Yesterday, we brought you three stories reaffirming that what we knew about the FBI was the tip of the iceberg. (Yes, this swamp has icebergs.) Today, there’s yet another story.
Thanks to Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the Russia Hoax, we now get to see a very telling document –- a seven-page script of talking points prepared by senior FBI counsel Lisa Page for FBI Director James Comey ahead of his meetings the following day –- March 9, 2017 –- with leadership in the House and Senate. Declassified as part of pre-trial discovery, it shows how the FBI deceived Congress about the reliability of their made-up “evidence.”
And long after they knew the “dossier” was untrue, they let agents include it in their FISA applications as well.
Paul Sperry at RealClear Investigations has an excellent, must-read article that lays this out clearly. As Sperry reports, the talking points were “riddled with half-truths, outright falsehoods, and critical omissions.”
These talking points concerned reports the FBI received in 2016 from a former confidential human source (CHS) alleging former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Carter Page conspired with the Kremlin in the 2016 election. The information she included –- and that Comey used in his meetings –- was known by the FBI to be untrue.
To help allay potential concerns by members of Congress about the quality of this information, Lisa Page suggested in her memo that Comey tell them that "some" of it had been corroborated and also that it came primarily from a “Russian-based source” –- which sounds a lot more credible than “the Clinton campaign,” ha. Igor Danchenko had a Russian name, but he was not in Russia. He was at the Hillary-affiliated Brookings Instittution, right here in the good old USA. Christopher Steele, who put the “dossier” together from unverified stories, was also American-based.
When Danchenko was first interviewed by the FBI in January 2017, he told them the stories he’d passed to Steele were just bar talk, laughed about over drinks with his girlfriend and a couple of high school buddies. Indeed, the special counsel’s indictment of Danchenko says the source for his most sensational stories about Trump –- including the one involving prostitutes in a Moscow hotel –- was made up. Danchenko never spoke to that person, and his other source was a longtime Hillary campaign adviser. (We know this was Charles Dolan, also associated with Hillary and the Brookings Institution. All roads lead to Hillary.)
The FBI did not reveal any of this to Congress, and they also concealed Christopher Steele’s identity and his connection to Hillary’s campaign.
Sperry’s report shows part of one page of this memo. Hilariously, the heading says “DELIBERATIVE PROCESS PRIVILEGED DOCUMENT,” with the word “DELIBERATIVE” highlighted for extra emphasis. Just saying a document is “deliberative” and “privileged” does not make it so, although, goodness knows, if Christopher Cooper were presiding again, he’d feel duty-bound to exclude it from his courtroom.
Lisa Page was full of suggestions for making their dubious sources seem more legit, including the use of the codename “CROWN,” most likely in reference to Steele, making it appear that the “dossier” was a product of British intelligence, as opposed to the HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN.
According to the memo, Comey would also withhold from Congress the fact that Steele had been fired for leaking to the media.
Page wrote to him, “If asked about “CROWN/Steele” during the briefing, say only that “CROWN, a former FBI CHS, is a former friendly intelligence service employee who reported for about three years, and some of whose reporting has been corroborated.”
The official in charge of vetting Steele and Danchenko and corroborating their allegations was FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten. As Sperry reports, by March 2017, Auten knew the “Russian-based” claim was untrue, yet he let case agents slip it into two FISA renewals of the warrant to spy on Carter Page.
Unfortunately, the statute of limitations for the false-statement offenses relating to the March 2017 briefings has lapsed. The five-year statute of limitations related to the false information in the FISA applications expires at the end of this month. BUT...Durham could render these moot (to use a favorite expression of the Supreme Court) by filing conspiracy charges, for which the statute of limitations is seven years. As Sperry reports, “Some former FBI attorneys and prosecutors believe the special counsel is building a ‘conspiracy to defraud the government’ case against former FBI officials and others.”
Sperry goes on to explain how FBI officials Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok, during a briefing on the Trump-Russia probe in March 2017, also misled acting Attorney General Dana Boente, as revealed in handwritten notes Boente took. (Boente was in charge of this because Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself.) They again used the “CROWN source reporting” lie. Strzok also lied to Boente --- and this is easily shown to be false --- that part of his probable cause for opening the investigation against Trump was his public call to Russia (which we all know was tongue-in-cheek) to find Hillary’s 30,000 missing emails (which we all know she deleted). They also told Boente their secret monitoring of Carter Page’s email and phone had been “fruitful,” when it had failed to corroborate anything in the “dossier.”
The following month, Boente signed the third application to surveil Page, based on what they had told him. As Sperry reports, the surveillance, which stretched through September 22, 2017, allowed the FBI “to potentially monitor the Trump presidency [!!!] through what is known as ‘incidental collections’ emails, texts, and phone and Skype conversations.”
Comey publicly announced the Crossfire Hurricane investigation on Capitol Hill in March 2017. Two months later, Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to investigate Trump’s “collusion” with Russia in the 2016 election. It was all based on lies. Of course, Mueller never found evidence that Trump or any official or associate colluded with Russia. But, at the time, the media exploded. And Mueller, impressed with Lisa Page’s diligence –- gee, who wouldn’t be? –- hired her on the spot for his team.
Margot Cleveland had a more detailed piece last week on Boente’s handwritten notes and what they reveal. It gets more into the weeds, but one thing she suspects: the FBI’s phony emphasis on British “CROWN sourcing” makes it seem likely that the FISA court would’ve denied their application if the real sources had been known.
One good thing Cleveland mentions about the statute of limitations: The DC Circuit Court has held that if a defendant engages in a scheme to falsify, conceal or cover up material facts, the limitations period does not begin to run until the scheme ends.” She figures this takes us to June 29 of this year. That’s consistent with Sperry, who likewise specified “the end of the month.” Down to the wire!
One thing she still wonders about, though: What if the “CROWN sourcing” does actually refer to British spies, the same ones at Cambridge involved in trying to damage Michael Flynn during the Obama administration? Just when you think the plot couldn’t get any thicker, it (maybe) does.
The Igor Danchenko trial is about four months away. If you'd like more backstory on that case, Margot Cleveland wrote something earlier this month providing some and pointing out the significance of the approximately 1,500 documents that Clinton's people at Fusion GPS withheld during the Sussmann trial under the auspices of "attorney-client privilege." These would include conversations among Steele, Fusion GPS, and Marc Elias of Perkins Coie. She says Durham needs to fight to obtain those documents.