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FBI Presented Steele Dossier to FISA Court Without Verifying its Contents

After stonewalling for months, last Saturday, the FBI released documents related to the Carter Page FISA warrants including the applications, the certifications made by FBI agents and the warrants themselves.

Even though the documents are heavily redacted, Andy McCarthy writing in National Review, notes that the unverified Steele dossier with its salacious and sensational allegations paid for by the Clinton campaign was the basis on which the Trump Russian collusion investigation was initiated.

McCarthy is a former federal prosector and in that role, he has worked on numerous occasions with FBI agents who were charged with verifying and certifying to the court information on which various warrants were based. McCarthy has been a credible analyst and knowledgeable commentator of the entire Russia collusion proceedings and his comments on the disclosed documents is damning.

The facts revealed by the released documents are particularly disturbing because McCarthy had previously asserted, adamantly, that those who argued the raw uncorroborated Steele dossier, in and of itself, was the sole evidence on which the FISA court issued the warrants to spy on Carter Page were badly mistaken.

McCarthy’s position was based on his own involvement with FBI agents and the procedures they assiduously and rigorously employed in connection with verifying and certifying facts on which warrants were based when an application was made to the court. McCarthy’s original position was based on his justifiable credulity that the FBI and Justice Department would never have engaged in such chicanery. After a review of the recently disclosed material, McCarthy has been forced to retract his earlier statements on the entire FISA matter, as in his own words,

“I am embarrassed by this not just because I assured people it could not have happened, and not just because it is so beneath the bureau — especially in a politically fraught case in which the brass green-lighted the investigation of a presidential campaign. I am embarrassed because what happened here flouts rudimentary investigative standards. Any trained FBI agent would know that even the best FBI agent in the country could not get a warrant based on his own stellar reputation. A fortiori, you would never seek a warrant based solely on the reputation of Christopher Steele — a non-American former intelligence agent who had political and financial incentives to undermine Donald Trump. It is always, always necessary to persuade the court that the actual sources of information allegedly amounting to probable cause are believable.”

In this case, the FBI’s own standard operating procedures were intentionally jettisoned in order to obtain a warrant to surveil an American citizen based on a document whose information was based on double and triple hearsay from questionable sources.

McCarthy reviews the various Carter Page applications and his conclusions should trouble every American — regardless of their political affiliation. Astonishingly, as McCarty states,

The bulk of the first Carter Page FISA application consists of allegations against Page that were disclosed to the FBI by Mr. Steele and are also outlined in the Steele dossier. The application appears to contain no additional information corroborating the dossier allegations against Mr. Page.

McCarthy correctly outlines standard FBI protocol,

The FBI would go to the FISA court only with independent evidence corroborated through standard FBI rigor.

Yet, the facts on which the incredulous Carter Page application was based were wholly at odds with these procedures,

This sensational allegation came from Christopher Steele, the former British spy. The FISA court was not told that the Clinton campaign was behind Steele’s work. Nor did the FBI and Justice Department inform the court that Steele’s allegations had never been verified. To the contrary, each FISA application — the original one in October 2016, and the three renewals at 90-day intervals — is labeled “VERIFIED APPLICATION” (bold caps in original). And each one makes this breathtaking representation: The FBI has reviewed this verified application for accuracy in accordance with its April 5, 2001 procedures, which include sending a copy of the draft to the appropriate field office(s).

In reality, the applications were never verified for accuracy.

After his discussion of the galling deviation from standard burden of proof norms necessary for obtaining a warrant, McCarthy claims that any federal judge in the Southern District of New York, would have, “knocked his block off”, had he filed such a shoddy and woefully deficient application for a warrant with absolutely zero corroboration on his sources.

Not only does this entire incident damn the FBI, it raises questions about how the FISA judges could have accepted such a defective application that was so devoid of the quantum of credible and verifiable evidence required to support approval of a warrant.

The Justice Department reviews such applications and has the power to quash the request for a warrant should it not meet its own rigorous legal standards. This does not appear to have occurred in the Carter Page matter. T

his incriminating fact can only lead to the conclusion that the motivation of Rod Rosenstein, as well as senior FBI officials, were purely political, namely, to derail the Trump campaign and when that failed, to help remove a duly elected president from office.