by Susan Duclos, All News Pipeline:
Former Federal Prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, while being critical of many aspects of the special counsel probe into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, had long maintained that the FISA warrants obtained by the FBI/DOJ, were applied for and granted properly, until the controversial Nunes’ memo regarding FISA abuses was release, and later confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Commitees Grassley-Graham memo back in February 2018.
At the time McCarthy wrote the following:
With its verification by the Grassley-Graham memo, the Nunes memo now has about a thousand times more corroboration than the Steele dossier, the basis of the heinous allegations used by the Justice Department and FBI to get the FISA warrants.
What the Grassley-Graham memo tells us is that the Nunes memo, for all the hysteria about it, was tame. The Grassley-Graham memo tells us that we need not only a full-blown investigation of what possessed the Obama administration to submit such shoddy applications to the FISA court, but of how a judge — or perhaps as many as four judges — rationalized signing the warrants.
We need full disclosure — the warrants, the applications, the court proceedings. No more games.
On Saturday, July 21, 2018, McCarthy partially got his wish. The FBI/DOJ dumped 412 pages of documents related to the FISA surveillance warrants for Carter Page, including the applications, the certifications, and the warrants themselves. (The 412 page release is embedded at the bottom of this article)
I say McCarthy only partially got his wish because the disclosure wasn’t full, and the heavy handed redactions mean the FBI/DOJ is still playing games, but the copious amount of information that was revealed was enough for McCarthy to finally admit the FBI, under Obama, went “rogue,” by breaking with all protocols in order to manufacture the great “Witch Hunt,” which is what President Trump has dubbed the special counsel investigation into collusion.
After having gone through the documents, McCarthy joined Fox & Friends to offer a verbal mea culpa, saying “I’m really embarrassed because I told people for months that this could never, ever happen.” He explains in the short clip below.
On July 23, expanding on his interview, McCarthy offered his full analysis in a piece titled “FISA Applications Confirm: The FBI Relied on the Unverified Steele Dossier,” where he explains what a proper verification process requires, finding the FBI did not, or could not, verify the Steele dossier, and misled the FISA court by claiming they had verified the information used in their application.
McCarthy then addresses his critics that are still trying to justify the FBI tactics by claiming the redacted information may show the FBI did corroborate Steele’s information. He highlights not only the Grassley-Graham declassified memo, but he also points out that former FBI Director James Comey had also testified in from of Congress by admitting the Steele dossier was “salacious and unverified.” Further proving his point, he reminds readers that “the FBI’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, told Congress that the bureau tried very hard to verify Steele’s information but could provide no points of verification beyond the fact that Page did travel to Russia in July 2016 — a fact that required no effort to corroborate since the trip was unconcealed and widely known.”
‘THE CRAZIES WERE RIGHT’
As part of the bullet point “The FISA Judges,” McCarthy stands by his assertion that the “newly disclosed FISA applications are so shoddy that the judges who approved them ought to be asked some hard questions,” despite catching flak for it, in his words, and he explains that he long believed there were so many fail-safes within the system, a system he has intimate knowledge of, there should have been no way the FBI/DOJ could have gotten away with this and even if the corruption was that widespread, no FISA judge should have allowed it.
I prefaced my remark about the judges with an acknowledgment of my own personal embarrassment. When people started theorizing that the FBI had presented the Steele dossier to the FISA court as evidence, I told them they were crazy: The FBI, which I can’t help thinking of as my FBI after 20 years of working closely with the bureau as a federal prosecutor, would never take an unverified screed and present it to a court as evidence. I explained that if the bureau believed the information in a document like the dossier, it would pick out the seven or eight most critical facts and scrub them as only the FBI can — interview the relevant witnesses, grab the documents, scrutinize the records, connect the dots. Whatever application eventually got filed in the FISA court would not even allude en passant to Christopher Steele or his dossier. The FBI would go to the FISA court only with independent evidence corroborated through standard FBI rigor.
Should I have assumed I could be wrong about that? Sure, even great institutions go rogue now and again. But even with that in mind, I would still have told the conspiracy theorists they were crazy — because in the unlikely event the FBI ever went off the reservation, the Justice Department would not permit the submission to the FISA court of uncorroborated allegations; and even if that fail-safe broke down, a court would not approve such a warrant.
It turns out, however, that the crazies were right and I was wrong. The FBI (and, I’m even more sad to say, my Justice Department) brought the FISA court the Steele-dossier allegations, relying on Steele’s credibility without verifying his information.
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.
While the Nunes’ and the Grassley-Graham memos could be waved away as “partisan,” bodies of work, McCarthy’s analysis stands out for a number of reasons.
1.) McCarthy has the knowledge and experience to be an expert in the legal field, as well as to the proper procedures used to obtain warrants, and he assures readers that had he ever attempted to obtain a warrant in the manner the FBI/DOJ did with the Carter Page application, “just about any federal judge in the Southern District of New York would have knocked my block off — and rightly so.”
2.) McCarthy has long defended the process, and the fail-safes in place to prevent this type of FISA abuse, and as he stated in the quoted portion of his article above, anyone that dared suggest the FBI would have presented the Steele dossier as “evidence” without independently verifying the evidence, he used to call “crazy.”
3) McCarthy writes for National Review, one of the first “NeverTrump” publications, so he is clearly not a Trump fan or supporter, and has no reason to side with Trump over the FBI/DOJ, and in fact, was hoping that these documents would somehow exonerate these institutions.
Judicial Watch, who has been relentless in fighting the FBI/DOJ in court with FOIA requests to obtain these documents, are now calling on President Trump to declassify these redacted materials so the public can see everything.
These documents are heavily redacted but seem to confirm the FBI and DOJ misled the courts in withholding the material information that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC were behind the “intelligence” used to persuade the courts to approve the FISA warrants that targeted the Trump team. Given this corruption, President Trump should intervene and declassify the heavily redacted material.
Note: It is very important to remember that while the initial FISA warrant, and the subsequent renewals every 90 days, was granted under the guise, as written in the applications, that Carter Page was “an agent of foreign power, claiming he “collaborated and conspired” with Russia, Page has not been charged with anything to date.
With the release of these heavily redacted documents, we see that once again, those of us that were called partisan “conspiracy theorists” for believing the FBI and DOJ would lie to the FISA court judges in order to manufacture a bogus investigation into the Trump campaign, after the Nunes’ memo was released which detailed these FISA abuses, have just been proven right.
The FBI did go rogue. The FBI/DOJ did lie to the FISA court judges.
President Trump is correct, the entire special counsel investigation is a “witch hunt,” and one huge hoax, that has costs American taxpayers tens of millions of dollars already.
Below another former United States Attorney, Joseph diGenova, weighs in. I found his comments regarding his communication with Andrew McCarthy to be interesting, as he indicates McCarthy was heavily criticized for his honest assessment of these documents and what they mean.