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The various defenses of the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” surveillance of President Trump would fill libraries. The latest and most deceptive has to be the idea that since “there was an adequate predicate” to start an investigation, everything in it was necessarily OK. As Jonathan Turley notes:
“This is akin to reviewing the Titanic and saying that the captain was not unreasonable in starting the voyage. The question is what occurred when the icebergs began appearing. Horowitz says that investigative icebergs appeared rather early on, and the Justice Department not only failed to report that to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court but removed evidence that its investigation was on a collision course with the facts.”
If you don’t read anything more, go back and read Turley’s comment again. Nothing in the FISA story was legal. Attorney General Barr disagrees with the idea that the facts supported even starting an investigation.
“The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.”
In short, the justification for even opening an investigation was shaky. But dragons were dead ahead. The FBI prepared an application for a FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page in the summer of 2016. It was rejected because it wasn’t justified by evidence. And without a FISA warrant, none of the stuff that Robert Mueller eventually dug through would ever see the light of day.
IG Horowitz explains that the only way the warrant got approved was when the Steele Dossier was added to the application. But that’s where the FBI’s actions as a “law enforcement agency” make Barney Fife look like Elliott Ness. In excruciating detail the IG lays out fifty-one (that’s not a misprint) errors, omissions, and intentional “misrepresentations” made to the FISC. Seventeen of these were “major.”
The threshold “error” was using the Steele Dossier, which violated a whole basket of FBI and FISC rules. It was full of wild rumor, and the IG Report notes that FISC rules require that “all factual statements in a FISA application are ‘scrupulously accurate.’ ” Let this sink in.
The FBI knew from the very beginning that Steele was hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. They knew that Steele hated Donald Trump. They never cross-checked any of Steele’s allegations. They left out a pot full of “material facts” that would have led the FISC to deny the application, including Steele’s own statement that he had not verified any of it. Steele had been fired from being an FBI asset years before. Page was a CIA asset. For all the details, see reporting by John Solomon and Sara Carter.
There’s a simple term for this: “Fraud on the Court.” In Herring, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals declared that “In order to meet the necessarily demanding standard for proof of fraud upon the court we conclude that there must be: (1) an intentional fraud; (2) by an officer of the court; (3) which is directed at the court itself; and (4) in fact deceives the court.” All of these elements are there in spades in the first FISA application.
USLegal points out that “Fraud upon the court makes void the orders and judgments of that court.” This would mean that every prosecution that followed from this investigation should be completely nullified as “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree.” Expect General Flynn’s attorney to make this case. But Sidney Powell doesn’t need to appeal to the FISC. Since the OIG has publicly demonstrated that the FBI intentionally misled the FISC, it is the duty of the FISC judges to start their own review. Then they should vacate the surveillance orders they signed. But even that’s not enough.
The IG wrote that FBI officials failed to follow their “Woods Procedures.” They seemed to be unaware of them! They ignored the fact that at every turn, their investigation showed that the Trump campaign was not working with the Russians. At one point an FBI attorney deliberately even falsified a document in order to mislead the court. Judges of the FISC are within their powers to impose significant sanctions against these wrong-doers.
But once again, that’s not enough. Because the FBI and the FISC are given positions of the highest trust, they must be held to the highest standards. Officers such as Andrew McCabe, James Comey, and Peter Strzok were fully aware of the evil they were doing. Willful subversion of our legal system, particularly in a court that the public can’t see, is the worst sort of evil. Strzok and McCabe were central in drafting the application. Comey signed the first one. They all declared that it was true and fully checked. They lied.
There’s a term for this: Perjury. But it gets worse. There were four FISA warrants. Three were built on renewing the first warrant that was built on FBI lies. AG Barr notes that:
“It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory. Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration. In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source.”
“Exculpatory” is a big word that means “he didn’t do it.” The first application was approved because the FBI lied. As soon as the FBI was able to get more information, they discovered that it didn’t support their story. They should have shut Crossfire Hurricane down. Instead, they doubled down. Trump had to be dirty. They had their man. They just had to find the crime.
If we allow OIG Horowitz a pass on the “predication” for the investigation, and if the FBI had operated within the law, no FISA warrants would have ever been approved. If there were no FISA warrants, there would be no persecution of Donald Trump, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, General Flynn and a host of others. This is what the Left doesn’t want you to understand. Just because you are allowed to open a door doesn’t mean you can burn down the house. Crossfire Hurricane tried to burn down Donald Trump’s house. A host of people need to be on trial for arson. But that’s not all!
IG Horowitz said that “we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias influenced [Bill Priestap’s] decision” to start the investigation. We have to wonder just how blind the IG is. The text messages between two investigators, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, make it crystal clear that bias was the entire basis for the investigation. But let’s let that pass. John Durham is on the job.
The IG’s language just says that Bill Priestap, an assistant FBI Director, didn’t write down that he was out to get Trump. Further, he didn’t admit that in his interviews with the IG, either. Duh. Do we really think that he’s that dumb? Finally, the IG made comments that suggest that some of the witnesses didn’t let on about details that would have been helpful. In short, there is stuff we don’t know. Is it because the IG can’t convene a Grand Jury or compel testimony? It’s public knowledge that CIA Director Brennan and National Security Advisor Clapper were intimately involved, but the IG couldn’t force them to talk because they are no longer in government, and neither was in the FBI.
While the IG was very cagey in his language, it’s abundantly clear that the FBI really stepped in it. They deliberately targeted Donald Trump, and lied to the FISC to get illegal surveillance warrants. Whether making the first inquiries was justified or not, everything that followed was definitely out of bounds.
A number of former high level FBI officials should be measured for orange jump suits. Their actions have severely injured our trust in law enforcement. They have no excuses. And there are no excuses for not throwing the book at them. The United States cannot survive very long when there are people who are above the law.
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