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FBI wiretap of Trump campaign aide was riddled with errors, but Russia probe was legally justified, IG report finds


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WASHINGTON — The Justice Department's internal watchdog found the controversial surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser was riddled with errors, raising questions about its justification.

The voluminous report, released Monday by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, identified 17 separate inaccuracies across three surveillance applications, effectively inflating the justification for monitoring former foreign policy adviser Carter Page starting in the fall of 2016.

Horowitz, however, concluded the FBI was legally justified in launching its inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. There was no "documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to conduct these operations," the report said. 

The 400-page report debunks claims by the president and his allies that political bias played a role in the FBI's decision to investigate members of the Trump campaign for possible coordination with Russia. The inspector general said there was "no evidence" the FBI placed any undercover sources or agents in the Trump campaign or had them attend campaign events.

The criticism of the FBI’s surveillance activities, however, is central to the report’s findings and is likely to fuel new attacks from President Donald Trump and a cadre of Republican allies. Horowitz also singled out a Justice Department official for possible criminal investigation.

Horowitz launched his review in March 2018 in response to requests from Republican lawmakers and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The review examined the FBI's decision to investigate four Trump associates and campaign aides: Page, former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Papadopoulos caught the attention of the FBI after he boasted to an Australian diplomat that Russia had offered political dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillarious Clinton. The diplomat alerted the FBI.

Page had longstanding ties to Russia and admitted meeting with Kremlin officials on a July 2016 trip to Moscow. Manafort and Flynn also have ties to Russia and traveled there.

The inspector general also examined the FBI's relationship with Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who was hired by a research firm working for Clinton's campaign. Steele authored a now-infamous "dossier" alleging ties between Trump and Russia.

Errors with requests to wiretap Page

Throughout the report, the inspector general raised questions about the management of the high-profile, politically charged investigation. "So many basic and fundamental errors" were made by investigative teams handpicked to conduct one of the FBI's most sensitive investigations, the report said.

"We believe this circumstance reflects a failure not just by those who prepared (applications for wiretap warrants) but also by the managers and supervisors in the chain of command, including FBI senior officials who were briefed as the investigation progressed," the report said. 

How we got here: The events that led to the inspector general's report on the origins of the Russia probe

Among the most common errors in the wiretap applications for Page were the omission of important information, including some that contradicted investigators' suspicions. For example, the FBI didn't note Page's denial that he had been involved in revising a part of the Republican platform to be more favorable to Russia.

In other cases, inaccurate information was included. At one point, the significance of Steele's prior cooperation with U.S. authorities was “overstated.” The FBI didn't corroborate Steele's account of Page's dealings with Russians, but still used it in its preparation of the surveillance applications. 

The decision to rely on Steele’s reporting "to help establish that Page was an agent of Russia" was supported by “FBI officials at every level," the report said. 

The inspector general found “no evidence” that FBI officials raised any concerns about the reliability of Steele's information with top officials, including then-FBI Director James Comey or Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. 

Because the bureau's top leadership was not notified, the report said, they "authorized the FBI to seek to use this highly intrusive investigative technique targeting Carter Page based on significant omissions and inaccurate information in the initial and renewal FISA applications.”

Horowitz singled out Bruce Ohr, an FBI lawyer and associate deputy attorney general, for additional review and possible criminal investigation. The inspector general sharply criticized Ohr for his relationship with Steele and for failing to inform his Justice supervisors of those contacts.

In a written response, FBI Director Christopher Wray characterized the report as “constructive criticism that will make us stronger as an organization.”

“We are vested with significant authorities and it is our obligation as public servants to ensure these authorities are exercised with objectivity and integrity,” Wray said. “Anything less falls short of the FBI’s duty to the American people.”

Barr disagrees with IG's findings

Attorney General William Barr disagreed with Horowitz's overall finding that the FBI's investigation was justified.

“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,” Barr said.

Barr is overseeing a parallel criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.  

John Durham, whom Barr tapped to lead the parallel investigation, also refuted the inspector general's conclusion. 

"Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report's conclusions as to the predication and how the FBI case was opened," Durham said in a statement.

Democrats on Capitol Hill said the report debunks conspiracy theories fanned by Trump and Republicans about how the Russia investigation began.

"Those discredited conspiracy theories were attempts to deflect from the President's serious and ongoing misconduct, first urging Russia and now extorting Ukraine into interfering with our elections to benefit him personally and politically," said Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, Democrats representing New York and co-chairs of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees.

The report comes as Democrats are drawing up articles of impeachment against Trump over allegations that he sought to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations that would help Trump politically. 

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, decried the FBI's "spying" on four Americans. "This is a grave matter that should deeply trouble Americans of all political stripes," he said.

Political bias did not play a role in Russia probe

Despite his criticism, Horowitz's investigation found that the FBI's decision to investigate Page, Papadopoulos, Flynn and Manafort was properly authorized and followed Justice Department policies. 

In determining whether bias played a role in the decision to launch the Russia probe, the inspector general examined text messages exchanged by Peter Strzok, a former FBI counterintelligence agent assigned to the investigation, and Lisa Page, a former FBI lawyer. 

Horowitz determined that the messages, which were hostile toward Trump, "created an appearance of bias" and "raised serious questions" about the validity of decisions involving the two.

But Horowitz noted that Page did not play a role in the decision to investigate Trump's campaign aides. Although Strzok was involved, "he was not the sole, or even the highest level decision maker," the report said. 

"Witnesses told us that they did not recall observing during these discussions any instances or indications of improper motivations or political bias on the part of the participants, including Strzok," the report said. 

Strzok's attorney, Aitan Goelman, said in a statement that the report confirms that Strzok's "personal opinions never impacted his work as an official of the FBI."

FISA report: Dueling investigations? Days before inspector general's report on FBI's Russia investigation, Trump promotes AG probe

Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over the FBI's investigation in May 2017 and indicted three dozen individuals and entities, including six former Trump associates and campaign aides – all of whom have either pleaded guilty or have been convicted by a jury. Page was never indicted as part of the Russia probe. 

Mueller's two-year investigation found a “sweeping and systematic" effort by the Russian government to intercede in the election to help Trump win, but concluded neither the president nor his campaign conspired with Russians, according to the special counsel’s report released in April. The report, however, portrayed the campaign as an eager beneficiary of Russian efforts.  

https://news.yahoo.com/fbi-wiretap-trump-campaign-aide-180133596.html

 

 

 

Debunked... Discredited.... Deep State....

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  • Here are the biggest takeaways from the DOJ watchdog's highly anticipated report on the Russia probe's origins

  • The Justice Department's inspector general released a highly anticipated report Monday of his findings in an investigation into the origins of the FBI's Russia probe.

  • The FBI had an "authorized purpose" to launch the Russia investigation, the report said.

  • Inspector General Michael Horowitz found no evidence to support President Donald Trump's claim that the FBI "spied" on his 2016 campaign.

  • The report also found that there is no "documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI's decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page."

  • Scroll down to read more of Horowitz's key findings and what they mean for the president.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Justice Department's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, released a report Monday of his investigation into the origins of the FBI's Russia probe.

It was a sweeping inquiry; according to the report, Horowitz's team examined more than 1 million documents and conducted 170 interviews with more than 100 witnesses.

Here are the main findings:

  • The FBI had an "authorized purpose" to launch the Russia investigation.

  • The FBI did not use the so-called Steele dossier to start the probe.

  • The unverified dossier, compiled by the former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele, has been at the center of Republican allegations about the investigation. Specifically, they accused the FBI of using uncorroborated and anonymously sourced information to justify starting the Russia probe.

  • Horowitz found that FBI investigators didn't get Steele's dossier until after the investigation had been launched.

  • The bureau's use of confidential informants complied with the rules.

  • There is no "documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations" into Trump campaign aides George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

  • There were "significant inaccuracies and omissions" in the Page FISA application, and FBI agents "failed to meet the basic obligation" to make sure the applications were "scrupulously accurate."

  • "We do not speculate whether the correction of any particular misstatement or omissions, or some combination thereof, would have resulted in a different outcome," the report said. "Nevertheless, the department's decision makers and the court should have been given complete and accurate information so that they could meaningfully evaluate probable cause before authorizing the surveillance of a US person associated with a presidential campaign."

  • There is no "documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI's decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page."

  • Steele called the allegation that he was biased against Trump "ridiculous." In fact, according to the report, Steele said he was "favorably disposed" to the Trump family before he began his research on the dossier "because he had visited a Trump family member at Trump Tower and had 'been friendly'" with that person for years.

  • Steele "described their relationship as 'personal' and said that he once gifted a family tartan from Scotland to the family member." 

  • Multiple media outlets reported that the family member described in the report is first daughter Ivanka Trump, whom Steele first met in 2007 in London.

  • The report uncovered several pro-Trump text messages exchanged between two FBI employees on November 9, 2016, the day after Trump won the election.

  • "Trump!" a handling agent said in a text message to a co-handling agent. "Hahaha. S--- just got real," the co-handling agent replied.

  • "Yes it did," the first agent said. The second responded, "I saw a lot of scared MFers on...[my way to work] this morning. Start looking for new jobs fellas. Haha."

The report's release was highly anticipated by both Democrats and Republicans, and both sides seized on different findings to bolster their talking points.

"Clearly, there was a legitimate, factual basis; in fact the FBI had a moral imperative to begin this investigation," Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal told The Washington Post. He pointed specifically to Horowitz's report found that political motivation was not "in any way a factor" in launching the probe.

Republicans, meanwhile, latched onto Horowitz's finding that there were irregularities in the Page FISA application.

The report "is deeply disturbing," GOP congressman Mark Meadows tweeted. "Some former FBI and DOJ officials are about to have some serious explaining to do."

Attorney General William Barr, who has been critical of the Russia probe and defended Trump since taking office this year, also put out a statement.

"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," the statement said.

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Intelligence Committee at a hearing on the Office of Special Counsel's investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis
Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Intelligence Committee at a hearing on the Office of Special Counsel's investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis More

The Russia investigation, spearheaded first by former FBI director James Comey and later by the special counsel Robert Mueller, found that President Donald Trump's campaign enthusiastically welcomed Russian interference in the 2016 election, but there was not sufficient evidence to bring a conspiracy charge against anyone on the campaign.

It also found over 10 instances in which Trump tried to obstruct justice in the investigation, but that he was largely unsuccessful because his own staff refused to carry out his orders. Mueller declined to make a "traditional prosecutorial judgment" on whether to charge Trump, citing a 1973 Office of Legal Counsel memo that said a sitting president cannot be indicted.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed Horowitz to launch an internal investigation into the origins of the Russia probe after Trump and his allies accused the FBI of acting improperly when it sought a warrant to surveil the former Trump campaign aide Carter Page during and after the election. The president also alleged that the FBI "spied" on his campaign, dubbing the purported scandal, "Spygate."

Barr has told associates he disagrees with one of Horowitz's main findings: that the FBI had sufficient evidence in July 2016 to justify launching the Russia investigation, according to the Washington Post. He reportedly hasn't been convinced by Horowitz's findings.

Barr has drawn sharp backlash from Democrats and legal experts who have said he functions more as the president's personal defense attorney than as the nation's chief law enforcement officer. Indeed, he claimed months before Horowitz's report was released that the FBI improperly spied on Trump's campaign, a claim that led to discord and a drop in morale within the rank and file at the bureau.

He also overruled Mueller with respect to his obstruction findings and cleared the president of wrongdoing before the public or Congress had a chance to see the special counsel's full report.

But the president and his allies have cheered Barr on, particularly as he embarks on a separate, broader internal investigation with US attorney John Durham into the roots of the Russia inquiry.

There's no sign so far that they've uncovered any incriminating evidence. The Washington Post reported that Durham also asked Horowitz if he'd obtained evidence that Joseph Mifsud, a shadowy Maltese professor who told the former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos that Russia had dirt on Hillarious Clinton's campaign, was secretly a Western intelligence asset.

Horowitz said he had no information to support that theory, which has been widely popular in right-wing circles.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/justice-departments-watchdogs-highly-anticipated-180501617.html

 

Sung to Alice Cooper's "No more Mr. Nice Guy"....

 

No more Mr. Spy Guy... No more Mr. Fantasyyyyyyy.

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Watchdog report rips FBI handling of Russia probe

PoliticoDecember 9, 2019, 12:56 PM EST

 

Full story linked below, but you have to love Comey's comment... 

 

Former FBI Director James Comey hailed the watchdog report, painting it as a forceful refutation of Trump’s claims that FBI officials engaged in “treason” by deliberately interfering in the electoral process.

“There was no illegal wiretapping, there were no informants inserted into the campaign, there was no ‘spying’ on the Trump campaign,” Comey said in a Washington Post op-ed.. “Although it took two years, the truth is finally out.”

Comey also swung at Barr, writing: “Those who smeared the FBI are due for an accounting. In particular, Attorney General William P. Barr owes the institution he leads, and the American people, an acknowledgment of the truth.”

 

https://www.yahoo.com/news/watchdog-report-rips-fbi-handling-175638163.html

 

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I think Durham will obliterate the IG report. This is long from over but then the dems will like that since they seem to like long investigations. Case in point, The Impeachment Coup that started the day Trump won the 2016 election. Some say even before that.

 

wait and see.......

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2 hours ago, ladyGrace'sDaddy said:

How this P.O.S. doesn't loose his job by the end of the week will be amazing

 

That's what I think about Trump... Lying to the people. Lying to Congress. Obstructing federal investigations. Making up conspiracies. Refusing to take part to prove his innocents. Turning against decorated veterans. Taking the word of Putin over Americans. All serious concerns when talking about national security. When you think about it, he really is a disgrace.

 

And I haven't even mentioned his personal life, because however sleazy his decides to be on his time shouldn't play a roll in his job performance. Of course we impeached a president for lying about his sex life. Disgusting yes, of national security concern, no.

 

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Lou Dobbs: DOJ IG Report Proves ‘Deep State’s Awesome Control’ of Our Government

Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs tore into the Justice Department’s top watchdog on Monday night, calling DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the Russia probe a “whitewash” while claiming it was proof that the “Deep State” controlled the government.

While some at Fox attempted to toss a pro-Trump spin on Horowitz’s finding that there was no political bias and the FBI had sufficient evidence to launch an investigation into Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, Dobbs began his show on Monday by immediately dismissing the report as “long-delayed and hardly worth the wait.”

“After 621 days investigating some of the clearest abuses of power by the Obama-era intelligence agency, the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz declared he was unable to find any political bias behind the surveillance of the 2016 Trump campaign,” Dobbs, an informal adviser to Trump, groused.

“All this is more evidence of the ‘radical Dimms’ and the Deep State’s awesome control of our permanent bureaucracy of our federal government,” he added.

Noting that Attorney General William Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham—who is investigating the origins of the Russia probe—both issued statements disagreeing with Horowitz’s findings, Dobbs insisted that Durham was putting “the Deep State on notice.”

Moments later, speaking to Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton, Dobbs agreed with his guest’s assessment that Horowitz accepted the FBI’s “bureaucratic excuses for targeting the President of the United State and a presidential candidate.”

“We have an inspector general who should be a countervailing influence within the Justice Department and the FBI,” Dobbs grumbled. “Who should be bringing accountability to this corrupt cabal of agents and officials of both the FBI and the Justice Department. Instead what we have got here, in 434 pages without exception, is a whitewash.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/lou-dobbs-doj-ig-report-031705197.html

 

Wow who didn't see that coming....

Tomorrow's headline for the cult of Trump... "The Deep State Did It"

 

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