The IG report was finally released today and there were pieces to argue on both sides of the aisle.
It’s important to remind everyone at the outset that the report can’t make conclusions to prosecute for crimes, it’s only able to look and reach conclusions as to whether people have acted properly or improperly in regard to the rules of the agency and recommend changes.
It’s the Durham investigation that’s looking at the potential criminal actions in the case. And it’s Durham who says there’s more there than the IG found.
While the IG report found that the tip from the Australians about George Papadopoulos was the start of the investigation and that its opening was justified, Durham’s team specifically said that they disagree.
From Fox News:
“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 predication and how the FBI case was opened,” U.S. Attorney John Durham said in a statement.
“I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff,” Durham said. “However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department. Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.”
It’s extremely troubling if the random comment from Papadopoulos justifies all the effort to then subsequentially surveil people on the Trump team.
The IG did find that the FISA warrants against Carter Page were “inaccurate, incomplete, and unsupported.” The IG did indicate that they had initiated another investigation into the process of how the FBI has been going about getting FISA warrants after calling out the process used in this case.
Attorney General Bill Barr blasted the Russia probe saying it was intrusive on the flimsiest justification and continued to surveil folks on the Trump team despite exculpatory information being available from the jump.
“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 in a statement. […]
“It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory,” Barr said. “Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration.”
He called it a clear abuse of the process.
“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,” Barr said.
He added, “The Inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory. While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process.”
One of the questions that many had was whether there was any involvement of Barack Obama in the process.
That concern was boosted by these texts which had been released previously between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
9:41 a.m., Strzok to Lisa Page: “Checkout my 9:30 mtg on the 7th”
9:42 a.m., Lisa Page to Strzok: “I can tell you why you’re having that meeting.”
9:42 a.m., Lisa Page to Strzok: “It’s not what you think.”
9:49 a.m., Strzok to Lisa Page: “TPs [Talking Points] for D [Director]?”
9:50 a.m., Lisa Page to Strzok: “Yes be POTUS wants to know everything we are doing.”
The IG Report is a bit frustrating because while certain things are confirmed by facts, other parts of the report are simply “we were told this by Comey” or whoever, without any further confirmatory information. So we don’t really know if it’s true, all we know is that was what was said to the IG.
According to the report, Strzok denied that he spoke to the White House about Crossfire Hurricane (the Russia investigation) and said these comments had to do with what Russia was doing to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections.
On page 77 of the report, it indicates that by late July 2016, Obama had been briefed by “another U.S. Government agency” (probably the CIA) and had suggested the FBI should do “defensive briefings.”
McCabe’s notes from a morning meeting with Corney and others in late July 2016 reflect that McCabe learned from Corney during the meeting that another U.S. government agency had briefed President Obama on intelligence that agency had suggesting that a RIS was engaged in covert actions to influence the U.S. presidential election in favor of Trump. McCabe told us he did not attend this White House briefing; however, based on his notes, he said he did not believe the FFG information would have been discussed during this meeting, and our review of his notes did not indicate otherwise. According to McCabe’s notes of what he had been told by Corney, President Obama stated that the FBI should think about doing
“defensive briefs.” The notes do not provide any further details about what Obama said regarding defensive briefings, and McCabe told us he did not recall that any further details were provided to him. However, McCabe said he surmised from his notes that the briefings under discussion were to be given to the Trump campaign. As more fully described in Chapter Ten, the FBI participated in ODNI strategic intelligence briefings that were provided to members of both the Trump campaign and the Clinton campaign, including the candidates, in August and September 2016. However, those were not defensive briefings and did not address the allegations contained in the FFG information.
On page 77, Comey said he did inform Obama they were looking into the question of whether anyone had worked with the Russians to interfere in the election. He believed that that meeting occurred in August 2016 and was attended by then Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough, then National Security Advisor Susan Rice, then Director of National Intelligence (DNI} James Clapper, then CIA Director John Brennan, and then Director of the National Security Agency Michael Rogers. He said he did not recall exactly what he said but that the may have told him that there were four individuals with “some association or connection to the Trump campaign.”
On page 179, Andrew McCabe told the IG:
[T]hat he had three reasons for believing that the Steele election reporting needed to be included in the ICA: (1) President Obama had requested “everything you have relevant to this topic of Russian influence”; (2) the Steele election reporting was not completely vetted, but was consistent with information from other sources and came from a source with “a good track record” that the FBI had “confidence in”; and (3) McCabe believed the FBI, as an institution, needed to advise the President about the Steele election reporting because it had been widely circulated throughout government and media circles, and was likely to leak into the public realm.
Also on page 177, Obama made a request which led to the Steele Dossier being further shared to the intelligence community.
The Intel Section Chief said that McCabe understood President Obama’s request for the ICA to require the participating agencies to share all information relevant to Russia and the 2016 elections, and the Steele election reporting qualified at a minimum due to concerns over possible Russian attempts to blackmail Trump.
There’s going to be a lot more to unpack as the report is dissected and even more to come the Durham investigation.
HT: Patrick Howley