FISA court review order leaves out key FBI players implicated in Horowitz report

closeFISA judge demands more answers on FBI warrantsVideo

FISA judge demands more answers on FBI warrants

Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn weighs in on fallout from IG report on FISA abuse.

Earlier this month, the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ordered the FBI to re-verify all previous warrant applications involving the FBI attorney who falsified evidence against the former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. However, Fox News has learned the court did not order the FBI to double-check warrant applications involving other officials who made key omissions and errors in warrant applications as the bureau sought to surveil Page.

The FISC's failure to request a comprehensive evaluation of previous submissions has stunned court-watchers who have questioned whether enough is being done to deter future misconduct by the FBI. In the past, the FISC has gone so far as to prohibit some FBI agents from appearing before the court after finding impropriety.

In response to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's long-awaited report into FBI surveillance abuses released earlier this month, FBI Director Christopher Wray has claimed that the agency "embraces the need for thoughtful, meaningful remedial action." Congressional Republicans, however, remain unconvinced that the bureau will solve the problem on its own.

“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,” Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, stated earlier this month as he introduced a bill to reform the FISC in response to the Horowitz report. “They flattened internal guardrails, deceived the FISA court, and irreparably damaged the reputation of an innocent American.”

Horowitz found specific evidence of oversights and errors by several top FBI employees as they sought to obtain a warrant to surveil Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). For example, an unidentified FBI supervisory special agent (SSA) mentioned in the IG report was responsible for ensuring that the bureau's "Woods Procedures" were followed in the Page warrant application.

According to the procedures, factual assertions need to be independently verified, and information contradicting those assertions must be presented to the court. But Horowitz found several instances in which the procedures were not followed.

Former Trump adviser Carter Page. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former Trump adviser Carter Page. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Horowitz's report leaves little doubt that the unnamed SSA is Joe Pientka — a current bureau employee. (The FBI has requested that Fox News not name Pientka, or any agent in a sensitive position.)

The inspector general also noted than an unnamed "Case Agent 1," was "primarily responsible" for some of the "most significant" errors and omissions in the FISA warrant applications and renewals submitted to the FISC to extend the monitoring of Page.

Nevertheless, FISC Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer ordered the FBI only to identify "all other matters currently or previously before this Court that involved the participation of the FBI OGC [Office of General Counsel] attorney" mentioned in Horowitz's report.

Additionally, Collyer ordered the FBI to "describe any steps taken or to be taken by the Department of Justice or FBI to verify that the United States’ submissions in those matters completely and fully described the material facts and circumstances" and to advise whether the attorney's conduct "has been referred to the appropriate bar association(s) for investigation or possible disciplinary action.

Those were apparent references to ex-FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, who Horowitz found to have doctored an email from the CIA. The FBI reached out to the CIA and other intelligence agencies for information on Page; 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.

FISC SLAMS FBI, SAYS 'FREQUENCY' OF ERRORS AND INACCURACIES CALLS INTO QUESTION PREVIOUS FISA WARRANT APPLICATIONS

Clinesmith then allegedly 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.

Collyer has separately sought updates from the FBI concerning details in the IG report but has ordered a re-review of any other FISA applications that were previously reviewed.

However, details in the IG report reveal that the pervasiveness of apparent misconduct in the FISA process extended far beyond Clinesmith.

The unnamed "SSA 1" in the IG report was given a supervisory role on the Russia investigation team, overseeing agents and reporting directly to since-fired anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok. The special agent created the electronic sub-file to which the reports by ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele would be uploaded. 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 SSA 1 believed Steele was the source, according to Horowitz.

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

SSA 1 apparently thought the same, as his notes from a meeting held on Sept. 30, 2016, 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.”

IG report confirms Steele dossier used to justify spying on Carter PageVideo

These assertions, which could have pointed to political motivations for Steele to make his information public weeks 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.

On Oct. 11, 2016, Steele met with then-State Department official Jonathan Winer and Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Kavalec. Steele informed Kavalec that the overseers of a Russian cyber-hacking operation targeting the 2016 U.S. elections were 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 on Nov. 18, 2016, but the FISA court was never provided this information, according to the IG report.

Additionally, SSA 1 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 met 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.

7 TAKEAWAYS FROM HOROWITZ'S BOMBSHELL FISA REPORT

SSA 1 also was responsible 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."

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; SSA 1 told Horowitz they “speculated.”

SSA 1 was also aware, according to Horowitz, 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.”

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Republican calls for more accountability may not go unanswered for long. Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham announced this month that he did not "agree" with the IG's assessment that the FBI's probes were properly predicted, 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.

"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."

Wilson Miller contributed to this report.

Original Article

Horowitz testifies before Senate committee after FISA court rebukes FBI

closeHorowitz: Report 'doesn't vindicate anyone'Video

Horowitz: Report 'doesn't vindicate anyone'

Horowitz faces questions on IG report; Anna Kooiman has the details.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz will testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday, in the aftermath of his report examining the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe and problems with the process used to obtain a warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Horowitz previously testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Wednesday’s hearing comes a day after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) rebuked the FBI in a rare public order that referenced his report. Horowitz had revealed that there were 17 inaccuracies and omissions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications for Page, which included a doctored email and the failure to include exculpatory information about Page that may have impacted the FISC’s decision to grant the warrants.

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

“The FBI's handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the [Office of Inspector General] report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above," Judge Rosemary Collyer wrote in her four-page order. "The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable."

Horowitz’s report also described how the FBI relied on information gathered by former British spy Christopher Steele as part of opposition research for Fusion GPS on behalf of the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee. Steele’s information helped lead officials to approve seeking a FISA warrant for Page, even though the information had not been vetted as required by FBI policy.

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The report said that while there were clear problems with the FBI’s FISA process, Horowitz did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that the Russia probe itself was launched due to political bias, although he noted that the threshold to start the probe was low. Additionally, when asked by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the inspector general made it clear that the question of possible bias “gets murkier” when discussing the FISA process.

Former FBI Director James Comey, who led the bureau at the time, insisted he was unaware of any impropriety at the time, but told “Fox News Sunday” he “was wrong” when he defended the FBI’s FISA process in the past. Still, he defended his former subordinates by claiming that no one committed any intentional misconduct, despite Horowitz calling for accountability and making referrals for further investigation. At the same time, Comey admitted that there was “real sloppiness,” and that as director, he was ultimately responsible.

Fox News' Andrew O'Reilly and Bill Mears contributed to this report.

Original Article

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

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

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

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

closeHorowitz: Political actors still working at FBIVideo

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

Sen. Kennedy tells Horowitz: ‘I thought I had dropped acid’ while reading FISA report

closeSen. John Kennedy says he 'thought I had dropped acid' while reading DOJ IG reportVideo

Sen. John Kennedy says he 'thought I had dropped acid' while reading DOJ IG report

Sen. John Kennedy says he 'thought I had dropped acid' while reading DOJ IG report

Senate Judiciary Committee member John Kennedy, R-La., said Wednesday that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report on FISA abuse during the 2016 Trump presidential campaign made him want to vomit.

While questioning Horowitz, Kennedy said the inspector general did a good job in compiling his report and that its findings are not a reflection on him.

"I'm about 70 percent of the way through but I'm going to finish it, and it is tedious… It's supposed to be tedious," he said.

"After about 15 percent of the way through, it made me want to heave," Kennedy added. "After about 25 percent of the way through I thought I had dropped acid — it is surreal, I just couldn't believe it."

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

Sen. Ted Cruz on surveillance of Trump campaign: This wasn't Jason Bourne, this was ' Beavis and Butt-head'Video

Horowitz replied that the contents of the report also continue to "surprise" him.

Kennedy later referred to the FBI's investigation into alleged connections between Trump campaign associates and Russia — dubbed "Crossfire Hurricane" — as "Misfire Hurricane" and asked whether some of the upper-level officials that have remained at the FBI since the campaign are still working on FISA surveillance applications.

Horowitz said the bureau itself may be a better source for those answers.

The Louisiana Republican also asked about Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official who formerly led the Organized Crime-Drug Enforcement Task Force, and had been demoted after his connection to Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm responsible for the anti-Trump dossier, came to light.

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"It's easier to divorce your spouse around here than get fired," Kennedy remarked.

The senator also got the inspector general to state on the record that the report "does not vindicate anyone at the FBI who touched this, including the leadership." However, he clarified that former FBI lawyer Lisa Page was not involved in the "FISA chain" of officials, but took part in other "discussions."

Earlier in his line of questioning, Kennedy remarked that Horowitz must have "strong kidneys" to withstand several hours straight in the witness chair.

The tone of the inspector general's testimony overall ran counter to much of the coverage surrounding the report's release that focused on the finding that investigators found no evidence of political bias and were indeed justified in launching the 2016 probe.

Horowitz reaffirmed that finding, touted by congressional Democrats eager to defend the probe, at Wednesday's hearing. But his testimony as a whole amounted to a tough assessment of the bureau's actions — and clarified that his two-year review on the Russia probe's origins and use of FISA warrants to surveil a Trump campaign aide did not close the book on the bias question either.

Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Original Article

Klobuchar goes on attack, grills Horowitz on Russian interference

closeSen. Amy Klobuchar: Let’s remember this is not about one election or one party, it’s about our democracyVideo

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: Let’s remember this is not about one election or one party, it’s about our democracy

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar questions Department of Justice watchdog Michael Horowitz on his report on alleged FISA abuse.

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., went on the offensive during the Senate Judiciary Committee's questioning of Justice Department Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz on Wednesday, shifting the focus of the hearing from the failures of the FBI during its Russia investigation by grilling Horowitz on the ongoing threat of Russian election interference.

While Republicans used their time during the hearing to hammer the investigation over their use of inaccurate and misleading evidence to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant for Carter Page, Klobuchar used her time to illustrate how Russia was and remains a real threat heading into the 2020 election.

IG MICHAEL HOROWITZ TESTIFIES BEFORE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: LIVE UPDATES

"I think it's important to put this discussion in context with what happened in the 2016 election, which is why we are here today," she said. "It is now undisputed by our intelligence agencies that Russia invaded our democracy. Not with bombs, or jets, or tanks, but with a sophisticated cyber-mission to undermine the underpinnings of our very democracy."

She then looked to the race she hopes to participate in, the 2020 presidential election, and recalled a warning from former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates.

"He said that, in fact, Russia has been emboldened to do this again," she said.

A former prosecutor, Klobuchar then asked a rapid-fire series of questions about Russian interference — past, present and future.

"Do you think that interference in our elections by a foreign government constitutes a national security threat?" she asked.

"Yes, I do," Horowitz said.

"Does anything in your report call into question the finding in the Special Counsel's report that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in a sweeping and systematic fashion?" she asked.

"No it does not," Horowitz said, saying that he cites former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report in his own report.

"Does anything in your report call into question the assessment of FBI Director [Christopher] Wray that Russians' interference in our elections is ongoing, and that its interference in the 2018 midterms [was] a, quote, 'dress rehearsal,' end quote, for the 2020 elections?" she asked

"No, it doesn't," he answered.

"Does anything in your report call into question the finding in the Special Counsel's report that quote 'the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome?'" Klobuchar asked.

Horowitz said he "did not take issue" with any of Mueller's report.

This line of questioning came after Klobuchar took aim at President Trump, who is facing possible impeachment over his request for Ukraine to investigate Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. She echoed Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who stated earlier in the hearing that it was Russia, not Ukraine, that interfered.

Klobuchar then referred to the recent testimony from former National Security Council official Fiona Hill during the impeachment inquiry.

"She said anyone that is repeating this lie is basically peddling in Russian propaganda," Klobuchar said.

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At the conclusion of her time, Klobuchar asked Horowitz if he agreed with Attorney General Bill Barr's belief that the Russia investigation was launched based on "the thinnest of suspicions."

While Horowitz said that there was "sufficient predication" for opening the Russia probe, he did make clear that this was a "low threshold."

Original Article

IG Horowitz rips ‘failure’ of entire ‘chain of command’ in FBI’s Trump-Russia probe

closeWhat questions should Inspector General Horowitz be asked about his report?Video

What questions should Inspector General Horowitz be asked about his report?

Reaction from former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Wednesday decried what he called “failure” by the entire “chain of command” involved in the FBI’s initial Trump-Russia investigation, saying in prepared testimony that they made “so many basic and fundamental errors” on “one of the most sensitive FBI investigations.”

Horowitz is slated to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday to testify on his report on the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation and alleged misconduct related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). He plans to criticize FBI leadership for the “inaccuracies” and “omissions” in their FISA applications for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, among other things.

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

“We are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked investigative teams; on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations; after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the FBI; even though the information sought through the use of FISA authority related so closely to an ongoing presidential campaign; and even though those involved with the investigation knew that their actions were likely to be subjected to close scrutiny,” Horowitz is expected to say in his opening statement before the committee.

“We believe this circumstance reflects a failure not just by those who prepared the FISA applications, but also by the managers and supervisors in the Crossfire Hurricane chain of command, including FBI senior officials who were briefed as the investigation progressed,” he wrote.

Horowitz’s long-awaited report determined that the FBI complied with policies in launching the Trump-Russia investigation, but also flagged “significant concerns with how certain aspects of the investigation were conducted and supervised.” The inspector general said his team has “reviewed over 1 million records and conducted over 100 interviews, including several witnesses who only recently agreed to be interviewed" as part of the nearly two-year-long investigation.

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

The 476-page report released Monday stated that Horowitz found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding the FBI’s launch of the probe, which was called “Crossfire Hurricane” inside the FBI, and efforts to seek a FISA warrant to monitor Carter Page. He extended a similar judgment to the launch of investigations into four Trump associates: Page, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

However, the report faulted the FBI for numerous errors in the FISA application process, identifying at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the application and renewals for Page’s FISA warrant. The report said that Page’s FISA application omitted information that the FBI had obtained from another U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Page, including that he had been “approved as an ‘operational contact’ for the other agency from 2008 to 2013.”

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

The Crossfire Hurricane team also left out Page’s “consensually monitored statements to an FBI” confidential human source saying that he “literally never met” Manafort, as well as Papadopoulos’ 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.”

The report also revealed that the FBI did not have specific information corroborating allegations against Page from the now-infamous dossier authored by ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. The inspector general found that 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 that they found “as early as January 2017” that there were “potentially serious problems” identified in Steele’s reporting, but that the team continued using his information as a basis for Page’s FISA warrant.

"FBI leadership supported relying on Steele's reporting to seek a FISA order targeting Page after being advised of, and giving consideration to, concerns expressed by a Department attorney that Steele may have been hired by someone associated with a rival candidate or campaign," Horowitz is expected to say in his opening statement. The work was funded by Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Horowitz’s report also found that 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. Horowitz revealed that the team failed to inform DOJ officials of information that was available to them at the time of the FISA applications. Much of that information was “inconsistent with, or undercut, the assertions contained in the FISA applications” and ultimately “resulted in inaccurate information being included” in Page’s FISA applications.

Original Article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FISA REPORT: DOJ WATCHDOG RELEASES FINDINGS ON RUSSIA PROBE SURVEILLANCE

"Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened," Durham said in his statement, adding that his "investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department" and "has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fox News' Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

Original Article

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

closeSensenbrenner: The 'surveillance state' is out of controlVideo

Sensenbrenner: The 'surveillance state' is out of control

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

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

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.

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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.

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