GOP push to reform FISA gains momentum in wake of Horowitz report

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What is the future of the FBI following revealing IG report on FISA applications?

Reaction and analysis from Kira Davis, Tomi Lahren, and Rep. Matt Gaetz.

A Republican push to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has gained fresh momentum on Capitol Hill amid the fallout of the long-awaited findings of Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice’s inspector general who illuminated an array of abuses and misdeeds pertaining to government surveillance tools during the Russia investigation.

COMEY ADMITS ‘I WAS WRONG’ ON FISA CONDUCT, REMAINS DEFIANT ON DOSSIER IN TENSE INTERVIEW

Reps. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, and Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, last week introduced the FISA Improvements Act in a bid to “stop these abuses” and effectively amend FISA by adding requirements on the FBI, the DOJ and on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which would also give Congress “critical new insight to perform oversight of the FISA powers.”

“The deceptive actions of a few high-ranking officials within the FBI and the Department of Justice have eroded public trust in our federal institutions,” Stewart stated. “They flattened internal guardrails, deceived the FISA court, and irreparably damaged the reputation of an innocent American.”

That American was 2016 Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Horowitz’s report noted “17 significant errors or omissions” in the application process for FISA warrants for Page, and underscored “many additional errors,” including how the FBI informed the FISA court that its primary source outlining possible collusion with Russia, Christopher Steele, was credible without verifying his assertions. Horowitz also found that investigators withheld crucial details from the FISA tribunal that may have cast doubt on the credibility of Steele's dossier of claims about Trump.

“FISA is an important tool in the U.S. fight against espionage and terrorism, and the vast majority of FISA warrants no doubt comply with the original purpose of the Act,” Francey Hakes, a former DOJ official, told Fox News. “But the IG report shows quite clearly the process can be manipulated. FISA reforms are necessary to ensure this never happens again.”

Comey: 'I was wrong' to say FISA process was 'followed'Video

The GOP bill would mandate that amicus curiae – an impartial court advisor – be assigned to all cases where a U.S. person is involved. It would also ensure that the DOJ disclose “any usage of unverified information in the application,” and include a provision in which any FISA extensions are heard or denied by the same judge which “ensures that the government is not able to obfuscate details of an expiring order’s newly gathered evidence to support renewal.”

Additionally, Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, has also upped his call for “sweeping reforms” in the wake of Horowitz’s findings.

“The secrecy of the court and the actions taken by FBI investigators show that it is too easy to abuse our government’s surveillance program. Investigators didn’t vet the Steel dossier properly and neglected to inform the FISA court that it was funded by the DNC,” Davidson stated. “We need to reassert the fourth amendment and protect the privacy of all Americans – including candidates for political office.”

The hallmark Fourth Amendment prohibits arbitrary searches or seizures.

And Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has also joined the growing chorus of Republicans urging swift action and new legislation with “major reforms.” Even some well-known GOP hawks have decried the revelations in Horowitz's report, as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., vowed that the errors “should scare the hell out of us.”

Yet in June this year, the House voted against a bipartisan amendment to FISA, proposed by then-GOP Rep. Justin Amash and Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, which would have halted the 2020 funding for FISA's Section 702, which was only authorized in 2008 as a means to monitor communications by foreign nationals outside the U.S. Amash later left the Republican Party to become an independent.

Scores of civil liberties groups, ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) to the Government Accountability Project have also re-invigorated their campaigns for FISA transparency amendments, urging lawmakers to take action and stressing that if such egregious errors could happen to a Presidential candidate, it likely has happened to scores of others.

“FISA benefits law enforcement by approving court surveillance necessary to conduct national security investigations. But like any process that sanctions secrecy, in order to be effective, it requires integrity, honesty, and diligence on behalf of law enforcement,” explained Wendy Patrick, a career trial attorney and business ethics lecturer. “As with an attempt to procure a warrant in any court, if agents omit important evidence, fail to correct past inaccuracies, or misrepresent facts, the judge´s decision will be compromised. Judicial decisions are only as accurate as of the facts on which they are based.”

A former Trump campaign advisor, Carter Page was the subject of electronic surveillance by the FBI because a judge found probable cause that he was acting as an agent of the Russian government. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A former Trump campaign advisor, Carter Page was the subject of electronic surveillance by the FBI because a judge found probable cause that he was acting as an agent of the Russian government. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

FISA was brought to life in the 1970s after the Church Committee unearthed a number of disconcerting abuses, thus prompting Congress to pass the legislation in 1978. While its original intent was to safeguard U.S. citizens against government snooping, some experts argue it has moved far from that intent in recent decades.

The act brought with it the FISC functions as a secret tribunal, made up of several federal judges selected by the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to serve seven-year terms. The tribunal has the power to approve warrants for electronic surveillance, allowing wiretapping, phone, email, computer, microphone, and physical searches of an alleged “foreign power or an agent of a foreign power,” which may include Americans or citizens suspected of being engaged in terrorism or espionage.

According to Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty & National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, “over time parts of the law have been weakened to make it easier to collect certain kinds of information about Americans, which has had the effect of eroding privacy.”

“For instance, under FISA’s so-called ‘business records’ provision, the government was previously allowed to obtain only certain types of records, and it had to persuade the FISA Court that the subject of the documents was a foreign power or agent of a foreign power. Section 215 of the Patriot Act amended the law to permit the government to obtain literally ‘any tangible thing’ upon a mere showing of relevance to a foreign intelligence investigation,” Goitein said. “It is this provision that the National Security Agency (NSA) exploited after 9/11 to collect Americans’ phone records in bulk, although Congress effectively ended that practice when it passed the USA Freedom Act in 2015.”

Another example, she underscored, is the addition of Section 702 in 2008. This authority allows the NSA to engage in a “programmatic” collection of foreigners’ communications, including their communications with Americans, without an individualized court order.

“The FISA Court’s role is limited to signing off on the broad procedures for the program – a much more limited role than Congress ever contemplated when it originally enacted FISA. The FBI has exploited this large-scale, warrantless collection; it routinely combs through the data collected by the NSA looking for Americans’ phone calls and e-mails to use against them in purely domestic criminal investigations,” Goitein said.

And if a FISA request is denied, there is the option for appeal. Yet almost every application, more than 99 percent, of the tens of thousands put forward by investigators, has been rubber-stamped. As to why the rejection rate is so low, according to legal experts, the answer comes down to whom you ask.

“Law enforcement would argue because they do such a great job compiling evidence on the front end in order to provide the court everything it needs to make a decision. Most investigators work diligently to build a strong case before submitting a warrant application to the judge,” Patrick surmised. “Skeptics, on the other hand, would argue that the rejection rate is so low because courts rely too heavily on the representations of law enforcement, including the assumption that the evidence submitted includes any exculpatory facts the court should consider. The IG report indicates this is not always the case.”

And the latest IG revelations are not the first time FISA has been exposed for misgivings.

Horowitz says FISA warrant claims relied 'entirely' on Steele dirtVideo

The DOJ admitted that in the year 2000, mistakes were made in 75 surveillance and search applications, which was then documented in an opinion by FISC. In 2002, the court also claimed that FBI agents had issued false or misleading assertions leading a top counterterrorism official to be permanently barred from appearing before FISC. Three years later, it was reportedly proposed by FISA chief judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly that FBI agents swear on the accuracy of the information put forth, but it was squashed over concerns it would significantly slow the process.

The department's inspector general also concluded that approximately 54 percent of the reports analyzed in 2004 and 47 percent in 2005 were categorized as having been subjected to “improper use of FISA authorities.” Intercepted communications “outside the scope of the FISC order, whether due to FBI or third-party error,” meaning that some were wrongly targeted as a result of infringements stemming from the wrong telephone number, wrong locations, and improperly disseminated FISA-derived information.

In 2008, a DOJ inspector general audit additionally found that in 2006 the FBI submitted 47 requests to the FISC to obtain business information, and when two were denied, investigators then used national security letters (NSL) to access the data anyway.

HUNTER BIDEN’S CHINA CONNECTIONS PLAGUED BY ETHICS QUESTIONS AND NATIONAL SECURITY CONCERNS

Documents leaked to the Washington Post at that time illuminated the depths of wrongful targeting. In one case in 2008, a “large number” of calls from Washington D.C. were captured in error as the “202” D.C. area code was entered as opposed to “20,” the country code for Egypt.

A U.S. flag hanging from a steel girder, damaged in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, blows in the breeze at a memorial in Jersey City, N.J., Sept. 11, 2019 as the sun rises behind One World Trade Center building and the re-developed area where the Twin Towers of World Trade Center once stood in New York City on the 18th anniversary of the attacks. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

A U.S. flag hanging from a steel girder, damaged in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, blows in the breeze at a memorial in Jersey City, N.J., Sept. 11, 2019 as the sun rises behind One World Trade Center building and the re-developed area where the Twin Towers of World Trade Center once stood in New York City on the 18th anniversary of the attacks. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

In 2017, another FISA court decision unleashed an array of violations, including “illegally sharing raw intelligence with unauthorized third parties to accessing intercepted attorney-client privileged communications without proper oversight.”

Documents were also declassified in October this year, highlighting that in 2017 and 2018, several warrantless searches had been undertaken of U.S. citizen’s emails despite congressional legislation to end mass collection and that improper queries of the NSA intelligence database had frequently occurred.

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The current FISA reform drive comes just months ahead of the forthcoming debate concerning key provisions of the Patriot Act, which was hastily implemented after Sept. 11 to grant authorities widespread powers to monitor individuals suspected of terrorist ties, poised to expire in March.

“The Patriot Act has critical importance to our national security, but Congress must increase its vigilant oversight of the program,” Hawkes added. “Both the DOJ and FBI must promulgate new regulations covering surveillance of Americans and, especially, surveillance of any kind of political figures.”

Original Article

Judiciary Committee’s minority blasts articles of impeachment report, ‘anemic case’

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Rep. Adam Schiff defends Democrats' impeachment case against President Trump

House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff joins Chris Wallace on 'Fox News Sunday.'

The House Judiciary Committee's minority blasted the committee's rush to impeach President Trump and wrote that history will not look kindly on how exculpatory evidence was ignored to meet a "self-imposed December deadline," according to the full articles of impeachment report released early Monday.

The minority, which is comprised of Republicans, blasted the Democrat-led majority for not making the case for impeachment and simply employing "holdover" arguments from other investigations to make their case. Despite the divide, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the chairman of the committee, wrote for the majority that Trump is a threat to the Constitution and should be removed from office.

CHAD PERGRAM: CONGRESS COULD SEE ITS BUSIEST WEEK EVER

The committee released a 658-page report on the impeachment resolution that lays out the case against Trump. Democrats have raised two articles of impeachable offenses, including abuse of power by soliciting Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election and then obstructing Congress during its investigation.

NADLER BRUSHES OFF POSSIBLE DEM DEFECTION

The minority wrote that both articles are supported by assumptions and hearsay. The minority, headed by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking member of the committee, wrote that the majority decided to “pursue impeachment first and build a case second.”

The majority ignored exculpatory evidence but proclaimed the "facts are uncontested,” the minority wrote.

"The facts are contested, and, in many areas, the majority's claims are directly contradicted by the evidence," the minority wrote. They continued that "not one of the criminal accusations leveled at the president over the past year—including bribery, extortion, collusion/conspiracy with foreign enemies, or obstruction of justice—has found a place in the articles. Some of these arguments are just holdovers from an earlier disingenuous attempt by the majority to weaponized the Russia collusion investigation for political gain."

The majority's actions were "unprecedented, unjustifiable, and will only dilute the significance of the dire recourse that is impeachment," they wrote.

The minority also claimed procedural missteps by the majority by not allowing a "minority day of hearings," despite several requests to Nadler. They called the denial “blatant” and “intentional.” They claim Nadler also refused a request to subpoena witnesses. They wrote that there was a complete absence of “fact witnesses” and the case rested with the testimony from four academics and another with a panel of Congressional staffers.

The majority claimed that they were transparent. The majority wrote that the minority wanted to hear testimony from the whistleblower, but the majority stressed the importance of protecting the person’s identity. The minority's request to hear from Hunter Biden—the son of Joe Biden—was "well outside the scope of the inquiry," the majority wrote.

At the heart of the first charge, is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Democrats have relied on a whistleblower’s complaint that claimed that there was at least an implied quid pro quo during the phone conversation. Trump was also accused of using agents "within and outside" the U.S. government to compel Kiev to investigate the Bidens and their business dealings in the country. The claim is that Trump withheld $391 million in essential military funds to pressure Kiev on the investigations.

Both Trump and Zelensky deny there was ever any implied or explicit quid pro quo.

The newly released report also claims that Trump directed key players in the inquiry from participating.

Trump "interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, and assumed to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the ‘‘sole Power of Impeachment’’ vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives,” the report said.

The report listed John “Mick” Mulvaney, Trump’s acting chief of staff, and Robert B. Blair, a senior adviser to Mulvaney, as officials who have denied subpoenas.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Sunday proposed in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that Mulvaney be subpoenaed to testify in an impeachment trial. McConnell told Fox News last week that the chances of Trump being removed from office are zero.

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Republicans say Democrats are impeaching the president because they can’t beat him in 2020. Democrats warn Americans can’t wait for the next election because they worry what Trump will try next.

The House is expected to vote on the articles next week, in the days before Christmas. That would send the impeachment effort to the Senate for a 2020 trial.

The majority claimed that the impeachment inquiry was performed in a fair manner and pointed out that the purpose of the inquiry was to determine if Trump “may have committed an impeachable offense.” Trump was offered the opportunity to participate, but he declined, the majority wrote. The president has refused to participate in the proceedings.

At about the time the impeachment report was being released, Trump was on Twitter touting his record and slamming the allegations. He wrote that despite the impeachment and "obstruction," he had one of the most successful presidencies in history.

The Associated Press and Bradford Betz contributed to this report

Original Article

Nadler calls for Trump’s removal in committee’s 658-page report on articles of impeachment

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House poised for final impeachment vote

Rep. Mike Johnson on House preparing historic floor vote on Trump impeachment.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote that President Trump is a threat to the Consitution and should be removed from office, according to the committee's 658-page report on the articles of impeachment resolution against Trump that was submitted early Monday.

The majority wrote that President Trump abused his office by soliciting the interference of Ukraine in the 2020 election and then obstructed the impeachment inquiry into his conduct.

The report was released at 12:30 a.m. ET., and included a dissent from the committee's minority that called the case for impeachment "not only weak but dangerously lowers the bar for future impeachments."

Trump is accused, in the first article, of abusing his presidential power by asking Ukraine to investigate his 2020 rival Joe Biden while holding military aid as leverage, and, in the second, of obstructing Congress by blocking the House’s efforts to probe his actions.

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The president insists he did nothing wrong and blasts the Democrats’ effort daily as a sham and harmful to America.

Nadler wrote that Trump should be removed and "disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”

The committee's vote was strictly along party lines, and the floor vote is expected to be similar, with a few exceptions. No Republicans have so far signaled that they will support the articles of impeachment, but a small handful of Democrats who represent GOP-leaning districts have said they may join Republicans in voting against them.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Original Article

Nunes tells Schiff he needs ‘rehabilitation’ after IG report: ‘Admit you have a problem’

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Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 15

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House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., that he is "in need of rehabilitation" after a Justice Department Inspector General report on the FBI's Russia investigation and its use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) contradicted Schiff's past assertions.

In a 2018 memo, Schiff dismissed Nunes' concerns about the FBI's use of a FISA warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The IG report confirmed that the FBI's warrant applications included 17 "significant errors and omissions," including a doctored email and reliance on unverified information from former British spy Christopher Steele.

COMEY ADMITS ERROR IN DEFENSE OF FBI'S FISA PROCESS AFTER IG REPORT: 'I WAS WRONG'

"After publishing false conclusions of such enormity on a topic directly within this committee's oversight responsibilities, it is clear you are in need of rehabilitation, and I hope this letter will serve as the first step in that vital process," Nunes said in a Sunday letter.

Schiff's memo downplayed Steele's role and denied FBI wrongdoing, saying, "FBI and DOJ officials did not 'abuse' the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign." Schiff also claimed at the time that the DOJ "made only narrow use of information from Steele's sources" for the Page warrant.

Nunes listed these statements and others, such as how the FBI conducted a "rigorous process" when vetting Steele's information, noting that "[t]he IG report exposed all these declarations as false."

IG Michael Horowitz's report indicated that Steele's information was not properly vetted, yet was key in convincing attorneys to give the go-ahead to the FISA warrant application, which was previously deemed a "close call."

READ: DOJ IG HOROWITZ STATEMENT TO SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE ON RUSSIA PROBE REPORT

Nunes recognized Schiff's acknowledgment of the "issues and errors" described in Horowitz's report, but said that his opposition to concerns raised by Attorney General Bill Barr and Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham — who is conducting a broader probe of the Russia investigation's origins — "makes it clear your rehabilitation will be a long, arduous process."

Nunes cited Schiff's failure to use his committee to conduct proper oversight while using it "as a launching pad to impeach the president for issues that have no intelligence component at all." He accused him of "hijacking" the committee, claiming, "As part of your rehabilitation, it's crucial that you admit you have a problem."

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Schiff's office did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment about the letter, but in an interview with "Fox News Sunday," Schiff acknowledged the FBI's issues as described in Horowitz's report, and claimed he "would have called out the FBI" had he known of them.

The GOP ranking member called on the Democratic chairman to call Horowitz before their committee "at the nearest opportunity." Horowitz has already appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is scheduled for another hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Original Article

Comey admits error in defense of FBI’s FISA process after IG report: ‘He was right, I was wrong’

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Former FBI Director James Comey admitted on "Fox News Sunday" that the recently released Justice Department Inspector General’s report on the launch of the FBI’s Russia investigation and their use of the surveillance process showed that he was "overconfident" when he defended his former agency's use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

This comes days after IG Michael Horowitz’s report and testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee detailed concerns that included 17 “significant errors and omissions” by the FBI’s investigative team when applying for a FISA warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Horowitz referred “the entire chain of command” to the FBI and DOJ for “how to assess and address their performance failures” during the probe, which was conducted while Comey was in charge.

"He's right, I was wrong," Comey said about how the FBI used the FISA process, adding, "I was overconfident as director in our procedures."

IG HOROWITZ RIPS FBI 'FAILURE IN RUSSIA PROBE, SAYS NOBODY VINDICATED BY REPORT

Horowitz did make it clear that he believes the FBI’s investigation of Russian election interference and possible connections with the Trump campaign was properly initiated, but he did note that this is based on a “low threshold.” He also concluded that there was no testimonial or documentary evidence to show that the investigation started due to any political bias, but said the issue of bias “gets murkier” when it comes to the various issues with the FISA process.

That process included the reliance on information gathered by former British spy Christopher Steele as part of opposition research conducted by Fusion GPS for the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign. Horowitz’s report stated that government attorneys were hesitant to approve a FISA warrant application until they relied on unverified information from Steele. That information also was used in subsequent renewals for the FISA warrant.

Comey downplayed the role of Steel's information in obtaining the FISA warrant against Page, claiming Sunday that it was "not a huge part of the presentation to the court," although recognizing that "it was the one that convinced the lawyers" to move forward.

He claimed he had not misstated the relevance of Steele's information, but said "if I was then I'm sorry that I did that."

In addition to not properly ensuring that the evidence they presented was accurate, the FBI was found to have omitted exculpatory information about Page that could have impacted the judge’s decision in granting the FISA warrant. Included in this was an instance where an attorney was found to have altered an email to say that Page had not been a CIA source, when in fact he had been working with them. That information would have justified Page’s contacts with Russia, and its omission ultimately led to the FBI renewing the FISA warrant against Page.

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In an April 2018 interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Comey claimed that the FISA process is “incredibly rigorous” and claimed that Republicans’ criticism of the Page FISA warrant was “a political deal” that was not “based in substance or law.”

Following the report’s release, Comey essentially claimed vindication, declaring in the wake of the report that the criticism of the bureau's actions "was all lies.” When asked about vindication at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the inspector general bluntly replied, "I think the activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this FISA."

On Sunday, Comey claimed that the FBI did not intentionally commit wrongdoing, but described the FBI's failures as "real sloppiness." He said that "in general" he was unaware of "the particulars of the investigation" when it was going on, but said that as the person at the head of the FBI at the time, it still falls on him.

"I was responsible for this."

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Original Article

Horowitz report spotlights little-known FBI agent’s role in Russia probe, Flynn case

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Horowitz: Political actors still working at FBI

Reaction and analysis from Fox News contributors Mollie Hemingway and John Solomon on 'The Ingraham Angle.'

Inspector General Michael Horowitz's long-awaited report this week on FBI and Justice Department surveillance abuses does not provide the name of an unidentified FBI supervisory special agent (SSA) who made a series of apparent oversights in the bureau's so-called "Crossfire Hurricane" probe into the Trump campaign.

However, a review of Horowitz's findings leaves little doubt that the unnamed SSA is Joe Pientka — someone who could soon play a prominent role in the ongoing prosecution of Michael Flynn, as the former Trump national security adviser fights to overturn his guilty plea on a single charge of making false statements.

Specifically, Horowitz's report states that "SSA 1" was one of the FBI agents to interview Flynn at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017, in a seemingly casual conversation that would later form the basis for his criminal prosecution.

It was previously reported that the interviewing agents were Peter Strzok, who was later fired by the FBI for misconduct and anti-Trump bias, and Pientka, whom Strzok previously identified as his notetaker for the Flynn interview. Flynn's attorney has also mentioned Pientka's role during past court proceedings. Of the two agents, only Strzok is openly named in the Horowitz report, which strongly indicates that the other is Pientka.

The agent, Horowitz's report makes plain, may have helped mislead the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) about material facts concerning former Trump adviser Carter Page and British ex-spy Christopher Steele, whose unverified dossier played a central role in the FBI's warrant to surveil Page.

Page has not been charged with any wrongdoing, even though the FBI flatly called him a foreign "agent" in its surveillance warrant application. And former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, which concluded earlier this year, found no evidence that the Trump campaign had engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russians to influence the 2016 election, despite multiple outreach efforts by Russian actors.

ALL EYES ON DURHAM, AFTER HE REBUKES HOROWITZ'S CONCLUSIONS

On Aug. 1, 2016, just after the official inception of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign, Strzok and Pientka traveled overseas to meet with the Australian officials who had spoken with Trump adviser George Papadopoulos in May of that year. The officials had overhead Papadopoulos mention his now-infamous conversation with Joseph Mifsud about suggestions of potential Russian leaks of Hillary Clinton’s emails, apparently touching off what would become the Russia probe.

FBI accused of manipulating Flynn records from 2017 interviewVideo

Pientka was given a supervisory role on the Crossfire Hurricane team, overseeing agents and reporting directly to Strzok. The special agent created the electronic sub-file to which the Steele reports would be uploaded and, according to Horowitz, these reports were used to support the probable cause in the Page FISA applications.

Then, on Sept. 23, 2016, Yahoo News published an article describing U.S. government efforts to determine whether Page was in communication with Kremlin officials. The article seemed to closely track information from one of Steele’s reports. As a result, one FBI case agent who reported to Pientka believed Steele was the source, according to Horowitz.

FBI AGENTS MANIPULATED FLYNN FILE, AS CLAPPER URGED 'KILL SHOT,' EXPLOSIVE FILING CLAIMS

Pientka apparently thought the same, as his notes from a Sept. 30, 2016, meeting said: “Control issues — reports acknowledged in Yahoo News.” When questioned by Horowitz's office, the agent explained he was concerned — but not sure — that Steele was the Yahoo News source.

The drafts of the Page FISA application, however, tell a different story. Horowitz found that until Oct. 14, 2016, drafts state that Steele was responsible for the leak that led to the Yahoo News article. One draft specifically states that Steele “was acting on his/her own volition and has since been admonished by the FBI.”

These assertions, which could have pointed to political motivations by their source soon before the 2016 presidential election, were changed to the following: Steele’s “business associate or the law firm that hired the business associate likely provided this information to the press.”

Horowitz found no facts to support this assessment.

Former Trump adviser Carter Page was falsely accused of being a "foreign agent" in the FBI's secret surveillance warrant.

Former Trump adviser Carter Page was falsely accused of being a "foreign agent" in the FBI's secret surveillance warrant.

And, even after receiving “additional information about Steele’s media contacts, the Crossfire Hurricane team did not change the language in any of the three renewal applications regarding the FBI’s assessment of Steele’s role in the September 23 article," Horowitz found.

On Oct. 11, 2016, Steele met with then-State Department official Jonathan Winer and Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Kavalec. Steele informed Kavalec that a Russian cyber-hacking operation targeting the 2016 U.S. elections was paying the culprits from “the Russian Consulate in Miami.” Kavalec later met with an FBI liaison and explained to them that Russia did not have a consulate in Miami. "SSA 1" was informed of Steele’s incorrect claim about the Russian Consulate on Nov. 18, 2016, but the FISA court was never provided this information, according to the IG report.

Additionally, the agent was aware of Page’s denials to an FBI confidential human source (CHS) that he knew Russian officials Igor Sechin and Igor Divyekin – officials that Steele alleged Page had secret meetings with in Moscow in July 2016. In fact, Horowitz found that SSA 1 “knew as of October 17 that Page denied ever knowing Divyekin."

FORMER FBI LAWYER LISA PAGE SUES FBI AND DOJ, SAYS SHE NEEDS 'COST OF THERAPY' REIMBURSED AFTER TRUMP MOCKED HER BIAS

"This inconsistency was also not noted during the Woods Procedures on the subsequent FISA renewal applications, and none of the three later FISA renewal applications included Page’s denials to the CHS," Horowitz wrote, referring to the FBI's practice of reverifying facts in its FISA application before seeking renewals.

SSA 1 also had the responsibility for “confirming that the Woods File was complete and for double-checking the factual accuracy review to confirm that the file contained appropriate documentation for each of the factual assertions in the FISA application," according to Horowitz.

But Horowitz found numerous instances “in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application targeting Carter Page were inaccurate, incomplete or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time the application was filed."

Warning, graphic language: President Trump mocks Peter Strzok and Lisa PageVideo

In particular, the FBI misled the FISC by asserting that Steele’s prior reporting "has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings.” Horowitz's review found there was no documentation to support this statement; Pientka told Horowitz they “speculated.”

7 TAKEAWAYS FROM HOROWITZ'S BOMBSHELL FISA REPORT

Pientka was also aware that Steele had relayed his information to officials at the State Department, and he had documentation showing Steele had told the team he provided the reports to his contacts at the State Department. Despite this, the FISC was informed that Steele told the FBI he “only provided this information to the business associate and the FBI.”

After Steele was terminated as an FBI source for leaking to the media, there was a meeting with Crossfire Hurricane team members and Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, whose wife had been hired by Steele employer Fusion GPS. Pientka told Horowitz that Ohr likely left the meeting with the impression that he should contact the FBI if Steele contacted him; Ohr told Horowitz that Pientka became his initial point of contact when relaying Steele’s information to the FBI.

The FBI's probe into Flynn was opened Aug. 16, 2017, and Pientka was selected to provide an Aug. 17, 2017, FBI security briefing to the Trump campaign once the FBI was informed that Flynn would be in attendance. According to Pientka, the briefing gave him “the opportunity to gain assessment and possibly have some level of familiarity” with Flynn. He was there to “record” anything “specific to Russia or anything specific to our investigation.”

CHAFFETZ: PEOPLE WILL END UP IN 'HANDCUFFS' OVER HOROWITZ REPORT

Pientka found the opportunity to interact with Flynn “useful” because he was able to compare Flynn’s “norms” from the briefing with Flynn’s conduct at his Jan. 24, 2017, interview. It was this assessment that purportedly helped lead Pientka to conclude that Flynn was not lying when questioned about his interactions with the Russians after the election and his calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

With Strzok's termination from the FBI, Pientka is perhaps the only remaining FBI witness against Flynn.

Horowitz's descriptions of Pientka's conduct came as U.S. Attorney John Durham announced Monday that he did not "agree" with some of the inspector general's conclusions, stunning observers while also highlighting Durham's broader criminal mandate and scope of review. Durham is focusing on foreign actors as well as the CIA, while Horowitz concentrated his attention on the Justice Department and FBI.

Strzok sues FBI for firing him over anti-Trump textsVideo

"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."

Pientka is hardly the only bureau employee to come under scrutiny. Prior to the FBI's warrant application to monitor Page, the FBI reached out to the CIA and other intelligence agencies for information on Page, Horowitz discovered. The CIA responded in an email by telling the FBI that Page had contacts with Russians from 2008 to 2013, but that Page had reported them to the CIA and was serving as a CIA operational contact and informant on Russian business and intelligence interests.

An FBI lawyer then doctored the CIA's email about Page to make it seem as though the agency had said only that Page was not an active source. And, the FBI included Page's contacts with Russians in the warrant application as evidence he was a foreign "agent," without disclosing to the secret surveillance court that Page was voluntarily working with the CIA concerning those foreign contacts.

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For several years, Democrats and analysts at The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN have repeatedly claimed that key claims in the Clinton-funded anti-Trump dossier had been corroborated and that the document was not critical to the FBI's warrant to surveil Page. Horowitz repudiated that claim, with the FBI's legal counsel even describing the warrant to surveil Page as "essentially a single source FISA" wholly dependent on the dossier.

Among the unsubstantiated claims in the dossier: that ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to conspire with Russian hackers; that the Trump campaign was paying hackers working out of a nonexistent Russian consulate in Miami; that a lurid blackmail tape of Trump existed and might be in Russian possession; and that Page was bribed with a 19 percent share in a Russian company.

The FBI did not respond to a request for comment for this report.

Wilson Miller contributed to this report.

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

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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

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.

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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

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.

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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

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“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

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.”

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“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

‘It’s a disgrace’: Trump comments on DOJ watchdog Horowitz report

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.

Although the long-awaited internal watchdog findings from the Justice Department’s inspector general on Monday undercut his claim that he was the target of a “witch hunt,” President Trump fired back that the report concerning the origins of the Russia investigation showed “an attempted overthrow and a lot of people were in on it.”

"It's a disgrace what's happened with the things that were done to our country … it's incredible, far worse than what I ever thought possible," he said.

He noted it shouldn’t happen to another president, and he called it an embarrassment.

“Never, ever again should this happen in our country.”

Trump asked former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to comment on the IG report, and she said the country should be outraged.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to Trump, added: “People lied, and tried to subvert democracy.”

READ: DOJ INSPECTOR GENERAL'S FISA REPORT

The report said that although the Russia probe's launch complied with DOJ and FBI policies, there were "significant concerns with how certain aspects of the investigation were conducted and supervised."

Specifically, the report concluded that investigators found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding the probe's launch and 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 — but faulted the FBI over numerous errors in the application process.

The IG probe identified at least 17 "significant inaccuracies and omissions" in the Page applications, and said they would launch a new audit into the FISA process.

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

IG Michael Horowitz and his investigators probed how the unverified anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele was used to secure the original FISA warrant for Page in October 2016 as well as other decisions at the outset of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Russian election interference and the Trump campaign, known within the FBI by the name "Crossfire Hurricane."

The report confirmed that information obtained from Steele was instrumental in the FBI's ability to acquire a FISA warrant on Page, saying the FBI omitted information that allowed them to obtain renewals.

The report revealed that when the FBI team handling the Russia probe first considered getting a FISA warrant for Page in August 2016, FBI attorneys thought it was a "close call" as to whether they had sufficient cause. The following month, right after the FBI received information from Steele, FBI attorneys gave the investigative team the go-ahead.

Horowitz conducted more than 170 interviews involving more than 100 witnesses, including former FBI director James Comey, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the Russia investigation, and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, along with FBI agents and analysts.

Video

“It’s a sad day when a lot of people see that,” Trump added about the IG report. “They know nothing — it was concocted.”

Trump reiterated he was more eager for the report of John Durham, the hand-picked prosecutor selected by Attorney General William Barr to conduct a separate review of the Russia probe.

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Barr rejected the inspector general’s conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to open the investigation.

“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 Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

FISA report: DOJ watchdog releases findings on Russia probe surveillance

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.

The Justice Department’s inspector general on Monday released the long-awaited internal review concerning the origins of the Russia investigation, revealing that while the probe's launch complied with DOJ and FBI policies, there are "significant concerns with how certain aspects of the investigation were conducted and supervised."

Specifically, the report concluded that investigators found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding 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 — but faulted the FBI over numerous "omissions" and "inaccuracies" in the application process.

CARTER PAGE ACCUSES DOJ OF ‘ORWELLIAN OVERREACH’ OVER EFFORT TO PREVENT HIM PREVIEWING FISA REPORT

The IG probe identified at least 17 "significant" errors in the Page applications and said they would launch a new audit into the FISA process.

At the same time, the report said key officials including former FBI bosses James Comey and Andrew McCabe did not act with political bias and extended a similar finding to the overall surveillance efforts targeting Page.

“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.

IG Horowitz to release the highly anticipated report on alleged FISA abuseVideo

IG Michael Horowitz and his investigators probed how the unverified anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele was used to secure the original FISA warrant for Page in October 2016, as well as other decisions at the outset of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Russian election interference and the Trump campaign.

The release comes as Washington has been consumed with the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The House Judiciary Committee was holding the inquiry’s latest hearing Monday, days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are moving forward with plans to bring articles of impeachment against the president over his dealings with Ukraine.

But the sprawling, nearly 500-page FISA report is sure to become a political football of its own, alongside the impeachment probe.

Republicans, led by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., have contested the FISA warrant and its subsequent renewal applications, claiming that the FBI misrepresented key evidence and omitted exculpatory information.

Nunes blasted the FBI for not revealing that evidence used to support the warrant application came from an unverified dossier compiled by Steele as opposition research for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Democrats have pointed to a footnote in the warrant application that gave a general characterization of the nature of the information and how the FBI believed that it was part of an effort to get information to discredit Trump’s campaign, though it did not specifically mention Clinton or the Democratic National Committee.

Horowitz’s team has questioned why the FBI considered Steele a credible source, and why the bureau seemed to use news reports to bolster Steele’s credibility.

The inspector general has said his team has “reviewed over one million records and conducted over 100 interviews, including several witnesses who only recently agreed to be interviewed.” Page, who has been vocal about his belief that he was unjustly targeted, has expressed frustration over not being interviewed for Horowitz’s investigation. Page was never charged with a crime as a result of the surveillance.

Trump and his Republican allies have long questioned the Justice Department’s efforts to secure the surveillance warrants. Earlier this year, Attorney General Bill Barr said "spying" did occur against the Trump campaign during the campaign. But critics pushed back: James Comey, who was FBI director at the time, dismissed Barr’s claims, saying he “never thought of” electronic surveillance as “spying.”

Next, Horowitz is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning to answer questions about his probe.

The Horowitz findings come amid another, broader inquiry related to the 2016 election: Barr has assigned John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, to conduct an inquiry into alleged misconduct and alleged improper government surveillance on the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election. That investigation is criminal in nature, and Republicans may look to it to uncover wrongdoing that the inspector general wasn’t examining.

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Ahead of the release, some of the people who worked at the FBI at the time attempted to get ahead of the report to defend their actions. Lisa Page, the ex-FBI lawyer who carried on an extramarital affair with former FBI head of counterintelligence Peter Strzok as the two exchanged anti-Trump text messages during the investigation, recently granted an interview for a sympathetic piece at The Daily Beast, saying “there’s no fathomable way that I have committed any crime at all.”

Meanwhile, a key FBI player during the time frame, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, has been facing the prospect of federal charges after Horowitz faulted him in a separate inquiry over statements he made during a Hillary Clinton-related investigation. The review found that McCabe "lacked candor" when talking with investigators, but the former FBI official has denied wrongdoing. McCabe has not been indicted.

Fox News' Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

Original Article

Steele warned that IG report contains information previously blacked out, report says

closeHorowitz report will reportedly criticize FBI leaders for handling of Russia probeVideo

Horowitz report will reportedly criticize FBI leaders for handling of Russia probe

The IG report on the origins of the Russia probe will reportedly hit FBI leadership for their handling of the investigation, according to The New York Times.

Christopher Steele, the British ex-spy and author of the anti-Trump dossier, was reportedly told that the Justice Department will release information about him that was previously blacked out in the department’s internal watchdog report on the investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign due on Monday.

The New York Times, citing two individuals with knowledge of the situation, reported that Attorney General William Barr approved the release of the previously redacted information in Michael Horowitz’s 400-page report. The report called Steele’s heads-up unusual and said he was not given any indication of whether the information would benefit or hurt him. An after-hours email from Fox News to the Justice Department was not immediately returned.

Steele is poised to be a notable figure in the Horowitz report because he provided opposition research into the Trump campaign's connections to Russia which was funded by Democrats and the Clinton campaign.

Much of the Steele dossier has been proven discredited or unsubstantiated, including the dossier's claims that the Trump campaign was paying hackers in the United States out of a nonexistent Russian consulate in Miami, and that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to conspire with Russians.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller also was unable to substantiate the dossier's claims that Carter Page, who worked on the Trump campaign, had received 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.

IG Horowitz to release the highly anticipated report on alleged FISA abuseVideo

Horowitz's report, as described by people familiar with its findings, is expected to conclude there was an adequate basis for opening one of the most politically sensitive investigations in FBI history and one that Trump has denounced as a witch hunt. It began in secret during Trump's 2016 presidential run and was ultimately taken over by Mueller .

The report comes as Trump faces an impeachment inquiry in Congress centered on his efforts to press Ukraine to investigate a political rival, Democrat Joe Biden — a probe the president also claims is politically biased.

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Still, the release of Inspector General Michael Horowitz's review is unlikely to quell the partisan battles that have surrounded the Russia investigation for years. It's also not the last word: A separate internal investigation continues, overseen by Trump's attorney general, William Barr and led by a U.S. attorney, John Durham. That investigation is criminal in nature, and Republicans may look to it to uncover wrongdoing that the inspector general wasn't examining.

Trump tweeted Sunday: "I.G. report out tomorrow. That will be the big story!"

Fox News' Gregg Re and the Associated Press contributed to this report

Original Article

DOJ watchdog Horowitz’s report to be released, as Dems prep impeachment hearing

closeHorowitz report will reportedly criticize FBI leaders for handling of Russia probeVideo

Horowitz report will reportedly criticize FBI leaders for handling of Russia probe

The IG report on the origins of the Russia probe will reportedly hit FBI leadership for their handling of the investigation, according to The New York Times.

The Justice Department's internal watchdog is set to release a highly anticipated report Monday that is expected to document misconduct — including the deliberate falsification of at least one key document — during the investigation into President Trump's 2016 campaign.

At the same time, the report, as described by people familiar with its findings, is expected to conclude there was an adequate basis for opening one of the most politically sensitive investigations in FBI history. It began in secret during Trump’s 2016 presidential run before then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller ultimately took it over.

The report comes as Trump faces an impeachment inquiry in Congress centered on his efforts to press Ukraine to investigate a political rival, Democrat Joe Biden — a probe the president also claimed has been politically biased. The House Judiciary Committee is expected hold a hearing Monday on the inquiry's findings.

The release of Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz's review is unlikely to quell the partisan battles that have surrounded the Russia investigation for years. It's also not the last word: A separate internal investigation continues, overseen by Attorney General Bill Barr and led by U.S. Attorney John Durham. That investigation is criminal in nature, and Republicans may look to it to uncover wrongdoing that the inspector general wasn’t examining.

Sources told Fox News in October that Durham's probe into potential FBI and Justice Department misconduct in the run-up to the 2016 election through the spring of 2017 has transitioned into a full-fledged criminal investigation — and Horowitz's report will shed light on why Durham has been leading a criminal inquiry.

IG Horowitz to release the highly anticipated report on alleged FISA abuseVideo

Horowitz has forwarded to Durham evidence that an FBI lawyer manipulated a key investigative document related to the FBI's secretive surveillance of former Trump adviser Carter Page in 2016 and 2017 — enough to change the substantive meaning of the document, according to multiple reports last month.

"I think we'll learn part of the story tomorrow," Page told the Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo on "Sunday Morning Futures." "What I've learned from some of the leakers and one of the papers of record: a top reporter there said there's a lot of exculpatory evidence that's remaining classified, and there's been internal battles."

It is unclear how Barr, a strong defender of Trump, will respond to Horowitz's findings. He has told Congress that he believed "spying" on the Trump campaign did occur and has raised public questions about whether the counterintelligence investigation was done correctly.

The inspector general's investigation began in early 2018, and has focused in part on the FBI's surveillance of Page. The FBI applied in the fall of 2016 for a warrant from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Page's communications, flatly telling the court that Page was an "agent" of a foreign power.

DOJ OUTLINES STRZOK 'SECURITY VIOLATIONS'; FINDS 'PARANOID' CASE AGENT NOTICED STRZOK WAS SITTING ON WEINER LAPTOP

Page was never charged and has denied any wrongdoing. The ultimately successful warrant application on Page relied in part on information from British ex-spy Christopher 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 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court on numerous occasions that media sources independently corroborated Steele's claims, and did not clearly state that Steele worked for a firm hired by Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Much of the Steele dossier has been proven discredited or unsubstantiated, including the dossier's claims that the Trump campaign was paying hackers in the United States out of a nonexistent Russian consulate in Miami, and that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to conspire with Russians. Mueller also was unable to substantiate the dossier's claims that Page had received 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.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is scheduled to hear testimony from Horowitz on Wednesday, said he expected the report would be "damning" about the process of obtaining the warrant.

"I'm looking for evidence of whether or not they manipulated the facts to get the warrant," Graham, R-S.C., told "Sunday Morning Futures."

Fox News' Brooke Singman, Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Carter Page, on eve of DOJ IG report, says findings will only tell ‘part’ of the story

closeIG Horowitz to release the highly anticipated report on alleged FISA abuseVideo

IG Horowitz to release the highly anticipated report on alleged FISA abuse

Former Trump foreign policy aide Carter Page discusses the anticipated release of Horowitz IG report on potential FISA abuses.

Former Trump adviser Carter Page told Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures" that the Department of Justice Inspector General (IG) report on alleged FBI surveillance abuses, set to be released on Monday, will only tell "part of the story."

Inspector General Michael Horowitz has found evidence that an FBI lawyer manipulated a key investigative document related to the FBI's secretive surveillance of Page in 2016 and 2017 — enough to change the substantive meaning of the document, according to multiple reports last month.

"I think we'll learn part of the story tomorrow," Page told host Maria Bartiromo. "What I've learned from some of the leakers and one of the papers of record; a top reporter there said there's a lot of exculpatory evidence that's remaining classified, and there's been internal battles."

Page said he "kept getting" calls from reports in the summer of 2016 asking about "totally false" Democrat-funded allegations about his Russia connections.

In its initial 2016 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant application, the FBI flatly called Page "an agent of a foreign power." Page has never been charged with any wrongdoing.

DOJ OUTLINES STRZOK 'SECURITY VIOLATIONS'; FINDS 'PARANOID' CASE AGENT NOTICED STRZOK WAS SITTING ON WEINER LAPTOP

The ultimately successful Page application relied in part on information from British ex-spy Christopher Steele – whose anti-Trump views are now well-documented – and cited Page’s suspected Russia ties. In its warrant application, the FBI inaccurately assured the FISA court on numerous occasions that media sources independently corroborated Steele's claims, and did not clearly state that Steele worked for a firm hired by Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Gregg Jarrett: Why the 'fix was in' with Lisa Page and Peter StrzokVideo

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 Carter Page had received 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.

Sources told Fox News in October that U.S. Attorney John Durham's separate, ongoing probe into potential FBI and Justice Department misconduct in the run-up to the 2016 election through the spring of 2017 has transitioned into a full-fledged criminal investigation — and that Horowitz's report will shed light on why Durham's probe has become a criminal inquiry.

Original Article

House Judiciary Committee releases report outlining grounds for impeachment ahead of hearing

closeRep. Nadler under fire for hypocritical stance on Trump impeachmentVideo

Rep. Nadler under fire for hypocritical stance on Trump impeachment

Reaction and analysis from Republican congressmen Andy Biggs, Lee Zeldin and Steve Scalise on 'The Ingraham Angle.'

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Saturday released a report outlining the constitutional grounds for impeachment, the latest sign of the committee gearing up for impeaching President Trump ahead of a key hearing on Monday.

“The Framers' worst nightmare is what we are facing in this very moment. President Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security, and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain. The Constitution details only one remedy for this misconduct: impeachment,” Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a statement.

“The safety and security of our nation, our democracy, and future generations hang in the balance if we do not address this misconduct. In America, no one is above the law, not even the President,” he said.

GOP SENATORS SEEK RECORDS ON 'CONNECTION' BETWEEN DEM OPERATIVES, UKRAINIAN OFFICIALS IN 2016

The report goes into detail about the history behind the impeachment clause in the Constitution. A report was first produced during the Nixon impeachment inquiry and updated during the Clinton impeachment inquiry in the 1990s. Democrats say that those reports no longer reflect “the best available learning” on impeachment and so have been updated.

The updated report appears to be an attempt to challenge what Democrats say are “inaccurate” narratives about the process.

According to the committee: “Since the House began its impeachment inquiry, a number of inaccurate claims have circulated about how impeachment works under the Constitution. To assist the Committee in its deliberations, we address six issues of potential relevance: (1) the law that governs House procedures for impeachment; (2) the law that governs the evaluation of evidence, including where the President orders defiance of House subpoenas; (3) whether the President can be impeached for abuse of his executive powers; (4) whether the President’s claims regarding his motives must be accepted at face value; (5) whether the President is immune from impeachment if he attempts an impeachable offense but is caught before he completes it; and (6) whether it is preferable to await the next election when a President has sought to corrupt that very same election.”

LEGAL SCHOLARS CLASH IN HEARING OVER WHETHER TRUMP COMMITTED IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE

The committee was meeting over the weekend in preparation for Monday's hearing. Democrats say Trump sought a political investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden in his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in exchange for military aid that was being withheld and a White House meeting. Trump has denied the charges and has accused Democrats of engaging in a politically motivated witch hunt against him.

Trump touts economic success amid impeachment pushVideo

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced this week that she had requested the Judiciary Committee to proceed with articles of impeachment against the president. Those articles are likely to encompass two major themes: abuse of office and obstruction.

The new report hints at those charges when it outlines how a president who "perverts his role as chief diplomat to serve private rather than public ends" has met the standard of high crimes and misdemeanors laid out in the Constitution. That is true "especially" if he invited rather than opposed foreign interference, the report says.

It comes as part of dueling narratives from Democrats and Republicans as they try to sway public opinion to their side of the debate.

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Republicans have indicated they intend to change the focus of the hearings should the House impeach and send articles to the Republican-controlled Senate for a trial. Trump on Thursday urged Democrats in the House to impeach him “fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate and so that our country can get back to business.”

He indicated that Republicans would seek testimony from top Democrats including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, former Biden and his son Hunter, as well as Speaker Pelosi.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Massachusetts governor defends ‘integrity’ of EBT system following report of abuse

closeFox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 4Video

Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 4

Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 4 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker defended the state’s Electronic Benefits Transfer system on Tuesday after a report published earlier in the week suggested some participants in the tax-funded welfare program committed fraud to pay for vacations in Hawaii, Las Vegas and Alaska.

MASSACHUSETTS EBT CARDS WERE USED IN ELITE HOTELS IN HAWAII: REPORT

The Republican governor responded to a Monday report in the Boston Herald that said a review of more than 2 million EBT expenditures in the 2019 fiscal year revealed thousands of out-of-state transactions. EBT cards were swiped on 18 different occasions in Hawaii, including one that was used twice at a posh island resort where rooms fetch $800 a night, the paper reported. In one instance, an EBT card was also used to buy a $700 round-trip ticket from the state to Hawaii.

The state’s Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), which operates welfare programs including the EBT system, bars cardholders from using the EBT cards for vacation services — but hotels are not banned. Baker's administration sent a response to the Herald Tuesday, saying that the governor has invested $1 million into “program integrity” at the DTA to bolster protocol already in place that detects forms of fraud.

The statement said the DTA conducted a “residency verification check” after two transactions mentioned in the report: a $400 EBT transaction in November 2018 at the Hanalei Bay Princeville Resort on the island of Kauai, in addition to a $140 transaction in January at the Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu. Under current DTA rules, “if an EBT card is exclusively used out of state for 45 days, a household must provide proof of current Massachusetts residence.”

The household whose card was swiped at the Princeville resort “was asked to verify residency and did not, so the case was closed and benefits expunged from the card,” according to the DTA. The second household who used their EBT card at the Sheraton “was able to prove that their travel was temporary,” but their account was later closed “because they began receiving (Social Security), which makes them ineligible for cash benefits, and system controls closed the case.”

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The DTA’s response failed to address the EBT transactions recorded in Las Vegas and Alaska. The agency added that it “will continue to focus on identifying potential areas of fraud and abuse and strengthening internal controls so that benefits are administered to eligible households and used for permitted purposes.”

Fox News' Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report.

Original Article

House Democrats vote to adopt Trump impeachment report, blast scheme to ‘solicit foreign interference’ in 2020 race

closeHouse Intelligence Committee Democrats release impeachment reportVideo

House Intelligence Committee Democrats release impeachment report

The report accuses President Trump of misusing his office to solicit election help from Ukraine; reaction and analysis from Bret Baier, anchor of 'Special Report.'

The Democrat-led House Intelligence Committee late Tuesday voted to adopt and issue its scathing report on the findings from the panel's impeachment inquiry, accusing President Trump of misusing his office to seek foreign help in the 2020 presidential race.

The 13-9 party-line vote on the 300-page report was a necessary step before the document could be transferred to the House Judiciary Committee, which is scheduled to begin taking up the case with its first formal impeachment hearing Wednesday morning.

However, a senior member of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's leadership team told Fox News in the evening that it seems unlikely the House can vote on impeachment before Christmas, saying it's "too complex" a process.

READ: HOUSE DEMOCRATS' IMPEACHMENT REPORT

"President Trump’s scheme subverted U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential reelection campaign," the Democrats' report said.

It asserted the inquiry "uncovered a months-long effort by President Trump to use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election."

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham swiftly hit back in a statement slamming the nature of the Intelligence Committee's inquiry and claiming it failed to prove any wrongdoing on Trump's part.

“At the end of a one-sided sham process, Chairman Schiff and the Democrats utterly failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump,” Grisham said. "This report reflects nothing more than their frustrations. Chairman Schiff’s report reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger straining to prove something when there is evidence of nothing.”

The Intelligence Committee, led by Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., conducted extensive interviews with witnesses connected to the Trump administration’s relationship with Ukraine, after an anonymous whistleblower filed a complaint alleging that during a July 25 phone call, Trump tried to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help Rudy Giuliani investigate Democratic activities in 2016 as well as former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Rep. Adam Schiff lays out findings of House Democrats' impeachment investigationVideo

"The President engaged in this course of conduct for the benefit of his own presidential reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political rival, and to influence our nation’s upcoming presidential election to his advantage," the report said. "In doing so, the President placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security."

Schiff also tweeted: "The impeachment inquiry uncovered overwhelming and uncontested evidence that President Trump abused the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference in our election for his own personal, political gain."

Schiff’s committee held closed-door sessions before opening up the inquiry to public hearings, which featured testimony from witnesses including National Security Council official Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

The report concluded that Trump withheld nearly $391 million in military aid from Ukraine, conditioning its delivery as well as a White House visit with Zelensky on a public announcement that Zelensky was conducting the investigations. It also accuses Trump of obstruction for instructing witnesses not to comply with congressional subpoenas.

ZELENSKY RIPS US AID DELAY, BUT SAYS HE NEVER DISCUSSED QUID PRO QUO WITH TRUMP

The report also alleges that Trump intimidated witnesses through statements he made about Yovanovitch, Vindman, Chargé d’Affaires for U.S. Embassy in Kiev William Taylor, and Jennifer Williams, special adviser for Europe and Russia in the Office of the Vice President.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and said his call with Zelensky was “perfect,” while maintaining there was no such quid pro quo tying aid to investigations. One key witness, E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, alleged a clear quid pro quo involving a White House meeting and a "potential quid pro quo" involving the aid — but also acknowledged he never heard those conditions from Trump directly.

Zelensky has also denied there was any pressure put on him or any talk of a quid pro quo between the two leaders, but he did recently criticize the decision to delay the aid.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall meet US President Donald Trump and wife Melania at Clarence House on December 3, 2019 in London, England. France and the UK signed the Treaty of Dunkirk in 1947 in the aftermath of WW2 cementing a mutual alliance in the event of an attack by Germany or the Soviet Union. The Benelux countries joined the Treaty and in April 1949 expanded further to include North America and Canada followed by Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. This new military alliance became the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The organisation grew with Greece and Turkey becoming members and a re-armed West Germany was permitted in 1955. This encouraged the creation of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact delineating the two sides of the Cold War. This year marks the 70th anniversary of NATO. (Photo by Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 03: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall meet US President Donald Trump and wife Melania at Clarence House on December 3, 2019 in London, England. France and the UK signed the Treaty of Dunkirk in 1947 in the aftermath of WW2 cementing a mutual alliance in the event of an attack by Germany or the Soviet Union. The Benelux countries joined the Treaty and in April 1949 expanded further to include North America and Canada followed by Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. This new military alliance became the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The organisation grew with Greece and Turkey becoming members and a re-armed West Germany was permitted in 1955. This encouraged the creation of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact delineating the two sides of the Cold War. This year marks the 70th anniversary of NATO. (Photo by Victoria Jones – WPA Pool/Getty Images) (Getty)

The Democrats' report said that Trump's phone call with Zelensky was not the only incident at issue, "[r]ather, it was a dramatic crescendo within a months-long campaign driven by President Trump in which senior U.S. officials, including the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Acting Chief of Staff, the Secretary of Energy, and others were either knowledgeable of or active participants in an effort to extract from a foreign nation the personal political benefits sought by the President."

Republicans drafted a report of their own, which rejected the Democratic majority's claims.

"The evidence presented does not prove any of these Democrat allegations, and none of the Democrats’ witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor,” the GOP report said.

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With the Intelligence Committee’s report in their hands, the Judiciary Committee is next going to call constitutional law experts to testify regarding the relevant legal principles involved in impeachment, before determining whether or not to approve articles of impeachment, which would then go to the full House for a vote.

Articles thought to be under consideration cover accusations ranging from bribery to abuse of power to obstruction.

If the House should vote to impeach, the Senate would hold a trial, where a two-thirds majority would be needed to convict.

A Senate trial could also dig deeper into the issues Trump once sought to have investigated: Joe Biden's role ousting a Ukraine prosecutor who had been looking into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings, where his son Hunter had a lucrative board role.

Fox News' Chad Pergram and Kellianne Jones contributed to this report.

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