Russia. RuSsIa! Russia…RUSSIA!!!!! It’s everywhere, and it’s all Trump’s fault. Of course, everything, including the weather, is all Trump’s fault. But finally, last Saturday, of all days, an affidavit for a FISA warrant on one Carter Page, a more or less informal, short serving advisor for the Trump campaign–not the administration, the campaign–has been released. It runs some 412 pages, and more than half of those pages are partially or entirely redacted. Even so, some lessons are immediately apparent:
(1) Not only was the Steele dossier the primary source of information used to obtain multiple warrants, the FBI mislead the court, failing to reveal that the dossier was bought and paid for by the Clinton Campaign and the DNC.
(2) Another significant source on the affidavit was news reports(!?), essentially circular arguments. Information about the dossier was fed to the media by Fusion GPS, the company that compiled the dossier, and various politicians and likely, FBI and DOJ officials, and those media accounts were used by the FBI, who knew how the dossier was fed to the media, to justify a warrant.
(3) Rep. Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee released a memo on the affidavit(s) in February (it’s available here), which was viciously attacked by Democrats. It is now clear that Nunes’ memo and conclusions were correct and accurate. A comprehensive analysis is available here.
The indispensable Andrew McCarthy, former federal prosecutor, has been following this and related issues, and has written an article that is absolutely devastating to the FBI, DOJ, and Democrat apologists for governmental corruption. That article is available here. Some excerpts:
…it is crystal clear that the Steele dossier, an unverified Clinton-campaign product, was the driving force behind the Trump–Russia investigation.
Based on the dossier, the FBI told the FISA court it believed that Carter Page, who had been identified by the Trump campaign as an adviser, was coordinating with the Russian government in an espionage conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.
This sensational allegation came from Christopher Steele, the former British spy. The FISA court was not told that the Clinton campaign was behind Steele’s work. Nor did the FBI and Justice Department inform the court that Steele’s allegations had never been verified. To the contrary, each FISA application — the original one in October 2016, and the three renewals at 90-day intervals — is labeled ‘VERIFIED APPLICATION’ (bold caps in original). And each one makes this breathtaking representation:
The FBI has reviewed this verified application for accuracy in accordance with its April 5, 2001 procedures, which include sending a copy of the draft to the appropriate field office(s).
In reality, the applications were never verified for accuracy.
What a surprise; and there is more:
In each Carter Page FISA warrant application, the FBI represented that it had ‘reviewed this verified application for accuracy.’ But did the bureau truly ensure that the information had been ‘thoroughly vetted and confirmed’? Remember, we are talking here about serious, traitorous allegations against an American citizen and, derivatively, an American presidential campaign.
When the FBI averred that it had verified for accuracy the application that posited these allegations, it was, at best, being hyper-technical, and thus misleading. What the bureau meant was that its application correctly stated the allegations as Steele had related them. But that is not what ‘verification’ means. The issue is not whether Steele’s allegations were accurately described; it is whether they were accurate, period. Were the allegations thoroughly vetted and confirmed by proof independent of Steele before being presented to the FISA court — which is what common sense and the FBI’s own manual mean by ‘verified’?
No, they were not.
But surely the FBI actually verified–had solid grounds to believe–the dossier was truthful? This is the FBI, after all. Not so much:
…the FBI’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, told Congress that the bureau tried very hard to verify Steele’s information but could provide no points of verification beyond the fact that Page did travel to Russia in July 2016 — a fact that required no effort to corroborate since the trip was unconcealed and widely known. (Page delivered a public commencement address at the New Economic School.) Furthermore, in British legal proceedings, Steele himself has described the information he provided to the FBI as ‘raw intelligence’ that was ‘unverified.
But didn’t the FBI have other, legitimate evidence? Perhaps that kind of real evidence is in all the redactions?
…do you really think the FBI and Justice Department wanted to use the Steele dossier? Of course they didn’t. They undoubtedly believed Steele’s allegations (the applications say as much). That is no surprise given how much their top echelons loathed Donald Trump. But they were also well aware of the dossier’s significant legal problems — the suspect sourcing, the multiple hearsay. If they had solid evidence that verified Steele’s allegations, they would have used that evidence as their probable cause showing against Page. Instead, they used the dossier because, as McCabe told the House Intelligence Committee, without it they would have had no chance of persuading a judge that Page was a clandestine agent.
Whatever is in the redactions cannot change that.
But wouldn’t the FISA judges have denied a warrant if it lacked probable cause? They should have. Consider this:
To repeat what we’ve long said here, there is no vicarious credibility in investigations. When the government seeks a warrant, it is supposed to show the court that the actual sources of information are reliable — i.e., they were in a position to see or hear the relevant facts, and they are worthy of belief. It is not sufficient to show that the agent who assembles the source information is credible.
Please, gentle readers, allow me to explain. Any law enforcement officer applying for a warrant has the absolute obligation to provide the judge with probable cause, a term that comes directly from the 4thAmendment:
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.
If I approach a judge with a search warrant affidavit that relies on an entirely unverified set of rumors and third and worse handed hearsay, the judge would, absolutely properly, demand to know where was my probable cause? Where is the verifiable evidence that would lead a reasonable law enforcement officer–and judge–to believe that a specific person committed a crime? If I replied, “but your honor, I’m a really great and reliable police officer. I’ve gotten lots of warrants, caught lots of really bad guys, and earned many commendations, I help little old ladies across busy streets and I polish my shoes every day,” the judge would–should and must–still demand to see my probable cause. If I said, “but your honor, I have here several newspaper articles that accuse the suspect of doing what I think he’s done. Sure, their sources are unknown, and can’t be verified, but…” and the judge would angrily throw my sorry butt out of his courtroom, and my reputation would be shot. I shudder to think what an honest judge would do to me if he later discovered I withheld pertinent information or lied. Hint: either is perjury, a felony.
According to McCarthy, all of the renewal affidavits are essentially identical to the original affidavit, which means all lack probable cause, and no honest judge–or prosecutor like Rod Rosenstein who authorized the final renewal–should have ever authorized a warrant or renewal. There is more than good reason to believe the FBI and Department of Justice are hopelessly corrupt and untrustworthy. The highest levels of those vital law enforcement agencies were, and arguably remain, weaponized by the Progressive movement/Democrat Party, and used against their political enemies.
Remember too that Carter Page, the object of the FBI’s desperate attempt to get dirt, any dirt, on Donald Trump, and a man they represented as one of the most dangerous Russian agents of all time, has not been charged with a crime. Apparently their surveillance of Page did not bear the fruit they expected.
McCarthy has, until now, maintained that it is virtually impossible for the FBI to be so corrupted, and even if that happened, the DOJ would never join in that kind of corruption. He no longer labors under that misconception of virtue:
It turns out, however, that the crazies were right and I was wrong. The FBI (and, I’m even more sad to say, my Justice Department) brought the FISA court the Steele-dossier allegations, relying on Steele’s credibility without verifying his information.
This is particularly egregious because the FBI fired Steele for unauthorized releases of information to the media, as well as general sleaziness and unreliability. Anything bearing on the credibility of a witness cited in a warrant affidavit must be revealed in its entirety to the judge, but this is just some of the pertinent information the FBI withheld from the FISA judges. McCarthy continues:
I am embarrassed by this not just because I assured people it could not have happened, and not just because it is so beneath the bureau — especially in a politically fraught case in which the brass green-lighted the investigation of a presidential campaign. I am embarrassed because what happened here flouts rudimentary investigative standards. Any trained FBI agent would know that even the best FBI agent in the country could not get a warrant based on his own stellar reputation. A fortiori, you would never seek a warrant based solely on the reputation of Christopher Steele — a non-American former intelligence agent who had political and financial incentives to undermine Donald Trump. It is always, always necessary to persuade the court that the actual sources of information allegedly amounting to probable cause are believable.
Well, guess what? No one knows that better than experienced federal judges, who deal with a steady diet of warrant applications. It is basic. Much of my bewilderment, in fact, stems from the certainty that if I had been so daft as to try to get a warrant based on the good reputation of one of my FBI case agents, with no corroboration of his or her sources, just about any federal judge in the Southern District of New York would have knocked my block off — and rightly so.
That’s why I said it.
Take the link and read McCarthy’s entire article. Why would FBI agents, and the highest levels of the FBI and DOJ lie to a judge? Why would they commit perjury, why would they risk the reputations of their organizations, to obtain a warrant against someone with only a temporary and peripheral relationship with the Trump campaign?
Their hatred for Donald Trump was all consuming and still is. It utterly deranged them. Ultimately, they believe Hillary Clinton had to win the election, and if she did, she would reward them for their criminal acts, their betrayal of their oaths of office. They certainly believed that with Clinton in the White House, their crimes would never come to light. But then Trump won, and they went entirely insane. Their progressive ends justified any means. It’s a wonder they were not involved in an assassination plot. Of course, it’s never too late if the target is Hitlerier than Hitler. After all, he’s nominated a judge for the Supreme Court who is making the nation walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and anyone that disagrees is complicit in evil, and Maxine Waters recently revealed she’s on a mission from God to get Trump. As Jerry Lee Lewis used to say: “Mercy!”
And what of the redactions? We’ll eventually see–perhaps–that they conform to the DOJ and FBI’s previous redaction strategy: hide everything and everyone embarrassing to the FBI and DOJ. Hide their crimes. They’re hiding sources and methods, but the sources and methods of the FBI and DOJ’s continuing coup against the lawfully elected President of the United States.
Human beings are prone to projection. Andy McCarthy, an honest man who worked with other honest men in the FBI and DOJ, could not accept that what the evidence showed him was true. He had no experience at that kind of criminal betrayal of the Constitution and the law by people sworn to uphold both. He is no longer so blind. Nor should we be.
The reputations of the DOJ and FBI may already be irreparably damaged. At the least, even a first step to restoring the public’s confidence in those agencies, if it is remotely possible, will take more than Rod Rosenstein and Christopher Wray, conducting a bit of training that amounts to little more than telling federal prosecutors and agents not to interfere in presidential elections and not to break the law.
One would have thought those sorts of people were told about that in law school and at the FBI academy–if they missed it in kindergarten.