A leak filtered through the friends of the Resistance at CNN afforded us our initial glimpse of the pending findings made by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz; John summarized the leak here. The findings set forth in Horowitz’s long-awaited report address possible FISA abuse in the Russia hoax perpetrated by John Brennan, James Comey et al. in the 2016 election and the first months of the Trump administration. The leak to CNN derived from the draft of the Horowitz report to be released on December 9.
The larger story out of which the FISA issues emerge represents the biggest scandal in American political history by far, as Andrew McCarthy makes abundantly clear in Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. In his weekly NR column McCarthy now asks whether the leak represents the tip of a scandalous iceberg or a signal that Horowitz’s report will be much ado about nothing much?
If I were a betting man, I would bet that we have been set up for an infuriating anti-climax (infuriating to those of us familiar with the evidence). One would be a fool to doubt that justice will ever be administered to the perpetrators of this particular scandal.
Andy does not answer the question that he raises in the opening of his column. Rather, he “add[s] some relevant details about the lead-up to the FISA surveillance, which are more thoroughly outlined in” Ball of Collusion. I finished reading a galley of the book just before it was published this past August and posted an appreciation of it on Power Line, but I had already forgotten a few of the details that McCarthy marshals in this column.
He reiterates four points made in the book (emphasis in original):
1. The Steele-dossier claims formed a substantial basis for the warrant application. McCabe has assessed that there would not have been probable cause without them; others have indicated that it was a 50–50 proposition, at best. It is impossible for us to make a judgment about this without knowing the totality of the non-dossier information.
2. What we do know is not reassuring. While much has been made of the Steele dossier’s blatant unreliability, not enough attention has been paid to another matter on which the FBI and DOJ relied: the attempts by Russian spies to recruit Page as an asset between 2008 and 2013.
The government made much of this in the warrant application. Downplayed, however, were the facts that Page cooperated with the government in the prosecution of the spies; that the Justice Department used Page’s information in its arrest complaint; that Page submitted to numerous interviews by the federal investigators, including as late as spring 2016, when (according to Page) he was being prepared to testify as a government witness, which testimony became unnecessary when the spy pled guilty; and that the Russian spies against whom he cooperated regarded him as an “idiot” in communications intercepted by the feds.
Did the FBI tell the FISC everything it should have been told about the spy case? If so, what made the FBI believe that Russia, with its highly competent intelligence services supposedly in a high-stakes conspiracy with Trump, would trust as a key conspirator a man who (a) the Kremlin believed was incompetent and (b) had helped the U.S. prosecute the Kremlin’s operatives?
3. The FBI’s many interviews with Page are highly relevant. So is the fact that, while the FBI was pushing for the warrant, Page — in reaction to the Steele-generated negative publicity against him — fired off a letter to FBI director James Comey, pleading to meet with agents in order to assuage any concerns they might have about his contacts with Russians.
As I’ve pointed out a number of times, federal law requires agents seeking an eavesdropping warrant to explain to the court why less intrusive alternative investigative techniques would not be adequate to obtain the information they claim to need. Why did the FBI and DOJ believe they needed an eavesdropping warrant enabling them to monitor all of Page’s communications (and to review prior stored texts, emails, and phone messages), if Page was more than willing to submit to an interview — under circumstances where there was a long history of such interviews, and where the government had found Page’s information sufficiently credible to rely on it in an arrest complaint (and to prepare him to testify as a government witness, Page says)?
What did the FBI and DOJ tell the court about why interviewing Page would not adequately serve their purposes?
4. Much of the information offered as probable cause involved Russia’s history of anti-American operations and its cyber-meddling in the 2016 election. These matters are not in dispute, but they do not mean that Carter Page and the Trump campaign were complicit as clandestine agents of the Putin regime.
Whole thing here.