FISA Title-1 surveillance warrant

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 – 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 17, 2019 – Devin Nunes questions FISC presiding judge Rosemary Collyer’s lack of candor and again calls for the dismantling of FISA Court

“During a stunning interview last Sunday Devin Nunes called for the FISA court to be deconstructed.  In my opinion it was that statement, not the IG report, that spurred FISC Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer to make a public order today.

Today, hours after Judge Collyer released her order, Devin Nunes responded to the review of the FISC by stating, accurately, Judge Collyer doth protest too much.

In this interview Devin Nunes outlines his February 2018 notification to the FISC about the specific fraud upon the court; and as a result of that (and a follow-up) notification, Nunes again takes the FISC to task for saying they were not aware.  Collyer was aware because Nunes told her.

Accepting the totality of the FISC obfuscation, HPSCI ranking member Devin Nunes again calls for the dismantling of the FISA court process. WATCH:

Despite the media ignoring the scale of Nunes prior statements, this is not some just some arbitrary representatives’ opinion.  Nunes was Chairman of the HPSCI when he informed the court of the abuse; and he is currently the ranking member of the same committee.

It is not a signal flare from the ranking member of the HPSCI to call for a structural removal of FISC authority.  This is a nuclear blast from the primary person who previously guided the FISA re-authorization that permits the court’s existence.

Here’s the February 2018 letter from Nunes to Judge Collyer:

It is arbitrary and capricious for FISC Presiding Judge Collyer to say today she has concerns about fraud upon the court after being notified two years ago about the issue.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 12/17/2019)  (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 IG FISA report states John McCain continued to provide Comey with Steele reports after the British intel officer was terminated as a source by the FBI

David Kramer invokes the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying on Steele dossier in December 2018. (Credit: public domain)

“The controversial report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz into the FBI’s investigation into Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign revealed many concerning details. One was that Christopher Steele’s dossier was used in the case to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to secure a wiretap on former Donald Trump campaign official Carter Page after the DOJ found no probable cause to do so. The report also revealed that late Senator John McCain provided former FBI Director James Comey with reports from Steele after the FBI terminated the former British intelligence officer as a source, Breitbart reports.

McCain reportedly gave Comey five new Steele reports that were not previously in possession of the FBI, although it’s not clear if McCain knew at the time that Steele was no longer an FBI source. Regardless, the new reports were allegedly obtained by McCain from Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. Fusion GPS was notably hired for anti-Trump opposition research by the president’s opponents in the primary.

“Several weeks later, on December 9, 2016, Senator John McCain provided Corney with a collection of 16 Steele election reports, 5 of which Steele had not given the FBI,” the IG report reads. “McCain had obtained these reports from a staff member at the McCain Institute. The McCain Institute staff member had met with Steele and later acquired the reports from Simpson.”

According to Breitbart, the unnamed McCain staffer is David J. Kramer, who reportedly gave the Steele dossier to BuzzFeed News, which published the document in full on January 10, 2017.

(Read more: The Inquisitr, 12/26/2019) (Archive)

December 9, 2019 – The IG FISA Report reveals the main source of the Clinton/DNC/Steele dossier is the subject of an “open FBI counterintelligence investigation” – FISA court is not told

Photo of John McCain with “Source D-Source E” of Steele Dossier — Sergei Millian. (Credit: Paul Sperry/Facebook)

“One of the more shocking facts from the FISA report is that there was only one person who supplied information to Christopher Steele and he said that the information he provided was all garbage.

“The primary sub-source stated that his information came from word of mouth and hearsay and a conversation he had with friends over beers.

Steele’s sub-source was Sergei Millian. Millian’s comments were used for three years to spy on candidate and President Trump and to put the country through corrupt investigations as a result. It all was garbage, Comey, Obama, Mueller, the whole lot knew it was.

Now we see that the subject of the entire Trump sham, Millian, was under investigation at the time he was used as the main source to spy on Trump.

He was “the subject of an open FBI counterintelligence investigation”. This was never shared with the courts.

The Daily Caller reports:

Steele’s claim rested in part on his belief that Deripaska had “no contact with any of his sources” for the dossier. But Deripaska did have contact with a businessman who Steele told the FBI was an unwitting source for most of the dossier’s most eye-popping claims.

Oleg Deripaska (r), CNBC anchor Julia Chatterley (c), and Sergei Millian,  June, 2017. (Credit: CNBC)

Deripaska and the unwitting source, Sergie [sic] Millian, were photographed speaking to each other on June 17, 2016 at an economic forum in St. Petersburg. Steele wrote the first memo of his dossier three days later.

Steele claimed that Millian, who is referred to as Person 1 in the IG report, unwittingly provided information to his main information collector, who is identified as Primary Sub-Source. Millian has long denied being a source for the dossier.

Steele’s primary source disavowed some of Steele’s reporting during an interview with FBI agents in January 2017. The IG report said that the source said that he shared “rumor and speculation” about Donald Trump and members of the campaign with Steele, who reported them as fact in the dossier.

The Crossfire Hurricane team failed to disclose the source’s derogatory comments about Steele in applications to renew surveillance against Page.

Priestap, the former counterintelligence official who oversaw Crossfire Hurricane, told the IG he saw “no indication whatsoever” as of May 2017 that Russia had funneled disinformation through Steele.

Steele’s sub-source was Sergie [sic] Millian.  Millian’s comments were used for three years to spy on candidate and President Trump and to put the country through corrupt investigations as a result.

(FISA Report – pg. 164)

(Read more: The Gateway Pundit, 12/16/2019)  (Archive)

December 9, 2019 – The IG FISA Report ratifies the oft-denounced “Nunes memo”

(Credit: Fox News)

(…) Democrats are not going to want to hear this, since conventional wisdom says former House Intelligence chief Devin Nunes is a conspiratorial evildoer, but the Horowitz report ratifies the major claims of the infamous “Nunes memo.”

As noted, Horowitz establishes that the Steele report was crucial to the FISA process, even using the same language Nunes used (“essential”). He also confirms the Nunes assertion that the FBI double-dipped in citing both Steele and a September 23, 2016, Yahoo! news story using Steele as an unnamed source. Horowitz listed the idea that Steele did not directly provide information to the press as one of seven significant “inaccuracies or omissions” in the first FISA application.

Horowitz also verifies the claim that Steele was “closed for cause” for talking to the media, i.e. officially cut off as a confidential human source to the FBI. He shows that Steele continued to talk to Justice Official Bruce Ohr before and after Steele’s formal relationship with the FBI ended. His report confirms that the Steele information had not been corroborated when the FISA application was submitted, another key Nunes point.

There was gnashing of teeth when Nunes first released his memo in January 2018. The press universally crapped on his letter, with a Washington Post piece calling it a “joke” and a “sham.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed Nunes for the release of a “bogus” document, while New York Senator Chuck Schumer said the memo was intended to “sow conspiracy theories and attack the integrity of federal law enforcement.” Many called for his removal as Committee chair.

The Horowitz report says all of that caterwauling was off-base. It also undercuts many of the assertions made in a ballyhooed response letter by Nunes counterpart Adam Schiff, who described the FBI’s “reasonable basis” for deeming Steele credible. The report is especially hostile to Schiff’s claim that the FBI “provided additional information obtained through multiple independent sources that corroborated Steele’s reporting.” (Read more: Rolling Stone, 12/10/2019)  (Archive)

December 9, 2019 – The IG FISA report shows the Mueller team replicated FBI abuses

“Shortly after the release of the special counsel report last year, I posited that Robert Mueller’s failure to investigate whether Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election by feeding dossier author Christopher Steele disinformation established that Mueller was either incompetent or a political hack. Now, with the release of the inspector general’s report on FISA abuse, we know the answer: He was both.

(…) As the IG report noted, “on May 17, 2017, the Crossfire Hurricane cases were transferred to the Office of the Special Counsel,” and the FBI agents and analysts then began working with the special counsel. A little more than a month later, the FBI asked the Department of Justice to seek a fourth extension of the Page surveillance order. That fourth renewal obtained under Mueller’s leadership included the 17 significant inaccuracies and omissions the IG identified.

(Timeline editor’s note: It is our understanding there are not 17 individual significant inaccuracies that were found in each FISA application. Instead, it is a grand total of  significant inaccuracies in all of the Page FISA applications, combined.)

(…) Most significantly, in June 2017, the FBI’s office of general counsel falsely represented that Page had not been a source for another federal agency, when, in reality, Page had been approved as an “operational contact” and the FBI’s attorney had been told so in an email. Yet the final surveillance renewal application failed to inform the FISA court that, while Page had connections with individuals connected to Russian intelligence, he had provided information about those contacts to another agency as an approved source.

(…) Not only did Mueller’s team continue to push the same inaccuracies and omissions to the FISA court in the June 2017 renewal, the FISA court was not informed of the many mistakes and omissions for another year—even though the special counsel’s investigation should have uncovered many of the errors contained in the applications early on in the probe.

(…) Mueller’s team also knew, by July 2017 at the latest, that Joseph Mifsud—the Maltese professor who supposedly tipped then-Trump aide George Papadopoulos to the Russians having dirt on Hillary Clinton—had denied telling Papadopoulos that the Russians could assist the Trump campaign by leaking negative information on Clinton. Prior to the special counsel’s appointment, the FBI had interviewed Papadopoulos and Mifsud, but it would be the special counsel’s office that indicted Papadopoulos in late July 2017, charging him with lying to the FBI.

(…) It also wasn’t mere incompetence on display: The special counsel’s office also engaged in much of the same misconduct the IG identified. For instance, emblematic of Mueller’s complicity in misconduct Horowitz identified is the fact that the special counsel continued to use Bruce Ohr as a conduit to feed “intel” to the FBI from Steele after Steele was terminated as a confidential human source.

(…) That the special counsel’s team engaged with Ohr without notifying to Ohr’s superiors shouldn’t surprise, though, as that was the M.O. of Mueller’s pit bull, lawyer Andrew Weissmann. The IG report exposed this reality, in detail. Specifically, the IG report explained that shortly after Trump was elected president:

…between November 16, 2016 and December 15, 2016, Ohr participated in several meetings that were attended, at various times, by some or all of the following individuals: Swartz, Ahmad, Andrew Weissmann (then Section Chief of CRM’s Fraud Section), Strzok, and Lisa Page. The meetings involving Ohr, Swartz, Ahmad, and Weissmann focused on their shared concern that the [Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section] MLARS was not moving quickly enough on the Manafort criminal investigation and whether there were steps they could take to move the investigation forward. The meetings with Strzok and Page focused primarily on whether the FBI could assess the case’s relevance, if any, to the FBI ‘s Russian interference investigation. MLARS was not represented at any of these meetings or told about them, and none of attendees had supervisory responsibility over the MLARS investigation….

On January 31, 2017, one day after Yates was removed as DAG, Ahmad, by then an Acting CRM Deputy Assistant Attorney General, after consulting with Swartz and Weissmann, sent an email to Lisa Page, copying Weissmann, Swartz, and Ohr, requesting a meeting the next day to discuss ‘a few Criminal Division related developments.’ The next day, February 1, Swartz, Ohr, Ahmad, and Weissmann met with Strzok, Lisa Page, and an FBI Acting Section Chief. None of the attendees at the meeting could explain to us what the ‘Criminal Division related developments’ were, and we did not find any.

Meeting notes reflect, among other things, that the group discussed the Manafort criminal investigation and efforts that the Department could undertake to investigate attempts by Russia to influence the 2016 elections. MLARS was not represented at, or told about, the meeting.

(Read more: The Federalist, 1/06/2020)  (Archive)

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)