Posts Tagged ‘Inspector General’

Don’t Swallow Democrats’ Manure: ICE is not incompetent but the FBI MAY HAVE TRIED to change the outcome of the 2016 election

July 2, 2018

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin hurled insults towards the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency during an immigration rally in Illinois Sunday morning.

Durbin said “ICE is incompetent.”

Image result for Dick Durbin, photos

Almost nobody in the law enforcement community agrees with Senator Durbin. Most who have worked with ICE applaud the professionalism of ICE officers.

What seems to be disturbing the Democrats is the separation of families at the border — a practice President Trump ordered reversed by Executive Order.

Besides, ICE is almost never involved in the separation of families, law enforcement officers tell us — unless they are dragging a criminal away to jail.

The Border Patrol gets more of the blame for separating families. But the head of the Border Patrol has said there is no policy to separate families.

So it looks like Dick Durbin and other Democrats might be the real incompetents here — unless they just wanted to rile up an angry mob of Americans.

Is this Trump derangement syndrome?

Or are the Democrats changing the narrative to the border after the last shot of news really damaging to Democrats: That the FBI was biased against Donald Trump and for Hillary Clinton before, during and after the 2016 election.

That’s a serious charge worthy of further investigation and discussion. Perhaps even a criminal referral.

If the FBI, the nation’s premier law enforcement agency, thought it could and should swing the election of the President of the United States, isn’t that treason like America has never before seen?

Or, if it isn’t treason, is it merely a conspiracy to commit treason by wayward FBI agents. That’s still a jaw dropping possibility.

Happy Independence Day!

John Francis Carey
Commentary
Peace and Freedom

Related:

Border Patrol: No policy to separate families

https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2018/06/17/border-patrol-says-no-policy-for-separating-families-sot.cnn

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Dick Durbin Calls Ice ‘A Group of incompetents’

http://dailycaller.com/2018/07/01/sen-durbin-ice-incompetent/

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‘Abolish ICE’ Becomes New Rallying Call for 2020 Democrats

https://bcnn1wp.wordpress.com/2018/06/29/abolish-ice-becomes-new-rallying-call-for-2020-democrats/

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Congress – FBI Sandoff: Trey Gowdy Says Congress Ready To Use “Full Arsenal of Constitutional Weapons” To Make FBI/DOJ Comply With Document Requests

June 18, 2018

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy said on ‘FOX News Sunday’ that House Republicans would hold top FBI and Justice Department officials in contempt of Congress if they fail to comply with subpoenas for sensitive documents championed by Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.

Gowdy, Nunes, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte met on Friday with FBI and DOJ officials and “went item by item” through the outstanding subpoenas, Gowdy said.

“And Paul Ryan made it very clear: There’s going to be action on the floor of the House this week if the FBI and DOJ do not comply with our subpoena requests,” Gowdy said. House Republicans will use their “full arsenal of constitutional weapons to gain compliance.”

“Including contempt of Congress?” host Chris Wallace asked.

“That would be among them, yes sir,” Gowdy replied. “I don’t want the drama. I want the documents. There is no ambiguity, the Speaker of the House was really clear: you’re going to comply or there’s going to be floor action, and I think they got the message.”

He also said that the Justice Department’s inspector general report on the handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe helps President Trump.

FoxNewsSunday

@FoxNewsSunday

On how the DOJ’s IG Report impacts @realDonaldTrump, @TGowdySC tells Chris: “It certainly helps him”
Watch the full interview at 2PM & 7PM ET @FoxNews

Asked by anchor Chris Wallace if the report exonerates Trump, Gowdy said, “it certainly helps him.”

Gowdy said the report proved that the same agents involved in the Clinton email investigation later went on to bias investigations into Trump.

Image result for John Brennan, james clapper, photos

“The same people, the same players that were involved in the Clinton probe later moved to the Russian probe. [Former CIA Director] John Brennan, who said he should be in the dustpan of history, [former FBI Director] Jim Comey, who said impeachment was too good of a remedy, [former Attorney General] Loretta Lynch, who wanted Hillary Clinton to win,” Gowdy said.

https://video.foxnews.com/v/video-embed.html?video_id=5797742928001&loc=realclearpolitics.com&ref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.realclearpolitics.com%2Fvideo%2F2018%2F06%2F17%2Fgowdy_house_gop_will_hit_fbidoj_with_full_arsenal_of_constitutional_weapons_if_they_dont_comply_with_requests.html&_xcf=

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https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/06/17/gowdy_house_gop_will_hit_fbidoj_with_full_arsenal_of_constitutional_weapons_if_they_dont_comply_with_requests.html

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Full interview:

From Fox News Sunday:

Full Gowdy Interview

Related:

Open Up the Horowitz Secret Appendix — We Need to Know More About The I.G. Report on the FBI, Justice Department Findings

June 17, 2018

The public needs to know the history of the Russian info that had a big effect on Mr. Comey’s decisions.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Washington, D.C., July 26, 2017.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Washington, D.C., July 26, 2017.PHOTO: ZACH GIBSON/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report points to multiple irregularities in FBI chief James Comey’s actions in the 2016 election campaign, sees no evidence of political bias, but never really gets to the bottom of why Mr. Comey played the role he did.

Mr. Comey may have been worried that a Justice Department decision not to prosecute Mrs. Clinton would lack credibility, but it was in no sense his obligation to solve this problem. It simply was not the FBI chief’s job to relieve the Obama administration of the need to sell its decision to the electorate. This is why we have elections. It’s what political accountability is all about.

This is where Russia enters in. It is highly absurd at this point to keep this information secret, as Mr. Horowitz does in a classified appendix.

We already know from press reporting last year that the FBI was in possession of some kind of Russian intercept of a purported Democratic email that referred to an alleged conversation between Clinton aide Amanda Renteria and Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Mr. Horowitz says Mr. Comey did not find the information credible, didn’t investigate it, and didn’t tell his Justice Department superiors about it.

Except that as recently as a few weeks ago in a TV interview Mr. Comey indicated the information might not be false. Hmm.

One more thing we learn: The same classified source reported an allegation that Mr. Comey himself would seek to delay the Hillary investigation to aid Republicans.

So the information wasn’t credible, wasn’t investigated, and wasn’t shared with his superiors. We also don’t know which agency it came from or what discussions about its relevance took place. And yet it was hugely consequential. Mr. Comey himself tells us in his memoir that this classified information was pivotal to his decision to intervene. He feared it would leak and be used to discredit any DOJ decision to clear Mrs. Clinton.

Let’s pause here. Readers may have noticed a slight elision in my May 30 column on these matters. Mr. Comey’s second intervention, the one reopening the Hillary investigation shortly before the election, was one intervention that was not based on Russian intelligence.

It was also the one intervention decidedly not urged on Mr. Comey or favored by his Obama administration colleagues.

But consider: Mr. Comey by this point could not have failed to notice that all the FBI’s interventions were tending to benefit Mrs. Clinton. He could not have failed to notice that the intelligence basis for his actions (e.g., the Steele dossier) was disconcertingly thin.

He would have been lacking in shrewdness not to wonder if Obama spy masters were playing him for a sap. When the Anthony Weiner laptop surfaced, he would have had every reason to be eager to re-establish his bona fides with his GOP congressional overseers as somebody who in retrospect would be seen to have played an evenhanded role in the election.

Voilà. Yet this line of inquiry has not been so much neglected as dropped by the media. Virtually no press accounts this week even mention Mr. Horowitz’s classified appendix.

This is not exactly surprising. Democrats and Mr. Trump’s press critics ecstatically embraced the Russian interference theme but, unfortunately for them, the Russian interference theme also gives coherence and motive to the story they wish to ignore. This story concerns a consistent pattern of meddling in the race by our own intelligence agencies, using Russian intelligence as an excuse.

Indeed, a fact becomes clearer than ever, especially from the poorly self-serving babblings of former Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper : The now-defunct theory that Mr. Trump was Russia’s cat’s-paw had been widely adopted at the highest echelons of the Obama administration. It inspired many of the administration’s actions.

It almost goes without saying that Russia at first would have looked on Mr. Trump’s candidacy as the U.S. establishment did, as a joke, discrediting our democracy.

That Russian trolls were keen to promote the Trump phenomenon seemed obvious to this columnist from August 2015, as I’ve pointed out.

But this does not delegitimize Mr. Trump or the message his voters were trying to send by electing him. The Kremlin was no less blinkered and smug than our own establishment, a k a Mr. Comey, in its understanding of the Trump phenomenon and contempt for democratic outcomes.

Mr. Comey’s actions unfurl more as a comedy of arrogance rather than a conspiracy, though conspiratorial elements certainly came to be involved, especially in promoting leakage of the Steele dossier and various innuendo against the incoming Trump administration.

Not for the first time, we wonder how the Trump presidency might have been different, and how much opportunity the country might not now be squandering, if Democrats had decided to understand his election as an interesting, antipartisan, possibly providential anomaly rather than inventing conspiracy theories about it.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/open-up-the-horowitz-secret-appendix-1529096831

The Disgrace of Comey’s FBI

June 15, 2018

The damning IG report shows the urgent need to restore public trust.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and suit

The long-awaited Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation makes for depressing reading for anyone who cares about American democracy. Self-government depends on public trust in its institutions, especially law enforcement. The IG’s 568-page report makes clear that the FBI under former director James Comey betrayed that public trust in a way not seen since J. Edgar Hoover.

We use the Hoover analogy advisedly, realizing that the problem in this case was not rampant illegal spying. Though IG Michael Horowitz’s conclusions are measured, his facts are damning. They show that Mr. Comey abused his authority, broke with long-established Justice Department norms, and deceived his superiors and the public.

While the IG says Mr. Comey’s decisions were not the result of “political bias,” he presided over an investigating team that included agents who clearly were biased against Donald Trump. The damage to the bureau’s reputation—and to thousands of honest agents—will take years to repair.

The issue of political bias is almost beside the point. The IG scores Mr. Comey for “ad hoc decisionmaking based on his personal views.” Like Hoover, Mr. Comey believed that he alone could protect the public trust. And like Hoover, this hubris led him to make egregious mistakes of judgment that the IG says “negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.”

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The report scores Mr. Comey in particular for his “conscious decision not to tell [Justice] Department leadership about his plans to independently announce” an end to the investigation at his July 5 press conference in which he exonerated but criticized Mrs. Clinton. And the IG also scores his action 11 days before the 2016 presidential election, on October 28, to send a letter to Congress saying the investigation had been reopened.

The decision to prosecute belongs to the Attorney General and Justice, not the FBI. And the FBI does not release derogatory information on someone against whom it is not bringing charges. Regarding the October letter informing Congress that the FBI was renewing the investigation, FBI policy is not to announce investigations. “We found unpersuasive Comey’s explanation,” deadpans the IG.

“We found that it was extraordinary and insubordinate for Comey to conceal his intentions from his superiors, the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, for the admitted purpose of preventing them from telling him not to make the statement, and to instruct his subordinates in the FBI to do the same,” says the report.

“Comey waited until the morning of his press conference to inform [Attorney General Loretta] Lynch and [Deputy Attorney General Sally ] Yates of his plans to hold one without them, and did so only after first notifying the press. As a result, Lynch’s office learned about Comey’s plans via press inquiries rather than from Comey. Moreover, when Comey spoke with Lynch he did not tell her what he intended to say in his statement.”

All of this underscores the case that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made when he advised President Trump in May 2017 that he should fire Mr. Comey. The President’s mistake was not firing Mr. Comey immediately upon taking office on Jan. 20, 2017, as some of us advised at the time.

As for political bias, the IG devotes a chapter to the highly partisan texts exchanged over FBI phones between FBI personnel. The IG says he found no evidence that political bias affected investigative decisions, but the details will be fodder for those who think otherwise.

For one thing, the political opinions ran in only one direction—against Mr. Trump. Then there is the case of FBI agent Peter Strzok and his decision to prioritize the Russian investigation over following up on Mrs. Clinton’s emails. The IG concludes that Mr. Strzok’s “text messages led us to conclude that we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision was free from bias.”

The specific Strzok message the IG cites is one in which he responded to a text from his paramour, Lisa Page, asking for reassurance that Mr. Trump was “not ever going to become president, right?” Mr. Strzok replied, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”

Senator Ron Johnson’s office reports that his committee had received the first part of this exchange— Ms. Page’s question—from Justice. But somehow Mr. Strzok’s astonishing reply wasn’t included. If this was deliberate, the official who ordered this exclusion should be publicly identified and fired.

The report also chronicles a long list of other questionable judgments by the FBI and Justice. These include waiting until late October to announce that the FBI was seeking a search warrant for Anthony Weiner’s laptop, though “virtually every fact that was cited” to justify the move had been known a month before.

And the report criticizes the decision to let Mrs. Clinton’s attorneys, Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, attend the FBI’s interview with Mrs. Clinton when they were potential witnesses to her possible offenses. This was “inconsistent with typical investigative strategy and gave rise to accusations of bias and preferential treatment,” the IG says.

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The unavoidable conclusion is that Mr. Comey’s FBI became a law unto itself, accountable to no one but the former director’s self-righteous conscience. His refusal to follow proper guidelines interfered with a presidential election campaign in a way that has caused millions of Americans in both parties to justifiably cry foul.

This should never happen in a democracy, and steps must be taken so that it never does again. Mr. Horowitz deserves credit for an investigation that was thorough, informative and unplagued by leaks. But it is not the final word. Next week he will be testifying before Congress to flesh out and clarify his findings. Congress should also call FBI agents as witnesses.

The larger damage here is to trust in institutions that are vital to self-government. Mr. Trump will use the facts to attack the FBI, but most agents are honest and nonpartisan. Christopher Wray, the new FBI director, promised Thursday to implement the IG’s recommendations, but his cleanup task is larger. He can start by ending the FBI’s stonewall of Congress on document requests.

Mr. Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have to understand that radical measures are needed to restore public trust in both the FBI and Justice Department. If they won’t do it, someone else must.

Appeared in the June 15, 2018, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-disgrace-of-comeys-fbi-1529019418

Yes, there was a spy in the Trump campaign but we can explain….

May 23, 2018

President Donald Trump reportedly reached an agreement with the Justice Department Monday to have the agency’s inspector general probe his claims of FBI wrongdoing and bias against him in the Russia probe.

Democrats are having some trouble explaining this.

One congressman we spoke to said, “It was NOT a spy. It was an informant.”

Renaming this will not make it smell any better.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has spoken out about the “staggering” amount of evidence that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin swayed the 2016 presidential election.

Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses, beard and closeup

So where is the evidence. And was it gathered legally? When do we, the voters, get to see it. And does it implicate any of the Trump team (or the Obama administration) in any illegal activity?

We all have a dog in this hunt if we expect our elections to be legal, honest and reliable.

Well, ONE of those is better than none!

Related:

After year of investigation, Trump can rightly claim some vindication (No Wonder Hillary Is Bitter — The CIA and FBI Let Her Down)

May 21, 2018

 

Former Secretary of State and former Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds up a Russian fur hat, an ushanka, with a Soviet era hammer and sickle emblem, to the Yale College class of 2018 during her Class Day address at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., Sunday, May 20, 2018. As a tradition, Yale students and faculty wear humorous and playful hats during a Senior Class Day ceremony. (Peter Hvizdak/New Haven Register via AP) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

It was called “Crossfire Hurricane,” the FBI counterintelligence operation that targeted Trump figures as part of the investigation into possible campaign ties to Russia. It was a poignant choice of a Rolling Stones song, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” that describes a man “born in a crossfire hurricane” who “howled at the morning driving rain.”

By Jonathan Turley
The Hill

https://johnib.wordpress.com/2018/05/21/after-year-of-investigation-trump-can-rightly-claim-some-vindication-no-wonder-hillery-is-bitter-the-cia-and-fbi-let-her-down/

It could be an apt description of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. After a year of media denials of his claims of surveillance targeting his campaign, Trump can legitimately claim some vindication. Indeed, with his rising poll numbers, the president must feel, in the words of the song, like “it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas.”The New York Times this week disclosed that the FBI made a conscious effort to use secret counterintelligence powers to investigate Trump officials and may have had a confidential informant who was used in connection with key Trump figures long before the November 2016 election. (Officials stated anonymously that this was a longstanding source who worked with both the FBI and CIA for years.)


In early 2017, President Trump was widely ridiculed for alleging that the Obama administration placed his campaign under surveillance. The response from experts on CNN and other sites was open mockery. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper came forward to assure the media that he could categorically deny the allegation and stated, “There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign.” The range of media analysis seemed to run from whether Trump was a clinical paranoid or a delusional demagogue.
We now know there was, indeed, surveillance ordered repeatedly on Trump campaign figures before and after the election. Rather than acknowledge the troubling implications of an administration investigating the opposing party’s leading candidate for president, the media shifted to saying that there was ample reason to order the surveillance.That remains to be seen but much of the coverage brushes over the fact that no charges were brought against the principal target, Carter Page, or that the secret warrants for surveillance were based in part on a dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, a fact known but not fully disclosed by the FBI to the secret FISA court. The documented Russian interference, thus far, has been largely a Russian operation out of St. Petersburg that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has said was carried out without the knowledge of Trump campaign officials.Now the plot has thickened even further with the added disclosure of not just national security letters to gather documents related to Trump figures but also at least one confidential informant who met with campaign figures like Page and George Papadopoulos to gather information. In response to the New York Times report, Trump declared that the FBI planted “at least one” spy in his campaign to frame him. Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani ratcheted up the rhetoric and said, if the story is true, that former FBI Director James Comey should be prosecuted.The record does not currently support such a criminal conspiracy. However, if Trump and his counsel can be accused of overplaying the known facts, the media can be equally accused of ignoring the implications of the known facts. It should be a serious concern that the Obama administration used secret counterintelligence powers to target officials in the campaign of the opposing party. That is a practice we have widely criticized in other countries from Turkey to Russia to Iran.

Worse yet, the New York Times wrote that the decision was made to use the secret FISA court and counterintelligence personnel to conceal the operation for political purposes. According to the report, FBI officials consciously decided not to seek conventional criminal warrants or pursue a criminal investigation because it might be discovered and raised by Trump during the campaign. Thus, as Trump campaigned against the “deep state,” FBI officials hid their investigation deeper inside the state. FISA was not designed as a convenient alternative for the FBI and the Justice Department to avoid political costs or scrutiny.

The added problem with using a counterintelligence operation is that it is easier to launch and conceal than a criminal investigation. While there is a “probable cause” requirement under FISA, it is not the same as the one contained in the Fourth Amendment. Virtually every FISA application ever filed by the Justice Department has been granted, with a couple of exceptions. The FISA investigation was based on loose claims of foreign influence and a little cognizable evidence of actual crimes.

For his part, Page continues to maintain that he accepted standard contracts to work with the Russians, as have hundreds of people in Washington. Clearly, the FBI should investigate any serious criminal conduct linked to Trump figures or the campaign. However, the publicly released FISA material describes interactions with Russians that could have applied easily to myriad other “Beltway bandits” who regularly cash in on foreign contracts, including leading figures of both parties. The still unresolved question is why these particular allegations of foreign contacts merited the extraordinary decision to target an opposing party’s campaign or campaign figures before a major election.

I have been highly critical of Trump’s attacks on the media. However, that does not mean his objections are wholly unfounded, and this seems one such example. There may have been legitimate reasons to investigate Russian influence before the election. Yet, very serious concerns are raised by the targeting of an opposing party in the midst of a heated election. These concerns will be magnified by the use of a confidential source to elicit information from Trump campaign associates, though officials deny that the FBI actually had an informant inside the campaign.

Just as it is too early to support allegations of a conspiracy to frame Trump, it is too early to dismiss allegations of bias against Trump. As shown by many of the emails and later criminal referrals and disciplinary actions at the FBI, an open hostility to Trump existed among some bureau figures. Moreover, the extensive unmasking of Trump figures and false statements from FBI officials cannot be dismissed as irrelevant.

As a nation committed to the rule of law, we need a full and transparent investigation of these allegations. All of the allegations. That includes both the investigation of special counsel Mueller and the investigation of these latest allegations involving the FBI. For many Trump supporters, this new information deepens suspicions of the role of the “deep state.” If we ever hope to come out of these poisonous times as a unified nation, the public must be allowed to see the full record on both sides.

Until then, many Americans across the country will continue to believe that, like “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” Trump was greeted after his election by being “crowned with a spike” right through his head.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

TAGS GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS HILLARY CLINTON ROBERT MUELLER JAMES CLAPPER DONALD TRUMP JAMES COMEY SPECIAL COUNSEL INVESTIGATION ELECTION RUSSIA

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The FBI Informant Who Wasn’t Spying

May 21, 2018

A secret source insinuated himself with Trump campaign officials. Ho hum.

The FBI Informant Who Wasn’t Spying
PHOTO: JIM LO SCALZO/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Well, what do you know. The Federal Bureau of Investigation really did task an “informant” to insinuate himself with Trump campaign advisers in 2016. Our Kimberley Strassel reported this two weeks ago without disclosing a name.

We now have all but official confirmation thanks to “current and former government officials” who contributed to apologias last week in the New York Times and Washington Post. And please don’t call the informant a “spy.” A headline on one of the Times’ stories says the “F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims.”

We’ll let readers parse that casuistic distinction, which is part of a campaign by the FBI and Justice Department to justify their refusal to turn over to the House Intelligence Committee documents related to the informant. Justice and the FBI claim this Capitol Hill oversight would blow the cover of this non-spy and even endanger his life. Yet these same stories have disclosed so many specific details about the informant whom we dare not call a spy that you can discover the name of the likeliest suspect in a single Google search.

We now know, for example, that the informant is “an American academic who teaches in Britain” who “served in previous Republican administrations.” He has worked as a “longtime U.S. intelligence source” for the FBI and the CIA.

The stories provide the names of the three Trump campaign officials who the informant sought to court— Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos —as well as specific dates and details of the encounters. He met with Mr. Page at a symposium at a “British university” in “mid-July,” and stayed in touch with him for more than year. He met with Mr. Clovis at a “hotel café in Crystal City,” Virginia, on “either Aug. 31 or Sept. 1.”

The informant didn’t previously know the three men but offered to help with the campaign. He also threw money at Mr. Papadopoulos, and the stories even report the exact language of the message the informant sent to Mr. Papadopoulos offering him a $3,000 honorarium to write a research paper and a paid trip to London. Media accounts differ about whether the informant asked the three men what they knew about Russia. But this sure sounds like a classic attempt to make friends for intelligence-gathering purposes.

This ought to disturb anyone who wants law enforcement and U.S. intelligence services to stay out of partisan politics. We can’t recall a similar case, even in the J. Edgar Hoover days, when the FBI decided it needed to snoop on a presidential campaign. Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Chairman, is seeking documents to learn exactly what happened, what triggered this FBI action, and how it was justified. This is precisely the kind of oversight that Congress should provide to assure Americans that their government isn’t spying illegally.

Yet now the same people who lionized Edward Snowden for stealing secrets about metadata—which collected phone numbers, not names—claim the FBI informant is no big deal. James Clapper, Barack Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, claims it was even a “good thing” that the FBI was monitoring the campaign for Russian influence.

Forgive us if we don’t trust Mr. Clapper, who leaked details related to the notorious Steele dossier to the press, as a proper judge of such snooping. Would he and the press corps be so blasé if the FBI under George W. Bush had sought to insinuate sources with Obama supporters like Rev. Jeremiah Wright or radical Bill Ayers during the 2008 campaign?

Incredibly, Democrats and their media friends are painting Mr. Nunes as the villain for daring even to ask about all this. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, is making the rounds warning that “the first thing any new” committee member “learns is the critical importance of protecting sources and methods.”

Sure, but as far as we know Mr. Nunes hasn’t disclosed the source’s name—certainly not to us—even as anonymous Justice officials all but paint a neon path of details to the informant’s door. Justice and the FBI have disclosed more to their media Boswells than they have to the people’s representatives in Congress.

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As is his habit, President Trump belly-flopped into this debate over the weekend with demands that Justice investigate whether his campaign was spied on. Justice officials quickly asked the Inspector General to investigate, and this will polarize the political debate even further.

But the stakes here go beyond Mr. Trump’s political future. The public deserves to know who tasked the informant to seek out Trump campaign officials, what his orders were, what the justification was for doing so, and who was aware of it. Was the knowledge limited to the FBI, or did it run into the Obama White House?

As important, what are the standards for the future? Could a Trump FBI task agents to look into the foreign ties of advisers to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign in 2020? Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein need to clear the air by sharing what they and the FBI know with the House. This is bigger than blowing a source whose identity Justice leakers have already blown. This is about public trust in the FBI and Justice.

Appeared in the May 21, 2018, print edition as ‘The Informant Who Wasn’t Spying.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-fbi-informant-who-wasnt-spying-1526854417

Justice Department to Review FBI Probe of Trump Campaign

May 21, 2018

President demanded such an investigation in tweets denouncing Mueller probe as a partisan ‘witch hunt’

Donald Trump, shown here at a campaign rally in June 2016, said Sunday he wanted to know if the FBI or Justice Department under the Obama administration infiltrated his campaign for political purposes.
Donald Trump, shown here at a campaign rally in June 2016, said Sunday he wanted to know if the FBI or Justice Department under the Obama administration infiltrated his campaign for political purposes. PHOTO: RICH PEDRONCELLI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department asked its internal watchdog to examine if there was any impropriety in the counterintelligence investigation of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, after the president demanded Sunday that the department investigate the motives behind the inquiry.

Earlier Sunday, in one of a series of tweets targeting the probe into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump wrote: “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

Mr. Trump was referring to a man who approached at least two Trump campaign aides in 2016 in connection with the counterintelligence investigation into the campaign. Special counsel Robert Mueller took over that investigation last May when he was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The Wall Street Journal has identified the suspected informant as Stefan Halper, an American who was a foreign policy scholar at the University of Cambridge until 2015. Mr. Halper couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Stefan Halper

The Journal made no agreements to withhold his name from publication and is one of several media outlets identifying him. Some lawmakers and law-enforcement officials have expressed concern about compromising sources for the investigation, saying it could put lives in danger, hurt investigations and damage international partnerships.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!

Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores said Sunday afternoon that the agency had asked the inspector general to expand a probe into how the Federal Bureau of Investigation and federal prosecutors obtained warrants from the nation’s secret spy court to surveil a onetime Trump campaign aide. The goal, Ms. Flores said, is to examine “whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election.”

Mr. Rosenstein said in a statement Sunday: “If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.”

The move by the deputy attorney general to follow an extraordinary order by the president to probe an investigation into his own campaign is the latest turn in a struggle between the White House and the Justice Department. Mr. Trump has more than once considered firing Mr. Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who have survived in their roles in part by meeting the demands of the president or his supporters in Congress. Mr. Rosenstein oversees the Russia investigation.

Mr. Trump has railed against the investigation regularly in the year since it began and has stepped up his attacks in recent days. He and his lawyers have seized on reports about the informant as evidence in their view that the probe isn’t about Russia’s efforts to influence the election but rather a partisan attack leveled by a Democratic administration.

Former law-enforcement officials have said informants in a probe involving a presidential campaign should only be used for law-enforcement or foreign-intelligence purposes, not for political ends.

The president’s latest attacks come as his lawyers are seeking to negotiate the terms of a possible interview with Mr. Mueller, who already has indicted or secured guilty pleas from 19 individuals in the investigation, on charges including lying to investigators and tax and bank fraud.

Mr. Halper served in three Republican administrations, under former presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. During the Reagan administration, he served as a senior adviser to the Justice Department. He also served as an adviser to former President George H.W. Bush’s campaign, and later became a harsh critic of former President George W. Bush’s foreign policy, co-authoring a book on the subject in 2004 called “America Alone.”

Mr. Halper met with Trump campaign aides Carter Page and Sam Clovis, according to their lawyers. Mr. Page had been on the radar of U.S. counterintelligence officials for years over his dealings with Russia, and Mr. Clovis has met with Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors over his involvement with a onetime campaign adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians. Neither Mr. Page nor Mr. Clovis have been accused of wrongdoing.

Mr. Page confirmed the encounter, and a lawyer for Mr. Clovis said that he and Mr. Halper had only discussed China.

Presidents typically avoid ordering the Justice Department to undertake certain investigations and usually refrain from commenting on any ongoing probes to avoid the appearance of meddling in an investigation.

Mr. Trump has made no such efforts. He has attacked the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt”—issuing seven tweets on the subject on Sunday morning alone—and has accused Mr. Mueller, a registered Republican, of having partisan motives. The special counsel is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as whether the president sought to obstruct justice. Mr. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction, and Moscow has denied election meddling.

The president has repeatedly alleged wrongdoing in the Russia investigation in the past. In March 2017, he said he “just found out” that former President Barack Obama had ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower before the election, adding that Mr. Obama was a “bad (or sick) guy.” That assertion was widely discredited.

The president’s lawyers also have sought to use recent revelations about the alleged informant’s contacts with Trump campaign aides as a bargaining chip as they negotiate with Mr. Mueller’s team over the conditions of a possible interview with Mr. Trump.

Rudy Giuliani, one of the president’s lawyers, on Sunday said the special counsel about a month earlier had conveyed to him “as a possibility” that the investigation into whether the president obstructed justice could be wrapped up by Sept. 1 if Mr. Trump agreed to sit for an interview. Asked whether he believed the probe would end by that timeline, Mr. Giuliani said: “We hope.”

The president’s legal team previously has offered a number of end points they expected for the Mueller probe. Last year, Mr. Trump’s lawyers repeatedly said they expected the probe to close by the end of 2017.

Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com and Peter Nicholas at peter.nicholas@wsj.com

Appeared in the May 21, 2018, print edition as ‘Trump Demands FBI Probe.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-to-demand-investigation-into-whether-fbi-infiltrated-his-campaign-1526849292

Criminal Referral from Justice Department IG for Andrew McCabe

April 19, 2018

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Former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe

The Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has sent a criminal referral regarding former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., a source familiar with the matter told CNN Thursday.

Hours before McCabe’s scheduled retirement in March, he was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions for “lacking candor” in interviews with federal investigators about his role in leaking information to a Wall Street Journal reporter in 2016.

An OIG report released last week confirmed that McCabe had in fact misled federal investigators on four separate occasions by insisting that he did not approve the leak, which was apparently intended to rebut rumors that McCabe had told FBI agents to “stand down” from their investigation of the Clinton Foundation. (The report asserts in a footnote that the substance of the leak was accurate, meaning McCabe’s claim that he had, in fact, internally defended the bureau’s right to continue the Clinton Foundation investigation was true.)

The report further indicated the disclosure did not fall under the “public interest” exception for disclosing ongoing investigations because it was made in order “to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership.”

National Review

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Investigators also found that McCabe’s account of his dealings with then-FBI director James Comey differed from Comey’s account.

McCabe claimed that he told Comey he authorized the leak in an October 30 conversation and Comey “did not react negatively.” Comey maintained that McCabe did not disclose his role in authorizing the leak, which he claims he found “problematic” because it revealed the existence of the previously undisclosed Clinton Foundation investigation.

The Department of Justice declined to comment.

https://www.nationalreview.com/news/andrew-mccabe-criminal-charges-recommended-inspector-general/

A second special counsel should be investigating the FBI leaks — Effort to uncover anti-Trump wrongdoing in the government has been slapdash

March 19, 2018

By Michael Goodwin
New York Post