Democrats and their media allies reveled in announcing the politically-motivated articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday.
But it was the Department of Justice inspector general’s report on Monday that stole the show for serious-minded news consumers.
And U.S. Attorney John Durham’s inquiry into the origins of spying on the Trump campaign is expected to be even more devastating to the deep state, Democrats and the major media who are trying to remove the duly-elected president by any means possible, conservative critics say.
Durham has a broader scope than DOJ IG Michael Horowitz’s investigation, including a focus on foreign actors as well as the CIA. Horowitz’s probe concentrated on the Department of Justice and FBI.
Attorney General William Barr, during an interview with NBC’s Pete Williams that aired on Tuesday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, said the FBI ignored exculpatory evidence when obtaining FISA warrants in the Trump-Russia collusion investigation.
Barr said: “From day one — remember, they said, okay, we’re not going to talk to the campaign. We’re going to put people in there, rile them up and have conversations with people involved in the campaign because that way, we’ll get the truth. From the very first day of this investigation, which is July 31st, 2016, all the way to its end, September 2017, there was not one incriminatory bit of evidence to come in. It was all exculpatory. The people with the tapings denied it with Russia, denied the specific facts that the FBI was relying on. So what happens? The FBI ignores it, presses ahead, withholds that information from the court, withholds critical exculpatory information from the court while it gets an electronic surveillance warrant. It also withholds from the court clear cut evidence that the dossier that they ultimately relied on to get the FISA warrant was a complete sham.”
Barr continued: “They hid information about the lack of the liability, even when they went the first time for the warrant. But in January, after the election, the entire case collapsed when the principal source says I never told this. I never told Steele this stuff. And this was also speculation. And I have zero information to support this stuff. At that point, when their entire case collapsed, what do they do? They kept on investigating the president well into his administration after the case collapsed. But here to me is the damning thing: They not only didn’t tell the court that what they had been relying on was completely, you know, rubbish, they actually started putting in things to bolster this Steele report by saying we talked to the sources and they appeared to be truthful. But they don’t inform the court what they’re truthful about is that the dossier is false. So that’s hard to explain. And the core statement, in my opinion by the IG, is that these irregularities, these misstatements, these omissions were not satisfactorily explained and that leaves open the possibility to infer bad faith.”
Asked if he stood by his statement that the Trump campaign was spied on, Barr said: “Oh, it was clearly spied upon. I mean, that’s what electronic surveillance is. I think wiring people up to go in and talk to people and make recordings of their conversations is spying. I think going through people’s emails which they did as a result of the FISA warrant.”
Another major part of Horowitz’s report focused on the Democratic Party-financed anti-Trump dossier authored by ex-British spy Christopher Steele.
In a Dec. 9 report for The Washington Times, Rowan Scarborough noted that “One of the FBI’s big selling points” for the dossier is that Steele “had proven his veracity in previously providing information on an international soccer scandal.”
“It turned out it wasn’t true, according to the Justice Department’s inspector general report released Monday,” Scarborough wrote.
Steele had been lauded by his handlers for the work he allegedly did in the investigation which exposed corruption at FIFA, the international soccer governing body.
“Hardly any of Steele’s FIFA soccer information was corroborated. And none was used in court, contrary to what was attested to by FBI in its Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) application,” Scarborough noted.
Horowitz said in his report: “According to the handling agent, he would not have approved the representation in the application because only ‘some’ of Steele’s prior reporting had been corroborated — most of it had not — and because Steele’s information was never used in a criminal proceeding. We found that the team had speculated that Steele’s prior reporting had been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings without clearing the representation with Steele’s handling agent.”
And in another glaring error, Scarborough pointed out, “Steele’s main dossier source disagreed with anti-Trump assertions in his dossier after it was posted online in January 2017. But the FBI failed to include that denial in subsequent wiretap renewals.”
The source said he or she never told Steele that Trump campaign associate Carter Page met with an unsavory Kremlin figure while on a public trip to Moscow in July 2016.
In another instance of an FBI error, Page told agents he was a CIA asset, the CIA confirmed in an email. But an FBI lawyer changed the “yes” to a “no.”
Steele “also apparently lied to agents when they traveled to Rome for a briefing in October,” Scarborough noted. “His agent handler asked if he was involved in a Yahoo News story and Steele responded ‘no.’ The FBI then used the Yahoo article as corroboration in the FISA application. But in fact, Steele had been the Yahoo source.”
In Rome, Steele described one of his main dossier sources as a “boaster” and “egotist” who “may engage in some embellishment.” The FBI failed to include that caveat in the FISA application or tell its intelligence unit, Horowitz said.
In Rome, FBI agents also disclosed sensitive information to Steele about the Crossfire Hurricane probe into the Trump campaign. An agent mentioned the name of George Papadopoulos, a Trump adviser and FBI target. Some agents told the IG the disclosure was improper.
After the Rome meeting, Steele worked for two bosses: Fusion GPS, which was being paid by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and Democratic National Committee; and the FBI.
He began filing anti-Trump allegations that were not in the dossier being sent to Fusion.
One was that Russian military intelligence was funneling money to Trump “by way of an Azerbaijani family.”
In special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in March, there was no mention of such an arrangement. Mueller said he did not establish a conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, as Steele alleged in his 35-page dossier that concluded in December 2016.
A Washington Times analysis found 13 conspiracy allegations inside the dossier, all of which were disproven or unverified.
Steele and Fusion pushed another bogus story. They contended that the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, Russia’s largest commercial bank, maintained a dedicated computer server for secret communications.
Fusion’s Glenn Simpson sold the story to Slate.com and The New Yorker.
Horowitz’s report quotes the FBI as saying the story is false.
“The FBI investigated whether there were cyber links between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, but had concluded by early February 2017 that there were no such links,” the FBI said. “The Supervisory Intel Analyst told us that he factored the Alfa Bank/Trump server allegations into his assessment of Steele’s reporting.”
“I think you’re going to see some indictments,” former DOJ official Ian Prior said on “Fox & Friends,” referring to Durham’s investigation. “He’s got the goods on somebody.”
Prior added: “Durham can subpoena former employees, former DOJ members; Durham can go and look at what the CIA was doing, what the [National Security Council] was doing, what foreign countries were doing. Durham’s scope is so much bigger.”