FBI official accused of spying on Trump campaign

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Evidence is everything. Hearsay is merely that. It is just hearsay. But evidence changes hearsay to fact.

That type of evidence now has a former FBI lawyer under criminal investigation for allegedly altering a document pertaining to the 2016 surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser.

The document will likely factor into Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz’s review of the FBI’s attempts to obtain a FISA warrant to surveil former Trump campaign official Carter Page, CNN first reported.

FBI official accused of spying on Trump campaign
Courtesy: Flickr

 

At the time, the FBI was looking into allegations that the Trump campaign worked with Russian operatives to influence the 2016 presidential election. The Mueller investigation later concluded that those allegations were based on insufficient evidence. During an April Senate hearing, U.S. attorney general William Barr said he believed “spying did occur” during the FBI’s Russia probe, possibly in the case of Page.

Horowitz has also shared the document with federal prosecutor John Durham. Durham was appointed this year by Barr to investigate intelligence gathered by the FBI as part of its Russia probe. Accordingto the Washington Post, the altered document did not affect the basic validity of the FISA warrant obtained to investigate Page.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the matter. The lawyer under investigation no longer works at the FBI. The lawyer is alleged to have admitted making the changes in question.

Horowitz’s probe into the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation was upgradedto a criminal probe in October. Senator Lindsey Graham of North Carolina said on Wednesday he expects the probe’s findings to be released on December 9.

“I look forward to reviewing the report and hearing Mr. Horowitz’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he will deliver a detailed account of what he found regarding his investigation, along with recommendations as to how to make our judicial and investigative systems better,” read a statement from Graham’s office.

Even CNN, who almost seem to wear their hatred for the President as a badge of honor, have said that this allegation, if proven true, is a game changer.

In speaking with Wolf Blitzer, Preet Bharara, the former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York had this to say.

“It is an alarming bit of news. If there was an FBI agent, sworn to uphold the Constitution, who can be proven to have altered a document included in connection with a legal proceeding, including the obtaining of a FISA warrant, then that is really serious. It doesn’t get much more serious than that.

Law enforcement officers and the prosecutors who work with them are sworn to uphold the Constitution, [and] even exceed the protections of the Constitution. They have to be of the utmost integrity and utmost candor, especially when making a representation to the court, which is what a FISA application is, it’s got to be on the up-and-up.”

We shared the start of the investigation with you last month, while it was still in the “rumored” phase.  

The Department of Justice launched a sweeping review into the origins of its Trump-Russia probe, making it a criminal investigation.

Now that it’s a criminal probe, U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is the prosecutor tapped by Attorney General William Barr to lead the review, can subpoena witnesses for testimony and documents.

It also lets him impanel a grand jury and file charges.

“If true, this shows Bill Barr is doing EXACTLY his job: following the facts. Those who damaged America and broke the law to spread this hoax are about to face accountability,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) tweeted in response to the report by the New York Times.

It comes after a report by NBC that Barr recently expanded his agency’s review.  They noted in the report that Durham has “found something significant and critics should be careful.”

During the inquiry, Durham requested interviews with CIA analysts who assessed Russia’s activities during the 2016 presidential election.  According to NBC News, that lead some of them to hire lawyers.

FBI official accused of spying on Trump campaign
(Wikipedia)

 

Durham was tapped to figure out whether the Justice Department, FBI and intelligence authorities improperly surveilled the 2016 Trump campaign.  It all went down as part of their investigation into what’s now become a debunked theory that the campaign coordinated with Russia during the last presidential election. 

Special counsel Robert Mueller had a several year-long investigation to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, which found insufficient evidence of a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Durham, referred to as a hard-nosed U.S. attorney, has reportedly received briefings on the “four corners” of the FBI’s use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants as part of its controversial counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign.

“Durham is specifically reviewing the FISA warrant obtained by the FBI to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page, as well as general issues relating to surveillance during the 2016 campaign and matters flowing from the FISA process,” Fox News reported.

Here’s the back story. According to investigators, the FBI used the Steele dossier to obtain a FISA warrant.  That warrant was used to surveil Carter Page.  But they didn’t disclose to the FISA court that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign or the Democrat National Committee (DNC) funded the dossier.  All of this, despite indicating that the dossier was compiled as opposition research.

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton at 2016 rally. (Gage Skidmore)

 

Barr has referred to the dossier as “opposition research” with “clear mistakes.”

In May, he testified before Congress.  That’s when he told lawmakers he believed “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign. 

“I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” he told the Senate Appropriations Committee.

He was careful not to interfere with the investigation, adding:

“I am not suggesting that those rules were violated, but I think it’s important to look at them.”

President Trump has said time and time again that his campaign was illegally surveilled.  He has even accused officials of treason.

“My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on,” the president said on Twitter in May.  “Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!”

The Justice Department declined weigh in on the Times’ report.

In the meantime, three years after it began, the State Department has finished their internal investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of private email. 

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FBI official accused of spying on Trump campaign

 

Guess what they found? Violations by 38 people.  And we’re now being told that just some of them might face disciplinary action.

According to the investigation, those 38 people were “culpable” in 91 cases of sending classified information that ended up in Clinton’s personal email.  The details were broken down in a letter sent to Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley this week and released last week.

Those 38 people are comprised of both current and former State Department officials – but they weren’t publicly named.

Investigators in the State Department said that while they definitely found violations, they argue they found “no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information.”

They also were crystal clear that Clinton’s use of the private email had increased the vulnerability of classified information.

In the investigation, 33,000 emails were analyzed that Clinton turned over for review after her use of the private email account became public.

Obviously, this didn’t include everything that was allegedly “accidentally deleted”.

According to the department, they found a total of 588 violations involving information then or now deemed to be classified – but they said they couldn’t assign fault in 497 cases.

The rebuke doesn’t mean much for current and former officials. 

Experts say the violations will be noted in their files and will be considered when they apply for or go to renew security clearances.  And for those currently in official positions, there could also be some kind of disciplinary action – but it’s not clear what that would be.

The report ended by stating “that the use of a private email system to conduct official business added an increased degree of risk of compromise as a private system lacks the network monitoring and intrusion detection capabilities of State Department networks.”

The department’s investigation began back in 2016.  That’s when they found 22 emails from Clinton’s private server to be “top secret.”

During that time, Clinton was about to lose as president against Donald Trump.  That year, then-FBI Director James Comey held a news conference in which he criticized Clinton as “extremely careless” in her use of the private email server as secretary of state but said the FBI would not recommend charges – despite the whole concept of what “negligence” actually is.

According to the Justice Department’s inspector general, FBI specialists didn’t find proof that the server had been hacked.  One forensics agent saying he felt “fairly confident that there wasn’t an intrusion.”

In 2017, Grassley started investigating Clinton’s email server.  At that time, the Iowa Republican, who has been critical of Clinton’s handling of classified information, was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

There might be hope for law and order with the Justice Department.

 


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