The increasingly embattled Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a preemptive strike yesterday against the hotly anticipated foreign surveillance abuse memo in hopes of discrediting the document before it is released in coming days.
The public relations effort came as more evidence became available about the questionable behind-the-scenes conduct of fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who allegedly tried to use his authority to undermine President Trump’s campaign.
The classified four-page memo, compiled by House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), was based on classified information supplied by the FBI and its parent agency, the U.S. Department of Justice. The two organizations “fought tooth and nail” to avoid handing over the relevant records to Congress, according to Fox News, citing an inside source. They produced the documents only after Nunes “threatened to move forward with contempt of Congress citations."
The memo is said to provide evidence proving allegations that top officials in President Obama’s national security community abused their authority to obtain surveillance warrants against members of President Trump’s election campaign from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Its release could set in motion a process whereby bad actors in the government could go to prison. It may indicate that government officials relied on the tainted Fusion GPS dossier by former British spy Christopher Steele that is loaded with Kremlin-supplied misinformation to obtain the warrants. The dossier, as we now know, was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, and was part of her bag of dirty tricks.
“If you’re interested whether or not the dossier was used in court proceedings, whether or not it was funded by political opponents, you’ll want to see the memo,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said Tuesday. "My Democratic colleagues didn’t want us to find this information. They did everything they could to keep us from finding this information.”
But the FBI said the memo was problematic, days after Associate Attorney General Stephen Boyd called releasing the document "extraordinarily reckless." The agency released a vague, brief statement Wednesday attacking the document:
The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professionals in the Department of Justice and the FBI. We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process.
With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.
Or so FBI brass, who have been reportedly stonewalling congressional investigators and hiding behind dubious national security-related justifications for withholding pertinent information about the politically motivated surveillance, would have us believe.
Echoing the FBI, the serial liar and TV camera-hogging ranking member of the House committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), howled that the memo is "distorted and misleading," even though two FBI officials who have read the memo about surveillance abuses during the 2016 presidential election cycle were unable to find any factual inaccuracies in it, according to Catherine Herridge of Fox News. One of the FBI officials works in its counterintelligence division; the other, the legal division.
Late Wednesday evening, Schiff pushed the panic button, claiming on Twitter that Chairman Nunes tampered with the wording of the memo after it was taken to the White House Monday. At 10 p.m. Schiff tweeted:
BREAKING: Discovered late tonight that Chairman Nunes made material changes to the memo he sent to White House – changes not approved by the Committee. White House therefore reviewing a document the Committee has not approved for release.
That assertion "wasn't denied but rather tempered with an argument that the changes were merely cosmetic or were edits requested by Democrats and the FBI,” the Washington Examiner reports.
FBI Director Christopher Wray read the memo last weekend, which apparently led to the dismissal Monday of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Wray sent a message to all FBI employees late Monday stating McCabe left because of a damning upcoming report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz about the agency’s handing of the Hillary Clinton email probe, NBC News reports.
"It would be inappropriate for me to comment on specific aspects of the IG's review right now," Wray wrote. "But I can assure you that I remain staunchly committed to doing this job, in every respect, 'by the book.' I will not be swayed by political or other pressure in my decision making."
FBI sources also told NBC that claims that McCabe was pushed out as a result of pressure from President Trump were unfounded. The president has frequently criticized McCabe on Twitter.
And there was more bad news for McCabe.
Investigative journalist Sara Carter said on Fox News Channel Monday that McCabe may have engaged in obstruction of justice by urging FBI investigators to falsify reports. "I have been told tonight by a number of sources ... that McCabe may have asked FBI agents to actually change their 302s," she said. FBI agents use the 302 form to summarize interviews with witnesses.
There is also evidence McCabe may have delayed the investigation into classified information in emails longtime Clinton lieutenant Huma Abedin stored on the laptop computer of her now-imprisoned husband, the former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). The information came from sources said to be familiar with Inspector General Horowitz’s report.
McCabe’s objective may have been to put the probe off until after Election Day, presumably in order to help Clinton’s campaign.
Ironically, the FBI's announcement that it was reopening the Clinton investigation a few days before the election — which many Clinton supporters say cost her the election — may have come nearly three weeks later than it should have. McCabe may have intended to hold off until after the election, but ended up being unable to do so.
McCabe was acting director of the FBI from May 9 last year when Trump fired then-director James B. Comey through Aug. 2 when Wray took over.
The problem with McCabe being involved in a politically sensitive investigation tied into an election is that he is a partisan Democrat who should never have been allowed anywhere near the email probe. Even if McCabe’s actions had been completely above board, he should have passed on the case because his involvement in it created the appearance of impropriety. The thinking goes that Americans won’t trust the system if they believe it is corrupt.
McCabe’s wife was a Democrat candidate in 2015 for the Virginia State Senate. Her campaign received nearly $675,000 in funding from the state’s Democratic Party and a political action committee of then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). McAuliffe is a longtime Clinton crony. Was the payment a kind of veiled bribe to McCabe? We may never know.
McCabe failed to recuse himself from the Clinton email probe until Nov. 1, 2016, which was four days after Comey, then the FBI director, announced the agency had reopened the investigation into the emails after finding new data on Weiner’s computer.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence voted Monday along partisan lines to make the Nunes memo public, a move that has generated panic among Democrats and their allies in Deep State Washington, D.C., who don’t want the truth about the vast left-wing cabal against President Trump, the discredited Trump-Russia dossier, and the fanciful electoral collusion conspiracy theory, to emerge.
It was a “very sad day,” Schiff said Monday.
President Trump favors releasing the memo which is now being reviewed by White House counsel during a mandated five-day waiting period. “It will be released here pretty quick, I think, and then the whole world can see it,” White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Wednesday.
There may be many more “very sad” days ahead for Schiff and his Democrat colleagues.