Seemingly forgotten amid the great Coronavirus distraction are the many questions continuing to swirl around the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2016 counterintelligence operation, Crossfire Hurricane. While national attention is focused upon the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be shameful to forget that, four years ago, America’s top law enforcement agency cobbled together a phony conspiracy theory and hoodwinked a foreign intelligence surveillance court into granting them a warrant to spy on a U.S. citizen.
To this day, Carter Page has not been charged with a crime – nor even credibly accused of one – but his association with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign made him a target for those who were searching for a way to derail Trump’s White House aspirations.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has not forgotten about this travesty, though. Graham heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he continues to probe the FBI’s many errors, omissions, and abuses of power as it sought to establish a false narrative about collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
FBI’s FISA Fraud
On March 22, Sen. Graham sat down with Sharyl Attkisson, host of Full Measure, to discuss his continuing inquiries into the handling of Crossfire Hurricane and the extent to which certain Obama administration officials may have conspired against the Republican presidential nominee. The senator outlined the original problem relating to the so-called Steele dossier, a collection of uncorroborated memos used by the FBI as a basis for its surveillance of the president’s associates. Sen. Graham explained:
“[I]n January, 2017, the primary sub source, a Russian who prepared all the information to give to Christopher Steele to go in the dossier, was interviewed by the FBI and the Department of Justice. There were four people in the interview. And he basically told them, according to the Horowitz report, ‘This is bar talk, it’s not reliable. I’ve never meant it to be used this way. I can’t believe you’re getting a warrant based on this document.’”
Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice inspector general, was tasked with looking into the FBI’s abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). His extensive report detailed numerous problems with how the Bureau ran its counterintelligence operation and, specifically, a considerable number of deficiencies in applications for the FISA warrant and its three subsequent renewals.
The Judiciary Committee will be targeting the FBI and Department of Justice individuals instrumental in the FISA warrant applications, but Sen. Graham said he intends to “start at the bottom and work my way to the top.” He told Attkisson he does not buy former FBI Director James Comey’s claim that he was not aware of the many doubts cast upon the credibility of allegations made in the Steele dossier memos. “[Former FBI Deputy Director] McCabe and Comey are basically saying, ‘I didn’t know about all this.’ I find that hard to believe,” Graham said.
The Usual Suspects
Also on the GOP senator’s radar is Sally Yates – the former deputy attorney general appointed by Barack Obama – former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Yates, Comey, and Rosenstein all signed off on the original FISA warrant application or its three renewals. At least two of those renewals have since been deemed invalid, while the initial request was deeply flawed.
Clapper in 2013 lied under oath when he told a congressional hearing that the U.S. government was not intentionally collecting data on American citizens. Later, he leaked details of Steele dossier briefings given to then-President Obama and candidate Trump. When questioned on the matter by the House Intelligence Committee, Clapper “flatly denied discuss[ing] the dossier [compiled by Steele] or any other intelligence related to Russia hacking of the 2016 election with journalists,” according to a committee report. The former DNI subsequently acknowledged discussing the Steele dossier with CNN’s Jake Tapper and other journalists.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.
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