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Horowitz Testifies On FISA Abuse

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee today.  On Monday, he released his report on how the FBI abused the FISA warrant process to spy on the 2016 Trump campaign.  There was much ado in The Media about his conclusion that there was no political bias in what became known as Operation Crossfire Hurricane.  But, despite the Fake News Media claims, and those made recently by former FBI Director James Comey that the Horowitz report vindicates and clears the FBI of bias, they missed a crucial point.  Horowitz only exonerated the initial beginning of Crossfire Hurricane of political bias.  Specifically the actions by then Assistant Director of Counter-Intelligence, E.W. 'Bill' Priestap.  During today's testimony, Horowitz did state that as the FBI operation moved forward, the bias issue becomes much "murkier", especially during the time of the application for a FISA warrant to surveil Trump campaign volunteer, Carter Page.  Horowitz also noted that while his review of documents, including text messages and emails of FBI agents, lawyers and officials, some employees did have a pro-Trump bias.  But, none of these pro-Trump employees were active members of the Crossfire Hurricane team.  Many of that team demonstrated a very definite pollical bias against then Candidate Donald J. Trump.

One must keep in mind that Horowitz was limited in scope.  He only could review documents and interview employees of the FBI and DOJ.  Criticism by Attorney General Barr and Prosecutor Durham about the bias issue is primarily due to Durham having broader powers to investigate persons of other U.S. agencies, private U.S. citizens, and foreign nationals.  Based on some of what has come out, mostly thanks to Freedom of Information requests by Judicial Watch, it appears that the CIA and or the DNI may have played a role in how Operation Crossfire Hurricane started.  Bill Priestap started it based on a tip by a "friendly foreign power", most likely the Australian ambassador to the UK who had met with George Papadopoulus at a pub in London.  Papadopoulus had earlier been told by one Stephen Halper, an American scholar at Cambridge University who had ties to the U.S. State Department and Intelligence Community, about the Russians hacking the DNC and Hillary Clinton's private server.  During the pub meeting with Papadopoulus, Ambassador Alexander Downer brought up the rumor about the Russian hacking, and actually recorded the conversation secretly using his smart phone.  Obviously, Papadopoulus was set up as a stooge, being a young, low level foreign policy wonk by pro-Clinton officials.  Including Downer, who had set up a significant multi-million dollar donation to the Clinton charity foundation.

The Horowitz report does detail how members of the FBI manipulated and lied to FISA court judges in order to obtain warrants to surveil Carter Page.  One FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, omitted part of an email reply to a CIA official asking whether or not Carter Page had ever been a CIA informant?  The CIA official answered yes, but Clinesmith said in the FISA request that the answer had been no.  Horowitz also confirms that the 'dirty dossier' from Fusion GPS contractor, Christopher Steele, played a "central" and "fundamental" role in obtaining the FISA warrant.  Despite the fact that little of the Steele document was determined authentic and that Steele was not to be trusted as a source.  Furthermore, by January, 2017, the FBI had interviewed Steele's primary sub-source, a Russian national, told the FBI that the info he/she provided to Steele was hearsay and "bar talk".  Despite these issues, the FBI still lied to FISA court judges about the authenticity of the information when applying to the 4 extensions to the FISA warrant used to spy on the Trump campaign and administration.

Operation Crossfire Hurricane began as a counter-intelligence investigation, a non-criminal probe which had a very low threshold to initiate.  As time went on, and Candidate Trump became the GOP presidential nominee, the operation expanded.  By late July, 2016, it became very aggressive in attempting to discredit Trump and members of his campaign.  When the FBI knew that the Steele document was garbage, and Steele himself was biased and untrustworthy, DOJ official Bruce Ohr stayed in touch with Steele and kept feeding his information to FBI investigators.  Ohr's wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS at the time and had been working on opposition research against Trump since the year before.  Both Bruce and Nellie Ohr met with FBI agent Peter Strok and Lisa Page after hours at a DC restaurant/bar during this period when the FISA warrant applications were being processed.

The bottom line is that members of the FBI and DOJ abused the FISA warrant system to spy on the Trump campaign.  James Comey, who signed off on three of the 5 applications, did so knowingly that the principle foundation of the warrant requests, the Steele dossier, was not only garbage but was funded by the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign.  The FBI knew these truths in September, 2016, a month before applying for the original FISA warrant.  In the process, Carter Page was smeared as a possible traitor, as well as George Papadopoulus and Michael Flynn convicted on 'process crimes' of allegedly lying to FBI agemts.  More like misspeaking when interviewed.  All of the ballyhoo about Russia interfering in the 2016 presidential campaign is pale compared to what our own government did.  

 

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