IG Report Damning to FBI Integrity and Competence
IG Report Damning to FBI Integrity and Competence
The much-anticipated Inspector General (IG) report detailing the Department of Justice’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia links was released yesterday.
The Democrats, desperate to somehow point to any wrongdoing on the part of President Trump, are either ignoring the glaring condemnation of FBI conduct during the course of the investigation, haven’t read the report, or are functionally illiterate.
Maybe all three.
Joe Scarborough and his personal flotation device Mika Brzezinsky are particularly unhinged screeching about all the “lies” of President Trump and spinning the report to support their contention about how evil Trump is. And while they are focusing on the fact that the IG determined that the FBI had cause to begin the investigation into Russian meddling and there was no evidence of bias in the investigation’s origins, they are ignoring just how damning the IG was to the competence and integrity of the Bureau.
MSNBC’s bias is blatantly glaring in this video:
The IG report is clear that without the Steele dossier, there was insufficient evidence to get a FISA warrant on Carter Page.
With regard to Page, on August 15, 2016, the Crossfire Hurricane team requested assistance from the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC) to prepare a FISA application for submission to the FISC. However, after consultation between FBI OGC and attorneys in the Office of Intelligence (IO) in the Department’s National Security Division (NSD), which is responsible for preparing FISA applications and appearing before the FISC, the Crossfire Hurricane team was told in late August 2016 that more information was needed to establish probable cause for a FISA on Page.
So despite Rachel Maddow’s strong spin on the report that Steele’s reports had nothing to do with the initiation of the investigation, fact is that without those reports, they would have never obtained the FISA warrant on Page.
And worse yet, the anticipation pee-pee dance the Democrats were doing before the IG report was released, probably in hopes of finding information in its more than 400 pages to link their impeachment efforts, fizzled dramatically to nothing.
The report didn’t focus on any wrongdoing on the part of Trump or his campaign. This is the Justice Department Inspector General, so the report focused on the mistakes made by the agents involved in operation Crossfire Hurricane, the corners that were cut in their zeal to investigate Russia meddling, and probably some anti-Trump bias as well.
Because while the IG found no evidence of bias in the investigation’s beginnings and said the Bureau was justified in starting its inquiry, massive instances of wrongdoing have come to light.
Those involved in Crossfire Hurricane omitted information the FBI had obtained from another government agency detailing its prior relationship with Carter Page, and that some of the information Page had provided to the other agency concerning his prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers overlapped with facts asserted in the FISA application.
These same people overstated the credibility and significance of Christopher Steele as a source, claiming that Steele’s prior reporting had been “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings,” and, worse yet, was not approved by Steele’s handling agent, as required by the Woods Procedures – FBl’s factual accuracy reviews designed to ensure that FISA applications contain a complete and accurate set of facts. According to the IG report, only “some” of Steele’s prior reporting had been corroborated (most of it had not) and his information was never used in a criminal proceeding. But Crossfire Hurricane personnel were apparently worried about approval of their FISA application.
According to the handling agent, he would not have approved the representation in the application because only “some” of Steele’s prior reporting had been corroborated-most of it had not-and because Steele’s information was never used in a criminal proceeding. We concluded that these failures created the inaccurate impression in the applications that at least some of Steele’s past reporting had been deemed sufficiently reliable by prosecutors to use in court, and that more of his information had been corroborated than was actually the case.
Steele was a retired British intelligence officer, who ran a political consulting firm of his own and was working for Fusion GPS, digging up political dirt on Trump. As such, his allegiance wasn’t to his government, or even to his government’s closest ally – the United States – but rather to his client, who was paying him to dig up dirt on a political opponent. He was a private citizen doing a job – not an intelligence officer working in that capacity. His objectivity as a source should have been in question.
Worse yet, once the Bureau cut ties with Steele, Crossfire Hurricane personnel apparently felt it was OK to continue using his information, using Bruce Ohr as a conduit.
Stupid or arrogant? You decide.
They omitted information about the reliability of a key Steele subsource, who provided information for the Steele report, and failed to tell the full story about this subsource, whom Steele himself identified as a “boaster” and an “egoist,” who “may engage in some embellishment.”
These same people lied about the kind of information Steele disclosed in a press article and omitted Papadopoulos’s statements to an FBI source in September 2016 denying that anyone associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia or with outside groups like Wikileaks. Did they not think that providing a full accounting of a subject’s statements was important?
They also omitted Page’s claim to another source that he had “literally never met” or “said one word to” Paul Manafort and that Manafort had not responded to any of Page’s emails, which, if true, contradicted Steele’s claims that Page was conspiring with Russia by acting as an intermediary for Manafort on behalf of the Trump campaign.
Worse yet, the FBI personnel involved in Crossfire Hurricane selectively included and omitted statements by Page they believed were inconsistent with their theory about Page’s promise to cooperate with Russia to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton.
The IG further concluded that the team working on Crossfire Hurricane failed to inform their leadership about information that may have been questionable.
We found no evidence that the OI Attorney, NSD supervisors, ODAG officials, or Yates were made aware of these issues before the first application was submitted to the court. Although we also found no evidence that Corney had been made aware of these issues at the time he certified the application, as discussed in our analysis in Chapter Eleven, multiple factors made it difficult for us to precisely determine the extent of FBI leadership‘s knowledge as to each fact that was not shared with OI and not included, or inaccurately stated, in the FISA applications.
We concluded that the failures described above and in this report represent serious performance failures by the supervisory and non-supervisory agents with responsibility over the FISA applications. These failures prevented OI from fully performing its gatekeeper function and deprived the decision makers the opportunity to make fully informed decisions. Although some of the factual misstatements and omissions we found in this review were arguably more significant than others, we believe that all of them taken together resulted in FISA applications that made it appear that the information supporting probable cause was stronger than was actually the case.
The IG report also revealed some procedural and policy shortcomings that resulted in a hot mess that also helped undermine the public’s confidence in the investigation. Although the Crossfire Hurricane team’s use of human and undercover sources complied with applicable policies, procedurally, approval was only needed from a first-level FBI supervisor and “there was no applicable Department or FBI policy requiring the FBI to notify Department officials” of the team’s monitoring of conversations with members of a presidential campaign, so no Justice Department officials were consulted before conducting these operations. This is a presidential campaign. It could have (and did) result in the campaign of the future President of the United States being monitored without high-level oversight.
This is a problem.
The IG report is nearly 500 pages long, so you can read it yourselves to find out the in-the-weeds details of what I discussed here. Suffice it to say that the report condemned the actions of the FBI team working on operation Crossfire Hurricane much more than it contradicted anything that Trump had been complaining about for several years.
Fact is that when the FBI cut corners and engaged in questionable tactics to conduct what was a legitimate investigation into Russian activities in the 2016 election – activities I have previously addressed here that aimed to undermine not just Americans’ confidence in their government officials (like they really needed help in that department!), but also the fundamental way we interact with and process information from the media, from our government officials, and from one another – they undermined their own case, especially given the fact that the leaders of that operation despised Trump and were squarely in the Hillary camp from the start.
The IG report highlighted in stark relief just how incompetent and lacking in integrity some at the FBI were. There’s no way around that.
Featured image of FBI seal courtesy of Wikimedia Commons in the public domain.