A long-time reader and retired FBI agent of vast and relevant experience comments on Paul Sperry’s New York Post column, discussed by John in the adjacent post. The emphases in his quote from Sperry’s column are his:
I remain convinced that the FISA warrants that were twice sought to target associates of Trump (and possibly Trump himself) are the key to blowing up the Russia narrative. As Andy McCarthy regularly points out, it was all done under the cloak of a counterintelligence (CI) investigation–and FISA techniques are at the heart of any CI investigation. Any FISA application encapsulates most of the predication for the investigation itself, and without FISA techniques the investigation likely goes nowhere. In a CI investigation focused on a foreign power, that’s not a problem since FISA on the foreign power (say, Russia) is already in place–all that needs to be done is to identify a foreign national as the agent of that power (Russia) and, presto, you get FISA coverage of anything that’s not already covered.
Where it becomes an acute problem is when the CI investigation is a ruse to cover domestic spying on political opponents. In that case FISA on the foreign power is of no use–not if, as appears to be the case, there was no significant contact or collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. If, in fact, the real target was Trump himself–and we are told that Trump himself was named in the rejected July 2016 FISA application–you need to gin up a FISA on someone who really IS in contact with Trump, no matter how far-fetched the reasoning. Carter Page? He’ll do in a pinch, right?
And now Sperry tells us:
But it’s now clear his “intelligence reports,” which together run more than 35-pages long, were for the most part worthless. And the clients who paid Fusion GPS (which claims to go “beyond standard due diligence”) for them got taken to the cleaners. [Not if they needed something, anything, to get the FISA order, and eventually got it.]
Steele’s most sensational allegations remain unconfirmed. For instance, his claim that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen held a “clandestine meeting” on the alleged hacking scheme in Prague with “Kremlin officials” in August 2016 unraveled when Cohen denied ever visiting Prague, his passport showed no stamps showing he left or entered the US at the time, witnesses accounted for his presence here, and Czech authorities found no evidence Cohen went to Prague.
Steele hadn’t worked in Moscow since the 1990s and didn’t actually travel there to gather intelligence on Trump firsthand. He relied on third-hand “friend of friend” sourcing. In fact, most of his claimed Russian sources spoke not directly to him but “in confidence to a trusted compatriot” who, in turn, spoke to Steele — and always anonymously.
And yet, this or something very close to it, is apparently what was used for the FISA applications. Someone had to attest to the truth of that to the FISC. Does anyone see a problem here? No wonder the first application was rejected. Inquiring minds are, well, VERY curious as to how that second application got approved. Just how was this orchestrated? One thing’s for sure: Comey and Lynch had to have been working hand in glove, and probably with WH contact. And Chuck Schumer?
Stonewalling? Lots to stonewall here.
With respect to possible corruption of the FBI: I regret to say that the process began in earnest under Bush, who appointed Mueller. An acquaintance recently complained that the Bureau was no longer what it used to be, or maybe never had been. I maintained that the institutional culture was changed through the Legal Counsel Division. That’s how it always work in America, isn’t it? If you want to enforce Liberal/PC norms, you change the lawyers.
Formerly, the Bureau’s legal division, and most top administrations positions, was/were staffed with Special Agents who were lawyers. Under Mueller, outsiders were increasingly brought in, including to Legal Counsel Division. For example: Andrew Weissman, who twice did stints at the FBI, and is now a top guy on Mueller’s Special Counsel team. That kind of back and forth between the FBI and private practice and/or other agencies was previously absolutely unheard of. And the choice tells you pretty much all you need to know about Mueller…