Twilight of the FBI

One of my partners made this piece by John Solomon at The Hill a Power Line Pick earlier today. I think it deserves more comment. The Hill’s headline is, “FBI’s Steele story falls apart: False intel and media contacts were flagged before FISA.”

You should read it all, but the core of the story relates to a memo and notes written by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec on Oct. 11, 2016, after she met with Christopher Steele:

Her observations were recorded exactly 10 days before the FBI used Steele and his infamous dossier to justify securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and the campaign’s contacts with Russia in search of a now debunked collusion theory.

It is important to note that the FBI swore on Oct. 21, 2016, to the FISA judges that Steele’s “reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings” and the FBI has determined him to be “reliable” and was “unaware of any derogatory information pertaining” to their informant….

These assertions seem clearly to be lies. Kavalec had no trouble spotting Steele as a fraud:

In her typed summary, Kavalec wrote that Steele told her the Russians had constructed a “technical/human operation run out of Moscow targeting the election” that recruited emigres in the United States to “do hacking and recruiting.”

She quoted Steele as saying, “Payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian Consulate in Miami,” according to a copy of her summary memo obtained under open records litigation by the conservative group Citizens United. Kavalec bluntly debunked that assertion in a bracketed comment: “It is important to note that there is no Russian consulate in Miami.”

Kavalec’s notes also record that Steele was leaking to the press, in violation of his agreement with the FBI:

“June — reporting started,” she wrote. “NYT and WP have,” she added, in an apparent reference to The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Later she quoted Steele as suggesting he was “managing” four priorities — “Client needs, FBI, WashPo/NYT, source protection,” her handwritten notes show.

Kavalec also noted that Steele’s motives were political:

And, as I reported earlier this week, Kavalec’s memo clearly warned that Steele had admitted his client was “keen” to get his information out before Election Day. In other words, he had a political, rather than an intelligence, deadline.

Well, yeah. His client was Hillary Clinton.

It appears that Kavalec’s memo was sent to the FBI well before the Bureau vouched for Steele’s veracity to the FISA court.

Kavalec, two days later and well before the FISA warrant was issued, forwarded her typed summary to other government officials. The State Department has redacted the names and agencies of everyone she alerted. It is unlikely that her concerns failed to reach the FBI.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and ranking member of its Subcommittee on Government Operations, told me late Thursday he had confirmed with U.S. officials that Kavalec’s memo was forwarded to the FBI in the Oct. 13, 2016, email.

It also should be noted that the FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page was renewed several times, extending by some months the period during which the FBI and the Department of Justice knew about Steele’s unreliability and continued to mislead the FISA court.

The FBI’s spying operation on the Trump campaign was ordered at the highest levels of the Bureau. Who signed the FISA application? Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, for one–the same Andrew McCabe in whose office high-ranking agents like Peter Strzok discussed the imperative that Donald Trump not win the presidency. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for another.

There is a real likelihood that senior FBI and DOJ heads are going to roll. Even in today’s debased legal world, perjury in a FISA application is a serious matter. Hence the Democrats’ ridiculous attacks on Attorney General William Barr, who has vowed to get to the bottom of what many think is the worst political scandal in American history.

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