President Trump disregards Russia meddling report as Democrat ‘misinformation campaign’

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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UPDATED 1:17 PM PT — Friday, February 21, 2020

President Trump has dismissed new reports that claimed Russia is, once again, attempting to sway the presidential election in his favor. On Friday, the president slammed Democrat lawmakers for what he called “another misinformation campaign.”

The president has labeled the move “hoax number seven” and noted the party still, after two weeks, has yet to finalize the results of the recent caucus in Iowa.

The president’s son took to his defense later that day, tweeting, “Here we go again with the Russia, Russia, Russia nonsense.”

Russian government officials have also denied these reports, which they called “paranoid.” On Friday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denounced the allegations and emphasized they will only escalate closer to the election.

FILE – In this June 28, 2019, file photo, President Donald Trump, right, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

This came after several media outlets reported that Russia is trying to meddle in the 2020 elections. According to those reports, intelligence officials told the House Intelligence Committee that the country is aiding President Trump’s reelection efforts.

Democrats in Congress reacted to these reports by saying this was “exactly as we warned he would do.”

“We count on the intelligence community to inform Congress of any threat of foreign interference in our elections,” stated Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). “If reports are true and the president is interfering with that, he is again jeopardizing our efforts to stop foreign meddling.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called on members of Congress to “condemn the president’s reported efforts to dismiss threats to the integrity of our democracy and to politicize our intelligence community.”

“American voters should decide American elections, not Vladimir Putin,” she added.

Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Original Article

Russia: Only matter of time before Turkey attacks Syria’s Idlib province

Turkish army artillery arrives in the east of Idlib, Syria, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. (AP Photo)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 3:58 PM PT — Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Russia recently said a Turkish military operation against Syrian forces in the Idlib region would be a “worst-case scenario.” A Kremlin spokesperson said Russia has made its final warnings about an “imminent” Turkish attack in Syria.

The official said Moscow failed to deescalate tensions between the two countries. This came after Syria killed over a dozen Turkish troops in an operation to retake rebel held areas in its Idlib province.

Russia emphasized Turkey will likely retaliate soon.

“If it is about military operation against terrorist groups in Idlib, it would be in line with Sochi agreements,” stated spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “Neutralization of those terrorist groups, who currently possess powerful infrastructure, weaponry, hardware and ammunition, is a duty of the Turkish side.”

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he will give Syrian forces until the end of the month to withdraw from Idlib.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses to his ruling party’s legislator at parliament, in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Meanwhile, the U.S. has expressed deep concern over Russia’s recent escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine. In a Wednesday tweet, a state department spokeswoman said the U.S. stands in solidarity with its allies in condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine.

She cited the administration’s support for President Zelensky and his commitment to peace in the region.

Officials have also called on Russia to abide by a ceasefire it signed under the Minsk Protocol. The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine spoke out against this week’s attack against the Ukrainian military in Donbass by Russian backed forces.

In this video grab provided by the RU-RTR Russian television, a woman stands next to her home, that was distroyed during cross fire between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces, in Zaitseve, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. (RU-RTR Russian Television via AP)

Original Article

NATO defense ministers discuss Russia’s latest missile deployment, arms race

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, second right, meets with U.S. Secretary for Defense Mark Esper, second left, prior to a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, Pool)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 1:55 PM PT — Thursday, February 13, 2020

NATO defense ministers and Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg are discussing Russia’s recent deployment of advanced cruise missiles. During the second day of their meeting in Brussels, NATO officials agreed to maintain deterrence strategies against the Kremlin while also seeking to strengthen dialogue.

“We have seen an unprecedented increase in defense spending across Europe and North America, with an extra $400 billion invested by the end of 2024,” said Stoltenberg. “This is making NATO stronger, but we need to keep up the momentum to keep our nations safe in a more unpredictable world.”

He said NATO will not mirror the Kremlin’s actions by deploying more weapons. He emphasized that both sides must avoid provocations.

He went on to say the latest military build-up increases the risk of miscalculation and misunderstanding, which could potentially spark a new conflict in Europe.

“We do whatever we can to prevent a new arms race,” stated Stoltenberg. “A new arms race, especially with nuclear weapons, is not good.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony to receive credentials from newly appointed foreign ambassadors to Russia in Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

Original Article

U.S. Ambassador to Russia calls for Paul Whelan’s release

The new U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan speaks to the media after visiting Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine who was arrested for alleged spying in Moscow on Dec. 28, 2018, in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr)

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UPDATED 6:08 PM PT — Thursday, January 30, 2020

The new U.S. ambassador to Russia said a former U.S. Marine, who is imprisoned in the country, is suffering in confinement. On Thursday, Ambassador John Sullivan met with Paul Whelan, who’s been in custody in Russia since the end of 2018 on allegations of spying. Sullivan is now calling for his release.

“It’s time for this nightmare to end, and for Paul to go home,” he said.

Sullivan stated there is “no evidence and clearly no crime” in the case. He added Whelan has been denied proper medical attention.

“His health has clearly deteriorated since he was arrested over 13 months ago,” said the ambassador. “He hasn’t received medical treatment for those medical problems which…are extremely uncomfortable and potentially a serious threat to his health.”

FILE- In this Aug. 23, 2019, file photo, Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine who was arrested for alleged spying in Moscow on Dec. 28, 2018, speaks while standing in a cage as he waits for a hearing in a court room in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

The 49-year-old Whelan has maintained his innocence and said he’s been mistreated during his imprisonment.

He has been isolated from his family for more than a year now. Sullivan noted it can take as much as six months to receive letters from home.

Original Article

Pentagon budget would hit Syria, Iran, Russia with tough sanctions

closeImages show Iran building tunnel in Syria to store missilesVideo

Images show Iran building tunnel in Syria to store missiles

New images show Iran has nearly completed a tunnel in Syria to store missiles and weapons; Trey Yingst has the details.

The $738 billion Pentagon budget passed by Senate lawmakers Tuesday includes tough new sanctions on Syria, Iran and Russia for their alleged war crimes committed during Syria’s nearly decadelong civil war.

The Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act of 2019, passed by the GOP-majority Senate with an 86-6 vote, authorizes sanctions within six months on the Syrian government and anyone else who is “responsible for or complicit in human rights abuses committed against citizens of Syria or their family members.”

FILE: The Pentagon is seen from air from Air Force One. 

FILE: The Pentagon is seen from air from Air Force One. (AP)

The bill applies sanctions to supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military efforts in the country’s civil war, which includes Russia and Iran.

Muna Jondy, a Syrian-American immigration lawyer, told NPR she hopes the sanctions will help curb airstrikes on hospitals and civilian targets.

“Fifty hospitals have been bombed since April 2019,” she said. “There will be financial consequences.”

The bill is named after the code name of a Syrian police officer who documented torture victims in Syria from the outbreak of the war in early 2011 to his defection from the country in 2013.

SENATE PASSES RESOLUTION FORMALLY RECOGNIZING ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

The bill was immediately proposed after the officer’s testimony before Congress but failed to gather momentum in several previous attempts led, in part, by Rep. Eliot Engel of New York.

“We’ve never had something this strongly passed into law by the Congress,” said Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., one of the original co-sponsors of the Caesar Bill who met with the Syrian defector earlier this year. “[T]here’s no doubt that can have an impact.”

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The bill now goes to President Trump for final authorization.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas tried hiding $1M Russia payment, prosecutors allege

closeFox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 11Video

Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 11

Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 11 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com

U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday accused Rudy Giuliani's associate Lev Parnas of receiving and trying to hide a $1 million payment from Russia just one month before he was charged with campaign finance violations.

Prosecutors are now asking a judge to jail Parnas for underreporting his assets, according to Bloomberg.

“Parnas failed to disclose, in describing his income to the government and pretrial services, the fact that in September 2019, he received $1 million from a bank account in Russia into Account-1,” the court filing stated.

The court filing reportedly gave little explanation as to where the $1 million came from or what it was intended for. Prosecutors claim the money was deposited into an account overseen by Parnas' wife, Svetlana, in an attempt to shield it from suspicion.

Parnas was arrested in October with his associate Igor Fruman as they attempted to board a one-way international flight out of Dulles Aiport near Washington, D.C. He was then charged less than 24 hours later with violating a ban on foreign donations and contributions in connection with federal and state elections.

GIULIANI ASSOCIATE LEV PARNAS WILLING TO COMPLY WITH IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY

In November, Parnas' lawyer Josephy Bondy said his client would be willing to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, despite denying previous House committee requests for specific documents.

“He will answer the subpoena to the best of his ability,” Bondy said. "Parnas was deeply disturbed to learn in jail while awaiting bail that the president was disavowing and claiming not to know him."

Parnas and Fruman pleaded not guilty to the campaign finance charges connected to political donations to a pro-Trump super PAC. They are accused of using the company Global Energy Producers (GEP) to funnel money into American elections.

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Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show GEP made $325,000 in donations to the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action in May 2018.

Fox News' Marta Dhanis and Louis Casiano contributed to this report

Original Article

Cruz mocks FBI on Russia probe: ‘This wasn’t Jason Bourne. This was Beavis and Butt-Head’

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

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

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questions Department of Justice watchdog Michael Horowitz on his report on alleged FISA abuse.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, let it be known Wednesday that he isn't impressed with the FBI’s and the Department of Justice’s handling of the Trump-Russia investigation — saying those involved were hardly the type of skillful agents found in an action thriller movie.

“What was going on here — this wasn’t Jason Bourne, this was Beavis and Butt-Head,” Cruz said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Cruz’s pop culture reference was only the highlight of a lengthy tirade where he bashed the conduct of some FBI agents and Justice Department (DOJ) employees during the Trump-Russia probe.

IG MICHAEL HOROWITZ TESTIFIES BEFORE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: LIVE UPDATES

The hearing, which featured the testimony of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, came two days after a report identified significant problems with applications to receive and renew warrants to eavesdrop on a former Trump campaign aide in 2016 and 2017.

Cruz called the report a "stunning indictment of the FBI and the Department of Justice, of a pattern of abusive power." He also said the facts in the report "should be deeply chilling" to anyone who understands them and that the errors made "are grotesque abuses of power."

<br>Video

While Horowitz said on Wednesday that he is concerned that “so many basic and fundamental errors" were made by the FBI, his report found that the FBI's actions were not motivated by partisan bias and that the investigation was opened for a proper cause.

“I think the activities we found don’t vindicate anybody who touched" the warrant applications, Horowitz said.

Democrats have seized on the inspector general's conclusion that the investigation was not tainted by political motivations. But Republicans say the findings show the investigation was fatally flawed. Attorney General William Barr, a vocal defender of President Trump, said the FBI investigation was based on a “bogus narrative" and he declined to rule out that agents may have acted in bad faith.

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Horowitz told senators that the FBI failed to follow its own standards for accuracy and completeness when it sought a warrant from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor the communications of ex-campaign aide Carter Page.

'Stunning' IG shows blatant FBI misconduct: Ted CruzVideo

The report detailed 17 errors and omissions during those wiretap applications, including failing to tell the court when questions were raised about the reliability of some of the information that it had presented to receive the warrants.

“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," Horowitz said.

Fox News' Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

IG calls for ‘accountability’ over FBI failures in Russia probe

closeHorowitz: 'Significant concerns' with how FBI handled Russia investigationVideo

Horowitz: 'Significant concerns' with how FBI handled Russia investigation

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz delivers an opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing examining his report on alleged FISA abuses.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded in his long-awaited report on the FBI's Russia investigation that there was no evidence of political bias in the probe's launch — but he made clear during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that this does not let anyone off the hook.

To the contrary, Horowitz said during Wednesday's hearing that while he did not make a determination as to motive, he is referring officials to the FBI and Department of Justice for further review.

IG MICHAEL HOROWITZ TESTIFIES BEFORE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: LIVE UPDATES

"[O]ur final recommendation was to refer the entire chain of command that we outline here to the FBI and the Department for consideration of how to assess and address their performance failures," Horowitz said during his opening statement.

Horowitz also called for "individual accountability" for officials. He went into some specifics when committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked about an attorney who worked on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, a key component of the IG's review.

Graham identified the attorney as Kevin Clinesmith, and brought up anti-Trump text messages he had sent in the past, including "Viva la resistance."

The attorney was found to have altered an email to say that Page had not been a CIA source, when in fact he had been working with them. This ultimately led to the FBI renewing the FISA warrant against Page while leaving exculpatory evidence out of their application.

"What motivated him to do that?" Graham asked.

"It is unknown as to precisely why he did it," Horowitz said, "but we reference in here the text messages you mention and we have not made a determination but rather, as we note in here, when we learned this we notified the Attorney General and the FBI Director and referred it to them."

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Later in the hearing, when asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., about the lack of evidence of political bias in the Russia probe, Horowitz made clear that this finding pertained more to the initiation of the investigation, not everything that happened afterward.

"It gets murkier, the question gets more challenging, senator, when you get to the FISA," Horowitz said.

Original Article

Graham alleges ‘massive criminal conspiracy’ in FBI’s Russia probe in blistering hearing statement

closeGraham opens IG hearing with scathing take on FISA report: 'The system failed'Video

Graham opens IG hearing with scathing take on FISA report: 'The system failed'

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham delivers his opening statement to the FISA report hearing with DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham accused the FBI officials who investigated the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia of a “massive criminal conspiracy” in a fiery opening statement Wednesday for a hearing where the Justice Department's top watchdog testified.

In a freewheeling speech to kick off the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on FBI abuses, the committee chairman said federal investigators made more than a few missteps — and took the law into their own hands.

IG MICHAEL HOROWITZ TESTIFIES BEFORE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: LIVE UPDATES

“What has been described as a few irregularities becomes a massive criminal conspiracy over time to defraud the FISA court, to illegally surveil an American citizen and keep an operation open against a sitting president of the United States — violating every norm known to the rule of law,” Graham said.

The more than 40-minute unscripted speech came before the long-anticipated testimony of Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general who investigated the origins of the Russia probe into the Trump campaign.

Horowitz’s report, released Monday, found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding the FBI’s launch of the probe, which was called “Crossfire Hurricane,” and efforts to seek a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to monitor Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

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.

IG HOROWITZ RIPS 'FAILURE' OF ENTIRE 'CHAIN OF COMMAND' IN FBI'S TRUMP-RUSSIA PRO

Graham said Horowitz's team discovered "an abuse of power I never believed could actually exist in 2019."

"How bad is it? It was as if J. Edgar Hoover came back to life," Graham said.

The Judiciary Committee chairman read aloud the text messages between FBI investigators Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the former lovers who expressed disgust with Trump in their exchanges, calling Trump a "loathsome human" and "awful."

Graham blasted the few investigators as “bad people.” He said former British spy Christopher Steele, who authored the salacious and unverified dossier against Trump, had an ax to grind against the president and those biases colored the investigation.

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In a passionate speech that was reminiscent of his angry defense of Brett Kavanaugh before his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Graham said he has serious concerns about whether the FISA Court can continue without reforms.

“Trump’s time will come and go," Graham said. "But I hope we understand that what happened here can never happen again. Because what happened here is not a few irregularities. What happened here is the system failed."

Graham also said the report should be a call to action for FBI Director Christopher Wray.

“Director Wray, you’ve got a problem,” Graham said.

He urged Page, the former Trump campaign adviser, to file suit.

"I hope Carter Page gets a lawyer and sues the hell out of the FBI and DOJ," Graham said.

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

Russia’s Sergey Lavrov meets with Trump, Pompeo, dismisses election-interference worries

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Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 10

Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 10 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com

After meeting with President Trump at the White House in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said there was no talk of election interference and brushed off the notion that it was a topic of importance.

Lavrov did, however, acknowledge that he discussed election interference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but said it has yet to come up in his talks with Trump, according to The Associated Press.

“We haven’t exactly even discussed elections,” Lavrov said at a news conference at the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Lavrov downplayed a question about whether or not Trump had shared any classified information with him during their meeting and told reporters, "If you find any secrets, the scoop is yours." He also lamented the "wave of suspicion that has overcome Washington" with regard to election interference.

PUTIN, ZELENSKY, IN FIRST SITDOWN, AGREE TO EXCHANGE ALL PRISONERS, REVIVE PEACE PROCESS

"All speculation about our alleged interference in domestic processes of the United States is baseless," Lavrov added.

In addition to discussing arms control, Pompeo and Lavrov reportedly highlighted Russian aggression against Ukraine, as well. Pompeo reiterated the United States' position that Crimea belongs to Ukraine, and should not be subject to Russian control. The peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Lavrov's arrival came after a meeting in Paris on Monday between Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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The meeting was considered an attempt to de-escalate tensions between the two nations amid a five-year separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine. Both leaders agreed to exchange all prisoners and implement a cease-fire by the end of the year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Fox News' Louis Casiano and The Associated Press contributed to this report

Original Article

Barr disagrees with Horowitz report on Russia probe launch

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

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

Barr says FBI launched intrusive investigation into a presidential campaign on thinnest of suspicions; reaction and analysis from 'Special Report' anchor Bret Baier.

Attorney General William Barr publicly disagreed with the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, on Monday following the release of a long-awaited internal review that concluded the FBI had sufficient reason to launch the extensive Russia probe involving the Trump campaign, although members of the bureau committed some significant errors.

In a statement, Barr shared Trump's views that the initial investigation was invasive and launched on the "thinnest of suspicions."

“The inspector general’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Barr said in a statement.

DOJ releases inspector general's findings on FBI surveillanceVideo

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

“It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory,” he continued. “Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration.”

Trump spent the majority of the investigation blasting the FBI and accusing bureau leaders of conspiring to ruin his presidency. Former FBI bosses James Comey and Andrew McCabe did not act with political bias, the IG found.

U.S. Attorney John H. Durham, whom Barr appointed to run a separate investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, backed his attorney general.

“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” Durham said in a statement.

DOJ releases Inspector General's report, no political biasVideo

The IG found no intentional misconduct or bias surrounding the probe's launch or efforts to seek a highly controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the early months of the Russia investigation.

Barr disagreed, saying the FBI misled the FISA court in a “rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates.”

He continued, “FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source.”

The report faulted the FBI over errors in the application process. The IG investigation found at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the Page applications and said a new audit into the FISA process would take place.

COMEY CLAIMS VINDICATION AFTER HOROWITZ FISA REPORT: 'SO IT WAS ALL LIES'

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

Horowitz and investigators were critical of the FBI's handling of the case, including for failing to share information that could have contradicted allegations in the FISA applications.

“[T]he Crossfire Hurricane team failed to inform department officials of significant information that was available to the team at the time that the FISA applications were drafted and filed,” the report said.

Barr said the FISA report showed a clear abuse of the surveillance process.

“While most of the misconduct identified by the inspector general was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the inspector general’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process,” the attorney general added.

Andy McCarthy analyzes IG Report findingsVideo

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“FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source,” he added. “The inspector general found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory.”

The release of the IG report came as Democrats have been leading an impeachment inquiry into Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

Fox News' Alex Pappas, Ronn Blitzer and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Original Article

FISA report drops: 7 takeaways from DOJ watchdog’s Russia probe review

closeHorowitz report expected to find FBI justified in probing Trump campaign, but falsified documentVideo

Horowitz report expected to find FBI justified in probing Trump campaign, but falsified document

The Justice Department's internal watchdog is set to release a report expected to document misconduct during the investigation into President Trump's 2016 campaign. Gregg Jarrett and Francey Hakes react.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Monday released the highly anticipated findings from his nearly two-year review concerning the origins of the Russia investigation and the issuance of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants for a Trump campaign official.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the 476-page report:

No political bias in launch of probe, FISA applications

The report said investigators found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding both the launch of the Trump-Russia investigation as well as efforts to seek the controversial FISA warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the early stages of that probe.

CLICK TO READ THE IG REPORT

“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page,” the report said.

The report also said that key officials, including former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, did not act with political bias. The IG report generally found that agents were justified in launching the investigation known as Crossfire Hurricane, as well as investigations into four Trump associates: Page, George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort.

"[W]e found that each investigation was opened for an authorized purpose and, in light of the low threshold established by Department and FBI predication policy, with adequate factual predication," the report said.

'Significant' errors, omissions

Despite the inspector general’s finding that there was no evidence of political bias or improper motivation, Horowitz’s report revealed there were at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the Page FISA applications.

Carter Page on the upcoming release of the FISA reportVideo

The report said that the FISA applications for Page omitted information that the FBI had obtained from another U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Page, "including that Page had been approved as an 'operational contact' for the other agency from 2008 to 2013."

Another error in the applications was the inclusion of a “source characterization statement asserting that [Christopher] Steele’s prior reporting had been ‘corroborated and used in criminal proceedings,’ which overstated the significance of Steele’s past reporting and was not approved by Steele’s handling agent.” Christopher Steele is the former British spy whose unverified Trump "dossier" was used to help justify the warrants.

The FISA applications also omitted information regarding the reliability of a key Steele “sub-source,” the report said.

Notably, the FISA application also omitted Page’s “consensually monitored statements to an FBI” confidential human source saying that he “literally never met” former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, as well as former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos’ consensually monitored statement to the FBI “denying that anyone associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia or with outside groups like WikiLeaks in the release of emails.”

Steele dossier key in FISA files, despite concerns

Christopher Steele’s now-infamous dossier and research surrounding the 2016 election provided much of the information used in the FISA application and renewals. But the inspector general found that the FBI did not have any specific information corroborating allegations against Page from Steele’s reporting.

“We determined that prior to and during the pendency of the FISAs the FBI was unable to corroborate any of the specific substantive allegations against Carter Page contained in the election reporting and relied on in the FISA applications, and was only able to confirm the accuracy of a limited number of circumstantial facts, most of which were in the public domain,” the report said, noting that the information confirmed was only timing of events and dates that Page traveled to Russia.

Dan Bongino expects IG report to raise 'significant questions' about Steele vettingVideo

In addition to the lack of corroboration, the inspector general found that the FBI’s interviews of Steele and his sub-sources “revealed potentially serious problems with Steele’s description of information in his election reports.” The report stated that the FBI “failed to notify” the Office of Investigations (OI), which was working on the Page FISA applications “of the potentially serious problems identified with Steele’s election reporting that arose as early as January 2017.”

Horowitz added that “even as the FBI developed this information, we found no evidence that the Crossfire Hurricane team reconsidered its reliance on the Steele reporting in the FISA renewal applications.”

In addition to the issues surrounding the accuracy of Steele’s information, Horowitz also pointed out that the Crossfire Hurricane team “did not investigate who ultimately paid for Steele’s reporting.”

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

One intelligence analyst told the inspector general’s office that they focused “instead on vetting the accuracy of the information” in the report, “because if the reporting turned out to be true, it would not matter to the team who ultimately paid for the research.”

Steele’s reporting was commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) through law firm Perkins Coie.

According to the report, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that if the FBI had information about the Clinton campaign and the DNC funding Steele’s reporting, he “would have expected the FBI to revise the language to be more explicit.”

Meanwhile, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, despite the inaccuracies and uncorroborated nature of Steele’s report, wanted to include that information in an official Intelligence Community Assessment to be delivered to then-President Barack Obama. McCabe told the inspector general’s office that he believed the Steele reporting needed to be included in that ICA because “President Obama had requested ‘everything you have relevant to this topic of Russian influence.’”

But CIA officials pushed back, arguing that Steele’s reporting was simply “internet rumor,” and should be included only as an appendix in the final report.

McCabe argued that including it as an appendix was simply “tacking it on” in a way that “would minimize” the information and prevent it from being properly considered—despite the fact that former FBI Director James Comey felt that Steele’s reporting was “not ripe enough, mature enough, to be a finished intelligence product.”

Ultimately, “the FBI’s view did not prevail,” and the final ICA report only included Steele’s reporting as a short summary in an appendix.

Key figures left in the dark

The inspector general’s report revealed that, at times, the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was not properly sharing information with the Justice Department or other key figures who should have been privy to updated information.

The report stated that the inspector general’s office found the Crossfire Hurricane team "failed to inform Department officials of significant information that was available to the team at the time that the FISA applications" were submitted.

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

“Much of that information was inconsistent with, or undercut, the assertions contained in the FISA applications that were used to support probably cause, and in some instances, resulted in inaccurate information being included in the applications,” the report said, adding that the inspector general believed it was “the obligation” of those agents aware of the information to share it so that “decision makers had the opportunity to consider it, both for their own assessment of probable cause and for consideration of whether to include the information in the applications so that the FISC received a complete and accurate recitation of the relevant facts.”

But because those FBI officials on Crossfire Hurricane failed to do so, officials at the Justice Department who reviewed one or more of the Page applications and renewals — including former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, ex-Acting Attorney General Dana Boente, and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — “did not have accurate and complete information at the time they approved the applications.”

“While we do not speculate whether Department officials would have authorized the FBI to seek to use FISA authority had they been made aware of all relevant information, it was clearly the responsibility of Crossfire Hurricane team members to advise them of such critical information so that they could make a fully informed decision,” the report stated.

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

Meanwhile, Horowitz found that the Trump campaign was not given a defensive briefing—a briefing that takes place when U.S. government or corporate officials are being targeted by a foreign adversary and the FBI determines the officials should be alerted to the potential threat.

FBI officials decided not to give the campaign that briefing, saying it would create the risk that “if someone on the campaign was engaged with the Russians, he/she would very likely change his/her tactics and/or otherwise seek to cover-up his/her activities, thereby preventing us from finding the truth.”

Horowitz determined that the decision to do so is “left to the discretion of FBI officials.”

The report also cited concerns that the FBI did not have to loop in senior DOJ officials before sending confidential human sources to interact with members of Trump’s campaign.

“We found it concerning that Department and FBI policy did not require the FBI to consult with any Department official in advance of conducting [Confidential Human Source] operations involving advisors to a major party candidate’s presidential campaign, and we found no evidence that the FBI consulted with any Department officials before conducting these CHS operations,” the report states, noting that in the future, they recommend that
"Department consultation is required when tasking a CHS to interact with officials in national political campaigns."

Use of confidential human sources

The inspector general revealed that the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team indeed used “Confidential Human Sources” to contact and record conversations with Page, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and another "high-level" campaign official who was not a subject of the probe.

“All of these interactions were consensually monitored and recorded by the FBI,” the report stated, noting that the recorded interactions took place before and after Page and Papadopoulos were advisers on the campaign.

Horowitz determined that the use of confidential human sources "complied" with their requirement that "investigative activities be conducted for an authorized purpose."

But the report revealed that the Crossfire Hurricane team omitted several key statements made by Page and Papadopoulos during those recorded interactions. The report revealed that Page made statements to the confidential human source that “would have, if true, contradicted the notion that Page was conspiring with Russia” and “that contradicted the Steele reporting received by the team.”

In those meetings, Page said he had “literally never met” or “said one word to” Manafort, and Papadopoulos denied that anyone associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia or outside groups like WikiLeaks in the release of hacked DNC emails. Both of those statements were omitted in FISA applications and from reports to other officials.

The report stated that they “found no evidence the FBI made Page’s statements from this confidential human source meeting” available to higher-ups in the Office of Investigations or in the National Security Division “until mid-June 2017.”

Meanwhile, the inspector general’s office also investigated Papadopoulos’ allegation that the FBI used Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud to pass information to Papadopoulos as a set up to launch the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

TRUMP REACTS TO DOJ WATCHDOG HOROWITZ'S REPORT, SAYS WHAT WAS DONE WAS A 'DISGRACE'

Horowitz said they did not find any records or evidence indicating that Mifsud was an FBI confidential human source or that his conversations with Papadopoulos were part of any FBI operation, and none of the witnesses interviewed had any information to support the allegation.

Prior to the 2016 presidential election, Papadopoulos met with Mifsud in London, who told him that the Russians had dirt in the form of emails that could damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Papadopoulos then told Australian diplomat Alexander Downer of the new information. Downer reported Papadopoulos’ comments to the FBI.

Papadopoulos has long said he felt he was being spied on, telling Fox News that he met with longtime FBI informant Stefan Halper and his female associate, who went under the alias Azra Turk. Papadopoulos told Fox News that he saw Turk three times in London: once over drinks, once over dinner and once with Halper. He also told Fox News back in May that he always suspected he was being recorded.

Neither Halper nor Turk’s names were mentioned in Horowitz’s report.

The report also revealed that the Crossfire Hurricane team was “interested in seeking FISA surveillance targeting” Papadopoulos, but that FBI attorneys were not supportive.

Priestap started probe, didn’t want Strzok on board

It has been long-reported that ex-counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok was the FBI official to formally open the Crossfire Hurricane investigation in July 2016, but the inspector general report revealed that it was actually his superviser, Bill Priestap, who ultimately made the decision.

Strzok sues FBI for firing him over anti-Trump textsVideo

Priestap’s decision to open the probe was based on a consensus reached by after multiple days of meetings that included Strzok, McCabe, FBI general counsel and FBI deputy general counsel, the report said.

The report also revealed that Priestap “originally wanted to assign the investigation to a Deputy Assistant Director other than Strzok, because, although he had confidence in Strzok’s counterintelligence capabilities, he had concerns about Strzok’s personal relationship with Lisa Page affecting the Crossfire Hurricane team.”

Strzok and Page were romantically involved.

Durham objects

U.S. Attorney from Connecticut John Durham, who is conducting a wide-ranging investigation of the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, released a rare statement after Horowitz’s report was made available to the public on Monday, saying he disagrees with inspector general’s conclusions.

“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” Durham said in a statement Monday.

Trump touts importance of Durham Russia investigationVideo

“I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff,” Durham said. “However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department. Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.”

Fox News reported in October that Durham's ongoing probe has transitioned into a full-fledged criminal investigation, meaning he has the ability to charge individuals.

Original Article

US Attorney Durham objects to IG findings on Russia probe origins in stunning statement

closeDOJ releases inspector general's findings on FBI surveillanceVideo

DOJ releases inspector general's findings on FBI surveillance

The 476-page report finds no evidence of political bias or intentional misconduct, but finds 17 'significant errors or omissions' in FISA applications; David Spunt reports from the Justice Department.

The U.S. attorney who is conducting a wide-ranging investigation of the origins of the Trump-Russia probe released a rare statement Monday saying he disagrees with conclusions of the so-called FISA report — after DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz found in that review that the probe's launch largely complied with DOJ and FBI policies.

“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.

FISA REPORT: DOJ WATCHDOG RELEASES FINDINGS ON RUSSIA PROBE SURVEILLANCE

Horowitz released his report Monday saying his investigators found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding efforts to launch that 2016 probe and 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 investigation. Still, it found that there were "significant concerns with how certain aspects of the investigation were conducted and supervised."

“I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff,” Durham said. “However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department. Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.”

As Horowitz has conducted his review of DOJ actions during the Russia probe, Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, has also been conducting a wider inquiry into alleged misconduct and alleged improper government surveillance on the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

Fox News reported in October that Durham's ongoing probe has transitioned into a full-fledged criminal investigation.

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.”

“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.

Barr expressed frustration that the FBI continued investigating the Trump campaign, even as “exculpatory” came to the light.

DOJ releases Inspector General's report, no political biasVideo

“It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory,” Barr said. “Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration.”

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller acknowledged in his report that investigators did not find evidence of a conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and the Russians in 2016 – which the FBI probed extensively.

Barr said the FISA report shows a “clear abuse” of the surveillance process.

“In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, 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,” Barr said.

He added, “The Inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory. 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.”

Monday’s FISA report dealing with the investigation into Trump’s campaign has long been expected. Horowitz in September submitted a draft of the report to Barr and the FBI so they could identify any classified information. But it had not been publicly released until now.

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

Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report.

Original Article

FISA report: DOJ watchdog releases findings on Russia probe surveillance

closeHorowitz report expected to find FBI justified in probing Trump campaign, but falsified documentVideo

Horowitz report expected to find FBI justified in probing Trump campaign, but falsified document

The Justice Department's internal watchdog is set to release a report expected to document misconduct during the investigation into President Trump's 2016 campaign. Gregg Jarrett and Francey Hakes react.

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

Specifically, the report concluded that investigators found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding efforts to seek a highly controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the early months of the Russia investigation — but faulted the FBI over numerous "omissions" and "inaccuracies" in the application process.

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

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

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

“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page,” the report said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fox News' Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

Original Article