U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon on Thursday appointed New York Judge Raymond Dearie as special master to independently review documents the FBI took from former President Donald Trump's Florida home in early August.
Cannon's appointment of Dearie came alongside a separate ruling that denied the Department of Justice's request to continue its own review of the documents.
"The Court does not find it appropriate to accept the Government’s conclusions on these important and disputed issues without further review by a neutral third party in an expedited and orderly fashion," Cannon wrote in her ruling denying the DOJ further review of the seized documents...
AG Barr Hints More Indictments On The Way In Durham Probe
Attorney General William Barr won't give explicit information about US Attorney John Durham's probe into Crossfire Hurricane, the internal name used by President Obama's FBI that investigated if the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, but he did give a hint that there could be more indictments on the way.
In an interview with NBC's Pete Williams, Williams asked Barr if there will be more indictments, to which he answered an allusive, "there could be." Then, Williams asked if the public would hear about these indictments before the election, to which Barr responded, "Yeah, I'm not going to get into that."
Investigative reporter from CBS News Catherine Herridge broke the story, sparking interest if the Justice Department will break precedent and release news that could interfere with the upcoming election. But pressure is rising on the department to hold the intelligence community and their supervisors accountable for what they see is a deep-state to undermine President Trump, his power, and the trust in our election process. One FBI lawyer has already plead guilty to doctoring an email in order to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page, and American citizen who worked on the Trump campaign.
As Crossfire Hurricane pushed out the Russian collusion story, Trump's first two years were plagued with conspiracies. It is only after, that the public realized the grounds for opening the investigation into Trump were very much shaky. Barr is providing oversight, and has already issued new sets of rules to ensure an administration will not be able to use the justice and intelligence departments to manipulate an election again. Durham has been steadfast in his goal to completely dive into Crossfire Hurricane, and Barr said Durham's goal is to find the truth and hold individuals accountable under the law.
The Democrats, of course, are worried about the investigation and what the final result will be. Especially since the head of their ticket was Obama's vice president. Durham has also interviewed former CIA Director John Brennan. Brennan is an MSNBC contributor and a fervent anti-Trumper.
Barr and Durham's goal is to find out if there has been a gross misuse of power, and to clean up the details so the American people can trust in their executive, intelligence, and judicial branches. While the Democrats used the Russian hoax at every turn to discredit anything President Trump was trying to accomplish, this tactic is coming back to haunt them, and may cause them to lose the election.
Barr Ensures Misuse of FISA Applications Won't Happen Again
Following the misuse of FISA warrants in the 2016 election which allowed the FBI to spy on Americans, Attorney General Bill Barr has issued a series of reforms to ensure the process for obtaining FISA warrants which target elected officials and campaigns has the proper oversight. Barr said, “What happened to the Trump presidential campaign and his subsequent Administration after the President was duly elected by the American people must never happen again.”
Since 2016, what has been called the Russia hoax, and the Mueller investigation have dominated the news cycle. All of this happened when President Obama’s FBI and DOJ opened an investigation into the Trump campaigns potential link with Russia. Since the Mueller probe found no collusion, AG Bill Barr has been conducting an internal review into the FBI of what exactly happened, how it happened, and ensuring misuse of power is revealed and brought to justice. The result has been an indictment of former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith. Clinesmith plead guilty to altering an email which allowed him to obtain a FISA warrant for continued surveillance of Carter Page.
But now, Barr is putting up guardrails for the FBI to not be able to do this again. This is the latest development in his probe into Crossfire Hurricane. In a statement, Barr said “FISA is a critical tool to ensuring the safety and security of Americans, particularly when it comes to fighting terrorism. However, the American people must have confidence that the United States Government will exercise its surveillance authorities in a manner that protects the civil liberties of Americans, avoids interference in the political process, and complies with the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
Barr has been working with FBI Director Christopher Wray. Since Wray received the Inspector General’s Crossfire Hurricane report, he has “ordered more than 40 corrective actions, including foundational FISA reforms, many of which went beyond those recommend by the Inspector General.” Wray said that what was found in the IG’s report “was unacceptable and unrepresentative of the FBI as an organization.”
The first memorandum, entitled Augmenting the Internal Compliance Fuctions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation deals with the internal compliance program, and establishes the Office of Internal Auditing, and will require “the development of compliance and oversight mechanisms, training, and internal controls to ensure the FBI’s compliance with applicable statutes, policies, procedures, and court orders that govern the FBI’s national security activities.” Most importantly, it will establish routine audits of the FBI’s use of FISA warrants.
The second memorandum, entitled Supplemental Reforms to Enhance Compliance, Oversight, and Accountability with Respect to Certain Foreign Intelligence Activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation builds off of other reforms implemented by Wray, and “are designed to ensure the accuracy and completeness of FISA applications targeting U.S. person.”
Carter Page Says Clinesmith Is "Just The Tip Of The Iceberg"
Carter Page became a household name after the 2016 presidential election, and not for the right reasons. Page, who was targeted as a Russian spy, spent the following years trying to clear his name. But as the first former FBI official has be criminally charged for doctoring documents with the purpose to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Page, Page feels this is “the first step on the road to justice.”
In an interview with Maria Bartiromo, Page said this is the first time he’s seen “some semblance of justice from the DOJ and FBI with the fact they were acting in accordance with Crime Victims’ Rights Act, a law that was totally avoided and not respected throughout last four years.” But Kevin Clinesmith, who was part of Mueller’s Russian investigation, has formally pled guilty for altering an email about Page. Because of this email, the Department of Justice was able to spy on Page through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
But Page, who has been dramatically effected by Crossfire Hurricane, said that the charge against Clinesmith “is just the tip of the iceberg in so many ways.” Page, who has been the subject of the Russian conspiracy, and continuously targeted by left-win media and lawmakers, feels a day of judgement is coming. He said, “It was false conspiracies and made-up lies paid for by Democrats. I actually sent Mr. Clinesmith a letter in April 2017, you know, to your point about media, there were some media leaks and lies and misrepresentations, on the Rachel Maddow Show on ‘MSDNC,’ and sure enough I get more threatening calls from Oklahoma that night.”
Clinesmith altered the email to say that Page was “not a source,” which allowed another FISA warrant against him. The charge against Clinesmith says he “did willfully and knowingly make and use a false writing and document, knowing the same to contain a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement and entry in a matter before the jurisdiction of the executive branch and judicial branch of the Government of the United States.”
The Russian conspiracy propelled by the Democrats and popular talk show host relied on the FISA warrants as part of their proof that Trump colluded knowingly with the Russians, with the argument that Obama's justice department officials were "nonpartisan" and "objective." Targeting Page, his life was turned upside down as a result. This week, the Senate Intelligence Committee also completed their investigation of the Russian probe by the FBI, and concluded that the Dossier, which was one of the original document used as justification to start the Russia probe, was also misused by the FBI. As Durham and AG Will Barr complete their investigations, there will most likely be more indictments against FBI and DOJ officials for misusing their power to target President Trump and his team.
A Step Closer: Johnson Subpoenas FBI Director Wray In Crossfire Hurricane Investigation
While the political world was consumed by the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged collusion with Russia, the conclusion of the Mueller probe closed one door but opened another one. Attorney General Bill Barr has ordered the investigation into the origins of Crossfire Hurricane, and the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Homeland Security Committee are issuing subpoenas to senior Obama officials to find out if the Obama administration misused their powers to spy on Americans for political purposes.
The subpoena, which Fox News acquired, will require FBI Director Christopher Wray to give “all records related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. This includes, but is not limited to, all records provided or made available to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice for its review.”
The FBI is fully cooperating with the Committee’s probe, and said in a statement to Fox News, “The FBI has already been producing documents and information to the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which are directly responsive to this subpoena. As always, the FBI will continue to cooperate with the committee’s requests, consistent with our law enforcement and national security obligations.”
Crossfire Hurricane, the internal name for the Russian probe, began with the surveillance of Trump’s foreign policy adviser George Papadopolous, but quickly spread to other individuals involved with the campaign. The committee’s investigation will look at any potential misconduct with Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants, which allowed the FBI to spy on American citizens.
In particular, the committee’s investigation will focus on the FISA warrant used to surveil Carter Page, who was briefly associated with the Trump campaign. The Inspector General Michael Horowitz when conducting his review of the probe, found “at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications.” But though Johnson’s subpoena, the Homeland Security Committee will be able to see all information presented to Horowitz which led him to come to that conclusion.
The committee will also look at the records that led to the “unmasking” of Americans or entities “formally or informally” related to the Trump campaign, the transition team, or the administration.
FISA Reauthorization and How To Fix The FBI Problem
On March 16 the U.S. Senate agreed to extend a set of government surveillance tools for 77 days, to allow lawmakers time to work on fundamental changes to the unconstitutional domestic eavesdropping program. In the pre-pandemic shutdown world the Senate was to start voting on the “USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020” in mid-march after the bill passed the House with bipartisan approval but Chinavirus put a hold on the negotiations. The House, which has been on extended WuFlu vacation, never took action on the Senates extension so several counter espionage programs have expired.
At the time of the bills extension Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, claimed the reforms provide greater transparency and increased oversight of the system, without compromising counterterrorism efforts. However, Republican Senator Mike Lee vowed that he would do all he could to block the bill’s passage and said Trump should veto it if it nonetheless is approved by the Senate.
The 77 day extension will last until June 1 but as we enter the second half of May the battle over a murky and rogue Federal surveillance court will bring to a head a months-long stalemate that resulted in the lapse of three intelligence programs. Echoing Rep. Schiff’s sentiments from 2 months ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged quick passage of the bill saying the programs are “important tools that keep America safe” and it would “increase transparency in the FISA process and respond to the shameful abuses of 2016 while preserving the toolbox that professionals use to defend us.”
The House and Senate leadership are seeking the reauthorization of three very suspect and shamelessly abused surveillance programs that are used to monitor both the guilty and the innocent.
Program 1 allows for “roving” wiretaps under FISA which defines any “person” as an individual, partnership, association, joint stock company, trust, corporation, group, entity or foreign power. In other words, anyone or anything under the sun can be surveilled and because it’s FISA they will most probably never know it happened.
Program 2 is the (supposedly) unused “Lone Wolf” provision which allows the FBI to spy on non-US persons who might be watching the wrong YouTube videos or reading scripture. Simply put, in order to obtain a FISA surveillance warrant, the government doesn’t need to show probable cause that a suspect is connected to a foreign power or organization.
Program 3 is the notorious Section 215 which allows for the mass collection of phone records by the NSA. Section 215’s “business records” authority allows the government to obtain a secret order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) requiring third parties to hand over any records or other “tangible thing” if deemed “relevant” to an international terrorism, counterespionage, or foreign intelligence investigation.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation shows the dangers of the FISA laws and how easily they can be legally abused to target innocent Americans. There is little oversight from FISC judges who rubber-stamp warrants on the flimsy “evidence” accumulated by flakes like Christopher Steele and “corroborated” by Mockingbird hacks like Michael Isikoff. If the FBI can approach the FISC bench and say, with a straight face, that the “premier law enforcement agency in the land” intends to surveil the presidential campaign of the opposition party because it has “evidence” that there is “collusion” going on with a foreign entity named Russia and the judge green lights that spying then these judges are useless. They obviously will approve anything, and as the IG’s further investigation uncovered, they did approve multiple FISA applications that were full of shoddy, slap dash work and, in a more virtuous justice system, would have been rejected.
The argument, such that it is an argument, over reauthorization of these USA FREEDOM Act programs is a distraction from the real problem that every American must face and come to terms with. The surveillance and spying powers of the modern state are far beyond anything envisioned by the Founding Fathers in 1776 and, to be honest, beyond the conception of most normal citizens in the present day. Combine domestic surveillance allowed under FISA with the ability to “share” intelligence with America’s Five Eyes espionage partners who will do the spying for us on domestic targets and it is a virtual certainly that every person of consequence in America is being watched, tracked, tapped and scrutinized. It is so powerful and so dangerous that the DOJ/FBI, Intelligence Community and leadership of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the US Government (+ the 4th Estate #FakeNews) were willing to commit treason to keep this power from falling into the hands of someone “outside” the system.
Over the next few weeks the lawmakers on Capitol Hill will need to work on this USA FREEDOM ACT against the backdrop of the Michal Flynn exoneration and a steady release of long classified documents detailing the dishonesty and corruption the legal use of FISA allowed. For those still keeping score the outcome of this FISA fight will be a win or loss in the MAGA revolution and its Cold Civil War against the Deep State.