DOJ's FISA Application Abuse Confirmed
It shows what Republicans have long alleged: The DOJ relied almost solely upon the Steele dossier.
Over the weekend, the Justice Department finally released a 412-page highly redacted version of the FBI’s application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant. The warrant, granted in October 2016, gave the FBI authorization to wiretap then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s former foreign policy adviser Carter Page as part of its Russia investigation. Back in February of this year, both the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee released their findings on the FBI’s handling of the FISA application, concluding that the FBI had misled the court over the legitimacy of the infamous Christopher Steele dossier. Furthermore, the FBI relied almost exclusively upon the dossier as justification in seeking the FISA warrant, as well as for three subsequent extensions of the original warrant.
This latest document release serves to confirm what Republicans and specifically Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) have long been arguing — that leadership within Barack Obama’s Justice Department abused its authority in order to justify spying on a political opponent. None of this is new news since the House and Senate released their memos earlier this year, but now the actual FISA application’s details are public and better fill in the picture.
What new details have come to light?
First, we know now that the DOJ and FBI relied on the unverified Steele dossier to obtain the FISA warrant. The FBI has a statutory requirement to only submit a “Verified Application” to the FISA court, but in the case of the Clinton/DNC dossier, recall that even former FBI Director James Comey testified to congress that it was “salacious and unverified.”
President Trump responded,“It was indeed the unverified and fake dirty dossier, that was paid for by crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC, that was knowingly and falsely submitted to FISA and which was responsible for starting the totally conflicted and discredited Muller witch hunt.”
Second, it now appears that not only did Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC pay Steele to compile the dossier but that “Source #1” — Steele — “has been compensated … by the FBI.” How much and for what specific service has been redacted. Third, it is confirmed that the FBI relied heavily on hearsay and Steele’s reputation and did not establish the reliability of his “sub-sources.” Fourth, the DOJ used multiple news stories that had in turn sourced their reporting from Steele himself in seeking further evidence to support its warrant application. Fifth, no probable cause is established in the FISA application. While a theory is proposed, no supporting evidence is offered in support of the theory. The application states that the FBI “believes that Russian Government’s [interference] efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with Trump.”
Finally, as Margot Cleveland of The Federalist notes, “The DOJ effectively criminalized GOP foreign policy” by using “leaked information from internal GOP platform debates as ‘evidence’ of collusion.” Cleveland continued, “Also disconcerting is the DOJ’s reliance on Trump’s ‘conciliatory words’ toward Russia in conflict with GOP insiders to justify spying on the Trump campaign — in effect criminalizing foreign policy differences concerning Ukraine.”
Andrew McCarthy adds, “Now that we can see it all in black and white — mostly black, as they are heavily redacted — it is crystal clear that the Steele dossier, an unverified Clinton-campaign product, was the driving force behind the Trump-Russia investigation.”
This is the real scandal that should be dominating news media headlines rather than two weeks of MSM talkingheads endlessly running to the fainting couch over what Trump said, appeared to say, or didn’t say about Russia and its election meddling.