As we approach December 9th, when Horowitz’s report on FISA abuses is due to be released, leaks are emerging that detail some of Horowitz’s findings. And this one in particular is about important details that the FBI omitted from the FISA renewal applications:
DC EXAMINER – The Justice Department watchdog found omissions in renewal applications the FBI submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking warrants to monitor onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
A draft of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report, due out next week, shows the FBI failed to convey to the court that not all of the information it used from British ex-spy Christopher Steele was entirely reliable, according to the Washington Post.
Steele was an FBI informant enlisted to research then-presidential candidate Donald Trump by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm that had been hired by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Steele’s Democratic funding, his strong desire for Trump to lose, and the possible flaws with his dossier were not revealed to the court governed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
His dossier on alleged ties between Trump and Russia was used by the FBI to obtain the authority to wiretap Page, an American who had suspicious connections to the Russians. The first warrant application was submitted in October 2016, after which there were three renewals at three-month intervals, including ones in January, April, and June 2017. Page was never charged with wrongdoing, and special counsel Robert Mueller determined in his investigation there was insufficient evidence to establish criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
FBI agents interviewed one of Steele’s subsources and found that Steele’s raw intelligence, in need of further verification, was not completely reliable. Horowitz’s investigators found the FBI failed to convey this information in the later applications, but according to sources familiar with a draft of the report, the omissions were “apparently” not sufficient enough for the watchdog to conclude the applications should have been rejected.
Still, the Washington Post report states that it would be unusual for Horowitz to judge the FISA court’s rulings on warrant applications. It also notes that it has not viewed the draft report, which may differ from the final version, due to be released on Dec. 9.
One big thing the Washington Post reports is that “Horowitz’s draft report concludes that political bias did not taint how top FBI officials running the investigation handled the case, people familiar with the matter said.”
Well that’s going to be disappointing if that’s the conclusion and I’m pretty sure many people will not accept that in the face of all that we’ve learned thus far regarding the texts flying back and forth between Strzok and Page. But I would say reserve judgement until the report is out. It’s entirely possible these leaks don’t tell the whole story.
Wapo also reports this…
Horowitz also found that a low-level FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, doctored an email that was used as part of the warrant application process — potentially significant misconduct that Durham is now exploring as a possible crime, people familiar with the matter said.
Clinesmith, who has not responded to inquiries about the inspector general’s findings, is a familiar name to Republicans critical of the FBI. In a previous report on the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, Horowitz found that the lawyer sent messages suggesting a dislike of Trump, including one saying “Viva le resistance.”
When questioned by the inspector general about such messages, Clinesmith said that many of them were jokes and that he did not let his political views affect his work. A draft of Horowitz’s report criticizes as careless another low-level FBI agent who had some involvement in the Russia probe, the people said, though the exact reasons for that remain unclear.
We have a doctored email from an admitted anti-Trumper, but political bias didn’t taint how the FBI handled this? Yeah, right. I’ll wait for the report…