Andrew Yang qualifies for next debate after release of new poll

closeYang: Our message is reaching the American people beyond the debatesVideo

Yang: Our message is reaching the American people beyond the debates

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang reacts to his debate performance on 'Fox News @ Night.'

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang stands at 4 percent in a new national poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University — which means the first-time candidate and tech-entrepreneur has qualified to take the stage at next week’s sixth Democratic presidential primary debate.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden leads with 29 percent support in the poll, with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont at 21 percent. Biden jumped 5 percentage points and Sanders climbed 4 points from Quinnipiac’s previous national poll in the Democratic nomination race, which was released late last month.

YANG DIPLOMATICALLY RESPONDS TO AOC'S 'FREEDOM DIVIDEND' CRITICISM

Prior to the release of the new survey, Yang’s campaign had said it remained one poll shy of reaching the thresholds to make the stage at the Dec. 19 showdown.

Candidates must reach at least 4 percent in four surveys recognized as qualifying polls by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), or 6 percent in two polls in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Yang has already reached the other qualifying criteria — receiving contributions from at least 200,000 individual donors.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii still remains one poll shy of qualifying for the debate. She grabbed the support of 2 percent in the new Quinnipiac University survey among Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party.

On Monday, Gabbard announced that she wouldn’t attend the debate even if she qualifies. The candidate said instead, she’ll meet with voters in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Candidates have until the end of Thursday to reach the polling and donor thresholds. The Democratic National Committee will wait unit after the deadline to officially announce which White House hopefuls have qualified for the debate.

By qualifying, Yang, an Asian-American, becomes the first non-Caucasian candidate to make the debate stage.

BUTTIGIEG SUPPORT DROPS IN NEW QUINNIPIAC POLL

Sen. Kamala Harris — one of three black candidates running for the Democratic nomination — had qualified, but the California senator last week ended her bid for the White House. The lack of a non-white candidate on the debate stage from a field that, at its zenith, was arguably the most racially diverse in history raised concerns with some voters.

Yang — once the longest of long-shots who has seen his campaign surge to middle tier status thanks in part to his promise of a $1,000-per-month Freedom Dividend payment to all adults — has qualified for all of the Democratic primary debates.

Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts stands at 15 percent in the new poll, basically unchanged from last month. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg plunged from 16 percent support in last month’s poll to 9 percent.

“This is the first time Biden has had a double-digit lead since August, and Sanders' best number since June. While Warren's numbers seem to have stabilized, Buttigieg's numbers have dipped," Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy said.

BLOOMBERG'S MASSIVE AD BLITZ SO FAR NOT BUYING THE LOVE OF PRIMARY VOTERS

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg grabbed 5 percent support in the Quinnipiac survey. The multi-billionaire business and media mogul, who declared his candidacy two and a half weeks ago, also stood at 5 percent in a Monmouth University national poll that was also released on Tuesday.

Besides Yang and Gabbard, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota stood at 3 percent. No other candidate in the still-large field of Democratic White House hopefuls topped 1 percent.

The poll also indicates that Biden, Sanders, Warren, Bloomberg and Buttigieg each with upper to middle single-digit advantages over President Trump in hypothetical 2020 general election matchups.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted from Wednesday to Monday, with 1,533 registered voters nationwide questioned by live telephone operators. The survey includes 665 Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

Original Article

Lisa Page sues FBI and DOJ, citing ‘cost of therapy’ after Trump mocked her salacious text messages

closeWhy is former FBI lawyer Lisa Page choosing to speak out about text messages now?Video

Why is former FBI lawyer Lisa Page choosing to speak out about text messages now?

Reaction from investigative reporter John Solomon and 'The Plot Against the President' author Lee Smith.

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page is suing the FBI and Department of Justice, alleging that the government's publication of her salacious text messages with anti-Trump ex-FBI agent Peter Strzok constituted a breach of the Federal Privacy Act.

In the complaint filed Tuesday, the 39-year-old Page said she suffered numerous damages, including a "permanent loss of earning capacity due to reputational damage" and "the cost of therapy to cope with unwanted national media exposure and harassment" caused by the disclosure.

Page's complaint also sought reimbursement for "the cost of childcare during and transportation to multiple investigative reviews and appearances before Congress," the "cost of paying a data-privacy service to protect her personal information," and attorney's fees.

On Dec. 12, 2017, Page said in the complaint, "DOJ and/or FBI officials disclosed" her sensitive text messages "directly to a select group of reporters to ensure they would become public." Page alleged that after discovery, she would be able to prove that senior officials knew they were violating the law, and that their conduct was "willful and intentional."

Among those texts was a July 2016 message in which Page wrote to Strzok, “She [Hillary Clinton] just has to win now. I’m not going to lie, I got a flash of nervousness yesterday about Trump.” Within days, the FBI began investigating then-candidate Trump's alleged connections to Russia.

And, after Trump made a joke at a presidential debate concerning his hand size, Page wrote, "This man cannot be president." Strzok, meanwhile, called Trump a “douche," mocked Trump supporters, and said he was "scared."

Page's lawsuit lamented that Trump's tweets about Page's texts "have been retweeted and favorited millions of times." Trump, Page went on, has "targeted" her "by name in more than 40 tweets and dozens of interviews, press conferences, and statements from the White House, fueling unwanted media attention that has radically altered her day-to-day life."

She argued that federal law prevents agencies from disclosing personal records about individuals "unless an exception applies or the individual who is the subject of the record consents in writing to the disclosure."

Page's lawsuit claimed that there was no public-interest justification for the government's leak, given that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz was already reviewing the texts and later found "no evidence of bias affecting investigative decisions it reviewed, including matters in which Ms. Page was involved." Page asserted that the government leakers were trying to gain favor with Trump.

STRZOK'S WIFE FOUND EVIDENCE OF HIS AFFAIR WITH LISA PAGE … AND 'PARANOID' NEW YORK AGENT FOUND STRZOK WAS APPARENTLY SLOW-WALKING WEINER LAPTOP REVIEW, FILING SAYS

However, Horowitz noted in an initial report last year that Strzok and Page's anti-Trump texts were "not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects." He did not conclude definitively that Page and Strzok's actions were free from bias — only that he did not have evidence to tie bias to specific investigative actions.

In a separate bombshell report issued Monday, Horowitz extensively faulted the FBI's secretive efforts to surveil a former Trump aide, which involved both Page and Strzok.

Earlier this month, as part of its effort to reject Strzok's request for reinstatement at the FBI, the DOJ outlined evidence that Strzok's wife had obtained his phone, and discovered he and Page were having an extramarital affair. The DOJ argued that the information was relevant because Strzok had conducted FBI business on iMessage on his personal electronic devices, but insisted his phone was secure and that he had "double deleted" sensitive materials on his phone.

Do anti-Trump text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page rise to the level of treason?Video

"[My wife] has my phone. Read an angry note I wrote but didn't send you. That is her calling from my phone. She says she wants to talk to [you]. Said we were close friends nothing more," one of Strzok's text to Page read, according to the DOJ's filing.

"Your wife left me a vm [voicemail]," Page wrote back to Strzok. "Am I supposed to respond? She thinks we're having an affair. Should I call and correct her understanding? Leave this to you to address?"

Strzok then wrote, "I don't know. I said we were […] close friends and nothing more. She knows I sent you flowers, I said you were having a tough week."

Strzok's wife also found photographs and a hotel reservation "ostensibly" used for a "romantic encounter," the government said.

Page's suit will likely face an immediate challenge from the government. The Supreme Court has previously ruled that suits against the government under the Privacy Act for mental and emotional distress are not immune from the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which limits the right of individuals to sue the federal government.

LISA PAGE BREAKS SILENCE, ACCUSES TRUMP OF MIMICKING HER ORGASM

Her lawsuit does not contain an apology for her conduct, and she has long maintained that her anti-Trump views — which she shared with Strzok using FBI phones even as the two played key roles in the Hillary Clinton and Russia probes — did not affect her official duties.

However, as the FBI was preparing to interview Clinton at her home at the close of the email probe, Page sent Strzok a text message that suggested she was concerned about the political impact of the investigation.

Trump allies and critics promote favorable conclusions from DOJ inspector general reportVideo

“One more thing: She might be our next president,” Page wrote to Strzok on Feb. 24, 2016. “The last thing you need us going in there loaded for bear. You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more [DOJ] than [FBI]?”

“Agreed…,” Strzok responded.

Earlier this month, Page spoke exclusively to The Daily Beast in a highly sympathetic profile authored by Molly Jong-Fast, who called Strzok "hawt" in a tweet last year. In the interview, Page said Trump's open mockery of her conduct had forced her to confront the president publicly.

WATCH REP. GOHMERT UNLOAD ON ‘SMIRKING’ STRZOK: ‘HOW MANY TIMES DID YOU LOOK SO INNOCENT INTO YOUR WIFE’S EYES AND LIE TO HER?’

“Honestly, his demeaning fake orgasm was really the straw that broke the camel’s back," Page told The Daily Beast.

In a rally, Trump had passionately read from Strzok and Page's text messages — even screaming out, "I love you, Lisa! I love you so much! Lisa, she's going to win one-hundred-million-to-nothing. But just in case she doesn't win, we've got an insurance policy!" Conservative commentators have disputed that Trump was mimicking an orgasm.

Strzok, a veteran counterintelligence agent who led FBI investigations into Clinton’s use of a private email server and ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team after his anti-Trump texts with Page came to light. He was fired from the FBI last August.

Page left the FBI in May 2018.

Original Article

Ex-spy Christopher Steele surfaces after FISA report challenges Trump dossier research

closeDOJ inspector general's report on alleged FISA abuse finds FBI performance failures, no political biasVideo

DOJ inspector general's report on alleged FISA abuse finds FBI performance failures, no political bias

Michael Horowitz investigated the origins of the FBI probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the subsequent surveillance of the Trump presidential campaign; David Spunt reports.

Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, in a rare public statement, hit back Tuesday after the Justice Department inspector general’s report questioned the reliability of the anti-Trump dossier that served as the basis for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Trump campaign official Carter Page.

In a statement obtained by Fox News, Steele attorneys Robert Weinberg and Joshua Shiffrin accused DOJ Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz's office of including “serious errors and misstatements” in their report.

They also criticized the IG for including previously redacted “negative information about Christopher Steele” without giving them an opportunity to review, while saying their client "gave extensive testimony in person and by Skype" for the investigation.

FISA REPORT DROPS: 7 TAKEAWAYS FROM DOJ WATCHDOG'S RUSSIA PROBE REVIEW

Horowitz’s report, which found there was no political bias in the launch of the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe or in the applications for FISA warrants against Page, did find, however, that there were “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in those applications — specifically related to Steele’s reporting.

One error in the FISA application was the inclusion of a “source characterization statement asserting that Steele’s prior reporting had been ‘corroborated and used in criminal proceedings,’ which overstated the significance of Steele’s past reporting and was not approved by Steele’s handling agent.”

The IG report also said a key Steele “sub-source” raised questions about the reliability of Steele's reporting.

But Steele’s attorneys, who also represent Orbis Business Intelligence where Steele worked, fired back, complaining they were “never given an opportunity to respond to the claims” regarding the sub-source.

The attorneys also sought to clarify who Steele was working for — noting that his election reports were “gathered and written for a private client, Fusion GPS.” The work was funded by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton campaign.

The lawyers said Fusion “consented” to “voluntarily sharing the reports with the FBI,” but rejected assertions that he was a confidential source for the bureau.

Steele “was never a Confidential Human Source for the FBI with respect to any matter,” the attorneys said. Weinberg and Shiffrin said the FBI first engaged with their client in 2013 to conduct investigations on the FBI’s behalf, but Orbis and Steele stressed he could not be a CHS "because his obligations to his former government employer prohibited his acting in such a capacity." They said Steele insisted on a basic "contractual relationship."

Carter Page plans on going after FBI agents who spied on himVideo

CLICK TO READ THE IG REPORT

The FBI ultimately cut ties with Steele for an “unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI,” but his lawyers defended his contacts and said the bureau “never asked” him “not to disclose information to the media.”

The IG report, though, has exposed Steele to even more scrutiny over his unverified dossier. As his lawyers were putting out their statement, Attorney General Bill Barr called the dossier a "sham" during a forum in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, the inspector general report found that not only did Steele’s research surrounding the 2016 presidential election provide much of the information used in Page’s FISA warrant application and renewals, but the FBI did not have specific information corroborating allegations against Page from Steele’s reporting.

"We determined that prior to and during the pendency of the FISAs the FBI was unable to corroborate any of the specific substantive allegations against Carter Page contained in the election reporting and relied on in the FISA applications, and was only able to confirm the accuracy of a limited number of circumstantial facts, most of which were in the public domain," the report said, noting that the information confirmed was only timing of events and dates when Page traveled to Russia.

DOJ WATCHDOG FINDS NO BIAS IN LAUNCH OF TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE, BUT UNCOVERS 'SIGNIFICANT' FBI ERRORS

In addition to the lack of corroboration, the inspector general found that the FBI's interviews of Steele and his sub-sources "revealed potentially serious problems with Steele’s description of information in his election reports." The report stated that the FBI "failed to notify" the Office of Investigations (OI), which was working on the Page FISA applications, "of the potentially serious problems identified with Steele's election reporting that arose as early as January 2017."

IG report finds mistakes but no political bias in FBI bid to spy on Trump campaignVideo

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Horowitz added that "even as the FBI developed this information, we found no evidence that the Crossfire Hurricane team reconsidered its reliance on the Steele reporting in the FISA renewal applications."

Original Article

Dems announce two impeachment charges

closeHouse Democrats unveil impeachment articles, alleging abuse of power and obstruction of CongressVideo

House Democrats unveil impeachment articles, alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress

House Democrats introduce two articles of impeachment against President Trump regarding his interactions with Ukraine.

**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: Dems announce two impeachment charges – House Dems, Trump admin reach trade deal – Warren continues to drop – GOP does Election Day ‘dry run’ – Calendar grille
DEMS ANNOUNCE TWO IMPEACHMENT CHARGES

AP: “House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment Tuesday against President Donald Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — pushing toward historic votes over charges he corrupted the U.S. election process and endangered national security in his dealings with Ukraine. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, flanked by the chairmen of the impeachment inquiry committees, stood at the Capitol for what she called a ‘solemn act.’ Voting is expected in a matter of days in the Judiciary Committee and by Christmas in the full House. Trump insisted he did nothing wrong and his reelection campaign called it ‘rank partisanship.’ … The outcome, though, appears increasingly set as the House prepares for voting, as it has only three times in history against a U.S. president. Approval of the charges would send them to the Senate in January, where the Republican majority would be unlikely to convict Trump.”
Senate looks to push impeachment trial to January – Politico: “Senators are unlikely to let a little thing like impeachment ruin their holiday plans. As soon as the House impeaches President Donald Trump, the Senate is, in theory, required to immediately begin a trial. But for a multitude of reasons, both strategic and mundane, senators say they are aiming to reach an agreement to take a breather and come back for the trial in January. Despite bipartisan hopes of not letting impeachment drag on, no one in the Senate seems to want to sacrifice their Christmas or New Year’s. And though nothing has been finalized, senators expect party leaders who have sway on the matter to agree in the coming days. ‘That’s the last thing we want to do is be here over Christmas,’ Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. … ‘Impeachment is a huge issue. And I don’t think we should rush into it,’ Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said. ‘We ought to find a way to wait till January, get through the holidays and then tackle it.’”
Trump lashes out at FBI director – WaPo: “President Trump lashed out Tuesday morning at FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, saying that ‘he will never be able to fix the FBI’ based on his reaction to a Justice Department inspector general’s report examining the bureau’s investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign. ‘I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me,’ Trump tweeted. ‘With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!’ The 434-page report rebutted conservatives’ accusations that top FBI officials were driven by political bias to illegally spy on Trump advisers as part of the investigation of election interference by Russia, but it also found broad and ‘serious performance failures’ requiring major changes. In a statement Monday, Wray, a Trump appointee, said he had ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the report’s recommendations, adding that he would not hesitate to take ‘appropriate disciplinary action if warranted.’”
Poll: Trump approval remains steady – Monmouth University: “Just over 4-in-10 (43%) registered voters feel that Trump should be reelected, while a majority (54%) say it is time to have someone new in the Oval Office. These numbers have not really budged in the past month (42% reelect and 55% someone new in November). The current results are statistically similar to late September when news broke about the Ukraine call (39% reelect and 57% someone new) and August when the House impeachment inquiry was just getting started (39% reelect and 57% someone new). … Trump currently has a personal rating of 46% favorable and 52% unfavorable among registered voters. The president’s personal rating has grown slightly more positive since news of the Ukraine call first broke, but the shifts so far are not statistically significant.”
HOUSE DEMS, TRUMP ADMIN REACH TRADE DEAL
Fox Business: “The United States, Mexico and Canada have reached a historic trade deal. ‘There is no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA,’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a press conference announcing her caucus's support of the agreement. Major U.S. stock indexes turned positive after the announcement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland are expected to be in Mexico City on Tuesday for a signing ceremony. The deal must now be ratified by all three countries. A House vote, delayed as Democrats fought to improve enforcement mechanisms after winning a majority in the chamber in November 2018, is slated for next week. The modifications had delayed Congressional approval, raising the possibility that the deal might not be ratified this year since Congress adjourns Dec. 20, and prompted criticism from President Trump and his allies.”
THE RULEBOOK: AIN’T THAT THE TRUTH
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 51
TIME OUT: UP, UP AND AWAY
Smithsonian: “Near the beginning of the new film The Aeronauts, a giant gas-filled balloon called the ‘Mammoth’ departs from London’s Vauxhall Gardens and ascends into the clouds, revealing a bird’s eye view of London. To some moviegoers, these breathtaking views might seem like nothing special: Modern air travel has made many of us take for granted what we can see from the sky. But during the 19th century, the vast ‘ocean of air’ above our heads was a mystery. These first balloon trips changed all that. Directed by Tom Harper, the movie is inspired by the true story of Victorian scientist James Glaisher and the aeronaut Henry Coxwell. (In the film, Coxwell is replaced by a fictional aeronaut named Amelia Wren.) In 1862, Glaisher and Coxwell ascended to 37,000 feet in a balloon – 8,000 feet higher than the summit of Mount Everest, and, at the time, the highest point in the atmosphere humans had ever reached.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
SCOREBOARD
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 26.6 points (↑ 0.6 points from last wk.)
Warren: 18.2 points (↓ 1.2 points from last wk.)
Sanders: 17.4 points (↑ 0.2 points from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 10 points (↓ 0.2 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Monmouth University, Quinnipiac University, CNN, NBC News/WSJ and ABC News/WaPo.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 43.2 percent
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent
Net Score: -9.6 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.2 points
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 46% approve – 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 40% approve – 54% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve – 54% disapprove.]
WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT?
You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch!
WARREN CONTINUES TO DROP
Monmouth University: “Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters continue to be divided over who they want to put up against Trump in 2020. The top contenders continue to be [Joe] Biden (26%), [Bernie] Sanders (21%), and [Elizabeth] Warren (17%). However, these three are in a slightly different order than where they stood last month (23% Biden, 23% Warren, and 20% Sanders) or in late September (28% Warren, 25% Biden, and 15% Sanders). [Pete] Buttigieg is the preferred choice of 8% of Democratic-identifying voters (similar to 9% in November and 5% in September). [Mike] Bloomberg enters the race at 5% support nationally. … Other candidates registering support in the current poll are Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (4%), [Andrew] Yang (3%), New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (2%) and seven other candidates who earn 1% or less. The poll also finds that more Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters continue to prefer a candidate who would be stronger against Trump even if they disagree with that candidate on most issues (56%) than say they want a nominee who aligns with them on the issues but would have a hard time beating Trump (30%).”
Move over Green New Deal, Warren wants it blue – Axios: “Elizabeth Warren is out with new plans to speed up offshore wind projects, expand marine sanctuaries, and bolster use of oceans to soak up carbon emissions. Those are three pillars of the far wider ‘Blue New Deal’ — a riff on the ‘Green New Deal’ concept — on ocean policy that the Democratic White House hopeful unveiled Tuesday. Politically, the plan's arrival follows Warren's recent slide in the polls after challenging Joe Biden for frontrunner status in the fall. There's plenty of competition for the green mantle as Bernie Sanders, Warren's rival for progressive voters, touts his plans. Billionaire climate advocates like Mike Bloomberg — who is at UN climate talks in Spain today — and Tom Steyer are spending heavily.”
Warren shakes up campaign strategy – Fox News: “From Iowa to New Hampshire to South Carolina, presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren is shaking up her routine, changing her format on the campaign trail to include more interaction with voters and getting more aggressive with a top-tier rival for the Democratic nomination. And the progressive senator from Massachusetts appears to continue to back away from a once-orthodox approach toward a government-run, ‘Medicare-for-all’ health care system. The changes come as the one-time co-front-runner in the Democratic nomination race has seen her poll numbers deteriorate the past month in national surveys… Out was the long stump speech and in was an abbreviated version, which allowed for a big increase in the number of questions she takes from the audience.”
Consulting group gives Buttigieg okay to disclose clients – NYT: “Mayor Pete Buttigieg will disclose his management consulting clients, open his fund-raisers to reporters and reveal the names of people raising money for his presidential campaign, his campaign announced Monday, a series of significant concessions toward transparency for a candidate under increasing pressure to release more details about his personal employment history and campaign finances. The announcements follow several days of intense questioning surrounding Mr. Buttigieg’s work for McKinsey & Company, the management consulting firm that was his first post-college employer. The company said on Monday that it would allow Mr. Buttigieg to disclose the clients he worked for at the firm from 2007 to 2010, acceding to a request the Buttigieg campaign made last month and the candidate himself amplified in public last week.”
Gabbard opts out of next Dem debate without qualifying – Fox News: “Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, announced late Monday that she won't be attending the Democrats' next debate ‘regardless’ of whether she qualifies. Gabbard, who previously flirted with the idea of skipping an earlier debate, appeared more assertive about bowing out of the upcoming debate being hosted by PBS and Politico on Dec. 19. ‘For a number of reasons, I have decided not to attend the December 19th ‘debate’ — regardless of whether or not there are qualifying polls,’ Gabbard tweeted. ‘I instead choose to spend that precious time directly meeting with and hearing from the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina.’ Gabbard had met the donor requirement to qualify for the December debate but had yet to meet a requirement that she earn 4-percent support in at least four national or early-state polls…”
GOP DOES ELECTION DAY ‘DRY RUN’
AP: “A full year before Election Day 2020, Republicans quietly executed a ‘dry run’ of President Donald Trump’s massive reelection machine. They activated tens of thousands of volunteers and tested phone bank capabilities and get-out-the-vote operations in every state in the nation. Before and after the sprawling exercise, GOP officials coordinated thousands of so-called ‘MAGA Meet ups’ to organize and expand their network of Trump loyalists, paying close attention to battlegrounds like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And on Tuesday, Trump himself will face thousands more cheering supporters in Pennsylvania, his fourth appearance in the swing state this year. … Defiant Democrats insist that Trump is not getting a free pass in the nation’s top general election battlegrounds. They note that the ‘dry run’ played out on the same week that Republicans suffered embarrassing losses across several states. But others are willing to acknowledge the reality: Much of the Democratic Party’s energy and star power will ignore critical swing states like Pennsylvania for much of the next six months.”
PLAY-BY-PLAY
Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., to retire from Congress, honor term-limit pledgeFox News
Former Trump physician Ronny Jackson running for congress as a Republican Texas Tribune
US deficit soars to $342 billion in two months Fox Business
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp tobe deposed in election fraud suit AJC
The Editorial Board: How Purdue is changing how we do higher education WSJ
AUDIBLE: SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT
“He’s a politician with a thin skin and a fondness for the limelight and the music of his own voice — sound familiar? — and his political success drives his political adversaries to political apoplexy. That, too, sounds familiar.” – Journalist Philip Terzian in his NYT opinion piece, “Whom Does President Trump Remind You Of?”
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“[In Monday’s note], you called for the real Main Street citizens to ‘stage a rebellion of informed, optimistic liberty.’ May I suggest a fresh outbreak of the traditional Merry Christmas greeting?” – James Kinney, Houschton, Ga.
[Ed. note: For those who celebrate, they should most certainly say “merry Christmas” with hale heart and good cheer. I sometimes even drop in a “feliz Navidad,” “Fröhliche Weihnachten” or “joyeux Noël” for good measure. And certainly no one who does not celebrate should take offense at being wished a joyous Christmas unknowingly. Now, when I know someone does not celebrate or have context cues that suggest they may not, I refrain. I wouldn’t seem to match the joyous occasion of mankind’s manumission to use the greeting to poke at someone else. I also understand why corporations avoid the term. Three in ten Americans aren’t Christian and it would be bad business to antagonize them.]
“What’s up with the criticism of Apple's new show – The Morning Show? My expectations were low, yet I have enjoyed it. The writing is good, characters are interesting, plots have some twists and a few turns and even some surprises. It focuses on how corrupt a News Organization can be and how they don't care about ‘goings on’ until their dirty laundry becomes public. In no way does the show demean viewers of news programs – your critique. What am I missing? Sure it's not Aaron Sorkin level craft but that does not come along very often. Well done Apple, I'll take another bite.” – Rick McGee, Longmont, Colo.
[Ed. note: As what we would have once called a “Primetime soap opera” in the tradition of “Dallas,” I’m sure it’s plenty good. People love that stuff. I personally love “House.”]
“I thought this and then a local pundit said it. Kamala Harris won’t be a VP choice. She’s from California which is already a lock for the Dems. Not to mention she didn’t even poll well in her home state.” – Ruth Anne, Folsom, Calif.
[Ed. note: You could argue that Joe Biden helped Barack Obama with Pennsylvania, but Democrats weren’t particularly worried about the Keystone State in 2008. You have to go back quite a ways to find a vice presidential candidate chosen as a running mate for their home-state clout. Lyndon Johnson? Richard Nixon? Running mates are more about the vibe the candidate wants to emit. The Democratic nominee may need to shore up things with black voters or women and Harris, regardless of her home state, could still answer those questions.]
“Your commentary today put me in mind of the fact that it is the end of the year. I would love to see and expanded end of year review on Fox Nation. Will you do it?” – Martin Jarvis, Wright City, Mo.
[Ed. note: You better believe it, Mr. Jarvis. And don’t forget to send you submissions for the best in journalism 2019 to HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
CALENDAR GRILLE
NJ.com: “Capt. Andy Grossman knows a good idea when he sees it. A few years back, Grossman, the owner of RipTide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine, [N.J.] created a beach tow membership service for 4x4s that run into trouble on the sometimes all-too-soft sand on the beach. And that is what led to his next great idea: the Beached Cars of Brigantine calendar, featuring photos of some of the ‘mishaps’ when people try to drive their non-4×4 vehicles out to the water's edge. ‘Cars are not allowed on the beach,’ said Grossman. ‘That's why I kinda think they're fair game and I've been posting them (on Facebook).’ Before helping them get off the beach, Grossman or a member of his Brigantine Beach 4×4 Assist crew takes a photo, and locals usually get a good laugh out of it. …He sold out the first run in just a few hours, and is now taking orders for more. … The proceeds are being donated to True Spirit Coalition, a local organization which helps provide meals to local families.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The women’s movement, to which the idea owes its currency, is right to insist that the father do more. … But we both know, we all three know, the truth: Nature has seen to it that anything I can do, she can do better. Mine is literally a holding action.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on June 28, 1985.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Original Article

Barr blasts FBI’s Trump probe, accuses investigators of ‘gross abuse’

closeAG Barr: Beginning of Russia investigation was 'very flimsy'Video

AG Barr: Beginning of Russia investigation was 'very flimsy'

Attorney General Bill Barr discusses the beginning of the Russia investigation and the origins of the Steele dossier

Attorney General Bill Bar is blasting the FBI’s conduct during the Russia investigation, saying investigators relied on "flimsy" evidence in launching the probe and disputing key conclusions from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report released Monday.

Horowitz was critical of the FBI for their practices in using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to get a warrant to conduct surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, but he concluded that the investigation itself was launched properly, without evidence of political bias.

7 TAKEAWAYS FROM FISA REPORT

“It’s hard to look at this stuff and not think that it was a gross abuse,” Barr said during a discussion Tuesday at a Wall Street Journal CEO Council forum in Washington. He referred to the investigation as a whole as a "travesty."

"Where I disagree with Mike, I just think this was very flimsy," he said about the basis for the investigation. The FBI cited comments by Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos to an Australian official as sparking concerns about the campaign's possible involvement with Russia. Barr dismissed this as "a comment made by a 28-year-old volunteer on a campaign in a bar."

Barr also pointed to the FBI’s failure to include key evidence in their FISA warrant applications that would have gone in Page’s favor.

"They withheld from the court all the exculpatory information," he said, calling the anti-Trump dossier used to bolster the warrant applications a "sham."

CLICK TO READ THE IG REPORT

He also pointed out that the Russia investigation was supposed to be a counterintelligence probe, yet there was no effort to warn the Trump campaign about suspected Russian activities.

“The normal thing to do in this situation,” Barr said, “is to go to the campaign, and here I don’t think there’s a legitimate explanation for why they didn’t.”

Barr made it clear that he does not know for sure that there was political bias.

Former DOJ official: Horowitz report findings a 'big problem for America'Video

"I don't know what the motivations were," he said, stating it is premature to make a determination on that.

"That's why we have Durham," Barr said, referring to the ongoing investigation by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, which is broader in scope than Horowitz's review. "Durham is able to look at all the evidence," Barr said. He specifically referred to Durham's ability to talk to other government agencies and private parties, and to compel testimony.

Barr’s remarks echo what he said in a blistering NBC interview earlier Tuesday.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Barr said that despite the report saying Horowitz did not have evidence that political bias played a factor in the investigation, he believes the IG left open “the possibility that there was bad faith” involved.

“All he said was, people gave me an explanation and I didn't find anything to contradict it,” he said. Barr also pointed a finger at the media, saying: "I think our nation was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by a completely irresponsible press."

And he said the Trump campaign was "clearly spied upon" during the investigation.

Original Article

Bill Clinton weighs in on Trump impeachment: Congress ‘doing their job’

closeHouse Democrats unveil impeachment articles, alleging abuse of power and obstruction of CongressVideo

House Democrats unveil impeachment articles, alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress

House Democrats introduce two articles of impeachment against President Trump regarding his interactions with Ukraine.

Former President Bill Clinton, the only living American president to have gone through the same process, weighed in Tuesday on House Democrats' bid to impeach President Trump — saying lawmakers are doing “what they believe is right.”

“They’re doing their job as they see it and we should wait to see it unfold,” Clinton told Fox News while touring a Clinton Foundation program in New York City. “And the rest of us should go about our jobs and do them as we see it.”

DEMOCRATS UNVEIL IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES, AS WHITE HOUSE SLAMS 'BASELESS AND PARTISAN' EFFORT

House Democrats on Tuesday announced two articles of impeachment against Trump, accusing him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over his interactions with Ukraine.

Clinton was impeached in 1998 for perjury and obstruction of justice related to the Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky controversies but was acquitted in the Senate.

Elaborating to a gaggle of reporters, Clinton said: “Congress is doing what they believe is right.” He made the comments at New York City’s Edwards A. Reynolds West Side High School.

READ THE IMPEACHMENT ARTICLE TEXT

Speaking of his wife, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the former president said, “You know my candidate didn’t win. I think it was a big mistake for America. But that’s how the Electoral College works so now we’re going forward.”

Fox News' Courtney Crawford contributed to this report.

Original Article

Supreme Court offers sympathetic ear to insurers over $12B in ObamaCare claims

closeSupreme Court to hear arguments in private insurers’ suit against US governmentVideo

Supreme Court to hear arguments in private insurers’ suit against US government

USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy fellow Christen Young weighs in.

Private health insurers are poised to prevail Tuesday at the Supreme Court over claims the federal government owes them billions of dollars from a now-defunct financial incentive program in the Affordable Care Act.

It is the fifth time the justices have heard legal challenges to the 2010 Affordable Care, but the current issue has little of the partisan rancor of previous disputes, such as individual mandates and contraception coverage.

SUPREME COURT LEAVES KENTUCKY ULTRASOUND LAW IN PLACE

At issue now is whether Congress appropriately limited funding to private companies after earlier promising them a financial stopgap against losses.

Health providers in six states say they are the victims of a federal "bait-and-switch," by agreeing to participate in an Obamacare program designed to expand coverage plans to uninsured and underinsured customers.

Those companies say they are owed $12 billion in subsidies from the pooled funds, to compensate for losses. But the Trump administration argues Congress properly made the choice to stop funding, and that the companies were never in a contractual relationship with the government.

Chief Justice John Roberts suggested the insurers went into the so-called "risk corridor" program with its eyes wide open.

"You make a case at some length about the reliance of the insurance companies, they were basically seduced into this program, but they have good lawyers," he said. "I would have thought at some point they would have sat down and said: well, why don't we insist upon an appropriations provision before we put ourselves on the hook for $12 billion?"

RUTH BADER GINSBURG TEMPORARILY BLOCKS RELEASE OF TRUMP'S FINANCIAL RECORDS

But Justice Elena Kagan was skeptical.

"Are you saying the insurers would have done the same thing without the promise to pay?" she asked, turning aside the government's argument. Insurance firms "pay in, that's obligatory. We [the government] commit ourselves to paying out. It turns out, if we feel like it. What kind of a statute is that?"

The original funding program was designed as a safeguard to lure private insurers into the health market exchanges, amid initial uncertainty over how many people would participate and how much it would cost. Those companies with customers with more expensive medical needs would be reimbursed, while companies with lower costs would pay into the pool.

But Congress in 2016 let the program expire amid concern over the program's rising deficits, and stopped further government payments.

At issue in the high court's subdued oral arguments was what further financial obligation the government had, and the limits of "must pay" reimbursement in the initial language of the law.

Justice Samuel Alito wondered whether courts should offer "special solicitude for insurance companies" to bring these kinds of cases.

Justice Stephen Breyer countered, "Why does the government not have to pay its contracts, just like anybody else?"

Justice Brett Kavanaugh worried about the broader implications.

"If we were to rule for you, everyone will be on notice going forward, private parties and Congress itself, that "shall pay" doesn't obligate actual payments," he said. "If we rule against you, Congress also will be on notice going forward that it needs to include 'subject to appropriations' kind of language in any mandatory statute. My question is, if we rule against you, are there other existing statutory problems lurking out there in the interim?"

The consolidated cases argued Monday are: Maine Community Health Options v. U.S. (18-1023); Moda Health Plan, Inc. v. U.S. (18-1028); Land of Lincoln Mutual Health v. U.S. (18-1038). A ruling is expected by spring 2020.

There are currently a range of legal challenges to other provisions of the ACA, including executive orders by the Trump administration seeking to eliminate or reduce sections of the law.

And the Supreme Court is likely to be confronted in coming months with another Obamacare case, one with far greater implications.

A federal judge in Texas late last year struck down the law’s individual mandate, and with it the entire ACA. A federal appeals court is now expected to issue a ruling shortly, and the justices could then put it on the docket and rule on the merits next year.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Texas and 19 other states had brought suit, saying when Congress eliminated the tax penalty for Americans who fail to purchase health insurance, the main funding mechanism of the law made the entire law invalid.

The Trump administration is no longer defending the law in court, leaving it to about 21 other states and the Democratic-led House of Representatives to serve as main plaintiffs.

Original Article

Bloomberg’s mega-money ad blitz not buying primary voters’ love

closeBloomberg on 2020 Democrats: Trump would eat them upVideo

Bloomberg on 2020 Democrats: Trump would eat them up

Bloomberg takes swipe at fellow Democratic candidates; Republican political strategist Ashlee Strong and Democratic strategist Kevin Chavous react.

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has spent nearly $100 million of his own money on an unprecedented coast-to-coast ad blitz since launching his Democratic presidential campaign late last month.

But a new poll indicates the eye-popping figure – per ad-buy tracker Advertising Analytics – isn’t paying off immediately for the billionaire businessman and media mogul.

BOOKER TAKEN ABACK AFTER BLOOMBERG CALLS HIM 'VERY WELL SPOKEN'

Bloomberg stands with a 40 percent favorable and 39 percent unfavorable rating among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters in a Monmouth University national poll released Tuesday. His 1 percentage point net favorability pales in comparison to his top rivals for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts stands at 76-15 percent favorable-unfavorable in the poll, for a net positive 61 points. By that same measurement, former Vice President Joe Biden is at a 56-point net favorability, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is at 53 points, and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is at 35 points.

And Bloomberg's rating is well underwater among crucial independents, and registered voters as a whole. His popularity is lower than President Trump's; while the president has a favorable rating of 46 percent among registered voters, Bloomberg's is just 26 percent.

“Bloomberg said he got into this race because he wants to defeat Trump, but his campaign kicks off with even lower ratings than the incumbent. That is not the most auspicious start, but views of Bloomberg are not as deeply held as they are for Trump, so he has room to shift those opinions,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement.

Bloomberg flirted with a White House bid at the beginning of the year — but with Biden gearing up for a presidential bid, he decided against launching a campaign at the time because he felt he and the former vice president would split the center-left Democratic vote. But with Biden, once the unrivaled front-runner, now battling other top-tier contenders, Bloomberg jumped into the race on Nov. 24.

BLOOMBERG ON HIS 2020 RIVALS: 'TRUMP WOULD JUST EAT THEM UP'

Explaining in an interview with CBS "This Morning" last week why he launched a White House bid with just two months to go until the start of the primary and caucus nominating calendar, Bloomberg said: “I watched all the candidates and I thought to myself, 'Donald Trump would just eat them up'.”

Bloomberg is skipping the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina – which kick off the presidential nominating calendar in February. Instead, he’s concentrating on the delegate-rich states that hold contests in March, and beyond.

Biden stands at 26 percent support nationally in the race for the nomination, according to the new poll, with Sanders at 21 percent and Warren at 17 percent. Buttigieg is at 8 percent support, with Bloomberg at 5 percent, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota at 4 percent, tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang at 3 percent, and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey at 2 percent. Seven other candidates stood at 1 percent or less.

The poll didn’t help Yang qualify for next week’s sixth round Democratic presidential primary debate. Yang remains one poll shy of reaching the thresholds to make the stage at the Dec. 19 showdown.

Candidates must reach at least 4 percent in four surveys recognized as qualifying polls by the Democratic National Committee, or 6 percent in two polls in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

THE LATEST FROM FOX NEWS ON THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

Yang has already reached the other qualifying criteria – individual contributions from at least 200,000 individual donors.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii also remains one poll shy of qualifying for the debate – but she stood at less than 1 percent in the poll. On Monday, Gabbard announced that she wouldn’t attend the debate even if she qualifies. The candidate said instead, she’ll meet with voters in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted Dec. 4-8, with 903 adults nationwide questioned by live telephone operators. The sample included 384 voters who identified as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party. The margin of error for questions of those voters is 5 percentage points.

Original Article

Hillary Clinton cheers impeachment, says Trump ‘waging war’ against democracy

closePoll: Hillary Clinton top 2020 Democrat pick without having entered raceVideo

Poll: Hillary Clinton top 2020 Democrat pick without having entered race

Fox & Trends with Carley Shimkus.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who famously lost the 2016 election to now-President Trump, swiftly gave her public support to articles of impeachment against her political rival after they were announced by House Democrats Tuesday morning.

Clinton called the impeachment push necessary for defending democracy.

DEMOCRATS UNVEIL IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES, AS WHITE HOUSE SLAMS 'BASELESS AND PARTISAN' EFFORT

"We must defend our democracy, and the painful truth is that the occupant of the Oval Office is waging war against it," Clinton tweeted.

Clinton posted the comment along with a video of House Democrats discussing plans to move forward with impeachment articles alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The former secretary of state and first lady has been the subject of increasing speculation over whether she might make a stunning late entry into the 2020 presidential race, as the crowded field starts to thin.

During a BBC interview in November, Clinton said she is not planning on running, but that she thinks about what it would be like to be president "all the time." When pressed on the issue, she said, "never, never, never say never," and that she's under "enormous pressure" to do so.

Since 2016, Clinton has repeatedly blamed her defeat on a number of factors, including misogyny, Russian hackers and WikiLeaks, and James Comey's public comments about the FBI's investigation of her private email server.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

"If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president," she told CNN's Christiane Amanpour at a 2017 Women for Women International event.

During an October PBS Newshour interview, Clinton teased that "maybe there does need to be a rematch," and that "obviously I can beat him again," referring her securing a majority of the overall popular vote, while Trump won with a significant majority of the electoral votes needed to win.

Original Article

Democrats unveil articles of impeachment alleging abuse of power, obstruction

closeFox News GoVideo

Fox News Go

House Democrats on Tuesday announced articles of impeachment against President Trump alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress regarding his interactions with Ukraine, touching off a rapid-fire sequence that could result in a momentous floor vote in a matter of days.

“The framers of the Constitution prescribed a clear remedy for presidents who so violate their oath of office,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said. "No one, not even the president, is above the law.”

While Republicans have blasted the process as political, dubbing it the "focus group impeachment" in response to reports that Democrats tested different allegations with focus groups, Democrats are moving swiftly ahead of the holiday break.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., directed the Judiciary Committee to proceed with drafting the measures just last week.

"The clock and the calendar should not be the basis for impeachment," House Judiciary Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga., told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" minutes before the announcement.

IMPEACHMENT TENSIONS FLARE: DEM COUNSEL SAYS TRUMP ABUSED POWER, AS GOP RIPS 'RUBBER STAMP' HEARING

It is unclear, at this point, whether Democrats’ articles focused on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress will reach beyond the Ukraine controversy and into former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Mueller found no evidence of conspiracy or coordination between members of the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election but left the door open to whether the president obstructed the federal probe — a point that Democrats have made in the public hearing phase of the House impeachment inquiry.

Absent from the planned charges is a “bribery” count, which Democrats have repeatedly accused the president of in regards to his highly controversial July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — in which he pressured him to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s dealings with Ukraine.

Pelosi held a meeting in her office Monday night with Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., after a hearing held by Nadler’s committee that featured lawyers laying out the evidence for and against impeachment.

In drafting the articles of impeachment, Pelosi is facing a legal and political challenge of balancing the views of her majority while hitting the Constitution's high bar of "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

GOP LAWYER TURNS IMPEACHMENT TABLES BY SCORCHING BIDENS AT HEARING

At the center of the impeachment inquiry is Trump’s efforts to press Zelensky to launch politically related investigations—regarding Joe Biden's effort to oust a Ukrainian prosecutor who had been looking into the natural gas firm where his son Hunter served on the board.

The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats have argued shows a “quid pro quo” arrangement. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

Original Article

Trump slams Wray’s response to FISA report, says he’ll ‘never be able to fix the FBI’

closeJudge Napolitano: FISA has been publicly scrutinized for the first time in historyVideo

Judge Napolitano: FISA has been publicly scrutinized for the first time in history

After the release of the DOJ inspector general report, Judge Andrew Napolitano says the real problem is with FISA's secrecy and standards that conflict with the Constitution.

President Trump blasted FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday morning over his response to the Justice Department inspector general's report on the origins of the FBI's Russia investigation and use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The IG report found that while there were a significant number of concerns regarding the FBI's practices in obtaining the FISA warrant and other aspects of the probe, there was no evidence of political bias or impropriety regarding their motives in the investigation. Wray has accepted these findings, but Trump signaled Tuesday he doesn't think Wray is taking the concerns seriously enough.

FISA REPORT DROPS: 7 TAKEAWAYS FROM DOJ WATCHDOG'S RUSSIA PROBE REVIEW

"I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me. With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!" he tweeted.

In an ABC interview, Wray highlighted the IG report's conclusion that there was no political bias or improper motive behind the FBI's launching of the Russia probe, stating, "I think it's important that the inspector general found that in this particular instance the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization."

When asked if he had any evidence that the FBI unfairly targeted Trump's campaign, Wray said, "I don't," and appeared to take offense to the notion that the FBI is part of a "deep state."

"I think that's the kind of label that is a disservice to the 37,000 men and women who work at the FBI who I think tackle their jobs with professionalism, with rigor, with objectivity, with courage … so that's not a term I would ever use to describe our workforce and I think it's an affront to them,” he said.

CLICK TO READ THE IG REPORT

At the same time, Wray acknowledged the bureau errors cited in the IG report.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Wray said the report identified problems that are "unacceptable and unrepresentative of who we are as an institution." He said the FBI would make changes to how it handles confidential informants, how it applies for warrants from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, how it conducts briefings on foreign influence for presidential nominees and how it structures sensitive investigations like the 2016 Russia probe. He said he has also reinstated ethics training.

"I am very committed to the FBI being agile in its tackling of foreign threats," Wray said. "But I believe you can be agile and still scrupulously follow our rules, policies and processes."

This followed a letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz, in which Wray said, "the FBI accepts the Report’s findings and embraces the need for thoughtful, meaningful remedial action."

While the IG report went into great detail regarding the FBI's failures during the Russia probe, the conclusion that there was no political bias runs contrary to Trump's theory that Obama administration officials were unfairly targeting his campaign.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Attorney General Bill Barr, meanwhile, issued a lengthy statement in which he heavily criticized the FBI's conduct during the investigation, but made a point to note that "most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials."

Barr specifically praised Wray for his cooperation with the IG investigation, and said he has "full confidence in Director Wray and his team at the FBI, as well as the thousands of dedicated line agents who work tirelessly to protect our country."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Pete Buttigieg can identify clients from 2007-10 consulting work, firm says

closeAfter the Buzz: Mayor Pete's McKinsey problemVideo

After the Buzz: Mayor Pete’s McKinsey problem

Buttigieg pressed to disclose clients.

A major consulting firm announced Monday it will allow presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, working to avoid losing momentum in his White House run, to identify the clients he served over a decade ago.

A spokesperson with McKinsey & Company told Fox News it recognized “the unique circumstances presented by a presidential campaign,” and, after getting permission from clients, “have informed Mayor Buttigieg that he may disclose the identity of the clients he served while at McKinsey from 2007 to 2010.”

McKinsey’s statement on Monday stated that the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, cannot “disclose confidential, proprietary or classified information obtained during the course of that work, or violate any security clearance.”

Buttigieg has been under growing pressure for transparency as his campaign gained traction in early voting states, particularly Iowa, less than two months before its caucuses.

BIDEN SAYS HE DOESN’T ‘NEED AN OBAMA ENDORSEMENT’ AMID REPORTED CRITICISM

The Democrat has yet to name specific companies he consulted during his tenure at the firm. But, he released a summary last Friday of the work he did at McKinsey that amounted to the most detailed look at his work to date.

Tracking Pete Buttigieg's rise from relatively unknown Midwestern mayor to Democratic presidential contenderVideo

Buttigieg traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan for McKinsey so security issues could limit what he could reveal about that work. He has said his work for the firm largely involved working in small groups on monthslong assignments and completing studies for clients.

“The bulk of my work on these teams consisted of doing mathematical analysis, conducting research, and preparing presentations,” Buttigieg wrote. “I never worked on a project inconsistent with my values, and if asked to do so, I would have left the firm rather than participate.”

The 37-year-old mayor has been one of the party’s most prolific fundraisers this year — collecting more than $50 million so far in 2019 — in part by tapping the resources of big donors.

That’s set him apart from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who have appeased the party’s progressive base by relying largely on small-dollar donations from ordinary Americans.

Buttigieg has portrayed both progressive candidates as liberal contenders who might be too extreme to win against President Trump next year in a general election.

Pete Buttigieg struggles to find support from black votersVideo

Buttigieg has called on Warren to release additional years of tax returns to shed light on corporate clients she represented.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Warren, in turn, called on him to release a full client list from McKinsey.

She also released new data late Sunday that said she was paid nearly $2 million for legal work stretching back three decades.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Pierce Bush, grandson of George H.W. Bush, launches congressional bid in Texas

closeFox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 9Video

Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 9

Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 9 are here. Check out what’s clicking on Foxnews.com

A grandson of the late President George H.W. Bush launched a congressional bid Monday in Texas, while aligning himself with President Trump to jump into a crowded Republican field for the suburban Houston seat.

Pierce Bush, currently the CEO of the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Texas affiliate, told reporters he planned to talk up his nonprofit work, not his family name, in his bid to replace retiring GOP Rep. Pete Olson, NPR reported.

Bush, 33, is set to join one of the most crowded congressional races in the 2020 election. At least 14 other Republicans have been vying for Olson’s seat, which Democrats nearly flipped in 2018 and were targeting again.

GEORGE AND BARBARA BUSH THROUGH THE YEARS

“This is not about my family. This is about the families of the 22nd Congressional District,” Bush said.

Former President George H. W. Bush leaving the field with the help of Pierce Bush, left, his grandson, before the a college football game in Houston, in 2009. (AP Photo/Dave Einsel, File)

Former President George H. W. Bush leaving the field with the help of Pierce Bush, left, his grandson, before the a college football game in Houston, in 2009. (AP Photo/Dave Einsel, File)

In his announcement video, he said the nation has been on the “brink of losing a generation to an idea that socialism and free stuff are the answers for their future.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, Bush, who has not lived in the district he was hoping to represent, backed Trump’s policies.

“When you look at the alternative first of all, how can you be anything but a supporter of the president’s policies?” he said. “I look forward to being a partner in Washington, and speaking of course with my own voice, but supporting the president’s agenda.”

One of his GOP rivals, former Border Patrol agent Greg Hill, said he had “strong doubts about any candidate who would try to parachute into our district and buy this seat.”

Bush, whose father is Texas businessman Neil Bush, didn’t mention Trump in his announcement. The president has had a fraught history with the Bush family at best.

In the book “The Last Republicans,” the 41st president said of Trump, “I don’t like him,” before famously calling him a “blowhard.” He also said he voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Trump mocked former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush during the 2016 presidential campaign, calling him “low energy.” During a visit to Texas earlier this year, he introduced George P. Bush, a Texas land commissioner, as “the only Bush that likes me.”

While discussing Trump, Pierce Bush criticized the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry against the president, calling it “an attack-at-all-costs politics.”

Original Article

Dems expected to announce at least 2 articles of impeachment against Trump on Tuesday

closeSecond Judiciary Committee hearing on impeachment marked by partisan rancorVideo

Second Judiciary Committee hearing on impeachment marked by partisan rancor

Open political warfare on display as House Judiciary Committee hears from Intelligence Committee lawyers; chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel reports from Capitol Hill.

House Democrats are preparing to announce at least two articles of impeachment against President Trump on Tuesday, Fox News has learned.

The articles of impeachment will focus on obstruction of Congress and abuse of power, but all details aren’t settled yet, Fox News is told. A markup session by the Judiciary Committee to prepare the articles would come either Wednesday or Thursday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., convened the House chairmen leading the impeachment inquiry in her office after a daylong Judiciary Committee hearing that laid out the case against Trump as Democrats warned of the risk his actions toward Ukraine have posed to U.S. elections and national security

ALL EYES NOW ON DURHAM PROBE, AS US ATTORNEY SAYS HIS INVESTIGATION HAS BROADER SCOPE AND AUTHORITY

The chairmen left the meeting late Monday at the Capitol with some saying an announcement would come in the morning.

President Trump seizes on FBI errors uncovered by Michael Horowitz's reportVideo

“I think there's a lot of agreement,” Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters. "You’ll hear about some of it tomorrow.”

What remained uncertain was whether Pelosi would reach beyond the Ukraine probe to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's findings of Trump's actions in his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

WHY DOES CNN'S ASHA RANGAPPA STYLE HERSELF AS LAW ENFORCEMENT EXPERT?

“A lot of us believe that what happened with Ukraine especially is not something we can just close our eyes to,” Engel said. “'This is not a happy day. I don’t get any glee at this, but I think we’re doing what we have to do. We’re doing what the Constitution mandates that we do.”

In drafting the articles of impeachment, Pelosi is facing a legal and political challenge of balancing the views of her majority while hitting the Constitution's ostensibly high bar of "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Democrats are racing to jam impeachment through on a “clock and a calendar” ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

“They can't get over the fact that Donald Trump is the president of the United States, and they don’t have a candidate that can beat him," Collins said.

Republicans also revived criticism of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff's decision to expose phone records of members of Congress. The inquiry showed that Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was in frequent contact with California Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Collins accused Democrats of engaging in a “smear” campaign against lawmakers by disclosing phone records.

As the House pushes ahead toward votes, Giuliani said Monday he'll soon be releasing findings from his own recent visit to Ukraine.

Fox News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

All eyes on Durham after rebuke of IG Horowitz’s findings

closeHannity: Barr signals Durham report is where all the action will beVideo

Hannity: Barr signals Durham report is where all the action will be

Reports on FISA abuse and Russia origins set to be released, contain major revelations.

In the hours after U.S. Attorney John Durham announced Monday that he did not "agree" with key findings by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, speculation swirled over what Durham has uncovered in his ongoing review into potential surveillance abuses against President Trump's team.

Durham's inquiry has had a broader scope than Horowitz's, including a focus on foreign actors as well as the CIA, while Horowitz concentrated his attention on the DOJ and FBI.

Additionally, Durham's criminal review has had additional investigative resources not available to Horowitz.

FISA REPORT: DOJ WATCHDOG RELEASES FINDINGS ON RUSSIA PROBE SURVEILLANCE

"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," Durham said in his statement, adding that his "investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department" and "has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S."

Still, Horowitz's report offered several clues as to potential avenues that Durham may be pursuing. For example, Horowitz noted that the FBI omitted exculpatory statements by former Trump aide George Papadopoulos in its surveillance warrant application to surveil another ex-Trump aide, Carter Page.

Even though Papadopoulos told a confidential FBI source that "to his knowledge, no one associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia or with outside groups like Wikileaks in the release of [Clinton/DNC] emails," the FISA application "did not include the statements Papadopoulos made to this [confidential source] that were in conflict with information included in the FISA application."

President Trump says findings from DOJ inspector general's report are far worse than imaginedVideo

Papadopoulos previously told Fox News he was convinced the CIA was behind an "operation" in which he met with two individuals in London in late 2016 who tried to probe whether the Trump campaign had ties to Russia. He later said he would head to Greece to obtain money in a safe from the FBI or CIA that he said was intended to entrap him.

Additionally, according to Horowitz's report, the CIA viewed the dossier from British ex-spy Christopher Steele as an "internet rumor," even though key bureau officials including former FBI Director James Comey sought to include the dossier in its highly sensitive intelligence community assessment on Russian interference, known as the ICA.

The FBI also relied on the dossier to obtain its secret surveillance warrant to surveil Page, and an FBI lawyer told Horowitz that probable cause against Page was "probably 50/50" without the dossier.

Sources previously told Fox News that a late-2016 email chain indicated Comey told bureau subordinates that then-CIA Director John Brennan insisted the dossier be included in the ICA. A Brennan representative pointed the finger back at Comey.

The ultimately successful Page application relied heavily on information from Steele – whose anti-Trump views have been well-documented – and cited Page’s suspected Russia ties. In its warrant application, the FBI inaccurately assured the FISA court on numerous occasions that a Yahoo News article independently corroborated Steele's claims about Page's Russian contacts, and did not clearly state that Steele worked for a firm hired by Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

FORMER TRUMP AIDE HEADS TO GREECE TO RETRIEVE $10G IN A SAFE FROM 'CIA OR FBI'

The FBI told the FISA court it did "not believe that [Steele] directly provided … to the press" information concerning Page. However, Horowitz wrote that he found "no documentation demonstrating that Steele was asked by the FBI whether he was the source of the Yahoo News article disclosure or told the FBI he was not."

And, even after the FBI obtained information that "more strongly indicated that Steele had directly provided information to Yahoo News around the time of the Sept. 23 article," Horowitz found, "no revisions were made to the FBI's assessment, contained in Renewal Application No. 3, that Steele had not directly provided the information to the press."

Separately, Horowitz found that the FBI offered to pay Steele "significantly" for information pertaining to Michael Flynn, Trump's ex-national security advisor who is fighting to overturn his guilty plea on one count of making false statements to the FBI. Flynn, who suffered financial pressures leading up to the guilty plea, has accused the FBI of hiding exculpatory evidence, doctoring key witness reports, and seeking to create a process crime for political reasons.

Much of the Steele dossier has been proved discredited or unsubstantiated, including the dossier's claims that the Trump campaign was paying hackers in the United States out of a non-existent Russian consulate in Miami, or that ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to conspire with Russians.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller also was unable to substantiate the dossier's claims that Page had received a promise of a large payment relating to the sale of a share of Rosneft, a Russian oil giant, or that a lurid blackmail tape involving the president existed.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Horowitz's report similarly found no evidence to support that bribery claim, even after a review of text messages from a source cited by the FBI.

Horowitz's report Monday said his investigators found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding efforts to launch that 2016 probe and to seek a highly controversial FISA warrant to surveil Page in the early months of the investigation. Still, it found "significant concerns with how certain aspects of the investigation were conducted and supervised."

Fox News' Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

Original Article

Graham slams FBI methods after Horowitz report, says probe plunged into ‘criminal enterprise’

closeSensenbrenner: The 'surveillance state' is out of controlVideo

Sensenbrenner: The 'surveillance state' is out of control

Jim Sensenbrenner, House Judiciary Committee, blasts Adam Schiff and democrats for abusing subpoena power and obtaining the phone records of Republicans and members of the press

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Monday slammed the FBI's investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign as a “criminal enterprise” that got off the rails.

Graham delivered his remarks during a news conference in which he reacted to the long-awaited review concerning the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.

“Let’s assume for a moment it started out okay. It sure as he– didn’t end okay,” Graham said referring to investigators' efforts to seek a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the early months of the Russia investigation.

“I believe there will be no debate among reasonably minded people, particularly lawyers, about how the system got off the rails, but in my view became a criminal enterprise to defraud the FISA court, to deny American citizen Carter Page his constitutional rights, and to continue an operation against President Trump as president of the United States,” he said.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., giving his take on the FISA report during an earlier news conference, said the report put to rest any notion that the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign was politically motivated.

“This report conclusively debunks the baseless conspiracy that the investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign and its ties to Russia originated with political bias.”

Schumer again reiterated that the FBI investigation was “valid and without political bias.”

Anticipating that his Republican colleagues will do their “level best to reject the report’s conclusions,” Schumer pointed out that FBI Director Christopher Wray – a Trump appointee – has “already embraced the central findings.”

US ATTORNEY DURHAM OBJECTS TO IG FINDINGS ON RUSSIA PROBE ORIGINS IN STUNNING STATEMENT

He quoted Wray as saying he did not believe the FBI unfairly targeted the Trump campaign.

Schumer also said it was “ironic” that officials including Attorney General William Barr and Graham, who have praised Horowitz in the past, later questioned the report.

“Because the IG issued a report whose conclusions he doesn’t like, Senator Graham ought not to question what he upheld last week,” Schumer said.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The report listed multiple errors by the FBI in its efforts to obtain a FISA warrant. The IG probe identified at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the Page applications and said a new audit into the FISA process would take place.

Horowitz and his investigators were at times critical of the bureau’s handling of the cast, including for failing to share information that would have undercut claims in those warrants.

Fox News' Ronn Blitzer and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Original Article

Barr disagrees with Horowitz report on Russia probe launch

closeAttorney General William Barr releases scathing statement on inspector general's FISA reportVideo

Attorney General William Barr releases scathing statement on inspector general's FISA report

Barr says FBI launched intrusive investigation into a presidential campaign on thinnest of suspicions; reaction and analysis from 'Special Report' anchor Bret Baier.

Attorney General William Barr publicly disagreed with the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, on Monday following the release of a long-awaited internal review that concluded the FBI had sufficient reason to launch the extensive Russia probe involving the Trump campaign, although members of the bureau committed some significant errors.

In a statement, Barr shared Trump's views that the initial investigation was invasive and launched on the "thinnest of suspicions."

“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.

DOJ releases inspector general's findings on FBI surveillanceVideo

DURHAM OBJECTS TO IG FINDINGS ON RUSSIA PROBE ORIGINS IN STUNNING STATEMENT

“It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory,” he continued. “Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration.”

Trump spent the majority of the investigation blasting the FBI and accusing bureau leaders of conspiring to ruin his presidency. Former FBI bosses James Comey and Andrew McCabe did not act with political bias, the IG found.

U.S. Attorney John H. Durham, whom Barr appointed to run a separate investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, backed his attorney general.

“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,” Durham said in a statement.

DOJ releases Inspector General's report, no political biasVideo

The IG found no intentional misconduct or bias surrounding the probe's launch or efforts to seek a highly controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the early months of the Russia investigation.

Barr disagreed, saying the FBI misled the FISA court in a “rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates.”

He continued, “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.”

The report faulted the FBI over errors in the application process. The IG investigation found at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the Page applications and said a new audit into the FISA process would take place.

COMEY CLAIMS VINDICATION AFTER HOROWITZ FISA REPORT: 'SO IT WAS ALL LIES'

President Trump says findings from DOJ inspector general's report are far worse than imaginedVideo

Horowitz and investigators were critical of the FBI's handling of the case, including for failing to share information that could have contradicted allegations in the FISA applications.

“[T]he Crossfire Hurricane team failed to inform department officials of significant information that was available to the team at the time that the FISA applications were drafted and filed,” the report said.

Barr said the FISA report showed a clear abuse of the surveillance process.

“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,” the attorney general added.

Andy McCarthy analyzes IG Report findingsVideo

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“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,” he added. “The inspector general found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory.”

The release of the IG report came as Democrats have been leading an impeachment inquiry into Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

Fox News' Alex Pappas, Ronn Blitzer and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Original Article

FISA report drops: 7 takeaways from DOJ watchdog’s Russia probe review

closeHorowitz report expected to find FBI justified in probing Trump campaign, but falsified documentVideo

Horowitz report expected to find FBI justified in probing Trump campaign, but falsified document

The Justice Department's internal watchdog is set to release a report expected to document misconduct during the investigation into President Trump's 2016 campaign. Gregg Jarrett and Francey Hakes react.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Monday released the highly anticipated findings from his nearly two-year review concerning the origins of the Russia investigation and the issuance of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants for a Trump campaign official.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the 476-page report:

No political bias in launch of probe, FISA applications

The report said investigators found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding both the launch of the Trump-Russia investigation as well as efforts to seek the controversial FISA warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the early stages of that probe.

CLICK TO READ THE IG REPORT

“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page,” the report said.

The report also said that key officials, including former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, did not act with political bias. The IG report generally found that agents were justified in launching the investigation known as Crossfire Hurricane, as well as investigations into four Trump associates: Page, George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort.

"[W]e found that each investigation was opened for an authorized purpose and, in light of the low threshold established by Department and FBI predication policy, with adequate factual predication," the report said.

'Significant' errors, omissions

Despite the inspector general’s finding that there was no evidence of political bias or improper motivation, Horowitz’s report revealed there were at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the Page FISA applications.

Carter Page on the upcoming release of the FISA reportVideo

The report said that the FISA applications for Page omitted information that the FBI had obtained from another U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Page, "including that Page had been approved as an 'operational contact' for the other agency from 2008 to 2013."

Another error in the applications was the inclusion of a “source characterization statement asserting that [Christopher] Steele’s prior reporting had been ‘corroborated and used in criminal proceedings,’ which overstated the significance of Steele’s past reporting and was not approved by Steele’s handling agent.” Christopher Steele is the former British spy whose unverified Trump "dossier" was used to help justify the warrants.

The FISA applications also omitted information regarding the reliability of a key Steele “sub-source,” the report said.

Notably, the FISA application also omitted Page’s “consensually monitored statements to an FBI” confidential human source saying that he “literally never met” former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, as well as former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos’ consensually monitored statement to the FBI “denying that anyone associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia or with outside groups like WikiLeaks in the release of emails.”

Steele dossier key in FISA files, despite concerns

Christopher Steele’s now-infamous dossier and research surrounding the 2016 election provided much of the information used in the FISA application and renewals. But the inspector general found that the FBI did not have any specific information corroborating allegations against Page from Steele’s reporting.

“We determined that prior to and during the pendency of the FISAs the FBI was unable to corroborate any of the specific substantive allegations against Carter Page contained in the election reporting and relied on in the FISA applications, and was only able to confirm the accuracy of a limited number of circumstantial facts, most of which were in the public domain,” the report said, noting that the information confirmed was only timing of events and dates that Page traveled to Russia.

Dan Bongino expects IG report to raise 'significant questions' about Steele vettingVideo

In addition to the lack of corroboration, the inspector general found that the FBI’s interviews of Steele and his sub-sources “revealed potentially serious problems with Steele’s description of information in his election reports.” The report stated that the FBI “failed to notify” the Office of Investigations (OI), which was working on the Page FISA applications “of the potentially serious problems identified with Steele’s election reporting that arose as early as January 2017.”

Horowitz added that “even as the FBI developed this information, we found no evidence that the Crossfire Hurricane team reconsidered its reliance on the Steele reporting in the FISA renewal applications.”

In addition to the issues surrounding the accuracy of Steele’s information, Horowitz also pointed out that the Crossfire Hurricane team “did not investigate who ultimately paid for Steele’s reporting.”

DOJ WATCHDOG FINDS NO BIAS IN LAUNCH OF TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE, BUT UNCOVERS 'SIGNIFICANT' FBI ERRORS

One intelligence analyst told the inspector general’s office that they focused “instead on vetting the accuracy of the information” in the report, “because if the reporting turned out to be true, it would not matter to the team who ultimately paid for the research.”

Steele’s reporting was commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) through law firm Perkins Coie.

According to the report, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that if the FBI had information about the Clinton campaign and the DNC funding Steele’s reporting, he “would have expected the FBI to revise the language to be more explicit.”

Meanwhile, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, despite the inaccuracies and uncorroborated nature of Steele’s report, wanted to include that information in an official Intelligence Community Assessment to be delivered to then-President Barack Obama. McCabe told the inspector general’s office that he believed the Steele reporting needed to be included in that ICA because “President Obama had requested ‘everything you have relevant to this topic of Russian influence.’”

But CIA officials pushed back, arguing that Steele’s reporting was simply “internet rumor,” and should be included only as an appendix in the final report.

McCabe argued that including it as an appendix was simply “tacking it on” in a way that “would minimize” the information and prevent it from being properly considered—despite the fact that former FBI Director James Comey felt that Steele’s reporting was “not ripe enough, mature enough, to be a finished intelligence product.”

Ultimately, “the FBI’s view did not prevail,” and the final ICA report only included Steele’s reporting as a short summary in an appendix.

Key figures left in the dark

The inspector general’s report revealed that, at times, the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was not properly sharing information with the Justice Department or other key figures who should have been privy to updated information.

The report stated that the inspector general’s office found the Crossfire Hurricane team "failed to inform Department officials of significant information that was available to the team at the time that the FISA applications" were submitted.

Attorney General William Barr releases scathing statement on inspector general's FISA reportVideo

“Much of that information was inconsistent with, or undercut, the assertions contained in the FISA applications that were used to support probably cause, and in some instances, resulted in inaccurate information being included in the applications,” the report said, adding that the inspector general believed it was “the obligation” of those agents aware of the information to share it so that “decision makers had the opportunity to consider it, both for their own assessment of probable cause and for consideration of whether to include the information in the applications so that the FISC received a complete and accurate recitation of the relevant facts.”

But because those FBI officials on Crossfire Hurricane failed to do so, officials at the Justice Department who reviewed one or more of the Page applications and renewals — including former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, ex-Acting Attorney General Dana Boente, and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — “did not have accurate and complete information at the time they approved the applications.”

“While we do not speculate whether Department officials would have authorized the FBI to seek to use FISA authority had they been made aware of all relevant information, it was clearly the responsibility of Crossfire Hurricane team members to advise them of such critical information so that they could make a fully informed decision,” the report stated.

US ATTORNEY DURHAM OBJECTS TO IG FINDINGS ON RUSSIA PROBE ORIGINS IN STUNNING STATEMENT

Meanwhile, Horowitz found that the Trump campaign was not given a defensive briefing—a briefing that takes place when U.S. government or corporate officials are being targeted by a foreign adversary and the FBI determines the officials should be alerted to the potential threat.

FBI officials decided not to give the campaign that briefing, saying it would create the risk that “if someone on the campaign was engaged with the Russians, he/she would very likely change his/her tactics and/or otherwise seek to cover-up his/her activities, thereby preventing us from finding the truth.”

Horowitz determined that the decision to do so is “left to the discretion of FBI officials.”

The report also cited concerns that the FBI did not have to loop in senior DOJ officials before sending confidential human sources to interact with members of Trump’s campaign.

“We found it concerning that Department and FBI policy did not require the FBI to consult with any Department official in advance of conducting [Confidential Human Source] operations involving advisors to a major party candidate’s presidential campaign, and we found no evidence that the FBI consulted with any Department officials before conducting these CHS operations,” the report states, noting that in the future, they recommend that
"Department consultation is required when tasking a CHS to interact with officials in national political campaigns."

Use of confidential human sources

The inspector general revealed that the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team indeed used “Confidential Human Sources” to contact and record conversations with Page, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and another "high-level" campaign official who was not a subject of the probe.

“All of these interactions were consensually monitored and recorded by the FBI,” the report stated, noting that the recorded interactions took place before and after Page and Papadopoulos were advisers on the campaign.

Horowitz determined that the use of confidential human sources "complied" with their requirement that "investigative activities be conducted for an authorized purpose."

But the report revealed that the Crossfire Hurricane team omitted several key statements made by Page and Papadopoulos during those recorded interactions. The report revealed that Page made statements to the confidential human source that “would have, if true, contradicted the notion that Page was conspiring with Russia” and “that contradicted the Steele reporting received by the team.”

In those meetings, Page said he had “literally never met” or “said one word to” Manafort, and Papadopoulos denied that anyone associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia or outside groups like WikiLeaks in the release of hacked DNC emails. Both of those statements were omitted in FISA applications and from reports to other officials.

The report stated that they “found no evidence the FBI made Page’s statements from this confidential human source meeting” available to higher-ups in the Office of Investigations or in the National Security Division “until mid-June 2017.”

Meanwhile, the inspector general’s office also investigated Papadopoulos’ allegation that the FBI used Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud to pass information to Papadopoulos as a set up to launch the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

TRUMP REACTS TO DOJ WATCHDOG HOROWITZ'S REPORT, SAYS WHAT WAS DONE WAS A 'DISGRACE'

Horowitz said they did not find any records or evidence indicating that Mifsud was an FBI confidential human source or that his conversations with Papadopoulos were part of any FBI operation, and none of the witnesses interviewed had any information to support the allegation.

Prior to the 2016 presidential election, Papadopoulos met with Mifsud in London, who told him that the Russians had dirt in the form of emails that could damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Papadopoulos then told Australian diplomat Alexander Downer of the new information. Downer reported Papadopoulos’ comments to the FBI.

Papadopoulos has long said he felt he was being spied on, telling Fox News that he met with longtime FBI informant Stefan Halper and his female associate, who went under the alias Azra Turk. Papadopoulos told Fox News that he saw Turk three times in London: once over drinks, once over dinner and once with Halper. He also told Fox News back in May that he always suspected he was being recorded.

Neither Halper nor Turk’s names were mentioned in Horowitz’s report.

The report also revealed that the Crossfire Hurricane team was “interested in seeking FISA surveillance targeting” Papadopoulos, but that FBI attorneys were not supportive.

Priestap started probe, didn’t want Strzok on board

It has been long-reported that ex-counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok was the FBI official to formally open the Crossfire Hurricane investigation in July 2016, but the inspector general report revealed that it was actually his superviser, Bill Priestap, who ultimately made the decision.

Strzok sues FBI for firing him over anti-Trump textsVideo

Priestap’s decision to open the probe was based on a consensus reached by after multiple days of meetings that included Strzok, McCabe, FBI general counsel and FBI deputy general counsel, the report said.

The report also revealed that Priestap “originally wanted to assign the investigation to a Deputy Assistant Director other than Strzok, because, although he had confidence in Strzok’s counterintelligence capabilities, he had concerns about Strzok’s personal relationship with Lisa Page affecting the Crossfire Hurricane team.”

Strzok and Page were romantically involved.

Durham objects

U.S. Attorney from Connecticut John Durham, who is conducting a wide-ranging investigation of the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, released a rare statement after Horowitz’s report was made available to the public on Monday, saying he disagrees with inspector general’s conclusions.

“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,” Durham said in a statement Monday.

Trump touts importance of Durham Russia investigationVideo

“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.”

Fox News reported in October that Durham's ongoing probe has transitioned into a full-fledged criminal investigation, meaning he has the ability to charge individuals.

Original Article

Gohmert tears into Nadler over Dems’ treatment of counsel: ‘How much money do you have to give?’

closeGohmert, Nadler and Johnson spar over Democratic counsel's questioning of Republican counselVideo

Gohmert, Nadler and Johnson spar over Democratic counsel's questioning of Republican counsel

Gohmert, Nadler and Johnson spar over Democratic counsel's questioning of Republican counsel

Rep. Louie Gohmert, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, infuriated Chairman Jerrold Nadler during Monday's impeachment hearing into President Trump, after he appeared to suggest a counsel for the Democrats had given money to members of the party in order to serve in a role of both witness and questioner.

The Judiciary Committee Democrats' counsel Barry Berke, a high-powered defense lawyer, was seated on the dais near Nadler, D-N.Y., asking questions of Republican counsel Stephen Castor in a move that Gohmert, R-Texas, called "unprecedented."

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., initially interrupted Berke's questioning to make a formal "parliamentary inquiry" to Nadler about what Berke was being allowed to do.

Instead, Nadler slammed his gavel and told Johnson he was unable to make an inquiry. "Mr. Chairman, what is this?" Johnson asked, looking incredulously at the chairman as the New Yorker slammed his gavel.

Ken Starr: No compelling, factual case to justify impeachmentVideo

At that point, Gohmert himself interjected and accused Nadler of ignoring committee rules to have Berke ask questions of the other party's counsel and take the witness stand as he had earlier in the day.

"How many other rules are you just going to disregard?" Gohmert asked Nadler.

The Democrat slammed his gavel again and told Gohmert he was not acting "in order."

More from Media

Gohmert ignored the reprimand and continued with his objection:

"This is not appropriate to have a witness be a questioner of somebody that was a witness when he was. It's just wrong… There is no rule nor precedent for anybody being a witness and then getting to come up and question — The 'point of order' is [whether Berke] is inappropriate to be up here asking questions," the Republican continued as Nadler repeatedly tried to gavel him down.

GOP LAWYER TURNS IMPEACHMENT TABLES BY SCORCHING BIDENS AT HEARING

Nadler again slammed his gavel, telling Gohmert that Berke was acting in accordance with House Resolution 660 — the framework of rules for the impeachment hearings that the House passed earlier this year.

In turn, Gohmert argued with Nadler: "How much money do you have to give to get to do th–?" The question incensed the chairman — who slammed the gavel once more, then turned and scowled at Gohmert.

"The gentleman will not cast aspersions on members or staff of the committee," Nadler fumed. "Mr. Berke has the time. Mr. Berke has the time."

During the ensuing furious crosstalk, an unidentified Republican member asked Nadler point-blank: "Is Mr. Berke a member of the committee?"

At that point, Johnson spoke up again, telling Nadler that Berke simply was offering his "opinions" rather than "material facts in the report" compiled by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Nadler then leaned back to confer with an aide, then responded to Johnson and Gohmert: "The gentleman (Berke) has been designated by me to do this questioning pursuant to House Resolution 660… it is in accordance in the rules of the House."

Berke then continued with his questioning of Castor.

Original Article

Comey claims vindication after Horowitz FISA report: ‘So it was all lies’

closePresident Trump says findings from DOJ inspector general's report are far worse than imaginedVideo

President Trump says findings from DOJ inspector general's report are far worse than imagined

Trump speaks after Department of Justice watchdog releases report on Russia investigation.

Former FBI director James Comey seized on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) report findings Monday to claim vindication over the bureau’s handling of the Trump-Russia probe in 2016, saying criticism of the probe “was all lies” — even though the inspector general also faulted the FBI’s handling of surveillance warrants in the report.

DOJ inspector general Michael E. Horowitz’s report, released Monday, said investigators found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding efforts to launch that 2016 probe.

“So it was all lies,” Comey tweeted, in an apparent reference to President Trump’s claims that the FBI wrongly investigated his ties to Russia. “No treason. No spying on the campaign. No tapping Trumps wires. It was just good people trying to protect America.”

DURHAM OBJECTS TO IG FINDINGS ON RUSSIA PROBE ORIGINS IN STUNNING STATEMENT

Comey, in his tweet and in a Washington Post op-ed, appeared to downplay the “significant concerns” cited in the report over the bureau’s efforts to seek the highly controversial FISA warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the early months of the investigation. The IG probe identified at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the Page applications and said a new audit into the FISA process would take place.

“Although it took two years, the truth is finally out,” Comey wrote in his op-ed.

Others investigating the origins of the probe were less charitable.

“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.

Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr ripped the FBI’s “intrusive” investigation after the release of Horowitz’s review, saying it was launched based on the “thinnest of suspicions.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“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.

The release came as Washington has been consumed with an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The House Judiciary Committee was holding the inquiry’s latest hearing Monday, days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Democrats were moving forward with plans to bring articles of impeachment against the president over his dealings with Ukraine. The president repeatedly has denied doing anything wrong.

Original Article