruling reveals improper use of the database by individuals. In one case, an FBI contractor ran a query of an intelligence database—searching information on himself, other FBI personnel and his relatives, the court revealed.  (more)

As with the Collyer report, I am going line-by-painstaking-line through the Boasberg report (yeah, swamped); and what is clear is that in 2017 the FBI ‘bad actors’ and ‘contractors’ were continuing to try and subvert the safeguards put into place by former NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers.   The 2017 non-compliance rate is similar to the 2016 review.

Judge Boasberg touches on the April 2017 Judge Collyer report.  Here is the carefully worded DNI explanation of the connective tissue (emphasis mine):

(…)  The FISC also concluded that the FBI’s querying and minimization procedures, as implemented, were inconsistent with Section 702 and the Fourth Amendment, in light of certain identified compliance incidents involving queries of Section 702 information.

These incidents involved instances in which personnel either misapplied or misunderstood the query standard, such that the queries were not reasonably likely to return foreign intelligence information or evidence of a crime. Some of these instances involved queries concerning large numbers of individuals.

While stating that the Government had taken “constructive steps” to address the identified issues, the FISC held that these steps did not fully address the statutory and Fourth Amendment concerns raised by the compliance incidents.

(…) Additionally, the FISC considered the scope of certain new restrictions regarding “abouts” communications that were enacted in the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017. “Abouts” collection is the acquisition of communications that contain a reference to, but are not to or from, a Section 702 target. As the NSA explained in April 2017 (see NSA’s April 28, 2017 Statement), the NSA stopped acquiring any upstream internet communications that are solely “about” a foreign intelligence target and, instead, limited its Section 702 collection to only those communications that are directly “to” or “from” a foreign intelligence target.

NSA’s 2018 Targeting Procedures contained the same limitation. Although the Government did not seek to resume “abouts” collection, the FISC, with assistance from amici, reviewed whether the “abouts” restrictions applied to any other types of Section 702 acquisitions currently being conducted. While the FISC held that the “abouts” restrictions apply across Section 702 acquisitions, it found that current Section 702 acquisitions did not implicate the “abouts” restrictions. (read more)

(Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 10/09/2019) (Archive)

Here is the October 2018 Boasberg Opinion:

August 31, 2018 – The Justice department admits the FISC never held hearings on the Title 1 FISA application for Carter Page

(Credit: A. Hunter/Washington Times)

“Judicial Watch revealed that the Justice Department admitted in a court filing that the FISA Court never held hearings on the FISA applications for former Trump advisor Carter Page.

Judicial Watch said that, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, the Justice Department (DOJ) admitted in a court filing that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held no hearings on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) spy warrant applications targeting Carter Page, a former Trump campaign part-time advisor who was the subject of four controversial FISA warrants.

“It is disturbing that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance courts rubber-stamped the Carter Page spy warrants and held not one hearing on these extraordinary requests to spy on the Trump team,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a statement.

In the filing the Justice Department finally revealed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held no hearings on the Page FISA spy warrants, first issued in 2016 and subsequently renewed three times:

National Security Division FOIA consulted Office of Intelligence … to identify and locate records responsive to [Judicial Watch’s] FOIA request…. [Office of Intelligence] determined … that there were no records, electronic or paper, responsive to [Judicial Watch’s] FOIA request with regard to Carter Page. [Office of Intelligence] further confirmed that the [Foreign Surveillance Court] considered the Page warrant applications based upon written submissions and did not hold any hearings.

In February, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a memo criticizing the FISA targeting of Carter Page. The memo details how the “minimally corroborated” Clinton-DNC dossier was an essential part of the FBI and DOJ’s applications for surveillance warrants to spy on Page.

Judicial Watch recently filed a request with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking the transcripts of all hearings related to the surveillance of Carter Page.” (Read more: Conservative Daily News, 9/01/2018)