Yesterday, I observed that FBI Director Christopher Wray appears to be stonewalling Lindsay Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, because Graham has said he was being “denied access” to a couple of key lower-level witnesses at the FBI.
RELATED READING: Looks like another black mark for FBI Director Chris Wray
Today, the WASHINGTON EXAMINER has a story about an individual who is almost certainly one of the officials Graham wants to talk to, the one identified by THE NEW YORK TIMES as “Case Agent 1” in Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report.
Stephen Somma, a counterintelligence investigator in the FBI's New York field office, was cited by Inspector General Michael Horowitz in his report on the investigation into alleged FISA abuses.
We already knew Horowitz had found “17 significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the FISA application to spy on Carter Page. According to Horowitz, Somma was the person “primarily responsible” for some of the most significant of these problems. Horowitz wrote that Somma and “an unnamed staff operations specialist” were the original members of the FBI team who had responsibility for investigating Carter Page. (This is likely the other person Graham is being prevented from talking to.)
Recall that before the “dossier” was used as evidence (“evidence”), there was a previous attempt to get a FISA warrant to spy on Page that was turned down by the judges. Somma was apparently involved in that first unsuccessful try; he was told in August of 2016 that he “had not yet presented enough information to support a FISA application targeting Carter Page.”
So, what to do? It was Somma’s use of the fictional “dossier” that made all the difference. As the WASHINGTON EXAMINER reports, Somma told investigators for Horowitz “that the team’s receipt of the reporting from Steele [in September] supplied missing information in terms of what Page may have been doing during his July 2016 visit to Moscow and provided enough information on Page’s recent activities that [Somma] thought would satisfy the Office of Intelligence.”
In order to establish probable cause to believe that Page was the agent of a foreign power, Somma “drew almost entirely from Steele’s reporting,” wrote Horowitz. (In other words, former FBI Director James Comey was lying when he said the “dossier” was just a part of the total “mosaic” of information they had. That piece of unverified garbage was pretty much it.) The summary that Somma put together also left out exculpatory information on Page. He later explained to the IG that Page’s work with the CIA in Moscow, between 2004 and 2007, were “outside scope” (!) so he did not include them in the FISA application. But Page had actually supplied the CIA with information as recently as 2013, and this fact wasn’t included, either.
Somma also left out the part about Stefan Halper, the confidential human source who recorded Page in October 2016 --- BEFORE the application for a warrant to spy on Page was filed, let alone granted. Exculpatory material from that recording that was left out included Page’s denial of meeting with the Russians mentioned in Steele’s “dossier,” denying any knowledge of WikiLeaks as pertaining to the hacked/leaked DNC emails, and also denying any role in the GOP platform that might have related to Russia. NONE of this made it into the FISA application. And after all the trouble they’d gone to, spying on Page, recording him and all that.
I guess Halper didn’t need any warrant to record Page, because their meeting was set up in a foreign country to enable this. How conveeeenient.
Unbelievably, Horowitz said in his report that he didn’t have enough information to determine if the problems were due to “sheer gross incompetence,” “intentional misconduct,” or “anything in between.” Even though he found Somma’s explanations for “so many significant and repeated failures” to be unsatisfactory, he didn’t find that Somma or his immediate supervisors were politically biased.
Wow, what does it take to show political bias at the FBI? Walking around the office wearing an "I'M WITH HER" button?
There’s an intriguing connection between Somma and Halper that involves Cambridge Intelligence Seminars, gatherings arranged by Halper and Sir Richard Dearlove, a former director of MI6. (As it happens, Michael Flynn was also invited to one of these events, where he was introduced to Svetlana Lokhova, the woman with whom he was later incorrectly rumored to be having an affair; you can read all about this in Lee Smith’s book, THE PLOT AGAINST THE PRESIDENT.) Somma was a speaker at one of these events, in November 2011, where he gave a talk on “The FBI and Russia Illegals 2010.”
Halper was a contract employee with the Pentagon’s Department of Net Assessment, supposedly writing some reports for them, but his scope of activities has been hard to nail down. Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has been trying to find out if any of the Pentagon’s funds used to pay Halper were actually used for his spying on Trump associates. If so, there’s your tax money at work!
Of course, there’s also former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who is the one person known at this time to be under criminal investigation for his work in Crossfire Hurricane. He’s alleged to have altered a document to make it look as though Carter Page did NOT serve as an informant for our government, when he actually DID. Clinesmith and Somma appear to have both worked in different ways to keep that information under wraps. Sen. Graham would no doubt love to ask Somma whether or not there was any coordination with Clinesmith.
In early February, Sen. Graham sent a letter requesting interviews with 17 FBI and DOJ officials as part of his investigation into FISA abuse.
I assume the brick wall Graham hit regarding “Case Agent 1” is in response to this request four months ago. In fact, “Case Agent 1” (Somma) is on the request list for witnesses. The letter was sent to Attorney General Barr. So, did Barr just pass the letter on to Wray, or is Barr himself playing a part in the stonewalling? And if Barr is doing this, is it perhaps because of Durham's ongoing criminal investigation?
We’ll be getting answers soon. Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has just obtained subpoena power and has an extremely extensive list of documents and witnesses. Sen. Graham anticipates receiving subpoena power this week as well, which should finally put an end to the FBI’s stonewalling.
So get ready for what will likely be some eye-opening (or transparently perjured) testimony. Either that or some serious Fifth Amendment-taking; reports are that some on this list have lawyered-up big-time. John Solomon lays it all out.