Mid Year Exam (MYE)
August 31, 2018 – Senior FBI attorney Trisha Anderson, did not read Carter Page Title 1 FISA warrant application before signing off on it
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 20, 2018 – Peter Strzok statements about the Weiner laptop conflict with DOJ Inspector General claims about Weiner laptop
“With the exceptional help of John Spiropoulos we investigate a conflict completely ignored by media and congress. Peter Strzok, the FBI’s lead Investigator in the Clinton email investigation, never intended to investigate the laptop before the election. The evidence, in his own words, is in the report by the Inspector General. In addition, the IG report includes a jaw dropping contradiction regarding the investigation of the laptop. Strzok says one thing; the FBI’s computer experts say another. It calls into question the entirety of the laptop investigation.
There is a great deal of inconsistent application of law surrounding the DOJ/FBI investigative authority during 2015 and 2016. There is also a great deal of fatigue surrounding discussion of those inconsistent applications. Contradictions, inconsistency and obtuse justifications are as rampant in our midst as the political narratives shaping them. Perhaps that’s by design.
Reading Chapter 11 of the IG Report reinforces an acceptance that not only is there a need for a special counsel, but there is a brutally obvious need for multiple special counsels; each given a specific carve-out investigation that comes directly from the content of the Inspector General report. This issue of the handling of the Weiner/Abedin laptop screams for a special counsel investigation on that facet alone. Why?
Well, consider this from page #388 (emphasis mine):
Midyear agents obtained a copy of the Weiner laptop from NYO immediately after the search warrant was signed on October 30.
The laptop was taken directly to Quantico where the FBI’s Operational Technology Division (OTD) began processing the laptop. The Lead Analyst told us that given the volume of emails on the laptop and the difficulty with de-duplicating the emails that “at least for the first few days, the scale of what we’re doing seem[ed] really, really big.”
Strzok told us that OTD was able “to do some amazing things” to “rapidly de-duplicate” the emails on the laptop, which significantly lowered the number of emails that the Midyear team would have to individually review. Strzok stated that only after that technological breakthrough did he begin to think it was “possible we might wrap up before the election.” (pg 388)
The key takeaway here is two-fold. First, the laptop is in the custody of the FBI; that’s important moving forward (I’ll explain later). Also, specifically important, FBI Agent Peter Strzok, the lead investigative authority in the Hillary Clinton MYE (Mid-Year-Exam), is explaining to the IG how they were able to process an exhaustive volume of emails (350,000) and Blackberry communications (344,000) in a few days; [Oct 30 to Nov 5]
Note: “OTD was able “to do some amazing things to rapidly de-duplicate” the emails on the laptop.”
OK, you got that?
Now lets look at the very next page, #389 (again, emphasis mine):
(…) The FBI determined that Abedin forwarded two of the confirmed classified emails to Weiner. The FBI reviewed 6,827 emails that were either to or from Clinton and assessed 3,077 of those emails to be “potentially work-related.”The FBI analysis of the review noted that “[b]ecause metadata was largely absent, the emails could not be completely, automatically de-duplicated or evaluated against prior emails recovered during the investigation” and therefore the FBI could not determine how many of the potentially work-related emails were duplicative of emails previously obtained in the Midyear investigation. (pg 389)
See the problem? See the contradiction?
Strzok is saying due to some amazing wizardry the FBI forensics team was able to de-duplicate the emails. However, FBI forensics is saying they were NOT able to de-duplicate the emails.
Both of these statements cannot be true. And therein lies the underlying evidence to support a belief the laptop content was never actually reviewed. But it gets worse, much worse… (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 7/20/2018)
(Note From the Editor: Conservative Treehouse has granted us permission to share more of their work than what Fair Use would normally allow. We thank them for their generosity and excellent, investigative work. Please don’t stop reading here, there is a lot more to their story.)
July 13, 2018 – Lisa Page testifies and an internal chart reveals, the Obama DOJ was ‘not willing to charge’ Clinton on key espionage statute
“An internal chart prepared by federal investigators working on the so-called “Midyear Exam” probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails, exclusively reviewed by Fox News, contained the words “NOTE: DOJ not willing to charge this” next to a key statute on the mishandling of classified information. The notation appeared to contradict former FBI Director James Comey’s repeated claims that his team made its decision that Clinton should not face criminal charges independently.
Fox News has confirmed the chart served as a critical tip that provided the basis for Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe’s explosive questioning of former FBI lawyer Lisa Page last year, in which Page agreed with Ratcliffe’s characterization that the DOJ had told the FBI that “you’re not going to charge gross negligence.” A transcript of Page’s remarks was published Tuesday as part of a major document release by the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins.
The document, entitled “Espionage Act Charges – Retention/Mishandling,” contained a list of several criminal statutes related to the mishandling of classified information, as well as a list of all the elements that prosecutors would need to prove in order to successfully prosecute a case.
Among the statutes listed are 18 U.S.C. 793(d), which covers the “willfull” retention of national defense information that could harm the U.S.; 18 U.S.C. 793(f), which pertains to “gross negligence” in the handling of classified information by permitting the information to be “removed from its proper place of custody”; and 18 U.S.C. 1924, listed as a misdemeanor related to retaining classified materials at an “unauthorized location.”
Listed directly below to the elements of 18 U.S.C. 793(f) were the words: “NOTE: DOJ not willing to charge this; only known cases are Military, cases when accused lost the information (e.g. thumb drive sent to unknown recipient at wrong address.)
None of the other descriptions of the statutes had a similar notation.” (Read more: Fox News, 3/14/2019)
June 5, 2018 – Priestap’s testimony reveals the composition of the Mid-Year Exam team
(…) “Priestap revealed a surprising level of detail regarding the composition of the team involved in Mid-Year Exam. As Priestap described it, the team comprised three differing but intertwined elements: the filter team, the primary team, and the senior leadership team.
Below Strzok and Moffa was a day-to-day investigative “filter” team of approximately 15 FBI agents and analysts that was overseen by Rick Mains, a supervisory special agent who reported directly to Strzok and Moffa. Joining the team were two DOJ lawyers from the Eastern District of Virginia and two attorneys from the DOJ’s National security Division (NSD) who, according to Priestap, were “heavily engaged.” According to testimony from Page, John Carlin, who ran the NSD, was receiving briefings on both investigations directly from McCabe.
The primary team was small, consisting only of Strzok, Moffa, Mains, and, to varying degrees, Moyer. Mains reported to Strzok and Moffa, who, in turn, along with Moyer, provided briefings to Priestap.
The senior leadership team was more fluid, consisting of higher-level officials who provided briefings and updates to Comey, McCabe, or both. In addition to Priestap, Strzok, and Moffa, frequent attendees included Moyer (“sometimes, but not always”); Page (“usually included”); deputy general counsel Trisha Anderson (“sometimes, but not always”); Comey’s chief of staff, Jim Rybicki (“most, if not all of these”); and general counsel Baker (“often in those meetings”).
According to Priestap, Mains was never involved in the senior leadership meetings. Priestap described Mains’ role as being “in charge of the investigative team, the working level, all the day-to-day stuff.”
“[While] we asked his opinion on all kinds of things, we didn’t want him to be tied up in all those other meetings because he needed to advance the investigation. Somebody’s got to ride herd on all the people doing the work,” he said.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 1/29/2019)
- Andrew McCabe
- Bill Priestap
- Clinton Email Investigation
- Department of Justice National Security Division
- Eastern District of Virginia
- FBI's Clinton email investigation
- James Baker
- James Comey
- Jim Rybicki
- John Carlin
- Jonathan Moffa
- June 2018
- Lisa Page
- Mid Year Exam (MYE)
- Mid Year Exam team
- Peter Strzok
- Rick Mains
- Sally Moyer
- Trisha Anderson
May 23, 2018 – Editorial: How the Clinton-Emails Investigation Intertwined with the Russia Probe
By: Andrew C. McCarthy
(…) “It was a little after midnight on May 4, 2016. FBI lawyer Lisa Page was texting her paramour, FBI counterespionage agent Peter Strzok, about the most stunning development to date in the 2016 campaign: Donald Trump was now the inevitable Republican nominee. He would square off against Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ certain standard-bearer.
The race was set . . . between two major-party candidates who were both under investigation by the FBI.
In stunned response, Strzok wrote what may be the only words we need to know, the words that reflected the mindset of his agency’s leadership and of the Obama administration: “Now the pressure really starts to finish MYE.”
MYE. That’s Mid-Year Exam, the code-word the FBI had given to the Hillary Clinton emails probe.”
(…) “When Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s shameful Arizona tarmac meeting with former President Clinton becomes a scandal in late June, she tries to mitigate the damage by announcing an intention to accept whatever recommendation the FBI makes. Lisa Page spitefully texts Peter Strzok. “And yeah, it’s a real profile in couragw [sic], since she knows no charges will be brought.”
That was July 1. The very next day, the FBI does its just-for-show interview of Mrs. Clinton. Three mornings later, July 5 (at the start of the work week after Independence Day), Comey holds his press conference to announce that, of course, no charges will be brought.
To accomplish this, he effectively rewrites the classified-information statute Clinton violated; barely mentions the tens of thousands of official government business emails that she destroyed; claims without any elaboration that the FBI can see no evidence of obstruction; and omits mention of her just-concluded interview in which — among other things — she pretended not to know what the markings on classified documents meant.
On the very same day, the FBI’s legal attaché in Rome travels to London to interview Christopher Steele, who has already started to pass his sensational dossier allegations to the bureau. And with the help of CIA director John Brennan and British intelligence, the FBI is ready to run a spy — a longtime CIA source — at Carter Page in London on July 11, just as he arrives there from Moscow.
With the pressure to finish MYE in the rearview mirror, Hillary Clinton looked like a shoo-in to beat Donald Trump. By mid September, Lisa Page was saying as much at a meeting in Deputy Director McCabe’s office. But Strzok was hedging his bets: Maybe “there’s no way [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
Soon, as the campaign wound down, the FBI and the Obama Justice Department were on the doormat of the FISA court, obtaining a surveillance warrant on Carter Page, substantially based on allegations in the Steele dossier — an uncorroborated Clinton-campaign opposition-research screed. Meanwhile, the FBI/CIA spy was being run at George Papadopoulos, and even seeking a role in the Trump campaign from its co-chairman, Sam Clovis.
Or maybe you think these things are unrelated . . .” (Read more: National Review, 5/23/2018)
September 28, 2016 – DOJ OIG reports Peter Strzok can’t recall much about the Weiner laptop and doesn’t think the new Clinton emails are ‘all that noteworthy’
On page 279 of the DOJ IG Horowitz report, a meeting occurs between Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and Bill Priestap after Clinton’s emails were discovered on Weiner’s laptop. When Strzok is questioned by the IG team about Clinton’s emails found on Weiner’s laptop, his notes on the event appear to be more helpful than his memory.
September 28, 2016 – DOJ OIG reports Comey doesn’t recall much about Clinton’s emails on Weiner’s laptop and worries he’s crazy for not remembering
Pages 280 – 282 of the DOJ OIG report:
August 4, 2016 – A few operational details of the CIA/NSA/FBI/White House counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign
(…) “In the first week of August — directly after the creation of Crossfire Hurricane — Director Brennan contacted Avril Haines via telephone, as he had received intelligence in relation to President Vladimir Putin.
An envelope which contained “eyes only” instructions was sent by courier from the Central Intelligence Agency to the White House. The contents of the envelope were shown to four people: President Barack Obama, and three of his senior aides, most likely Denis McDonough, Susan Rice and Avril Haines.
Within the envelope was a valuable source that Director Brennan had used to ascertain certain information, a source which he intentionally kept away from the Presidential Daily Brief. This was because, by 2013, the Presidential Daily Brief was being received by over 30 recipients.
“Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.
But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objects — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.” — The Washington Post
As a result of this, Director Brennan created a secret task force at the Central Intelligence Agency’s Headquarters, which was composed of several dozen analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The Working Group reported to two different groups.
- President Barack Obama and less than 14 senior United States Government officials.
- A team of operations specialists at the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Also in early August 2016 — presumably the same week — agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, where they questioned her about a letter they had received in early March 2016 from a foreign source, supposedly written by Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Leonard Benardo of the Open Society Foundations regarding the Midyear Exam investigation.
During this meeting, the agents offered to give Attorney General Lynch a “defensive briefing”. Shortly after this, the Federal Bureau of Investigation concluded that the Benardo letter was an unreliable document.
President Obama ordered his aides to determine ways to retaliate or deter against the Russian Government through three steps:
- Gain a high-confidence assessment from the United States intelligence agencies on Russia’s role and intent.
- Check vulnerabilities in state-run election systems.
- Seek bipartisan support from Congressional leaders for a statement condemning Moscow and urging states to accept federal assistance.
The same week, Rice, Haines and Lisa Monaco convened meetings in the White House Situation Room, which would later be referred to as “Deputies Meetings”. These meetings were initially attended by:
- Director John Brennan, Central Intelligence Agency
- Director James Clapper, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
- Director James Comey, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Attorney General Loretta Lynch, United States Department of Justice
As time passed, another Cabinet member joined the Deputies Meetings: Vice President Joe Biden.
The Deputies Meetings needed to defend against any potential leaks, and therefore followed the same protocols taken during the planning stages of the raid of Osama bin Laden.
At a later time, agendas were directly sent to Cabinet secretaries, including Secretary John Kerry and Secretary Ashton Carter. When an agenda was received, their subordinates were ordered never to open the envelopes. Further to this, some agendas were withheld until the participants had arrived in the Situation Room and sat down.
Ordinarily, a video feed from the White House Situation Room is fed into various National Security Council offices to allow senior aides to view the events with zero sound. However, during the Deputies Meetings, the video feeds were switched off.
One of these Deputies Meetings was hosted by Haines, where the attendees of the meetings argued that any deliberative attempt to strike back against Russia would become a tool of propaganda for President Vladimir Putin, while another was concerned about the potential effect any action may have on Election Day 2016.
Haines would later note she was “very concerned” during this time about the potential of Russians gaining influence within the Trump campaign, although she apparently remained unaware of the existence of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 4/29/2019)
- Ashton B. Carter
- Avril Haines
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- Crossfire Hurricane
- Debbie Wasserman-Schultz
- Denis McDonough
- Department of Justice
- Deputies Meetings
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- Joe Biden
- John Brennan
- John Kerry
- Leonard Benardo
- Lisa Monaco
- Loretta Lynch
- Mid Year Exam (MYE)
- National Security Agency (NSA)
- Open Society Foundations
- Russia election interference
- Susan Rice
- Vladimir Putin
- White House Situation Room
July 28 – August 5, 2016: The Strzok-Page Texts and the Origins of the Trump-Russia Investigation
By Andrew C. McCarthy
“Peter Strzok and Lisa Page’s texts shine a highly redacted light on how the Trump-Russia investigation began.
It was July 31, 2016. Just days earlier, the Obama administration had quietly opened an FBI counterintelligence investigation of Russian cyber-espionage — hacking attacks — to disrupt the 2016 election. And not random, general disruption; the operating theory was that the Russians were targeting the Democratic party, for the purpose of helping Donald Trump win the presidency.
FBI special agent Peter Strzok was downright giddy that day.
The Bureau had finally put to bed “Mid Year Exam.” MYE was code for the dreaded investigation of Hillary Clinton’s improper use of a private email system to conduct State Department business, which resulted in the retention and transmission of thousands of classified emails, as well as the destruction of tens of thousands of government business records. Strzok and other FBI vets dreaded the case because it was a go-through-the-motions exercise: Everyone working on it knew that no one was going to be charged with a crime; that Mrs. Clinton was going to be the next president of the United States; and that the FBI’s goal was not to be tarnished in the process of “investigating” her — to demonstrate, without calling attention to the suffocating constraints imposed by the Obama Justice Department, that the Bureau had done a thorough job, and that there was a legal rationale for letting Clinton off the hook that might pass the laugh test.
That mission was accomplished, Strzok and his colleagues believed, with Director James Comey’s press conference on July 5, outlining the evidence and recommending against charges that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring. Now, having run the just-for-show interview of Hillary Clinton on July 2 — long after Comey’s press statement that there would be no charges was in the can — Strzok was on the verge of a big promotion: to deputy assistant director of counterintelligence.
Even better: Now, he was working a real case — the Trump-Russia case. He was about to fly to London to meet with intelligence contacts and conduct secret interviews.
Not so secret, though, that he could contain himself.
As was his wont several times a day, Strzok texted his paramour, Lisa Page, the FBI lawyer in the lofty position of counsel to Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — which made Page one of the relative handful of Bureau officials who were in on the new probe. Late Sunday night, as he readied for his morning flight, Strzok wrote to Page, comparing the investigations of Clinton and Trump.
“And damn this feels momentous. Because this matters. The other one did, too, but that was to ensure that we didn’t F something up. This matters because this MATTERS.
May 4, 2016 – Strzok and Page text “Now the pressure really starts to finish MYE (Mid Year Exam)…”
At the same time Donald Trump becomes the presumed Republican presidential nominee, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page feel an added pressure to end the Clinton email investigation.