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The Steele Dossier and Misleading the FISA Court

One of the crucial questions that needs to be addressed after the release of the Nunes memo is to what extent was the highly misleading dossier used as a basis to secure a warrant to spy on Carter Page during the election? Former FBI director James Comey testifying before a congressional committee confirmed that the allegations contained in the dossier were salacious and unverified.

The issue with the release of the Nunes memo is to what extent did the FBI use the discredited dossier to obtain a warrant to spy on an American citizen and did they disclose to the FISA court that the document was paid for by the Clinton campaign with the express purpose to derail Trump’s candidacy. The idea the at the FBI met their obligations by characterizing the dossier as a “political document” does not rise to the level of required disclosure to make the statement made to the court not misleading.

When the Nunes memo was released, critics claimed that there was no evidence to support the contention that the court relied exclusively on the dossier; there may have been other sources of information used to support the request about which the public, currently is unaware.

The memo recently released by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley answers some of the questions raised by the Nunes memo and goes even further with revelations that false information was fed to the Clinton campaign by the State Department through Sid Blumenthal as its intermediary. The Grassley/Graham memo is a far more damning document as is evidenced by the fact that Grassley has referred matters contained in the memo to the Justice Department for potential criminal prosecution. Additionally, the Grassley/Graham memo appears to answer the question how much did the FBI rely on the dossier as a basis for securing the warrant? The answer is a lot.

Even though questions remain unanswered concerning the FISA warrant, what is clear based on what we know is that the FBI either deliberately or unwittingly used a document they knew contained outright falsehoods to secure a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign. What is even more telling is the toxic mindset that infected the participants engaged in the surreptitious surveillance of an American citizen that was based on a document paid for by the opposing political party to subvert their opponent.

Victor Hanson interprets approaches the story of FBI and Obama Administration abuses of power from the perspective that these participants most likely believed that since Hillary would inevitably be the president, they earnestly believed that their derelictions of duty would not be punished, but rather rewarded by the Clinton Administration. How else does one explain the blatant disregard for the civil liberties of American citizens and that these civil rights should be shredded all in the name of insuring the election of one of the most corrupt politicians in history. Such machinations do not reflect well on those at the top of the FBI and it most assuredly does not portray Hillary Clinton in a flattering light.

Daniel Henniger of the Wall Street Journal seems to subscribe to Hanson’s theory of bureaucrats who expected no consequences for the abrogation of their solemn duties when he writes,

The Trump Panic of 2016-17 was the be­lief that the U.S. pres­i­dency had fallen into the hands of an un­ac­cept­able per­son—who had to be stopped, or re­sisted by any means. Henninger further notes, that because the Trump Panic suffused civil servants throughout Washington, ordinary protocols and professionalism went by the wayside.

Henniger concludes that, It explains a lot. It explains why the FBI agents would knowingly deceive the FISA court.

Be­cause of the Trump Panic, pro­fes­sional dis­ci­pline eroded. Ex­hibit A will al­ways be the Steele dossier. Spend 15 min­utes read­ing it, and you will rec­og­nize a text­book ex­am­ple of the Russ­ian Cold War art form of as­sem­bling pub­lished facts, decisions outside normal boundaries were considered justified.

It will be interesting to see if there is a special counsel appointed to examine the shocking and nefarious methods that an agency the American public has long revered, joined in a coordinated effort with others, including members of the former Obama Administration, to subvert constitutional safeguards for the express purpose of harming the Trump campaign and when that failed, to erode his presidency.