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FBI’s ‘central evidence’ To Spy On Trump Campaign Was Russian Disinformation, Declassified IG Footnotes Reveal

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Partially declassified footnotes from Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s FBI report reveal that the most ‘central and essential’ evidence to justify surveillance of short term Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page was based on Russian disinformation, according to newly declassified footnotes.

In January, U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a classified letter questioning the contradiction between the footnotes and what was made public by Horowitz’s team regarding the bureau’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation. The letter was first reported by SaraACarter.com. In January, the senator’s did not disclose what section of the December FISA report contradicts the footnotes in their findings.

The declassification came at the request Grassely and Johnson, whose committees have been dedicated to uncovering the truth regarding the FBI’s malfeasance during the bureau’s probe into President Donald Trump’s campaign and its now debunked theory that campaign officials colluded with Russia. Those footnotes deal directly with the evidence collected by the FBI from former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, whose salacious and debunked dossier was the bulk of information used to seek a warrant from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to spy on Page.

Johnson, who spoke to this reporter Friday said that the American people deserve the whole truth and that revelations in the partially declassified footnotes reveals that some members of the FBI’s top echelon “were total and complete snakes.” Johnson told this reporter Friday that he expects further declassification of the footnotes by early next week.

Johnson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs,  credits his committee staffers with the extraordinary find after long hours of combing through every detail of Horowitz’s report. The Senator also published Opinion Editorial on Friday with the Wall Street Journal stating that “Chuck Grassley and I began pressing Attorney General William Barr, and eventually acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, for full declassification of these footnotes. That’s why they’re now public.”

Page, who filed a lawsuit in January against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and law firm Perkins Coie over the unsubstantiated Steele dossier, questioned Friday why the details have never been disclosed before. The DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign paid the now embattled research firm Fusion GPS to investigate Trump and any ties to Russia. The entities did so through the law firm as a cut-out.

“Why have all these details remained unnecessarily secret for so long? In our dual system of Justice, the Mueller Witch Hunt crew falsely misrepresented my own “historical contact with persons and entities suspected of being linked to RIS, when I was actually serving my country in support of the U.S. Intelligence Community,” Page told this reporter. “The time has finally come for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and related agencies to release the full facts about the Obama-Biden Administration’s election interference campaign against candidate Trump and the illicit coup attempt against our President.”

In the Fall of 2016 the FBI obtained a secret warrant to spy on Page, the warrant was renewed  in April and in June of 2017, “raising questions about when exactly the FBI received and reviewed these new intelligence reports, and what it did with them,” stated a press release from Johnson and Grassley.

Citing the IG report, the FISA court ordered the FBI to explain how it will take corrective action on the FISA process.  A subsequent IG audit of the FBI procedures to ensure accuracy of FISA applications found errors in 29 unrelated applications, prompting the court to order more information from the FBI.

According to Grassley and Johnson the footnotes, “reveal that, beginning early on and continuing throughout the FBI’s Russia investigation, FBI officials learned critical information streams that flowed to the dossier were likely tainted with Russian Intelligence disinformation.”

Despite the evidence showing Moscow’s spy network played a role in spreading deceptive and false information, the FBI none-the-less “aggressively advanced the probe anyway, ignoring internal oversight mechanisms and neglecting to flag the material credibility concerns for a secret court.”Moreover, the FBI officials involved in the probe against Trump continued to use the Russian disinformation to target Trump’s campaign and his administration after discovering it was based on patently false information and lies.

“It would eventually spill over into the years-long special counsel operation, costing taxpayers more than $30 million and increasing partisan divisions – all based on faulty evidence,” said Grassley and Johnson in a statement released Friday. “In the end, the special counsel concluded that the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia.”

The Senator’s added that “had FBI leadership heeded the numerous warnings of Russian disinformation, paid attention to the glaring contradictions in the pool of evidence and followed long-standing procedures to ensure accuracy, everyone would have been better off. Carter Page’s civil liberties wouldn’t have been shredded, taxpayer dollars wouldn’t have been wasted, the country wouldn’t be as divided and the FBI’s reputation wouldn’t be in shambles.”

“It’s ironic that the Russian collusion narrative was fatally flawed because of Russian disinformation,” the Senators stated. “These footnotes confirm that there was a direct Russian disinformation campaign in 2016, and there were ties between Russian intelligence and a presidential campaign – the Clinton campaign, not Trump’s.”

From Grassley and Johnson’s Press Release Friday 

The IG report detailed how the FBI’s application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Page relied heavily on an unverified dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele on behalf of Fusion GPS, which was conducting opposition research for the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.

  • According to Footnote 302, in October 2016, FBI investigators learned that one of Steele’s main sources was linked to the Russian Intelligence Service (RIS), and was rumored to be a former KGB/SVR officer.  However, the FBI neglected to include this information in its application, which the FISA court approved that same month. Two months later, investigators learned that Glenn Simpson, the head of Fusion GPS, told a Justice Department attorney that he assessed the same source “was a RIS officer who was central in connecting Trump to Russia.” In January, the FISA warrant was renewed.
  • Footnote 350 states that, in 2017, the FBI learned that intelligence reports “assessed that the referenced subset [of Steele’s reporting about the activities of Michael Cohen] was part of a Russian disinformation campaign to denigrate U.S. foreign relations.”
  • That same footnote (footnote 350) states that a separate report, dated 2017, “contained information … that the public reporting about the details of Trump’s [REDACTED] activities in Moscow during a trip in 2013 were false, and that they were the product of RIS ‘infiltra[ing] a source into the network’ of a [REDACTED] who compiled a dossier of information on Trump’s activities.”

The surveillance warrant against Page was renewed two more times – in April and in June of 2017 – raising questions about when exactly the FBI received and reviewed these new intelligence reports, and what it did with them. Grassley and Johnson expect the footnotes to be further declassified in the coming days.

Citing the IG report, the FISA court ordered the FBI to explain how it will take corrective action on the FISA process.  A subsequent IG audit of the FBI procedures to ensure accuracy of FISA applications found errors in 29 unrelated applications, prompting the court to order more information from the FBI.

The declassified footnotes were contained in an April 2, 2020, letter from the Justice Department responding to Grassley and Johnson’s January 28, 2020, inquiry.

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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