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.Published in