FISA application

November 22, 2019 – FBI lawyer referred for criminal prosecution by Horowitz was primary FBI attorney on Trump-Russia case

Kevin Clinesmith (Credit: Facebook)

“A former FBI attorney reportedly referred for criminal prosecution by Department of Justice Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz—for allegedly altering an email connected to the surveillance warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page—was assigned in early 2017 as “the primary FBI attorney assigned” to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into alleged Russian election interference.

The lawyer, who has been identified as Kevin Clinesmith in media reports, had been incorrectly portrayed by many members of the media as a “low-level” or junior member of the FBI’s legal team.

Text messages obtained by Horowitz, covered in a June 2018 report, showed that Clinesmith had a strong bias against Trump, texting “Viva le resistance” following Trump’s election as well as: “my god damned name is all over the legal documents investigating his staff.”

Clinesmith worked on both the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the Trump-Russia investigation. He would also later become a member of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and was one of the FBI officials—along with FBI Agent Peter Strzok—who was removed by Mueller after IG Horowitz discovered FBI text messages expressing political bias against Trump.

The New York Times reported on Nov. 22, that Clinesmith was removed from the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation in February 2018 and resigned from the FBI “about two months ago.”

Clinesmith has reportedly been referred for criminal prosecution by Horowitz for altering “an email that officials used to prepare to seek court approval to renew the wiretap”—also known as the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) renewal—on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, the New York Times reported.

(…) According to the NYT article, the “paperwork associated with the renewal applications contained information that should have been left out, and vice versa.” Clinesmith reportedly altered an email that “was a factor during the wiretap renewal process.”

Clinesmith allegedly “took an email from an official at another federal agency that contained several factual assertions, then added material to the bottom that looked like another assertion from the email’s author, when it was instead his own understanding.”

This altered email was then included in a package that was prepared for another FBI official to read in “preparation for signing an affidavit,” that was to be submitted to the FISA Court “attesting to the facts and analysis” in the application. ” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 11/24/2019)  (Archive)

November 21, 2019 – Former FBI lawyer allegedly alters document in Carter Page FISA application; Rod Rosenstein once testified to FISA alterations

Michael Horowitz (Credit: public domain)

“An FBI official is under criminal investigation after allegedly altering a document related to 2016 surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser, several people briefed on the matter told CNN.

The possibility of a substantive change to an investigative document is likely to fuel accusations from President Donald Trump and his allies that the FBI committed wrongdoing in its investigation of connections between Russian election meddling and the Trump campaign.

The finding is expected to be part of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s review of the FBI’s effort to obtain warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide. Horowitz will release the report next month.

Horowitz turned over evidence on the allegedly altered document to John Durham, the federal prosecutor appointed early this year by Attorney General William Barr to conduct a broad investigation of intelligence gathered for the Russia probe by the CIA and other agencies, including the FBI. The altered document is also at least one focus of Durham’s criminal probe.

It’s unknown how significant a role the altered document played in the FBI’s investigation of Page and whether the FISA warrant would have been approved without the document. The alterations were significant enough to have shifted the document’s meaning and came up during a part of Horowitz’s FISA review where details were classified, according to the sources. (Read more: CNN, 11/21/2019)  (Archive)

August 2019 – FBI agent, Joe Pientka, who interviews Adm. Flynn, lies to the FISA court about Carter Page, and is not available for congressional hearings, is transferred to the SF FBI field office

Hat Tip Techno-Fog for noting some remarkable FBI activity.

“Supervisory Special Agent Joseph Pientka III was first identified by Senator Chuck Grassley in May of 2018 as the second FBI agent involved in the 2017 interview of Lt. General Michael Flynn.

Frustrated by the FBI stonewalling his Senate inquiry, Chairman Grassley dropped the revelation publicly on May 11th, 2018, in a letter to the FBI.

[…] the Committee’s oversight interest in the underlying documents requested more than a year ago now outweighs any legitimate executive branch interest in withholding it. So too does the Committee’s interest in learning the FBI agents’ actual assessments of their interview of Lt. Gen. Flynn, particularly given the apparent contradiction between what then Directory Comey told us in March 2017 and what he now claims.

[…] In addition, please make Special Agent Joe Pientka available for a transcribed interview with Committee staff no later than one week following the production of the requested documents… (link)

The FBI never produced Supervisory Special Agent (SSA-1) Joe Pientka for Chairman Grassley’s committee, and the conflict between the Senate Judiciary Committee and the FBI was never reconciled.  (The DOJ/FBI made it to the safety of the mid-term election.)

Additionally, every single document containing information about the investigative activity of FBI agent Pientka has kept his name redacted.  Not a single DOJ/FBI document has ever included his name.

However, around two months after Grassley outed his identity; we discover from the Inspector General that the DOJ-NSD (National Security Division) admitted to the FISA court that Agent Pientka was significantly less than forthcoming with “factual omissions” in the Title-1 surveillance application he assembled against Carter Page.

(IG FISA Report)

While the IG report doesn’t name SSA-1 as Joseph Pientka, all documentary evidence supported that Pientka was indeed SSA-1.  [This was also confirmed by Fox News reporter Gregg Jarrett writing an article about SSA-1 Pientka, and by Jarrett being contacted by the FBI as soon as he outed the agent.]

In addition to the Flynn interview, the Inspector General Report notes the importance of SSA-1 as he pertains to the FISA application.

FBI Supervisory Agent Pientka’s lies and omissions to the FISC were material – and made under penalty of perjury. He knew the dossier was fraudulent. He knew about witness denials. In short, Pientka lied about the FISA application’s accuracy.

After the FISA Court was notified about the issues (July 2018), and before the IG report outlining the conduct of SSA1 was complete (Dec. 9, 2019)… sometime in mid 2019 Joseph Pientka was promoted by FBI Director Christopher Wray and transferred to the San Francisco FBI Field Office where he showed up on their web page.

(SIDEBAR – It is worth noting this is the same field office where current FBI Deputy Director David Bowditch came from.)

However, AFTER the IG report was published (Dec 9th, 2019); and after Pientka’s activity was outlined as directly involved in the corrupt activity; and after he was identified as having been transferred to the FBI Field Office in San Francisco (Dec 14th, 2019); the FBI mysteriously scrubbed agent Pientka from their website.

That doesn’t mean that Asst. Special Agent Joseph Pientka III is no longer in San Francisco; it only means the San Francisco Field Office has removed him from the website…he could still be working there.

As Techno-Fog notes: “Putting this into context – the FBI/Christopher Wray has been keeping Pientka from the public spotlight and Congressional inquiry since 2018.“… and it would appear the FBI is adamant about keeping Joseph Pientka as far away from uncontrollable public questioning as possible.

Why?”

(Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 1/12/2020)  (Archive)

August 12 – October 11, 2019: A look at IC IG Michael Atkinson’s activities surrounding the hearsay whistleblower

“Last week the Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson, testified behind closed doors to congress. Atkinson testified about his role in bringing the ‘whistle-blower’ complaint forward.  The details of that testimony are now starting to surface and thankfully congress is taking a closer look at the sketchy background of Michael Atkinson.

Michael Atkinson (Credit: public domain)

There are numerous aspects to the whistle-blower (likely CIA operative Michael Barry), and the complaint, that just don’t add up. One of the areas of focus is the backdating of changes made to the ‘whistle-blower’ complaint form.  As Sean Davis notes:

[…] Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, told HPSCI lawmakers during a committee oversight hearing on Friday that the whistleblower forms and rules changes were made in, even though the new forms and guidance, which were not uploaded to the ICIG’s website until September 24, state that they were changed in August.

Despite having a full week to come up with explanations for his office’s decisions to secretly change its forms to eliminate the requirement for first-hand evidence and to backdate those changes to August, Atkinson refused to provide any explanation to lawmakers baffled by his behavior. (read more)

The CIA ‘whistle-blower’ had no first-hand knowledge; everything was based on hearsay.  The CIA operative never informed the ICIG about prior contact and coordination with the House Intelligence Committee (Adam Schiff).  The CIA operative never disclosed congressional contact on the complaint form, and the complaint forms were changed specifically to accommodate this CIA operative.

On Sunday, October 6th, Ranking Member Devin Nunes also discussed his concerns with the testimony of Michael Atkinson.  Nunes noted the testimony “was a joke.”

Nunes told Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Sunday host Matt Boyle, “[The ICIG is] either totally incompetent or part of the deep state, and he’s got a lot of questions he needs to answer because he knowingly changed the form and the requirements in order to make sure that this whistleblower complaint got out publicly.”

“So he’s either incompetent or in on it, and he’s going to have more to answer for, I can promise you because we are not going to let him go; he is going to tell the truth about what happened,” Nunes added.  (read more)

ICIG Atkinson never reviewed the call transcript and facilitated the complaint processing despite numerous flaws.  Additionally, Atkinson ignored legal guidance from both the director of national intelligence (DNI) and the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel that highlighted Atkinson’s poor decision-making.

President Trump announced Joseph Macguire as the Acting ODNI on August 8th, 2019. (link)  The CIA operative “whistle-blower” letter to Adam Schiff and Richard Burr was on August 12th (link).   Immediately following this letter, the ICIG rules and requirements for Urgent Concern “whistle-blowers” was modified, allowing hearsay complaints. On August 28th Adam Schiff begins tweeting about the construct of the complaint.

Given the nature of Atkinson’s background, it appears his prior work in 2016, during his tenure as the lead legal counsel for the DOJ-NSD, likely played a role in his decision.

Here’s Nunes Sunday Interview (audio):

The center of the 2016 Lawfare Alliance election influence was/is the Department of Justice National Security Division, DOJ-NSD. It was the DOJ-NSD running the Main Justice side of the 2016 operations to support Operation Crossfire Hurricane and FBI agent Peter Strzok. It was also the DOJ-NSD where the sketchy legal theories around FARA violations (Sec. 901) originated.

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) in 2016. That makes Atkinson senior legal counsel to John Carlin and Mary McCord who were the former heads of the DOJ-NSD in 2016 when the stop Trump operation was underway.

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.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 10/07/2019)

(Republished with permission)

August 8, 2019 – Bruce Ohr documents undercut FBI claims In Carter Page’s FISA applications

Christopher Steele, Bruce Ohr and Glenn Simpson (Credit: public domain)

“Transcripts of Justice Department official Bruce Ohr’s interviews with the FBI could open the bureau to new scrutiny over claims government officials made in applications to spy on Carter Page.

During a Nov. 22, 2016 interview with the FBI, Ohr discussed meetings between dossier author Christopher Steele, Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson and Yahoo! News reporter Michael Isikoff, who two months earlier had published an article that alleged that Page was under FBI investigation for contacts in Russia.

The potential problem for the FBI is that the bureau said in four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications against Page that investigators did not believe that Steele was a source for Isikoff’s story.

The FBI relied heavily on Steele’s unverified dossier to argue to the FISA court that Page was working as an agent of Russia. The applications also cite Isikoff’s article and at least one other news report about Page.

“OHR met [redacted] in Washington, D.C. in late September, possibly close to the time when the Yahoo news article was published on September 23, 2016,” read the heavily-redacted Ohr notes, which were released on Thursday.

“Simpson and [redacted] could have met with Yahoo or Michael Isikoff jointly, but OHR does not know if they did.”

In four FISA applications — which the FBI submitted in October 2016, January 2017, April 2017, and June 2017 — the FBI “does not believe that Source #1,” who has been identified as Steele, “directly provided this information to the identified news organization that published the September 23rd News Article.”

It is unclear if the redacted portion of the footnote adds further context to possible contacts between Steele, Simpson and Isikoff.

July 28, 2019 – Rep. John Ratcliffe says it is clear crimes were committed by government officials in the Obama administration

“With the Justice Department conducting a review of that operation, Rep. John Ratcliffe said during a Fox News interview Sunday that he trusts Attorney General William Barr and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz to provide answers.

And while Ratcliffe said he does not want to prematurely accuse any specific person of a crime — as Democrats have done with President Trump — he stressed that it is clear crimes were committed by people during the Obama administration, including government officials.

“I think the first thing we need to do is make sure we don’t do what the Democrats have done,” the Texas Republican told host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday Morning Futures. “They accused Donald Trump of a crime and then they try and reverse engineer a process to justify that accusation. So I’m not going to accuse any specific person of any specific crime, I just want there to be a fair process to get there. What I do know as a former federal prosecutor is that it does appear that there were crimes committed during the Obama administration.”

(…) Ratcliffe recommended three leads for the “investigation of the investigators.”

The first related to former national security adviser Michael Flynn. “You talked earlier about Michael Flynn. His phone call with the Russian ambassador was a highly classified NSA intercept. Someone in the Obama administration leaked that call to the Washington Post. That’s a felony,” he said.

Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed in February 2018 that the Justice Department was investigating that leak, and that he was overseeing the inquiry himself. “I am directing it personally and we’re pursuing it aggressively,” Sessions said at the time.

Ratcliffe suggested investigators also look into conflicting congressional testimony between Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson and Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. Fusion GPS was the opposition research firm behind British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s dossier, which was full of unverified claims about Trump’s ties to Russia and was used extensively by the FBI in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to justify surveillance of Page. Ohr acted as an unofficial back channel between Steel and the FBI. “Glenn Simpson from Fusion GPS in talking about the Steele dossier, said under oath that he and Bruce Ohr did not meet until after the election. Bruce Ohr said under oath that they met three months before the election. One of them is not telling the truth. We need a process to identify that,” Ratcliffe said.

The third area of interest, Ratcliffe said, is former FBI Director James Comey’s memos on his interactions with Trump before he was fired in May 2017. “Where it all started, Jim Comey. He admitted that he leaked his confidential conversations with the president to a reporter. Did that include classified information? We need a fair processes to find out answers to that,” Ratcliffe said.” (Read more:  Washington Examiner, 7/28/2019)

May 24, 2019 – Southeastern Legal Foundation files FOIA request for FISC records on Carter Page

Southeastern Legal Foundation logo (Credit: public domain)

“Southeastern Legal Foundation filed a Motion for Publication of Records with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) on behalf of award-winning investigative reporter John Solomon and itself, seeking rulings, orders and opinions issued by the Court finding any of the attorneys associated with the Carter Page FISA applications violated rules of the Court or rules governing professional conduct by attorneys.

Southeastern Legal Foundation successfully pursued Bar sanctions against sitting President Bill Clinton, ultimately resulting in the surrender of his law license on the last day in office and disbarment by the U.S. Supreme Court (1998-2001) as part of the Agreed Order of Discipline from Independent Counsel Robert Ray.  Click here for more information on the Clinton matter.

“We face a serious crisis of public confidence in our judicial system.  Our nation’s highest law enforcement officers and government attorneys are suspected of lying, misleading and withholding information from the FISC in order to obtain permission to conduct surveillance on U.S. citizen Carter Page,” said Todd Young, SLF executive director.  “If true, even in part, one of the most profound ways to help re-establish public trust in the rule of law is to hold these attorneys professionally and publicly accountable for their alleged grievous violations of the law and public trust.”

Click here for FISC Motion for Publication of Records filed by SLF)

Click here for FOIA request to DOJ

Click here for FOIA request to FBI

(Southeastern Legal Foundation, 5/24/2019)

May 19, 2019 – Trey Gowdy says he has seen exculpatory transcripts of FBI spies engaged with Papadopoulos

“In September 2016 the FBI used a longtime informant, Stefan Halper, to make contact with George Papadopoulos, pay him $3k and fly him to London for consulting work and a policy paper on Mediterranean energy issues.

As part of the spy operation the FBI sent a female intelligence operative (a spy) under the alias Azra Turk to pose as Halper’s assistant and engage Papdopoulos.  A month later the FBI used Papadopoulos as a supplemental basis for a FISA warrant against Carter Page.

Former Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Trey Gowdy, tells Maria Bartiromo that he has seen transcripts of the Halper/Turk operation, and those transcripts exonerate Papadopoulos.

(Transcript)

Bartiromo: I’m really glad you brought that up; the FBI agents’ discussion with George Papadopoulos. Because when the FBI sends in informants to someone they’re looking at, typically those conversations are recorded right? Those people are wired?

Gowdy: Yeah, I mean if the bureau is going to send an informant in, the informant is going to be wired; and if the bureau is monitoring telephone calls there’s going to be a transcript of that.

And some of us have been fortunate enough to know whether or not those transcripts exist; but they haven’t been made public and I think one in-particular is going – it has the potential to actually persuade people.  Very little in this Russia probe I’m afraid is going to persuade people who hate Trump, or who love Trump, but there is some information in these transcripts that I think has the potential to be a game-changer if it’s ever made public.

Bartiromo: You say that’s exculpatory evidence and when people see that they’re going to say: wait, why wasn’t this presented to the court earlier?

Gowdy: Yeah, you know, Johnny Ratcliffe is rightfully exercised over the obligations that the government has to tell the whole truth to the court when you are seeking permission to spy, or do surveillance, on an American.  And part of that includes the responsibility of providing exculpatory information, or information that tends to show the person did not do something wrong.  If you have exculpatory information, and you don’t share it with the court, that ain’t good.  I’ve seen it, Johnny’s seen it, I’d love for your viewers to see it.
(End Transcript)



(Page FISA Application)

(HPSCI Memo)

(Downer Operation Link)

(The Conservative Treehouse, 5/19/2019)

May 16, 2019 – The “Steele” dossier source who falsely claimed there was a Russian Consulate in Miami was ALSO  a source for the Moscow “pee tape”

A partial Twitter thread by independent researcher, Undercover Huber @JohnWHuber:

“The “Steele” dossier source who falsely claimed there was a Russian Consulate in Miami was ALSO  a source for the Moscow “pee tape” AND **the key source** alleging an “extensive conspiracy” between the Trump campaign & Russia involving Manafort and Page ?

Christopher Steele tells State Dept. Official Kathleen Kavalec on Oct 11 2016 that a “human/technical operation run out of Moscow targeting the election” is “hacking” and “recruiting” and “payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian Consulate in Miami.”

Kavalec (likely after a cursory search) says “It is important to note there is no Russian Consulate in Miami.” ?

This is critical to the credibility of Steele’s source for this “payments to hackers” allegation: if they’re wrong about “Miami” what *else* are they wrong about? ?

N.B: Kavalec was right: at the time, the Russian Consulate in Florida was 450 km away from Miami, in Tampa (apparently in the same building as the US Commerce Dept.) – literally a 60 second Google search would have shown that this allegation about payments from “Miami” was false.

(FYI: These notes from Kavalec are immediately forwarded to Stephen Laycock in FBI Counterintelligence, who then passes them on to Peter Strzok (note: the Page FISA is generated out of the Counterespionage section [CD4] of the Counterintelligence division, which Strzok supervises.)

Here is the part of Steele’s dossier about the “Miami” payments to “cyber operators” (i.e. hackers) “based in the U.S.” and it is attributed to…

…”SOURCE E” ?

(“Miami” is not mentioned anywhere else in the dossier except attributed to Source E)

Source E  also “confirms” the Trump/hookers “pee tape” allegations and provides an introduction to a Ritz-Carlton hotel employee for validation of this kompromat allegation.

Steele even tells Kavalec that he’s only “persuaded the story about the prostitutes is accurate” *BECAUSE OF SOURCE E*. The same guy who doesn’t know where the Russian Consulate is in Florida? Yep, he’s the Pee Tape confirmation.

Reminder: Intel sources called Steele “meticulous” with a “formidable record.”

Back to Source E. He is *also* the primary source for “Steele’s” explosive claim of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation between [Trump] and the Russian leadership”, which is managed by Paul Manafort via @carterwpage, including the DNC hacking/release to Wikileaks. ?

 

 

That allegation of a conspiracy involving Page and members of the Trump campaign to interfere in the election in “coordination” with Russia is what the FBI/DOJ swore they believed to the FISA court. “Conspiracy” is also the exact word needed to implicate potential federal crimes.

 

Some conclusions:

  • The FBI should have known there was no Russian Consulate in Miami *themselves*, when they attempted to verify the dossier claims
  • Even if the FBI didn’t try and properly verify the dossier (likely), Kavalec told the FBI this fact explicitly *BEFORE THE FISA*
  • So, Steele’s SOURCE E for the “Miami” payments is giving Steele FALSE information, either mistakenly, or worse: deliberately
  • The next logical source verification step once the FBI realizes this is to check all of the *other* allegations made by SOURCE E as they’re also suspect

There is no evidence that the FBI/DOJ even tried to verify the dossier before the FISA, and no evidence they even informed the FISC that SOURCE E was potentially unreliable after the first FISA was sought.

And it gets worse… (Read more: Undercover Huber, 5/16/2019)

(Timeline editor’s note: We believe there are several timeline entries that suggest Cody Shearer could be Source E. You can find his tag archive HERE:)

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