Panned by Democrats at the time as well as their enablers in the establishment media, a memo then-majority Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released in February 2018 — the so-called “FISA memo” — implicating FBI malfeasance in the Spygate scandal turned out to be highly accurate, according to information contained in blockbuster reports this week.
On Friday we reported, citing The Hill‘s John Solomon, that former No. 4 Justice Department official Bruce Ohr told ranking FBI officials that the so-called “Russia dossier” used by the bureau to justify obtaining FISA court warrants to spy on the 2016 Trump campaign was a political document, not a piece of intelligence.
Ohr told the FBI and Obama DoJ officials that the dossier’s author, former British spy Christopher Steele, had been hired by Fusion GPS — whom his wife worked for — to produce it on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign, making its contents highly suspect.
He also told officials that Steele was a vehement opponent of Donald Trump and completely in the tank for Clinton, which also made his work suspect.
But nobody listened. In fact, as Solomon noted, Ohr should have been listened to since he had had a great deal of contact with Steele, even after the FBI dismissed him for having improper contacts with the media.
As brutal as all of this new information is to the Obama administration, Solomon’s revelations about Ohr give us new reasons to distrust special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. As The Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberly Strassel wrote on Friday, Ohr’s revelations included the fact that a number of people he briefed about the dubious nature of the dossier ended up being part of Mueller’s team.
Everybody knew. Everybody of consequence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department understood fully in the middle of 2016—as the FBI embarked on its counterintelligence probe of Donald Trump—that it was doing so based on disinformation provided by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. That’s the big revelation from the transcript of the testimony Justice Department official Bruce Ohr gave Congress in August.
Specifically, she notes further, mentioning some very familiar names:
Mr. Ohr testified that he sat down with dossier author Christopher Steele on July 30, 2016, and received salacious information the opposition researcher had compiled on Mr. Trump. Mr. Ohr immediately took that to the FBI’s then-Deputy Director Andy McCabe and lawyer Lisa Page. In August he took it to Peter Strzok, the bureau’s lead investigator. In the same month, Mr. Ohr believes, he briefed senior personnel in the Justice Department’s criminal division: Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce Swartz, lawyer Zainab Ahmad and fraud unit head Andrew Weissman. The last two now work for special counsel Robert Mueller.
“When I provided [the Steele information] to the FBI, I tried to be clear that this is source information,” he testified. “I don’t know how reliable it is. You’re going to have to check it out and be aware. These guys were hired by somebody relating to—who’s related to the Clinton campaign, and be aware.”
What else do these new revelations mean? They indicate that the GOP House Intelligence Committee memo issued in February 2018 regarding Ohr, the Steele Dossier, and FBI dishonesty was exactly right, not the Democrat version released by the new chairman of the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).
As we reported at the time:
…[A]s many suspected, the discredited and unverified “Trump dossier” was used not once but on three separate occasions to secure a FISA court surveillance warrant to allow the Obama administration to spy on Team Trump during his campaign.
In addition, Hillary Clinton, U.S. media outlets, and ranking officials within DOJ and FBI including former FBI Director James Comey, former deputy director Andrew McCabe, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein were all aware that the dossier was a political document, not a serious piece of intelligence work, the memo explains.
In addition, the memo “includes testimony from a high-ranking government official who says without the infamous Trump dossier, the FBI and DOJ would not have secured surveillance warrants to spy on at least one member of the Trump team,” Fox News reported at the time (remember, Bruch Ohr was the No. 4 DoJ official at the time).
The memo pointed out that in December 2017, then-FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe testified that “no surveillance warrant would have been sought” from the FISA court “without the Steele dossier information.”
It also said that DOJ and FBI officials used media reporting on the Trump-Russia collusion allegations to bolster their case for a FISA court warrant. That is a substantial revelation because the memo also talks about how Steele briefed a number of media outlets on its contents over the summer of 2016, as Trump gained steam. He supplied the talking points, the Deep State media dutifully ran with it, and viola…instant ‘Trump-Russia collusion’ narrative.
There’s also this: The memo said that Steele told Ohr that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” But it adds that the FISA application process “ignored or concealed his anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations.”
“This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files – but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications,” the memo reads.
Stossel notes further:
This testimony has two other implications.
First, it further demonstrates the accuracy of the House Intelligence Committee Republicans’ memo of 2018—which noted Mr. Ohr’s role and pointed out that the FBI had not been honest about its knowledge of the dossier and failed to inform the court of Mrs. Ohr’s employment at Fusion GPS. The testimony also destroys any remaining credibility of the Democratic response, in which Mr. Schiff and his colleagues claimed Mr. Ohr hadn’t met with the FBI or told them anything about his wife or about Mr. Steele’s bias until after the election.
Second, the testimony raises new concerns about Mr. Mueller’s team. Critics have noted Mr. Weissman’s donations to Mrs. Clinton and his unseemly support of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates’s obstruction of Trump orders. It now turns out that senior Mueller players were central to the dossier scandal.
The conflicts of interest boggle the mind.
Yes, they do. But the bigger question becomes: What reforms will the president’s new attorney general, William Barr, implement to ensure this never happens again? And how, given his personal friendship with Robert Mueller, will he cope with the inherent bias on the special counsel’s team? — Jon Dougherty
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