A long classified email chain from October 2016 reveals that a large group of Obama Justice Department officials — including James Comey — was aware that there was highly misleading information in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign, John Solomon of The Hill reported Wednesday.
According to Solomon’s sources, the documents “may provide the most damning evidence to date” of potential FISA abuses.
The emails show that some in the intelligence community — possibly the NSA — had problems with the quality of the intelligence in the Steele dossier, which was used to obtain the surveillance warrant.
The emails also reveal that the officials knew that British spy Christopher Steele had talked to Yahoo News about his findings, as some on the email chain had expressed concerns about that.
Steele was hired by opposition research firm Fusion GPS (funded by Hillary Clinton and the DNC) to put together a (now discredited) dossier on candidate Donald Trump.
In January 2018, Senator Charles Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, referred Steele to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation after he and Senator Lindsey Graham identified potential false statements Steele had made to the FBI.
According to the senators, the evidence suggested that either “Steele lied to the FBI about his contacts with the media (a violation of 18 USC 1001) — or the FBI misrepresented Steele’s statements.”
To secure the FISA warrant, the FBI used the Yahoo News story (based on Steele’s sketchy dossier) as independent corroboration for the dossier. It was a classic case of circular intelligence reporting, a fraudulent method of “confirming intelligence.”
“If the FBI knew of his media contacts and the concerns about the reliability of his dossier before seeking the warrant, it would constitute a serious breach of FISA regulations and the trust that the FISA court places in the FBI,” said Solomon.
“That’s because the FBI has an obligation to certify to the court before it approves FISA warrants that its evidence is verified, and to alert the judges to any flaws in its evidence or information that suggest the target might be innocent,” he explained.
The FBI fired Steele on Nov. 1, 2016, because of his unauthorized contacts with the news media, but only after they’d used his dirty dossier to secure the warrant.
… the FBI withheld from the American public and Congress, until months later, that Steele had been paid to find his dirt on Trump by a firm doing political opposition research for the Democratic Party and for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and that Steele himself harbored hatred for Trump.
Right before Thanksgiving, House Republicans quietly added the damning email chain to the list of documents they’d like President Trump to declassify. According to The Hill, the DOJ kept the information from the majority of members of Congress for more than two years.
The email exchanges included then-FBI Director James Comey, key FBI investigators in the Russia probe and lawyers in the DOJ’s national security division, and they occurred in early to mid-October, before the FBI successfully secured a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
According to The Hill’s sources, the email chain has already been discussed by members of Congress in nonclassified settings — however, the specifics remain classified.
“If these documents are released, the American public will have clear and convincing evidence to see the FISA warrant that escalated the Russia probe just before Election Day was flawed and the judges [were] misled,” a knowledgeable source told Solomon.
On Fox News’ “Hannity” Wednesday night, Solomon ran down the list of troubling facts about the FISA application.
“The core evidence for the FISA warrant — that’s Andy McCabe’s description, without it we would not have pursued a FISA warrant — came from a product paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party to try to destroy Donald Trump in the final months of the election,” he said.
“We know that the people who handled that evidence prepared and tried to rush it through the FBI to the court, where two agents [said that on their own] they wanted to stop Donald Trump from becoming president. We know the person who created the dossier doesn’t stand by it. He says he knew it was uncorroborated intelligence when he submitted it, and he himself despised Donald Trump,” Solomon continued.
In addition to the circular intelligence, “the NSA or some other intelligence community agency [had] concerns about the dossier,” he pointed out. “All of that is now not disputed and yet we think this is a good product?”
“I think that’s the question we need to have answered — why did this move forward with all these flaws?” Solomon said.
The reporter went on to say that the president is committed to releasing the documents, but not quite yet.
“The first thing that will vindicate the president is that Robert Mueller finishes his investigation — the president’s not charged with any crimes,” Solomon explained. “He wants to get this over with. He’s fearful and his lawyers are fearful that if he releases the documents before then, he’ll be accused of tampering or trying to sway the investigation at the last minute.”
Because Mueller appears to be winding down, he said the president and his lawyers would prefer that the investigation come to a conclusion, “and then we can have this debate about how this thing originated and all the flaws that occurred and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again to some other person in the future.”