The FBI has slowly been producing documents to the DOJ Inspector General and various Congressional committees. As the process continues, more information comes out about the FBI’s attempt to cement the 2016 presidential election for Hillary Clinton. This piece by John Solomon in The Hill is two days old, but I don’t think it has received as much attention as it deserves. Solomon’s reporting evidently is based on information from sources in Congressional committees or perhaps the FBI or the IG’s office.
The memos show Strzok, Lisa Page and others in counterintelligence monitored news articles in September 2016 that quoted a law enforcement source as saying the FBI was investigating Carter Page’s travel to Moscow.
The FBI team pounced on what it saw as an opportunity as soon as [Carter] Page wrote a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey complaining about the “completely false” leak.
“At a minimum, the letter provides us a pretext to interview,” Strzok wrote to Lisa Page on Sept. 26, 2016.
In the current moment it goes unnoticed, but in normal times, for senior FBI officials to seek a “pretext” to pursue a political agenda would be a scandal.
Within weeks, that “pretext” … had been upsized to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court warrant, giving the FBI the ability to use some of its most awesome powers to monitor Carter Page and his activities.
Some internal memos detail the pressure being applied by the FBI to DOJ prosecutors to get the warrant on Carter Page buttoned up before Election Day.
This was the “insurance policy” that Strzok said would “stop” Trump from becoming president.
In one email exchange with the subject line “Crossfire FISA”…
Has the FBI or the Department of Justice ever officially admitted that the FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page was part of its investigation of the Trump campaign, as opposed to a freestanding warrant sought in the normal course of business, based on legitimate suspicion of criminal activity? I’m not sure. But “Crossfire FISA” eliminates any doubt.
…Strzok and Lisa Page discussed talking points to get then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to persuade a high-ranking DOJ official to sign off on the warrant.
“At a minimum, that keeps the hurry the F up pressure on him,” Strzok emailed Page on Oct. 14, 2016, less than four weeks before Election Day.
Time was getting short for the insurance policy.
Four days later the same team was emailing about rushing to get approval for another FISA warrant for another Russia-related investigation code-named “Dragon.”
I confess that I can’t keep up with the ever-expanding FBI scandal, but do we know what “Dragon” is, and how it differs from “Crossfire Hurricane”? Whatever Dragon was, it apparently had to do with stopping the Trump campaign, as Strzok and Page were eager to get it off the ground:
“Still an expedite?” one of the emails beckoned, as the FBI tried to meet the requirements of a process known as a Woods review before a FISA warrant can be approved by the courts.
“Any idea what time he can have it woods-ed by?” Strzok asked Page. “I know it’s not going to matter because DOJ is going to take the time DOJ wants to take. I just don’t want this waiting on us at all.”
Was another FISA warrant issued in connection with “Dragon”? Maybe the answer is in the public domain, but I don’t know.
In any event, as we now know, time ran out on the FBI’s effort and Donald Trump won the election. As we have seen in prior disclosures, the FBI didn’t throw in the towel:
The day after Trump’s surprising win on Nov. 9, 2016, the FBI counterintelligence team engaged in a new mission, bluntly described in another string of emails prompted by another news leak.
“We need ALL of their names to scrub, and we should give them ours for the same purpose,” Strzok emailed Page on Nov. 10, 2016, citing a Daily Beast article about some of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s allegedly unsavory ties overseas.
“Andy didn’t get any others,” Page wrote back, apparently indicating McCabe didn’t have names to add to the “scrub.”
“That’s what Bill said,” Strzok wrote back, apparently referring to then-FBI chief of counterintelligence William Priestap. “I suggested we need to exchange our entire lists as we each have potential derogatory CI info the other doesn’t.” CI is short for confidential informants.
So the day after the election, James Comey’s FBI was looking for “derogatory CI info” on Donald Trump.
As the president-elect geared up to take over, the FBI made another move that has captured investigators’ attention: It named an executive with expertise in the FBI’s most sensitive surveillance equipment to be a liaison to the Trump transition.
On its face, that seems odd; technical surveillance nerds aren’t normally the first picks for plum political assignments. Even odder, the FBI counterintelligence team running the Russia-Trump collusion probe seemed to have an interest in the appointment.
I suspect that we have barely scratched the surface of the FBI scandal.