By Tracy Beanz
The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General is due to release their report on potential FISA abuse at any time now. Though the scope of the investigation may appear to be small, the approval of the most powerful surveillance warrant in our country to electronically surveil a campaign staffer during an election using the “two hop” rule, is one of the key components of the “Spygate” saga and opens up a host of other issues. After Fox News Maria Bartiromo announced this past weekend we could expect it this Friday, she has walked it back, and the timetable was again revised to be “the end of the month”. With the end of the month just weeks away, UncoverDC would like to give you a taste of what we expect to read in the report. While there are literally hundreds of things we could add to this list, we will start with the first four.
- Was FusionGPS working as an FBI Contractor?
Remember the reason the corrupt FBI and DOJ needed the warrant on Carter Page at all: Admiral Mike Rogers, former director of the NSA, noticed rampant abuse of the 702 database by outside government contractors, specifically those working with the FBI. Upon discovering this abuse, Rogers froze all queries to this database, and went to the FISC to alert them to what he had found. On the same day access is restricted, the FBI petitions the FISC for the Carter Page FISA warrant, and that warrant is granted. Later, in April of 2017, the FISC released a highly redacted opinion written by Judge Rosemary Collyer, acknowledging this abuse. In addition, there was a summary report issued by Michael Horowitz in January of this year that detailed abuse of “inherent governmental activities” by a contractor. In reading and researching this “spin off” report summary, UncoverDC found compelling evidence that the report was referencing FusionGPS, and the potential that they were working as a government contractor on a counterintelligence investigation, which is against OMB rules. In addition, the same concern was held by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Devin Nunes, as chairman of the HPSCI, sued FusionGPS for access to their financial records. The transcripts from those proceedings indicate that the committee was also looking for evidence that FusionGPS was a paid Intelligence Community contractor.
Why it Matters: Should we find that Glenn Simpson’s firm was also hired and paid as a government contractor, it would add an entirely new and disturbing facet to this already horrific tale. It would mean that not only was FusionGPS working directly for Clinton campaign, and not only did they bring Christopher Steele on board, and not only did they employ Nellie Ohr, a former Russia analyst with the CIA who was married to one of the top DOJ officials Bruce Ohr, but they also were working on the payroll of the US Government, and were allowed access to highly sensitive data on American citizens, which is a violation of Constitutional rights. It would also mean that Christopher Steele’s dossier was laundered into the chain of custody by more repetitive means than initially thought, and would add an entirely different spin on the level of malfeasance we have seen thus far.
- About Rod Rosenstein…
There has been much back and forth in the conservative Twittersphere and elsewhere about the role of Rod Rosenstein in the ongoing coup attempt, as well as his broader role in the spying scandal perpetrated against then candidate, and now President Trump. There are a few things that need clearing up and are hopefully addressed in the upcoming report. We are looking for clarity on what Rod Rosenstein knew about the last FISA renewal. In a hearing on Capitol Hill, when being questioned by Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, Rod Rosenstein hinted that the FISA renewal he signed was not the same as what was being presented in the media. From the testimony:
Deputy AG Rosenstein: I won’t comment about any FISA application.
Rep. Gaetz: You won’t say to the committee whether or not you read the document you signed that authorized spying on people associated with the Trump campaign.
Deputy AG Rosenstein: I dispute your characterization of what that FISA is about, sir.
Deputy AG Rosenstein: I’d like to explain the process. Director Wray can explain it, too, sir. My responsibility at that time was to approve the filing of FISA application applications. Because only three people in the department are authorized to sign it: The Attorney General, the Deputy, and the Assistant Attorney General for national security, which was vacant at the time.
It’s my responsibility do that. I had been relieved of that responsibility. Director Wray still does it every day and I don’t know what his process is, sir, but we sit down with a team of attorneys from the Department of Justice. All of whom review that and provide a briefing for us for what’s in it. And I’ve reviewed that one in some detail, and I can tell you the information about that doesn’t match with my understanding of the one that I signed, but I think it’s appropriate to let that Inspector General complete that investigation. These are serious allegations. I don’t do the investigation — I’m not the affiant. I’m reviewing the finished product, sir.
If the Inspector General finds that I did something wrong then I’ll respect that judgement, but I think it is highly, highly unlikely given the way the process works.
It is imperative we know whether Rod Rosenstein signed the renewal as released to us in redacted form, or if he was presented with something altogether different. We also must know whether he was aware that the FISA application was based on faulty intelligence at the time he signed it. The last renewal was signed in June of 2017, after he had appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller. We have learned much information about Rod Rosenstein in releases from Judicial Watch, namely that documents indicate he was speaking with Robert Mueller without notifying the President, that the discussion about “wearing a wire” actually did occur, and that he broadened the scope of the Mueller probe to include investigations into Michael Flynn Jr. We need to know more definitively what role he played in this scandal.
Why it Matters: If Rod Rosenstein was a player in the scandal, it needs to be made known so that accountability can follow. It would explain many actions taken by the acting Attorney General at the time, including his efforts in the plot to spy on President Trump in the White House, the broadening of the scope of the Mueller probe, the signing of the Carter Page FISA warrant, and whether he was an active participant in the coup. It would certainly widen the scandal and could help to enlighten the American people more about his background, intentions, connections, and previous dealings – especially in terms of Uranium One.
- How much cooperation has there been with US Attorneys Huber and Durham?
We would like to know just how much cooperation there was between the Inspector General and the US Attorneys who are working on the broader case. Remember, the Department of Justice Inspector General, while possessing subpoena power, is limited to interviewing employees of the Department, and is also unable to make charging decisions. This fact is one of the reasons some have doubted the effectiveness of Inspector General investigations. However, first Jeff Sessions, and then Attorney General Barr, assigned the resources of dedicated US Attorneys with the Justice Department to work in tandem with the Office of Inspector General on this investigation. We would like to know how in depth that partnership was, if it is ongoing, and whether or not major portions of the report will be redacted because the issues behind those redactions are currently under ongoing criminal investigation. Also important to note, is that while conducting the Mid-Year Exam investigation into the handling of Hillary Clintons email “matter”, Horowitz and his investigators found a troubling fact and reported as such; in texts between several FBI employees, there was extreme bias against President Trump, and Horowitz found that on the part of Peter Strzok and others, that bias may have crossed over from just talk, and manifested itself into action. In the Mid-Year Exam report, Howoritz and his team go so far as to say:
“We were deeply troubled by text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page that potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations. Most of the text messages raising such questions pertained to the Russia investigation, which was not a part of this review. Nonetheless, when one senior FBI official, Strzok, who was helping to lead the Russia investigation at the time, conveys in a text message to another senior FBI official, Page, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it” in response to her question “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”, it is not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects. This is antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice...”
This bodes well for those wondering the seriousness with which Horowitz planned on investigating the 2016 election and the FISA abuse.
Why it matters: Speculation has been running high among the populace that justice and accountability will ever come to fruition. If it is true that the Inspector General has been closely working with US Attorneys who could assist in gathering more information, or take information from the Inspector General, it would go a long way towards alleviating some of the stress Americans have about the path and conclusion of these investigations. All signs point to deep cooperation, and here at UncoverDC we fully expect justice to be done.
- The Signatories
There are several names listed on the FISA warrant applications and the subsequent renewals, and here at UncoverDC we want to know precisely what role they played in the scandal. We want to know where else they were interwoven, what their intentions were, if they were willing participants, and whether they will be held accountable if they were breaking the law. The names we seek detail about are as follows: James Comey, Sally Yates, Dana Boente, Andrew McCabe, and Rod Rosenstein. Especially in the cases of Rod Rosenstein and Dana Boente, UncoverDC is eager to understand their role was.
Why it matters: Dana Boente is still employed with the US Government. Rod Rosenstein retired to much fanfare, Sally Yates has been quietly floating beneath the surface and her role is likely wider than imagined. Andrew McCabe has a host of issues and from all we can see his criminal case for lying and leaking to the press is currently on hold at the Grand Jury level. James Comey skated indictment on charges of leaking classified information and has been tweeting up a storm and writing novels. We want accountability where necessary and the American people deserve to know what these people knew, when they knew it, and what they did to stop this (if anything) from happening to our country. We are getting closer to these answers.
Investigative Journalist Tracy Beanz is Editor-in-Cheif at UncoverDC and the host of the Dark to Light Podcast, found on Tune-in, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Apple iTunes and Radioinfluence.com. You can follow her work on Twitter @tracybeanz