In case you missed it, this is an article to read and put in your back pocket when leftists try to tell you and others that the FBI investigation was justified.
Matt Taibbi is no friend of Donald Trump, but he appears to be a real reporter who isn’t afraid to tell the truth regardless of his political beliefs. I admire him for that. Just a few excerpts here, but please read his entire report. Here is his Rolling Stone bio:
Matt Taibbi is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone and winner of the 2008 National Magazine Award for columns and commentary. His most recent book is ‘I Can’t Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street,’ about the infamous killing of Eric Garner by the New York City police. He’s also the author of the New York Times bestsellers ‘Insane Clown President,’ ‘The Divide,’ ‘Griftopia,’ and ‘The Great Derangement.’
The Guardian headline reads: “DOJ Internal watchdog report clears FBI of illegal surveillance of Trump adviser.”
If the report released Monday by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz constitutes a “clearing” of the FBI, never clear me of anything. Holy God, what a clown show the Trump-Russia investigation was.
Like the much-ballyhooed report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Horowitz report is a Rorschach test, in which partisans will find what they want to find.
Officials on the “Crossfire Hurricane” Trump-Russia investigators went to extraordinary, almost comical lengths to seek surveillance authority of figures like Trump aide Carter Page. In one episode, an FBI attorney inserted the words “not a source” in an email he’d received from another government agency. This disguised the fact that Page had been an informant for that agency, and had dutifully told the government in real time about being approached by Russian intelligence. The attorney then passed on the email to an FBI supervisory special agent, who signed a FISA warrant application on Page that held those Russian contacts against Page, without disclosing his informant role.
Likewise, the use of reports by ex-spy/campaign researcher Christopher Steele in pursuit of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authority had far-reaching ramifications.
Not only did obtaining a FISA warrant allow authorities a window into other Trump figures with whom Page communicated, they led to a slew of leaked “bombshell” news stories that advanced many public misconceptions, including that a court had ruled there was “probable cause” that a Trump figure was an “agent of a foreign power.”
The “Steele dossier” was “Internet rumor,” and corroboration for the pee tape story was “zero.”
There are too many to list in one column, but the Horowitz report show years of breathless headlines were wrong. Some key points:
The so-called “Steele dossier” was, actually, crucial to the FBI’s decision to seek secret surveillance of Page.
Press figures have derided the idea that Steele was crucial to the FISA application, with some insisting it was only a “small part” of the application. Horowitz is clear:
We determined that the Crossfire Hurricane team’s receipt of Steele’s election reporting on September 19, 2016 played a central and essential role in the FBI’s and Department’s decision to seek the FISA order.
The report describes how, prior to receiving Steele’s reports, the FBI General Counsel (OGC) and/or the National Security Division’s Office of Intelligence (OI) wouldn’t budge on seeking FISA authority. But after getting the reports, the OGC unit chief said, “receipt of the Steele reporting changed her mind on whether they could establish probable cause.”
Meanwhile, the OI unit chief said Steele’s reports were “what kind of pushed it over the line.” There’s no FISA warrant without Steele.
Horowitz ratifies the oft-denounced “Nunes memo.”
Democrats are not going to want to hear this, since conventional wisdom says former House Intelligence chief Devin Nunes is a conspiratorial evildoer, but the Horowitz report ratifies the major claims of the infamous “Nunes memo.”
As noted, Horowitz establishes that the Steele report was crucial to the FISA process, even using the same language Nunes used (“essential”). He also confirms the Nunes assertion that the FBI double-dipped in citing both Steele and a September 23, 2016 Yahoo! news story using Steele as an unnamed source. Horowitz listed the idea that Steele did not directly provide information to the press as one of seven significant “inaccuracies or omissions” in the first FISA application.
There was gnashing of teeth when Nunes first released his memo in January, 2018. The press universally crapped on his letter, with a Washington Post piece calling it a “joke” and a “sham.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed Nunes for the release of a “bogus” document, while New York Senator Chuck Schumer said the memo was intended to “sow conspiracy theories and attack the integrity of federal law enforcement.” Many called for his removal as Committee chair.
The Horowitz report says all of that caterwauling was off-base. It also undercuts many of the assertions made in a ballyhooed response letter by Nunes counterpart Adam Schiff, who described the FBI’s “reasonable basis” for deeming Steele credible. The report is especially hostile to Schiff’s claim that the FBI “provided additional information obtained through multiple independent sources that corroborated Steele’s reporting.”
Steele in his “reports” embellished his sources’ quotes, played up nonexistent angles, invented attributions, and ignored inconsistencies. The FBI then transplanted this bad reporting in the form of a warrant application and an addendum to the Intelligence Assessment that included the Steele material, ignoring a new layer of inconsistencies and red flags its analysts uncovered in the review process.
Then, following a series of leaks, the news media essentially reported on the FBI’s wrong reporting of Steele’s wrong reporting.
The impact was greater than just securing a warrant to monitor Page. More significant were the years of headlines that grew out of this process, beginning with the leaking of the meeting with Trump about Steele’s blackmail allegations, the insertion of Steele’s conclusions in the Intelligence Assessment about Russian interference, and the leak of news about the approval of the Page FISA warrant.
As a result, a “well-developed conspiracy” theory based on a report that Comey described as “salacious and unverified material that a responsible journalist wouldn’t report without corroborating,” became the driving news story in a superpower nation for two years. Even the New York Times, which published a lot of these stories, is in the wake of the Horowitz report noting Steele’s role in “unleashing a flood of speculation in the news media about the new president’s relationship with Russia.”
No matter what people think the political meaning of the Horowitz report might be, reporters who read it will know: Anybody who touched this nonsense in print should be embarrassed.