February 25, 2019 – DOJ prevented the FBI from pursuing gross negligence charges against Clinton
“The DOJ required the FBI to establish evidence of intent in regards to Clinton—even though the gross negligence statute explicitly does not require this.
This meant that the FBI would have needed to find a smoking gun, such as an email or an admission from Clinton.
The word “intent” drove the entirety of the FBI’s investigation.
Anderson viewed intent as “an email that the Secretary sent saying, I set up this server for the purpose of sending unclassified information for my convenience, even though I know it’s not a secure system.”
According to House Majority Counsel at the time of Priestap’s interview, the State Department had identified 22 top-secret emails and 1,300 classified emails on Clinton’s email server.
Included within Clinton’s emails was “classified information up to the Special Access Program level.”
The classification level of SAPs is so high that Anderson refused to define her understanding of SAPs in the unclassified interview setting before congressional investigators
An email sent from an unknown individual in the FBI general counsel’s office to Priestap’s former boss, Michael Steinbach, contained a chart of available statutes for prosecuting Clinton.
Gross Negligence was specifically excluded.
Lisa Page appeared to indicate during her testimony that because of the DOJ’s position, there was no reason for the FBI to even pursue evidence related to the specific statute of gross negligence.
Under Anderson’s understanding of the DOJ’s standard, the extreme volume of emails was not a factor, nor was the classification level of the emails, as long as those being investigated were able to say they simply didn’t know any documents were actually classified.
Despite this, not everyone within the FBI agreed w/the DOJ.
FBI General Counsel James Baker:
“I thought these folks should know that this stuff is classified, that it was alarming what they were talking about, especially some of the most highly classified stuff.”
Page, Baker, and Anderson all testified that the gross negligence statute was rarely, if ever used, as part of their explanation for the DOJ’s unwillingness to pursue, but this logic was repeatedly challenged by then-majority House counsel Breitenbach.
“If part of that rationale was that it had never been used, then, by extension, one might presume that other statutes that are on the books, if they aren’t being used, should not be ever considered as predication for a prosecution.”
Anderson, the #2 lawyer at the FBI, was asked about her understanding of the difference between gross negligence and extreme carelessness.
Anderson answered that she didn’t “know exactly what the precise difference is between extremely careless and gross negligence.”
Which begs the question of why Anderson, among others, felt compelled to push Comey to change the language within his statement from the legal term of gross negligence to the non-legal term of extremely careless.
According to Anderson’s testimony, the FBI never even looked into negligence due to the DOJ’s legal position:
The issue at the heart of the Clinton email investigation was summarized by Breitenbach:
“The Department of Justice made a decision that intent was required, even though we have a statute on the books that does not require intent that [only] requires gross negligence.”
Absent a major error on her part, it appears that Clinton was effectively in the clear from the outset of the FBI investigation due to the DOJ’s decision to require intent.17)
With the exceptions of Moffa, Evans, and Hickey, every individual from the FBI and DOJ mentioned in the article has either been fired or has resigned.
(Republished in part with permission)
Oct. 31, 2018 – The FBI learned Information ‘that might bear’ on Christopher Steele’s credibility, lawyer told Congress
“A former FBI attorney who worked on the Russia investigation told Congress last year the bureau learned information about dossier author Christopher Steele “that might bear on his credibility as a source.”
Trisha Anderson, the former principal deputy general counsel, said in a closed-door interview that meetings were held at the FBI with then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and the team working on the investigation to discuss Steele, a former MI6 officer who investigated President Donald Trump on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC.
Steele provided information from his dossier to the FBI, State Department and members of the press.
“There were meetings with Mr. McCabe about the Russia investigation that involved discussions of the various reports that were generated by Chris Steele that we had received, both with respect to the content of the reports as well as what we had learned about Christopher — we, I’m sorry — the FBI investigative team had learned about facts that might bear on his credibility as a source,” Anderson said in the Oct. 31, 2018 interview, a transcript of which was obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“And what were those facts? You had mentioned the contents. More specifically, what were these discussions about? But start with the credibility issues,” a congressional staffer asked Anderson.
Anderson did not say when the meetings occurred. Nor did she say what the possible credibility issues might have been.
When asked for further details, an FBI attorney intervened to say that Anderson could not answer more questions because they “pertain to matters that are being looked at by the special counsel and its investigation.”
At some point after relying on Steele as a confidential source, FBI officials were told that Steele was working on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC to investigate Trump. The former British spy had been hired in June 2016 by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm.
(…) The Justice Department’s office of the inspector general is reportedly investigating the FBI’s use of Steele as a source as part of a broader probe into possible abuse of the FISA system. The New York Times reported on Friday that intelligence community officials determined at some point in 2017 that some of Steele’s allegations were either likely wrong, or based on exaggeration by Steele’s sub-sources.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 4/26/2019)
October 23, 2018 – Sally Moyer’s redacted transcript
“Sally Moyer was FBI unit chief in the Office of General Counsel (counterintelligence legal unit within the FBI Office of General Counsel). Moyer reported to an unnamed section chief, who reported to Trisha Beth Anderson, who was deputy legal counsel to James Baker.
Ms. Moyer is responsible for the legal compliance within the FBI counterintelligence operations that generated FISA applications:
A review of the transcript clarifies a few aspects:
First, the DOJ/FBI team, “the small group”, specifically the legal officials who were ultimately participating in the process that permits politicization and weaponization of government intelligence systems, was also the exact same legal group who reviewed (and approved) the internal inspector general report which outlined their activity.
In essence, the DOJ/FBI bureaucratic corruption is so widespread, the corrupt officials involved are the same people who are the decision-makers in the amount of sunlight the Office of Inspect General is allowed to put forth. Now the disconnect between the OIG executive summary and the body of content material makes sense:” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 5/21/2019)
August 31, 2018 – Testimony by FBI lawyer Trisha Anderson reveals extensive role in Trump, Clinton investigations
“A key player in the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Donald Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign was Trisha Anderson, who, at the time, was the No. 2 lawyer at the agency’s Office of General Counsel.
Despite having no specific experience in counterintelligence before coming to the FBI, Anderson was, in some manner, involved in virtually all of the significant events of the investigation.
Anderson told members of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees in August last year during closed-door testimony that she was one of only about 10 people who had known about the Trump–Russia investigation prior to its official opening.
A transcript of Anderson’s testimony, which was reviewed for this article, reveals that she had read all of the FBI’s FD302 forms detailing information that the author of the Steele dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele, had provided to high-ranking Department of Justice (DOJ) official Bruce Ohr.
Anderson also told lawmakers that she personally signed off on the original application for a warrant to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page without having read it. The FBI relied heavily on the unverified information in the Steele dossier—which was paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee—to obtain the FISA warrant.
Anderson also was part of a small group of FBI personnel who got to read then-FBI Director James Comey’s memos about conversations he had with President Donald Trump.
Besides the investigation into Trump, Anderson also was involved in the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton for sending classified information using a private server.
Anderson’s testimony reveals that she received the original referral from the inspectors general for both the State Department and Intelligence Community on Clinton after hundreds of classified emails had been found on her server.
Her testimony also raises questions as to whether then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch had a conflict of interest.
Lawmakers also questioned Anderson about whether she advised Comey against making a public announcement that the FBI had reopened its investigation into Clinton following findings on the laptop of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) because Comey would have been “responsible for getting Donald Trump elected.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 3/08/2019) (Trisha Anderson transcript, 8/31/2018)
- August 2018
- Bruce Ohr
- Christopher Steele
- Clinton Email Investigation
- Clinton emails
- Clinton/DNC/Steele Dossier
- Democratic National Committee (DNC)
- FBI counterintelligence investigation
- FISA application
- FISA Title-1 surveillance warrant
- House Judiciary Committee
- House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
- Loretta Lynch
- Trisha Anderson
- Trump campaign
- Weiner laptop
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)
August 31, 2018 – House Oversight and Judiciary Committees interview Trisha Anderson – Transcript
August 21, 2018 – Trish Anderson and Sally Moyer testify there is no fact checking of FISA applications by senior staff
“Even during normal circumstances, Anderson noted that she did not view it as her primary responsibility to provide any verification or fact-checking of the FISA applications. According to Anderson, FISAs would typically return from DOJ inspection with a cover note that “summarized the FISA,” and unless an issue had been identified by the cover note, she typically wouldn’t read the actual application “because of the time pressures involved and the sort of very-last-stop-in-the-process nature of the review.” Anderson also testified that the only way she would be aware of the legal predicate for probable cause would be through the DOJ cover note.
Anderson told investigators that her direct supervisor, Baker, had personally read and reviewed the Page FISA, lending her additional confidence in the review process. However, according to Baker, he had only read the “factual section” relating to probable cause and had not read or reviewed any other section, including the Woods file.
The Woods file, which provides facts supporting the allegations made in a FISA application, is attached to every application and is provided by the originating FBI agent in each case.
Baker, during questioning as to why the FBI failed to disclose the political motivations of dossier author Steele to the FISC, testified that this fact should have been vetted during lower levels of preparation.
“So the people filing the FISA application and the people who checked the Woods file to verify that the way this works is that they would not have had any information that was derogatory about Source #1 at the time that this was submitted,” Baker said.
“That there might exist in the files of the FBI or in somebody’s memory some interaction that might be derogatory and that it didn’t make it into the files I don’t know that that happened or didn’t happen. That kind of thing in theory, in theory could happen. So, but the people responsible for this FISA should have believed that that was accurate at the time and should have had documentation to support that assertion.”
However, Sally Moyer, who was a unit chief at the Office of General Counsel, told lawmakers that only the originating agent and the supervisory special agent in the field actually look at the Woods file during the preparation of a FISA application:
Mr. Somers: “So you don’t — do you review the Woods’ file?”
Ms. Moyer: “No.”
Mr. Somers: “Did you review the Woods’ file in the Carter Page application?”
Ms. Moyer: “No.”
Mr. Somers: “Okay. So beyond the case agent, who looks at a Woods’ file?”
Ms. Moyer: “The supervisory special agent in the field.”
Mr. Somers: “In the field. But no one else out of the field of that chain looks at a Woods’ file in general?”
Ms. Moyer: “That is correct, except both of those individuals sign the Woods’ form indicating that the facts are true and accurate and that they have documents to support those facts.”
Moyer told investigators that “the person that’s signing the application is relying on the individuals who have signed the Woods form that they have the Woods file.” Moyer stipulated that in some cases, the supervisory special agent at FBI headquarters who is signing off on an application might choose to review the Woods file, but that it was not done for the Page FISA.
Mr. Somers: “Do you know if that happened in the case of the Carter Page?”
Ms. Moyer: “I don’t think it did in this case.”
August 21, 2018 – Trisha Anderson testifies the FBI director signs 15 to 20 FISA applications each day, all within 20 minutes
(…) “The signing process by the FBI director appears to be more of an official act than any sort of actual review. Anderson testified that each day, the director might receive 15 to 20 FISAs to sign, with each containing large amounts of documentation.
“[They’re] very thick. It’s not unusual for the Director to receive a stack this tall. I’m indicating about a foot and a half between my hands here, for the benefit of the reporter,” she said.
Anderson testified that the director was allotted 20 minutes in which to review the entirety of the day’s FISA applications—not 20 minutes per FISA.
Mr. Baker (House Majority Investigative Counsel): “And you said just a minute ago — I thought you said that the Director has 20 minutes set aside to review all the FISAs?”
Ms. Anderson: “Approximately, yes.”
July 13, 2018 – Lisa Page testimony reveals the DOJ prevented the FBI from pursuing gross negligence charges against Clinton
(…) “Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer who served as special counsel to Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe during the time of the Clinton investigation, noted during her testimony in July 2018, that the DOJ was intimately involved in the investigation.
“Everybody talks about this as if this was the FBI investigation, and the truth of the matter is there was not a single step, other than the July 5th statement, there was not a single investigative step that we did not do in consultation with or at the direction of the Justice Department,” Page told congressional investigators on July 13, 2018.
Comey had also hinted at the influence exerted by the DOJ over the Clinton investigation in his July recommendation, stating that “there are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent.”
Intent is a requirement of several statutes the FBI was looking into. But intent is specifically not a factor under the charge of gross negligence—contained within 18 U.S. Code § 793(f)—a fact that was brought up by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) during Page’s testimony:
Rep. Ratcliffe: Okay. And that’s — I think, when you talk about intent, that’s certainly true under part of 18 793(f), but it sounds like you all just blew over gross negligence.
Ms. Page: We did not blow over gross negligence. We, in fact — and, in fact, the Director — because on its face, it did seem like, well, maybe there’s a potential here for this to be the charge. And we had multiple conversations, multiple conversations with the Justice Department about charging gross negligence.
Page made clear during her testimony that the DOJ had decided that due to “constitutional vagueness” a charge of gross negligence would not be supported without accompanying proof of intent—a seemingly oxymoronic position:
Rep. Ratcliffe: Okay. So let me if I can, I know I’m testing your memory, but when you say advice you got from the Department, you’re making it sound like it was the Department that told you: You’re not going to charge gross negligence because we’re the prosecutors and we’re telling you we’re not going to —
Ms. Page: That is correct.
Rep. Ratcliffe: — bring a case based on that.
Trouble Defining Intent
The word “intent” drove the entirety of the FBI’s investigation into the Clinton email server.
It appears, however, that there were differing understandings of the word “intent” within the FBI. Trisha Anderson, the No. 2 lawyer at the FBI, told investigators that what she viewed as intent was “an email that the Secretary sent saying, I set up this server for the purpose of sending unclassified information for my convenience, even though I know it’s not a secure system.”
Page viewed the situation somewhat differently, agreeing they were looking for “an intent to do an act which is in violation of the law’s central command.” As she told investigators, the FBI “couldn’t find any indicia of knowledge that she knew that these [classified emails] shouldn’t be traversing her server.”
In Anderson’s understanding, she was looking for a prosecutable reason behind the establishment of the server itself. Page, however, was looking at whether Clinton knew which emails should not have traveled through the private server.
Meanwhile, Bill Priestap, head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division and who was officially in charge of the Clinton investigation, said during testimony that he thought the “number of instances is absolutely a proper consideration” in establishing intent.
According to Ryan Breitenbach, who was the House Majority Counsel at the time of Priestap’s interview, the State Department had identified 22 top-secret emails and 1,300 classified emails on Clinton’s email server. As Breitenbach noted to Priestap during testimony, “I think there might be many who would question whether people in this room would still be in this room if we had hit 1,300 emails on our personal Gmail service.”
DOJ Not Willing to Charge This
Priestap was shown an email sent from an unknown individual in the FBI general counsel’s office to Priestap’s former boss, Michael Steinbach, which contained a chart of “available statutes for prosecuting the former Secretary of State.” Gross Negligence was specifically excluded from the chargeable statutes available to the FBI. Priestap, who had not previously seen the document, expressed concerns that this might have hindered the work of FBI investigators.
Mr. Breitenbach: We see in this chart that DOJ is not willing to charge this, meaning 18 U.S.C. 793(f). My question is going back to those draft affidavits. If DOJ is not willing to charge this statute, why would the FBI in an affidavit use this statute as predication to obtain a search warrant if this statute is never going to be prosecuted?
Mr. Priestap: So I — I don’t know who put this together and used this language.
Mr. Breitenbach: Well, someone in the FBI general counsel’s office.
Mr. Priestap: Yeah. No. No. I trust you. But I don’t know why they, again, put it together. I don’t know why they used this language, ‘DOJ not willing to charge this.’
My attitude is that if there is a Federal criminal statute still on the books, then, you know — and we think there may or might be a violation of that, we still have to work to uncover whether, in fact, there was.
The prosecutive history of a particular statute isn’t going to affect — I sure hope it does not affect the fact-finder’s work.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 2/25/2019)
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