According to an explosive new report in Circa News Wednesday night, a FISA court warrant was granted to federal investigators in October of 2016 as part of an overall Russian hacking investigation.
Investigative journalists Sara Carter (formerly of the Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, and The Blaze) and John Solomon (formerly of the the Washington Post, the Washington Times, and AP) spoke to sources close to the investigation who have been “watching in horror” at the politicization of intelligence since the election, and wanted to set the record straight.
“What we don’t know is who was connected to that FISA,” Carter said on Sean Hannity’s show Wednesday night. “What was that FISA looking at? That is very highly classified. Nobody wants to talk about that particular FISA, right now. They said it did have to do with the Russian hacking on a very broad level, but it didn’t hone in directly on Trump is what I was told,” she said.
In addition to the FISA warrant in October, the FBI obtained a separate warrant that same month to look into a computer server tied to then-candidate Donald Trump’s businesses in Trump Towers (but not located in Trump Towers). According to the report, the feds used traditional investigative techniques to examine allegations of computer activity tied to two Russian banks and there had been no intercepts of Trump’s phone or emails.
The FBI quickly concluded that “the computer activity in question involved no nefarious contacts, bank transactions or encrypted communications with the Russians.”
The months-long FBI counterintelligence investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential campaign briefly investigated a computer server tied to Donald Trump’s businesses near the end of the election but has not gathered evidence of election tampering to date that would warrant criminal charges against any of the president’s associates, Circa has learned.
U.S. officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information, said there is widespread frustration among intelligence professionals who have watched in horror as a normally secretive process has been distorted by media leaks and politicians uneducated about how counterintelligence operations actually work.
“We have people spouting off who don’t know the difference between FISA surveillance and a wiretap or a counterintelligence probe versus a special prosecutor, and it has hurts [sic] our ability to get to the truth and has wrongly created the impression that intelligence officials have a political agenda,” said one source directly familiar with the drama.
Many of the leaks have surfaced since former President Barack Obama in his waning days in office had his intelligence leadership brief a wider than normal audience about the sensitive Russia surveillance. Those leaks have created a false narrative that the FBI has been predominantly focused on Trump ties to Russia, officials said.
In fact, any FBI activity involving the president’s associates or advisers was mostly ancillary to a wider counterintelligence probe into Russian efforts to influence the election or curry favor with U.S. figures, the sources said.
“The (Trump-Russia) narrative in the media hasn’t been our primary focus and mostly involves pieces of information that came in incidentally. We check them out and we move on,” one official said, adding most of the work has involved old-fashioned investigative tactics and not surveillance.
Added another official: “I’ve never seen a case so misrepresented and leaks so damaging to a process that was meant to be conducted in secret so that foreign powers don’t know what we know and people’s reputations aren’t tarnished unfairly.”
The weaponized leaks were facilitated by Obama in one of his last acts before leaving office, PJ Media’s Michael Walsh reported last month, citing the New York Times:
In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.
The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.
This expansion of power has resulted in a geiser of disinformation spread by Democrat loyalists throughout the intel community. According to Carter and Solomon, “intelligence normally reserved for just a handful of intelligence leaders was spread through briefings to scores of workers, and soon leaks began appearing in news media.”
Carter and Solomon’s sources, for instance, “strongly disputed” the media narrative that the FBI’s intercepts of conversations in December between soon-to-to-be U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were part of an ongoing Trump-focused national security investigation.
In fact, they were part of a long-established special intelligence program in which the FBI is routinely permitted to review intercepts of Russian embassy officials.
The leak of the telephone conversation between Flynn and the Russian ambassador reportedly alarmed career FBI officials because they “knew it had been gathered using the most sensitive of surveillance powers.” The inspector general of the Department of Justice is now investigating the FBI and the DOJ to find out who committed this felony under the Espionage Act.
According to Carter and Solomon, Trump’s claim that the FBI wiretapped his phone “irritated senior officials.”
Director James Comey even took the step of asking Justice to knock down the claim. While the computer server was investigated, Trump’s phones and emails were never wiretapped, officials said.
Comey’s request was designed to combat any insinuation that the FBI was used by the Obama administration as a political-enemy intelligence gathering agency in the midst of the election.
But inside the intelligence community it also conveyed another powerful message: Comey has always insisted the bureau won’t comment on ongoing probes. So his willingness to push out a comment was a sign the FBI doesn’t see a criminal case emerging so far.
There is currently no evidence against Flynn, and no of evidence of bribes, illicit money or other criminal activity related to the Russian effort to influence elections, the sources say.