A chain of emails between FBI officials regarding FISA applications obtained largely on the basis of the infamous Democrat-funded anti-Trump dossier may contain "the most damning evidence to date of potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)," The Hill's John Solomon reports.
The evidence reportedly contained in the email chain relates to the dossier, compiled by former MI6 British intelligence operative Christopher Steele and funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC, which contains salacious and — over two years later — still unverified claims about Trump's supposed connections to Russia. As more details about the process have come to light, it has become more clear that the partisan and highly suspect dossier was the key source of information FBI officials used to obtain the initial warrant to spy on Trump associate Carter Page.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) requested right before Thanksgiving that President Trump declassify the emails, which have been withheld from most members of Congress for over two years. According to Solomon's sources, this could spell trouble for some high-profile former FBI officials.
"The email exchanges included then-FBI Director James Comey, key FBI investigators in the Russia probe and lawyers in the DOJ’s national security division, and they occurred in early to mid-October, before the FBI successfully secured a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page," Solomon writes. "The email exchanges show the FBI was aware — before it secured the now-infamous warrant — that there were intelligence community concerns about the reliability of the main evidence used to support it: the Christopher Steele dossier."
Steele, who has been highly critical of Trump, worked for the FBI as a confidential human source until November 1, 2016, when he was fired "on the grounds that he had unauthorized contacts with the news media," Solomon notes. His firing came two weeks after information he provided was used to secure the warrant.
The emails reportedly show that officials were aware that Steele had contacted news media before the FISA warrant was secured — that contact resulting in a Yahoo News report that was used by FBI officials as supposedly "independent" corroboration of some of Steele's claims to help secure the warrant.
If the FBI indeed knew before obtaining the warrant that Steele had contacted media, that would constitute "circular intelligence reporting," a "forbidden tactic in which two pieces of evidence are portrayed as independent corroboration when, in fact, they originated from the same source," Solomon explains.
We already know that FBI officials failed to reveal to Congress until months after the fact that Steele had been paid by the firm Fusion GPS, which had been hired to do oppo research for Clinton and the DNC, notes Solomon. "If the FBI knew of his media contacts and the concerns about the reliability of his dossier before seeking the warrant, it would constitute a serious breach of FISA regulations and the trust that the FISA court places in the FBI."
One of Solomon's sources commented that if the email chain is released as requested by Nunes, "the American public will have clear and convincing evidence to see the FISA warrant that escalated the Russia probe just before Election Day was flawed and the judges [were] misled."
The evidence that has already come to light is damning enough: FBI officials that have since demonstrated a clear political bias used an unverified document produced as opposition research as rationale to secure multiple FISA warrants related to a presidential candidate representing the opposing party of the administration.
"If ever there were grounds to investigate the investigators, these facts provide the justification," writes Solomon.