On Friday, reports emerged that Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz received documentation, previously withheld from public view, of “damning” and “troubling” internal FBI communications concerning the controversial probe into supposed collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s political organization.
Disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page exchanged profane texts that also revealed bias against Trump’s presidential candidacy. For example, Strzok texted “We’ll stop” Trump from becoming president. Both Strzok and Page have been summoned to appear before Congressional committees. Strzok has agreed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee next week.
Newly revealed communications show that elements of the FBI scrambling in the Fall of 2016 to accelerate the Trump-Russia probe, shortly before and after Trump won the election.
According to award-winning investigative journalist John Solomon, FBI memos provided to Horowitz and several committees of the House and Senate show that FBI agent Strzok -- who oversaw counter-espionage operations -- and his team sought in late 2016 to find “derogatory” information from informants and a “pretext” to rush the probe into the Russia narrative and obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to snoop on persons associated with the future president. Solomon has exposed FBI misdeeds in the past, as well as the federal government’s misuse of veterans and children in drug experiments.
Among the persons tied to the Trump campaign was Carter Page, who had visited Russia before the election. The memos indicate that Page joined Strzok and others at the FBI to monitor media reports in September 2016 that “quoted a law enforcement source as saying the FBI was investigating Carter Page’s travel to Moscow.”
According to Solomon, the FBI then “pounced on what it saw as an opportunity” when Carter Page wrote a letter to erstwhile FBI Director James Comey to complain about the “completely false” leak. Strzok wrote on September 26, 2016 to FBI attorney Lisa Page, saying, “At a minimum, the letter provides us a pretext to interview.” Strzok’s “pretext” then became part of the FISA court warrant that allowed the FBI to obtain permission to access Americans’ telephone communications.
The FBI not only obtained a FISA warrant to intercept Carter Page, but also three renewals. However, the agency has yet to find evidence that he committed a crime.
The new revelations also show that Peter Strzok and Lisa Page anxiously sought to persuade high-ranking DOJ officials to approve the FISA warrant. Eventually, it was Sally Yates -- who briefly served as Attorney General under Barack Obama and then became a sharp critic of Donald Trump -- and Rod Rosenstein, who currently serves as Deputy Attorney General.
John Solomon wrote at The Hill:
In one email exchange with the subject line “Crossfire FISA,” Strzok and Lisa Page discussed talking points to get then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to persuade a high-ranking DOJ official to sign off on the warrant.
“Crossfire Hurricane” was one of the code names for four separate investigations the FBI conducted related to Russia matters in the 2016 election.
“At a minimum, that keeps the hurry the F up pressure on him,” Strzok emailed Page on Oct. 14, 2016, less than four weeks before Election Day.
Four days later the same team was emailing about rushing to get approval for another FISA warrant for another Russia-related investigation code-named “Dragon.”
“Still an expedite?” one of the emails beckoned, as the FBI tried to meet the requirements of a process known as a Woods review before a FISA warrant can be approved by the courts.
“Any idea what time he can have it woods-ed by?” Strzok asked [Lisa] Page. “I know it’s not going to matter because DOJ is going to take the time DOJ wants to take. I just don’t want this waiting on us at all.”
Solomon also noted that elements of the FBI sought to “scrub” all members of President-elect Trump’s transition team. Citing a Daily Beast article about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Strzok wrote to Lisa Page: “We need ALL of their names to scrub, and we should give them ours for the same purpose.” Page wrote back to Strzok, saying of then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe: “Andy didn’t get any others,” which apparently shows that McCabe had no more names to add to the “scrub.” In a response that showed that mid-level FBI officials were involved, Strzok wrote to Page, “That’s what Bill [Priestap] said,” apparently referring to then-FBI chief of counterintelligence William Priestap. “I suggested we need to exchange our entire lists as we each have potential derogatory CI [confidential informants] info the other doesn’t.”
On Friday, Carter Page told The Hill TV that he is not concerns whether federal investigators may have damanging information about him that was obtained while he was under federal surveillance. "I have absolutely no concern whatsoever," Page told Hill TV. The former Trump campaign adviser may file a civil rights suit against the federal government. "My big battle with [the Department of Justice] DOJ right now is getting them to repair the false pleadings that they've done in the Southern District of New York in this case that I have, where I was just asking for $1 of damages," he said. Page added that the federal government has yet to fess up to any misdeeds directed at him. "Not only have they not admitted it, they've continued the abusive process, the false pleadings that they did ... You know, as John [Solomon of The Hill] is alluding to in this article on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, they're doing the same thing in the Southern District of New York," he said.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.