The Justice Department (DOJ) released the documents used to justify the FISA warrant application to spy against Carter Page, a former and peripheral campaign adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump.
The heavily-redacted documents confirm crucial details of the memo largely prepared by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and other Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). That includes the allegation that the DOJ and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) relied upon the infamous and discredited dossier put together by former MI6 British intelligence agent Christopher Steele.
“I said this could never happen. This is so bad that they should be looking at the judges who signed off on this stuff, not just the people who gave it,” said Andrew McCarthy, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. “It is so bad it screams out at you.”
Worth noting, U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras, who presided over the case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, had a personal relationship with Peter Strzok. The disgraced former head of the counterintelligence division was at the center of the pivot from the Clinton email probe to Russian collusion.
Judge Contreras recused himself without explanation, after the fact.
The dossier was funded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the campaign for Hillary Clinton. But Obama Administration officials never told the FISA court that it was political opposition research.
The nonprofit Campaign Legal Center (CLC) has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging both the Clinton campaign and the DNC violated campaign finance law by failing to accurately disclose payments for the dossier. Fusion GPS, the shadowy smear firm hired by Clinton lawyer Marc E. Elias of Perkins Coie, hired Mr. Steele to author the dossier.
With the release of the FISA warrant application, there’s now no doubt that political opposition research was a major component used to justify the initial and subsequent renewals. The non-redacted sections of the released FISA documents do not indicate the dossier was ever verified.
Instead, the FBI claimed Mr. Steele, the former Russian desk head who was reportedly driven out of MI6, was “reliable” based on his previous work.
The documents were obtained as a result of a February 2018 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch after the DOJ rejected a July 19, 2017, FOIA request. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton called on President Trump to declassify the material.
“These documents are heavily redacted but seem to confirm the FBI and DOJ misled the courts in withholding the material information that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC were behind the ‘intelligence’ used to persuade the courts to approve the FISA warrants that targeted the Trump team,” Mr. Fitton said. “Given this corruption, President Trump should intervene and declassify the heavily redacted material.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, had made public statements sourced in the dossier during the campaign, well before it was first published by BuzzFeed. Multiple sources tell PPD that Mr. Schiff, a notorious leaker, sought to hide the funding revelation from members of the committee.
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows intelligence agencies to collect information on foreign targets abroad. However, as PPD also previously reported, it has been “routinely” abused and misused to spy on domestic targets, including President Trump, his associates and other U.S. citizens.
The documents for the FISA warrant application also reveal that a September 2016 Yahoo News article written by Michael Isikoff was used to support the veracity of the allegations in the now-defunct dossier, though it was the very source of the article. That’s called circular reporting, and it’s a cardinal sin in the intelligence community.
London court records show that Steele briefed Yahoo News and other reporters in the fall of 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS.
Bank records obtained by the HPSCI probe show Fusion GPS made payments to at least 3 journalists known for covering Russian collusion stories. Yahoo News is cited as one of the news outlets “briefed” on the Kremlin-sourced dossier.
Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sent a a criminal referral to Mr. Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray to investigate Mr. Steele, citing potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, or making false statements to investigators particularly regarding the distribution of claims contained in the dossier.