Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The DC Bubble and the FBI

 

I’ve just finished making my way through “Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation,” the 480-page report issued by the Office of the Inspector General of the US Department of Justice in December 2019. While it will take a while to pull together my complete thoughts on the report, there is one issue I wanted to mention now because it is so striking throughout the document.

During Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI often relied upon “open source” materials to assist in its investigation. These materials usually consisted of articles published in newspapers and magazines. It turns out most of the materials in those open sources came from information planted by representatives of the Clinton campaign, particularly Glenn Simpson of Fusion/GPS, and Christopher Steele who was hired by Fusion/GPS and produced the “Steele Dossier.”

What came through was the FBI confirming, in part, its theory of Trump campaign collusion with Russia, using news articles based upon claims, which we now know to be false, originating with the Clinton campaign, information which, in part, purports to come from sources in Russian intelligence! Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Particularly where, as the IG report concludes, the FISA Warrants against Carter Page would not have been sought without the Steele Dossier. In effect, the FBI confirmed Steele Dossier allegations by reference to newspaper articles whose source was the Steele Dossier!

Let’s take one example that really struck me; the sections in the Republican Party Platform regarding Ukraine. The IG report states that all four FISA applications relied upon information from the Report 95 of the Steele Dossier, including:

[A]ccording to [the sub-Source], Candidate #1’s [Trump’s] team, which the FBI assesses includes at least Page, agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue and to raise U.S./NATO defense commitments in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to deflect attention away from Ukraine.

The IG report goes on to state:

In further support of this allegation from Report 95, the FISA application described two news articles from July and August 2016 reporting that the Trump campaign had worked behind the scenes to change the Republican Party’s platform on providing weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces and that candidate Trump appeared to have adopted a “milder” tone on Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The application further claims that Carter Page was involved in changing the platform language in his role as an alleged intermediary between Russia and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (Page has repeatedly denied ever even meeting Manafort and the FBI never found any evidence to the contrary).

But there is a problem with the popular media narrative, widely reported at the time, about the arguments over the platform – one that I fell for in 2016 as did the FBI. (There is a bigger problem with the fact that the FBI was never able to find any confirmation that Carter Page had anything to do with the platform, an allegation he has repeatedly denied, yet continually asserted by the agency in its renewal FISA applications, but that’s a story for another post.)

The draft Republican Party platform already contained tough language on Russia, in part as a reaction to what was seen as the Obama Administration’s too-soft approach to Putin’s regime. When the platform committee met at the convention a Texas delegate, Diana Denman, originally a Cruz supporter who ended up supporting Trump, proposed an amendment to the draft language:

We therefore support maintaining (and, if warranted, increasing) sanctions against Russia until Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are fully restored. We also support providing lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine’s armed forces and greater coordination with NATO on defense planning. Simultaneously, we call for increased financial aid for Ukraine, as well as greater assistance in the economic and humanitarian spheres, including government reform and anti-corruption.

A Trump national security aide, JD Gordon, recommended edits to the amendment and after consulting with New York HQ asked to have the language regarding lethal defensive weapons deleted (these were the same weapons the Obama Administration had steadfastly refused to provide to Ukraine).

The final platform language contained some of Denman’s amendment. Here is the final language and you can judge how tough it is on Russia:

Also neglected are our strategic forces, especially the development and deployment of ballistic missile defenses. The Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system has been delayed and underfunded. To curry favor with Russia, defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic have been neutralized and the number of planned interceptors in Alaska has been reduced. A New START agreement (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), so weak in verification and definitions that it is virtually impossible to prove a violation, has allow Russia to build up its nuclear arsenal while reducing ours. Meanwhile Moscow has repeatedly violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (a treaty agreeing to the elimination of land-based mid-range nuclear missiles) with impunity, covertly testing missiles banned under that agreement.

In the international arena, a weak Administration has invited aggression. The results of the Administration’s unilateral approach to disarmament are already clear: An emboldened China in the South China Sea, a resurgent Russia occupying parts of Ukraine and threatening neighbors from the Baltic to the Caucasus, and an aggressive Islamist terror network in the Middle East.

We support maintaining and, if warranted, increasing sanctions, together with our allies, against Russia unless and until Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are full restored. We also support providing appropriate assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine and greater coordination with NATO defense planning.

And here, for comparison, is the 2016 Democratic Party Platform language:

Russia is engaging in destabilizing actions along its borders, violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and attempting to recreate spheres of influence that undermine America interests. It is also propping up the Assad regime in Syria, which is brutally attacking its own citizens. Donald Trump would overturn more than 50 years of American foreign policy by abandoning NATO partners – countries who help us fight terrorism every day – and embracing Russia President Vladimir Putin instead. We believe in strong alliances and will deter Russian aggression, build European resilience, and protect our NATO allies. We will make it clear to Putin that we are prepared to cooperate with him when it is in our interest – as we did on reducing nuclear stockpiles, ensuring Iran could not obtain a nuclear weapon, sanctioning North Korea, and resupplying our troops in Afghanistan – but we will not hesitate to stand up to Russian aggression. We will also continue to stand by the Russian people and push the government to respect the fundamental rights of its citizens.

Note the contrasts here – while the Denman amendment language on explicitly providing “lethal defensive weapons” to Ukraine was dropped, her language committing the Republican Party to “maintaining and, if warranted, increasing sanctions until Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are fully restored” has been added; the Democratic platform does not mention sanctions, nor commit the party to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty. Nor did I notice the Democrats promising to provide “lethal defensive weapons.” In fact, if you look at the language carefully the Democrat platform makes no concrete promises regarding Ukraine, unlike the Republicans.

One would think the nation’s premier law enforcement and counter-intelligence agency would do something as elementary as trying to confirm the story peddled by the news media regarding the Republican platform, and then comparing the language regarding Ukraine in the respective platforms. I’m betting the Crossfire Hurricane team never looked at the full section on Russia and Ukraine in the Republican platform because between the Steele Dossier and the slanted reports from the Clinton supporting media they had what they needed.

The blind faith of the FBI in the liberal news media exists (1) because they’ve grown up in a world where the New York Times and Washington Post have biblical authority and (2) those publications constantly and reassuringly reinforce their existing world view. For me, the Times and Post have the same credibility as Breitbart and Gateway Pundit, but seemingly the question of credibility did not arise for the FBI so it fell for Fake News propagated by the Clinton campaign and trumpeted through its house media organs in New York and DC. Glad to know we had our “best people” working on this.

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  1. PHCheese Member

    Hopefully President Trump totally cleans house at the FBI after his 2020 landslide election.

    • #1
    • January 3, 2020, at 5:29 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  2. The Reticulator Member

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Hopefully President Trump totally cleans house at the FBI after his 2020 landslide election.

    Trouble is, in term 2 he’s a lame duck. Since I was a wee tyke I’ve listened to appeasement of conservatives: “We can do more after re-election.” Then the 2nd term comes, and nothing gets done because the guy is a lame duck, so why should anybody stick his neck out to help him? 

    • #2
    • January 3, 2020, at 5:39 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  3. Arahant Member

    I think you are believing the gas they have been lighting. They knew who the sources were for those articles. They probably helped plant them with the press.

    • #3
    • January 3, 2020, at 5:52 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  4. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):

    I think you are believing the gas they have been lighting. They knew who the sources were for those articles. They probably helped plant them with the press.

    While I will be awaiting the Durham report, after reading the IG report I don’t think the day to day members of the Crossfire Hurricane team were doing the planting. I read it a bit differently – because of the bias they were willing to look past obvious problems with what they were being fed but what I see is the Clinton Campaign desperate to get the FBI to publicly announce the investigation prior to the election and using every avenue possible – the media, DOJ contacts (Ohr) and State Dept contacts to spur faster action and an announcement by the FBI. In other words they were both gullible and some of them were criminal – I don’t see how their actions regarding the FISA warrant applications as reported in excrutiating detail by the IG can be considered anything else.

    I will go into more detail on a followup post but reading about the predicate for the FBI investigation, the alleged conversation of Papadopolous with the Australian diplomat and Clinton supporter Alexander Downer, the background of which was outside the IG report, I anxiously await Durham and Barr’s conclusion. Who was Mifsud? The IG report says he was not an FBI guy and we know that if he was a Russian agent the Mueller Report would certainly have mentioned it. So was he sent by Brennan at CIA or by a friendly country intelligence service or was he a freelancer? And how and why did Downer reach out to a very junior guy in the Trump campaign and was his report of their conversation accurate? If it was Brennan was he operating on a separate track from the Clinton campaign or was it coordinated?

    • #4
    • January 3, 2020, at 6:10 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    It used to be that intelligence agencies would plant stories in foreign papers that could be echoed in domestic papers (as reported in Paris Today…) to provide evidence for investigations. Now, with domestic reporting being just crap, they and people like Fusion GPS can directly plan disinformation in domestic papers. Nancy Pelosi calls it the “wrap up smear”: get a story planted, then comment on the story to other press. Overall, the FBI in DC comes across as lazy and corrupt.

    • #5
    • January 3, 2020, at 6:13 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  6. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

     Overall, the FBI in DC comes across as lazy and corrupt.

    I think this captures well what I took away from the IG report. I think there will be evidence of stories planted by the FBI regarding the Russia story but the ones I was writing about I don’t think were, because they didn’t need to. The FBI was existing in an ocean of people and interests that coincided with theirs – in the Clinton campaign, the news media, the other intelligence agencies, and the rest of the federal bureaucracy. They were all planting stories.

    • #6
    • January 3, 2020, at 6:26 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  7. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):
    The FBI was existing in an ocean of people and interests that coincided with theirs – in the Clinton campaign, the news media, the other intelligence agencies, and the rest of the federal bureaucracy.

    They do enjoy rubbing elbows at cocktail parties. Those FBI elites sitting around gossiping and scheming like school children. “Let’s call Rudy, he’s on the FISA court now.” It is such a swamp. The fibbies in DC are a world away from the guys with the crew cuts and skinny ties in the field offices. The level of corruption by Comey and friends make The X-Files seem like a documentary. I look forward to more posts.

    • #7
    • January 3, 2020, at 9:48 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. Juliana Member

    How will this ever be cleaned up? Can anyone in the FBI be trusted?

    • #8
    • January 4, 2020, at 3:42 PM PST
    • Like
  9. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The FISA judge is also to blame for accepting news articles as evidence without knowing their sources.

    One wonders which news agencies qualify for such blind faith in courts of law.

    • #9
    • January 4, 2020, at 3:46 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  10. Hoyacon Member

    Juliana (View Comment):

    How will this ever be cleaned up? Can anyone in the FBI be trusted?

    I’m trying to go back in the memory banks to remember how and why Trump appointed Christopher Wray to head the FBI, but I’m coming up empty.

    I think I’m a little less suspicious of peoples’ backgrounds (particularly educational) than some, but here’s Director Wray:

    –Philips Academy, Andover Ma.

    –Yale

    –Yale Law School

    –Justice Dept. under Bush II, resigned shortly after controversy over “illegal surveillance techniques.”

    –Partner at whiter-than-white-shoe King & Spaulding law firm.

    Does that sound like a wartime consigliere?

    • #10
    • January 4, 2020, at 4:10 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce Caward Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):
    The FBI was existing in an ocean of people and interests that coincided with theirs – in the Clinton campaign, the news media, the other intelligence agencies, and the rest of the federal bureaucracy.

    They do enjoy rubbing elbows at cocktail parties. Those FBI elites sitting around gossiping and scheming like school children. “Let’s call Rudy, he’s on the FISA court now.” It is such a swamp. The fibbies in DC are a world away from the guys with the crew cuts and skinny ties in the field offices. The level of corruption by Comey and friends make The X-Files seem like a documentary. I look forward to more posts.

    And yet the Dem politicians go on TV puffing about how disgraceful it is that anyone would speak negatively about our sainted FBI. They make me sick.

    • #11
    • January 5, 2020, at 6:14 AM PST
    • Like
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):
    The FBI was existing in an ocean of people and interests that coincided with theirs – in the Clinton campaign, the news media, the other intelligence agencies, and the rest of the federal bureaucracy. They were all planting stories.

    This gets at the heart of the issue. The FBI had grown accustomed to doing whatever it wished to do, coordinating with whomever they wished, including the press. They assumed that they could continue in that vein, since no one ever stopped them or called them to account. I hope that time has arrived. Great post, Mark.

    • #12
    • January 5, 2020, at 7:15 AM PST
    • Like
  13. ctlaw Coolidge

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…: information which, in part, purports to come from sources in Russian intelligence! Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

    Who is more pissed off that the Soviet Union collapsed: Brennan; Nellie Ohr; Bill diBlasio; Bernie Sanders; or Vladimir Putin?

    • #13
    • January 5, 2020, at 7:22 AM PST
    • 2 likes