Andrew McCabe, Brush Ohr, Carter Page, Christopher Steele, Dana Boente, Devin Nunes, DOJ, Donald Trump, FBI, FISA, FISC, Fusion GPS, Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, Robert Contreras, Rod Rosenstein, Sally Yates
Now we know why FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe decided to resign early in March, but was booted out earlier than that. We also know why President Trump was absolutely right, perhaps even prescient, in firing James Comey and Sally Yates. We also know why the FBI and the DOJ were so desperate to keep Americans from seeing the Nunes memo, and we can also construct several reasonable theories about why Democrats were equally, and perhaps more, desperate to keep it away from the public. Did you know, for instance, the State Department was involved in this debacle? John Kerry was read into the dossier.
As is always the case with law enforcement, understanding what is happening is a matter of reviewing what should have happened versus what did happen. All law enforcement agencies have rules, regulations and procedures. All produce prodigious paperwork, and this is particularly true of the FBI, which closely supervises its “special agents” on multiple levels. Where counter intelligence cases are involved, that supervision extends to the highest levels of the FBI, the DOJ, and even the judiciary and the Congress, which has oversight authority over the FBI and the DOJ. The President has ultimate authority over every member of the executive branch, including the FBI and DOJ.
FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, was first enacted in 1978 and recently renewed. It allows surveillance of American citizens on American soil by our intelligence apparatus, which includes the counter-surveillance function of the FBI. The act established the FISC–Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which consists of a rotating pool of eleven Federal District Court judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, currently, John Roberts.
The Fourth Amendment states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
In order to obtain a warrant under FISA, the government must show that there is probable cause that the target of their surveillance request is spying for a foreign government, and that such spying constitutes a violation of federal law. The second part is important in that it may prevent the government from conducting fishing expeditions for no reason other than mere suspicion, which is not enough. Probable cause is a higher standard. It is facts and circumstances that would cause a reasonable law enforcement officer to believe a crime has been committed, and a specific person has committed it. A surveillance application for a warrant would also include probable cause to believe evidence of this crime may be found in the target’s e-mails, phone calls, correspondence, bank records, social media, physical surveillance, etc., and why.
How hard is it to get a FISA warrant? Not very. In 2016, the FISC handled 1752 applications, granted 1,378, modified 339, partially denied only 26, and totally denied only 9, which includes the FBI/DOJ’s first try at a warrant on Carter Page, the subject of this debacle.
The process normally begins in a FBI field office. The Washington DC office has hundreds of skilled counter intelligence agents. As many agents as are necessary are assigned the case. There is also an agent in charge, and the rest provide support as necessary. Their activities are monitored by their direct supervisor, and also by higher-ranking supervisors. Normally, the highest levels of the FBI are not directly involved in such cases, dealing with them only in an administrative sense when they sign off on the affidavit for a FISA warrant, but in this case, it appears they were actively involved, which is unusual, to say the least. This is where Agent Peter Stzrok, his mistress, Attorney Lisa Page (no relation to Carter Page), Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and Director James Comey enter the picture.
When the FBI is done, the affidavit goes to the DOJ, where staff prosecutors thoroughly vet every document relating to the case, and it is eventually signed off by their top people, in this case, Deputy Director Rod Rosenstein, and several others. Loretta Lynch supposedly recused herself from Russia-related matters, but one would have to be credulous in the extreme to believe she was not aware of and involved in these matters, and through her, the Obama White House.
It is DOJ attorneys that present the affidavit to the FISA judge, answer any questions he might have, and make any necessary changes, which seems to be rare. This is actually a good thing. The system must work on trust. FISA judges must be able to believe the evidence presented by the FBI and DOJ–the highest levels of American law enforcement–is not only accurate, but true in every respect. Those that prepare and present affidavits are swearing under oath that everything they have said and written is true, nothing is omitted, nothing is exaggerated. Remember that. Remember too that by the time a FISA affidavit is in the hands of a FISA judge, there is a paper trail a mile long, of agents, lawyers, supervisors, directors, potentially politicians and others that have not only handled the paperwork required to generate it, but have, in most cases, affixed their signatures. In short, there will be a great many people to interview, and their identities will be no mystery.
Who is Carter Page? Page is a 47 year-old Naval Academy graduate who volunteered to work for the Trump campaign. He made several trips to Moscow, one during the campaign and one during the transition, apparently trying to drum up business and contacts, but apparently to no avail. The Trump campaign did name him a member of their foreign policy advisory team, but there is no evidence that evolved into any influence in decisions or policies, and Page held no position in the administration. Page and the Trump Administration confirm he has never met President Trump. In short, Page appears to be a man that hoped to parlay a tenuous connection to the campaign into a government job, which never occurred. Media accounts invariably try to make his minor connect with the campaign into something sinister, but there appears to be no such evidence. Pages’s Russian trips were not remotely a secret–he publicized them–and a Russian intelligence operative that tried to recruit him in 2013, apparently unsuccessfully, wrote that he was “an idiot.”
No one is certain precisely why the FBI took an interest in Carter Page, but in July of 2016–five months before the election–the DOJ presented an affidavit to a FISC, one of the few that was denied that year. When they returned in October, they were armed with the Steele Dossier, and were successful. Such warrants must be renewed every 90 days, and they renewed that warrant three more times. The point of the warrant now appears to have been to use Page to gather information implicating then candidate, and later, President Trump in some sort of evil doing with the Kremlin.
We now know it was The Hillary Clinton Campaign and the Democrat National Committee–DNC–that paid Fusion GPS, a research firm, at least $160,000 dollars to put together opposition research–the dossier–against Donald Trump. To do this, they hired one Christopher Steele, a British former spy with Russian connections. He put together a witch’s brew of accusations that were multiple levels of hearsay, and almost certainly Russian disinformation, a game at which the Russians have always been masters.
The suggestion the Russians wanted Donald Trump to win the election is plainly nonsense. Hillary Clinton had, for her entire life, and particularly as Secretary of State, demonstrated her worth to them as a fellow traveler and useful idiot, and they had every reason to believe, as did most of the world, she would be president. If every self-important American opinion maker believed Trump had no chance, why would the Russians? What they wanted, as they always do, was to sew discord to weaken the United States, which they, with the able assistance of Democrats and the Media (I know; I repeat myself), have effortlessly done.
The allegations of the dossier have never been confirmed. One, for example is a wild story about Donald Trump hiring two Russian prostitutes to urinate on a bed in a Moscow hotel room where Barack Obama supposedly once slept. We know the allegations were never confirmed because former FBI Director Comey told President Trump, on several occasions, they had not, and he was not the target of an investigation. Comey confirmed this in June, 2017 Senate testimony, saying the dossier’s allegations were “salacious and unverified.” Assistant FBI Director Bill Preistap, told the Senate that when the first, July 2016 attempt to get a warrant was made, efforts to confirm the dossier were in “their infancy.”
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testified before Congress that the dossier was unconfirmed, but also testified that without the dossier, the FISA warrant would never have been issued. It was apparently not the only supporting evidence, but clearly, it was by far the most important. Comey signed off on the first warrant application and two renewals, and McCabe signed off on the fourth. At DOJ, Sally Yates signed off on two, Rod Rosenstein on one, and Dana Boente on one. Two renewals were done after Mr. Trump took office.
Consider what this means: the highest levels of the FBI and DOJ knew the primary, essential showing of probable cause was fake. It was nothing but “salacious and unverified rumors.” They also knew that Steele had told high-ranking DOJ attorney Bruce Ohr he was desperate to keep Donald Trump from the presidency. And they knew that dossier was commissioned and paid for not only by the Clinton Campaign and the DNC, the FBI had a hand in paying Steele as well. And they did not tell the court. They knew no judge in his right mind would authorize a warrant had he known any of that. Every time they presented that false probable cause to the judge, they committed perjury, and surely, other crimes. But it’s even worse.
Christopher Steele was also working directly for the FBI under a signed agreement requiring he have no contact with the press, among other things. It is not known precisely how much the FBI was paying him. What the Memo has confirmed is that Steele went to Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff and gave him information intended to bolster the credibility of the dossier. The FBI and DOJ used that Yahoo report as evidence in subsequent renewal applications to claim independent confirmation of the Dossier, even though it was Steele confirming Steele’s work! At the moment, the FBI is claiming it didn’t know Steele did that, but only a short time later, after Steele was interviewed by Mother Jones in an October, 2016 story where he identified himself as working for the FBI, the FBI terminated its relationship with him, but continued to use the dossier, and the Yahoo “confirmation” in its renewals.
The Ohr connection is also important. Ohr, then the #4 man at DOJ, met with Steele before and after the transition, and Steele worked with Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, who was working for Fusion GPS. The FBI frequently spoke with Bruce Ohr, allowing them to keep Steele’s information flowing, while pretending to have severed ties with him. When this was discovered, Ohr was demoted and shuffled out of the loop. None of this was reported to the FISA court.
Connected too are former FBI counter-intelligence supervisor Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page, the discovery of whose incredibly biased and incriminating e-mails caused both to be kicked off the Mueller investigative team, and Strzok reassigned to human resources. Only last week, when FBI Director Christoper Wray finally read the Nunes Memo, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was placed on “terminal leave” the next day, apparently allowing him to wait out his time until his mid-March retirement date.
What the Memo reveals is it was the dossier, produced at the specific request of the Clinton Campaign and the DNC, that is the motivation and reason for not only the surveillance on Carter Page, but the creation of the special counsel. It was James Comey, who, after being fired by President Trump gave classified information to a lawyer/professor friend, who released it to the media. That man is now claiming he is Comey’s lawyer, trying to bestow attorney-client privilege on himself. Comey has since testified he did this in the specific hope it would force the creation of a special counsel to go after President Trump. Rod Rosenstein happily complied, and in so doing, broke the law. The Special Counsel statue requires no counsel be appointed except to investigate specific, credible violations of law. Rosenstein, acting because Attorney General Sessions foolishly recused himself from the matter, made no pretense of specifying any law that Mr. Trump or anyone else might have broken. The most likely explanation is that after Clinton lost, the anti-Trump campaign shifted into preventing him from taking office, and when that failed, to destroying his presidency. The vehicle: Russian collusion. To date, there has not been the least evidence to demonstrate collusion, which isn’t a crime in any case. In fact, there have been no charges filed against Page. Apparently the FBI surveillance, at least in that respect, has been fruitless.
We now know virtually everything having to do with the Mueller investigation, the pursuit of President Trump, springs entirely from the Steele Dossier. Without it, there would have been no FISA warrant and no Mueller appointment. All Mueller has accomplished are two convictions for lying to the FBI against George Papadopoulos and General Michael Flynn. They are hopeless tainted, fruits of a decidedly poisoned tree, a fact I’m certain their attorneys are now feverishly researching.
This debacle is rife with amazing coincidences. Only days after accepting Flynn’s guilty plea, Judge Robert Contreras was removed from the case. What’s significant about this is Contreras is one of the eleven judges of the FISA Court. Because all FISA proceedings are secret, we don’t know if he was the judge, or one of the judges, involved in approving the warrant and renewals, but his sudden removal from the case–he did not “recuse” himself–strongly suggests he had significant involvement.
There is, of course, more. The FBI, DOJ, and Democrats on the Intelligence Committee have done everything they could to obstruct and slow roll the information lawfully requested by the committee. On Tucker Carlson Tonight on February 2, 2018, Former Trump Advisor Dr. Sebastian Gorka noted that on May 16, Rod Rosenstein escorted Former FBI Director Robert Mueller to President Trump to be interviewed for the position of FBI Director, which Comey vacated. Trump turned him down. It was on May 17, the very next day, that Rosenstein unlawfully appointed Mueller Special Counsel with an essentially unlimited mandate to pursue the President that just denied Mueller reappointment as FBI Director. Mueller immediately assembled a Progressive dream team of Obama/Clinton supporters who had donated substantial sums to Clinton, and at least one entirely unethical former prosecutor, repeatedly overturned for prosecutorial misconduct. Fox’s Judicial Reporter Greg Jarrett revealed that about three months ago, Rosenstein threatened the Intelligence Committee. He threatened to obtain their e-mails and other communications, complaining he was tired of dealing with the Intelligence Committee. Mr. Rosenstein obviously has forgotten for whom he works, if he ever knew. Perhaps this is merely a manifestation of yet another bureaucrat too long used to wielding unrestrained, illegitimate power over Americans.
The Obama Administration is also deeply involved. We now know John Kerry, and certainly his staffers, were read into the Dossier. High ranking Obamite officials such as Susan Rice and Samantha Power used the justification of the warrant to unmask hundreds of American citizens. To imagine that Barack Obama was not informed requires unprecedented willful blindness. Considering the active involvement of the DNC and Clinton campaign, it’s highly likely various Democrat politicians were informed/involved, as were their media tattle tails. Is it any wonder they tried so hard to prevent the release of the Memo, and they’re working so hard to downplay its significance?
Remember too, gentle readers, that it was the FBI, including Peter Stzrok who apparently took the lead in the Hillary Clinton case, who violated every FBI protocol. Not only did they not empanel a grand jury, they allowed prime suspects to set the limits of their interviews, handed out immunity like party favors, allowed them to destroy evidence, mishandled evidence, and even allowed some of them to be in the room–certain co-defendants in any criminal trial–when Clinton was interviewed–an interview constructed by Stzrok–acting as her attorneys! We now know there was never to be a Clinton Trial. Stzrok actually drafted an acquittal document for Clinton months before she was interviewed.
All of this is established fact, not spin, not opinion or interpretation. Had I, as a police officer, acted as the FBI has acted, I would have been fired, and probably prosecuted. Keep in mind there is far more we don’t know, than we know, essential details that must be nailed down before any possible prosecution. However, there is more than enough to begin a comprehensive investigation into actual, articulable crimes. As much as I dislike the very idea of a special counsel, there is no doubt that is the only vehicle that can possibly clean out the incredible corruption and criminality in the FBI, Department of Justice and other agencies. They clearly cannot investigate themselves. A grand jury must be empaneled, and Mueller and his staff must be immediately fired, and any committing crimes, prosecuted, including Rosenstein. The investigation must start at the lowest levels, at the agents initially given the job, and work up from there, going everywhere the conspiracy has spread. Surely, somewhere, there were honest FBI agents, honest DOJ employees, who at least had doubts, who tried to stop the “get Trump at any cost” steamroller? If not, a complete cleansing is even more vital.
It is not hyperbole to note this entire affair strikes at the very heart of our republic. If citizens cannot believe presidential elections are lawfully conducted and the FBI and DOJ are impartial enforcers of the rule of law, the social compact disintegrates, and we become a nation of warring factions. What is happening is the first significant exposure of an ongoing coup d’etat. For the moment, it’s a cold civil war, as I recently wrote in American Constitutionalism: Crossing Lines, Part 1. Unless the apparent rot is entirely exposed and excised, hot civil war is a certainty if America is to survive. It’s that serious.
For additional information, take this link to a report that outlines some of the essential, unanswered questions raised by the Memo. This link, written by a former high-ranking FBI agent, provides perspective on the workings and mindset of the FBI.