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FBI Director Blasted By Trump Admits ‘Illegal Surveillance’ Of Trump Adviser: Report

By  James Barrett
DailyWire.com
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray arrives to testify before the Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. According to a report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, former FBI Director James Comey and other top officials did not follow standard procedures in their handling of the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server, but did not find any evidence of political bias. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On the same day that the U.S. Senate voted to acquit President Trump over the allegations leveled by Democrats in their two impeachment articles, the director of the FBI reportedly made a significant admission during a House Judiciary Committee hearing. After publicly insisting that the FBI had not unfairly targeted the Trump campaign in its surveilling of Trump adviser Carter Page  prompting a sharp rebuke from President Trump  Wray reportedly acknowledged Wednesday that the FBI engaged in “illegal surveillance with respect to at least several of these FISA applications because there was no probable cause or proper predication.”

As reported by CBS News’ Catherine Herridge, Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe, citing the inspector general and DOJ report on the FBI abuse of the FISA court (see below), asked Wray in the hearing Wednesday if he would “acknowledge that this was illegal surveillance with respect to at least several of these FISA applications because there was no probable cause or proper predication. Correct?”

“Right,” Wray responded. Herridge reported the exchange in a tweet Thursday (h/t Twitchy):

Wray’s admission follows his much-cited interview with ABC News in December and a much-quoted blistering Trump tweet issued in response. In the interview, Wray denied that there was any evidence that the FBI unfairly targeted Trump’s campaign.

“I think it’s important for the American people to know that when the FBI opens an investigation it does so with proper predication, with proper authorization, based on the facts and nothing else,” said the FBI director. “I think it’s important that the inspector general found that in this particular instance the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization.”

“[T]he Inspector General did not find political bias or improper motivations impacting the opening of the investigation or the decision to use certain investigative tools during the investigation, including FISA,” said Wray. “But that the Inspector general did find a number of instances where employees either failed to follow our policies, neglected to exercise appropriate diligence, or in some other way fell short of the standard of conduct and performance that we, and that I, as Director, expect of all our employees.”

Trump responded to Wray’s statement by declaring that “he will never be able to fix the FBI” with “that kind of attitude.”

“I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me,” said Trump. “With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!”

Wray’s testimony Wednesday follows the declassification of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ruling in January determining that the FBI should have discontinued its secret surveillance of Trump adviser Carter Page because it had “insufficient predication to establish probable cause.” At least two of the four FISA applications for Page, ruled FISA Judge James Boasberg on January 7, were “not valid.”

“DOJ assesses that with respect to the applications in Docket Numbers 17-375 and 17-679, ‘if not earlier, there was insufficient predication to establish probable cause to believe that [Carter] Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power,'” wrote Boasberg, as reported by The Federalist’s Sean Davis.  “The Court understands the government to have concluded, in view of the material misstatements and omissions, that the Court’s authorizations in Docket Numbers 17-375 and 17-679 were not valid.”

As The Daily Wire noted at the time, the IG report released in December highlighted the following 17 “inaccuracies and omissions” made by the FBI in applying for FISA applications to surveil Carter, including seven from the first application:

  1. Omitted information from another U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Page, including that Page had been approved as an operational contact for the other agency from 2008 to 2013, and that Page had provided information to the other agency concerning his prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers, one of which overlapped with facts asserted in the FISA application;
  2. Included a source characterization statement asserting that Steele’s prior reporting had been “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings,” which overstated the significance of Steele’s past reporting and was not approved by Steele’s FBI handling agent, as required by the Woods Procedures;
  3. Omitted information relevant to the reliability of Person 1, a key Steele sub-source (who, as previously noted, was attributed with providing the information in Report 95 and some of the information in Reports 80 and 102 relied upon in the application), namely that (1) Steele himself told members of the Crossfire Hurricane team that Person 1 was a “boaster” and an “egoist” and “may engage in some embellishment” and (2) [redacted]
  4. Asserted that the FBI had assessed that Steele did not directly provide to the press information in the September 23 Yahoo News article, based on the premise that Steele had told the FBI that he only shared his election-related research with the FBI and [Fusion GPS Founder Glenn] Simpson; this premise was factually incorrect (Steele had provided direct information to Yahoo News) and also contradicted by documentation in the Woods File-Steele had told the FBI that he also gave his information to the State Department;
  5. Omitted Papadopoulos’s statements to an FBI CHS in September 2016 denying that anyone associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia or with outside groups like WikiLeaks in the release of emails;
  6. Omitted Page’s statements to an FBI CHS [Confidential Human Source] in August 2016 that Page had “literally never met” or “said one word to” Paul Manafort and that Manafort had not responded to any of Page’s emails; if true, those statements were in tension with claims in Steele’s Report 95 that Page was participating in a “conspiracy” with Russia by acting as an intermediary for Manafort on behalf of the Trump campaign; and
  7. Selectively included Page’s statements to an FBI CHS in October 2016 that the FBI believed supported its theory that Page was an agent of Russia but omitted other statements Page made, including denying having met with Sechin and Divyekin, or even knowing who Divyekin was; if true, those statements contradicted the claims in Steele’s Report 94 that Page had met secretly with Sechin and Divyekin about future cooperation with Russia and shared derogatory information about candidate Clinton.

The IG found the following 10 inaccuracies and omissions in the second FISA application:

  1. Omitted the fact that Steele’s Primary Sub-source, who the FBI found credible, had made statements in January 2017 raising significant questions about the reliability of allegations included in the FISA applications, including, for example, that he/she had no discussion with Person 1 concerning WikiLeaks and there was “nothing bad” about the communications between the Kremlin and the Trump team, and that he/she did not report to Steele in July 2016 that Page had met with Sechin;
  2. Omitted Page’s prior relationship with another U.S. government agency, despite being reminded by the other agency in June 2017, prior to the filing of the final renewal application, about Page’s past status with that other agency; instead of including this information in the final renewal application, the FBI OGC [Office of the General Counsel] Attorney altered an email from the other agency so that the email stated that Page was “not a source” for the other agency, which the FBI affiant relied upon in signing the final renewal application;
  3. Omitted information provided by persons with direct knowledge of Steele’s work-related performance in a prior position about Steele’s professional judgment, including statements that Steele had held a “moderately senior” position (not “high-ranking” as noted in the applications), had no history of reporting in bad faith but demonstrated “poor judgment,” “pursued people with political risk but no intelligence value,” “didn’t always exercise great judgment,” and it was “not clear what he would have done to validate” his reporting;
  4. Omitted information from Department attorney Bruce Ohr about Steele and his election reporting, including that (1) Steele’s reporting was going to Clinton’s presidential campaign and others, (2) Simpson was paying Steele to discuss his reporting with the media, and (3) Steele was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being the U.S. President”;
  5. Failed to update the description of Steele after information became known to the Crossfire Hurricane team, not only from Ohr but from others, that provided greater clarity on the political origins and connections of Steele’s reporting, including that Simpson was hired by someone associated with the Democratic Party and/or the DNC;
  6. Failed to correct the assertion in the first FISA application that the FBI did not believe that Steele directly provided information to the reporter who wrote the September 23 Yahoo News article, even though there was no information in the Woods File to support this claim and even after certain FBI officials involved in Crossfire Hurricane learned in 2017, before the third renewal application, of an admission that Steele made in a court filing about his interactions with the news media in the late summer and early fall of 2016;
  7. Omitted the finding from a formal FBI source validation report that Steele was suitable for continued operation but that his past contributions to the FBI’s criminal program had been “minimally corroborated,” and instead continued to assert in the source characterization statement that Steele’s prior reporting had been “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings”;
  8. Omitted Papadopoulos’s statements to an FBI CHS in late October 2016 (after the first application was filed) denying that the Trump campaign was involved in the circumstances of the DNC email hack;
  9. Omitted Joseph Mifsud’s denials to the FBI that he supplied Papadopoulos with the information Papadopoulos shared with the FFG (suggesting that the campaign received an offer or suggestion of assistance from Russia); and
  10. Omitted evidence indicating that Page played no role in the Republican platform change on Russia’s annexation of Ukraine as alleged in Steele Report 95, which was inconsistent with a factual assertion relied upon to support probable cause in all four FISA application
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