The congressional testimony by Justice Department Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz on Dec. 11 proved to be almost universally damning of the actions taken by the FBI, and despite ongoing efforts by Democrats, demolished the argument that the FBI engaged in proper conduct during its investigation of the Trump campaign.
When asked if he would have submitted the Page FISA renewal applications using the information that the FBI employed, Horowitz responded, “I would not have submitted the one they put in. No doubt about it. It had no business going in.”
Although many members of Congress, along with various media organizations, tried to focus on the Inspector Generals finding that the FBI was within its rights in opening the initial July 31, 2016, counterintelligence investigation, it should be noted that this was not the focus of the IG investigation. This matter was addressed by Horowitz on the very first page of his report:
“Our role in this review was not to second-guess discretionary judgments by Department personnel about whether to open an investigation.”
But this didnt stop Democrats from attempting to challenge the validity of Horowitzs report and cling to the notion that Horowitz had determined that the FBI had “adequate factual predication” to open their counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.
Horowitz had noted in his report that the threshold for predication was “low” and specifically noted his concern that “Department and FBI policies do not require that a senior [Justice] Department official be notified prior to the opening of a particularly sensitive case such as this one.”
However, Horowitz directly contradicted Democrat assertions regarding his conclusion of FBI exoneration, noting, “Its unclear what the motivations [of the FBI] were. On the one hand, gross incompetence, negligence? On the other hand, intentionality, and where in between? We werent in a position—with the evidence we had—to make that conclusion. But Im not ruling it out.”
In their attempts to focus on this smaller aspect of the IG report, Democrats only succeeded in proving that the FBI was able to open its investigation into the Trump campaign because the rules, oversight, and governance of the FBI are ludicrously lax. And, as Horowitz noted in his report, these issues need to be immediately addressed.
At a later point in the hearing, Horowitz was questioned on the matter of bias by Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and in his response the Inspector General directly disputed that he found no bias with regard to the FBIs process of obtaining a FISA application:
Crapo: If someone were to characterize what you are telling us to be—that youre telling us there is no bias here—thats not what youre telling us?
Horowitz: That is not—as to the operation of these FISAs—what Im telling you.
The matter of a finding of bias was further elaborated on by former U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy during an interview on Fox News. “He says bias didnt appear to affect the opening of the investigation, which hes able to say because the standards for opening the investigation are so low as to be illusory. And then he says, When we get to the FISAs, thats where it becomes more difficult to assess.”
McCarthy continued: “As I listen to him say that, I must say, if you were trying cases to Justice Department lawyers instead of common-sense juries, no one would ever be convicted. Because what he continues to say again and again is, We did not get documentary or testimonial evidence that bias caused the irregularities, which is a lawyered way of saying theres no document, and theres no testimony that they drew from someone who said, Yes, there was bias. Yes, I was biased. Yes, I saw bias. But when you prove bias in a courtroom you do it on the basis of common sense inference from what people say and what they do. You dont rely on someone to say Im biased.”
Horowitz was asked by Crapo about intentional versus grossly negligent conduct by the FBI. Crapo noted that its “mind-numbing to consider that it could be just accidental.” Horowitz responded that he found much of the FBIs conduct inexplicable and stated he failed to receive satisfactory answers for many of the FBIs actions.
“There is such a range of conduct here that is inexplicable,” he said, “and the answers we got were not satisfactory, that were left trying to understand how could all these errors have occurred over a nine month period or so, among three teams—hand-picked—the highest profile case in the FBI, going to the very top of the organization, involving a presidential campaign.”
The IG report also noted that spying on the Trump campaign did not begin when the FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016, but had in fact begun much earlier.
This fact was highlighted in Footnote 193 of the report, which stated that “in April 2016 NYFO [New York Field Office] prepared summaries of the information that ultimately led NYFO to open a counterintelligence investigation on Carter Page on April 6, 2016, and provided them to CD [Counterintelligence Division] officials at Headquarters to be used for a Directors note and a separate Directors Brief to be held on April 27, 2016.”
This same footnote also noted that the Inspector General was unable to interview former FBI Director James Comey in relation to “classified details” because “Comey chose not to have his security clearances reinstated for our interview.”
The Carter Page FISA was repeatedly addressed and Horowitz noted that “FBI and Department officials told us the Steele reporting pushed the [FISA proposal] over the line in terms of establishing probable cause, and we concluded that the Steele reporting played a central and essential role in the decision to seek a FISA order.
“FBI leadership supported relying on Steeles reporting to seek a FISA order after being advised of concerns expressed by a Department attorney that Steele may have been hired by someone associated with a rival candidate or campaign.”
The IG report noted that the FBI failed in its first attempts to obtain a FISA warrant on Page due to insufficient evidence or proof that Page was “an agent of a foreign power” as claimed by the FBI:
“When the team first sought to pursue a FISA order for Page in August 2016, a decision was made by OGC [Office of General Counsel], OI, or both that more information was needed to support a probable cause finding that Page was an agent of a foreign power.”
In other words, the Steele dossier was effectively the only evidence the FBI had that Page was somehow “an agent of a foreign power.” And this evidence compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele ran contrary to the documented work that Page had done for another governmental agency.
The IG report noted that the Page FISA “omitted information the FBI had obtained from another U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Page, including that Page had been approved as an operational contact for the other agency from 2008 to 2013.”
The report also detailed alterations made by FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith regarding the background of Page, and how this was used to help justify the FISA application:
“In an email from the liaison to the OGC Attorney [Clinesmith], the liaison provided written guidance, including that it was the liaisons recollection that Page had or continued to have a relationship with the other agency.”
However, when Clinesmith subsequently sent the liaisons email to “SSA 2,” who was to be the affiant for the third and final FISA renewal, Clinesmith “altered the liaisons email by inserting the words not a source into it, thus making it appear that the liaison said that Page was not a source for the other agency.”
As the IG Report notes, “Relying upon this altered email, SSA 2 signed the third renewal application that again failed to disclose Pages past relationship with the other agency.”
Horowitz was asked about this matter during an exchange with Senator Ted Cruz and Horowitz affirmed this action by Clinesmith was indeed accurate:
Cruz: “A lawyer at the FBI creates fraudulent evidence, alters an email that is in turn used as the basis for a sworn statement to the [FISA] court that the court relies on. Am I stating that accurately?”
Horowitz: “Thats correct. That is what occurred.”
Clinesmith has reportedly been referred for criminal prosecution by Horowitz for allegedly altering the email connected to the surveillance warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Horowitz also made a significant disclosure regarding the unique legal restrictions that he was operating under during his investigation, correctly telling congressional members, “Were the only IG that cant review conduct of all the employees in our organization, including attorneys.”
The inability of Horowitz to review the conductRead More – Source