Democrats and their apologists in the mainstream media are in a state of pitiful denial. They refuse to accept the fact that certain senior officials at the FBI and Department of Justice with political agendas misled the FISA court in their applications for a warrant to spy on an American citizen, Carter Page. First, the Democrats and their apologists raised the specter of a national security crisis if the House Intelligence Committee memo on the discredited Christopher Steele anti-Trump “dossier,” used in part to justify the surveillance warrant, were made public. Then, when the memo was made public, they claimed, in the words of California Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu, that it was a “nothing burger.” There was in fact a lot of beef in the memo, but Democrats and their progressive friends have eliminated truth from their diets.
We shall see what so-called “context” the Democrats put into their rebuttal memo, if and when released. Given their tendency to put their heads in the sand when evidence of malfeasance by partisan higher-ups in the nation’s chief law enforcement agencies stares them in the face, we can expect little more than spin.
From what has been reported so far by the New York Times, the “Democratic memo is said to contend that the F.B.I. was more forthcoming with the surveillance court than Republicans had claimed.” The article quoted Connecticut Democrat Jim Hines, who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, claiming that the FBI did not mislead the FISA court because “the judge had some sense that this information came out of a political context.” However, the article went on to say that, according to people familiar with the Democratic memo, the memo concedes that “the F.B.I. did not name the Democratic National Committee and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign as having funded the Steele research.” Instead, the FBI merely disclosed that the information it had received from Steele was “politically motivated,” which the Democrats believe is sufficient.
Even if the FISA court were given “some sense” that the information in the Steele dossier “came out of a political context” and was “politically motivated,” that is far too general to have any real meaning to judges who deserve to be informed of all relevant facts. It is a far cry from informing the FISA court of the material fact that the Steele dossier was bought and paid for by the campaign of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s adversary, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic National Committee which Hillary Clinton controlled by that time. The members of the Department of Justice and FBI who signed the FISA warrant applications without disclosing the specifics behind the dossier’s funding, which would have cast doubt on its credibility, engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by concealing or withholding from the FISA court critical information in their possession. As a result, they misled the FISA court as to the worth of the dossier in deciding whether or not to grant the warrant request.
Democratic Representative Hines also said that what Americans will learn from the Democratic memo is that “it is not true that this FISA warrant was awarded solely on the basis of the Steele dossier.”
Whether the dossier was the sole basis for the FISA court’s decision to issue the surveillance warrant is beside the point. The Department of Justice and FBI obviously would not have considered the dossier significant enough to include in their original application and renewals if they did not think they needed it to succeed in their applications. It is fair to assume that the evidence they already had compiled on Carter Page, who was said to be on the FBI’s radar for years, coupled with what they had learned from ex-campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, was insufficient. The transcript of testimony to the House Intelligence Committee by former deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, should be made public to verify what exactly he said regarding how critical the Steele dossier was in obtaining the FISA surveillance warrant to spy on Carter Page.
In any event, Steele’s role did not end with the dossier. The Senate Judiciary Committee has just released a highly redacted document, which, according to a report by the Washington Examiner, is an unclassified version of the criminal referral targeting Christopher Steele that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. filed with the Department of Justice early last month. It says that Steele, in addition to his infamous anti-Trump dossier, was involved with a separate memo on Donald Trump and Russia. From what can be gathered from the redacted version of the referral, as the Washington Examiner article reported, “Steele wrote the additional memo based on anti-Trump information that originated with a foreign source. In a convoluted scheme outlined in the referral, the foreign source gave the information to an unnamed associate of Hillary and Bill Clinton, who then gave the information to an unnamed official in the Obama State Department, who then gave the information to Steele. Steele wrote a report based on the information, but the redacted version of the referral does not say what Steele did with the report after that.”
In short, Steele was being fed information by Clinton associates and the State Department while he was creating his anti-Trump dossier and providing materials to the FBI against Trump. This may explain why House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said last week that his committee would be expanding its inquiry to probe “the State Department and the involvement they had in this.” He added, "We will work to find answers and ask the right questions to try to get to the bottom of what exactly the State Department was up to in terms of this Russian investigation."
Fox News has reported that Senators Grassley and Graham, whose criminal referral requested an investigation of Christopher Steele for possibly lying to the FBI about his contacts with the media, are asking the FBI for an emergency review of their criminal referral “so it can be made public, with limited redactions.” In a letter they wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, quoted by Fox News, the two senators said, "It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele's work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility."
The truth is closing in on exposing the efforts by high level partisan members of the anti-Trump Deep State, beginning during the waning days of the Obama administration, to misuse the enormous power of the Department of Justice and FBI, as well as possibly the State Department, for corrupt political purposes.
Instead of doing everything they can to undermine congressional oversight of these executive department bureaucracies, Democrats would do well to review the work of the committee led by former Senator Frank Church (D-ID) more than 40 years ago. The Church Committee helped expose, in the words of Stuart Taylor, Jr., author of the Brookings Essay, ‘The Big Snoop: Life, liberty, and the Pursuit of Terrorists,’ “secret, arguably illegal wiretapping, bugging, and harassment of American citizens, including Supreme Court justices, reporters, and government officials, all in the name of collecting intelligence about threats to national security.” The Church Committee’s hearings led to the passage of the FISA Act of 1978, which established the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in the first place.
Democrats are now condoning fraud committed on the very judicial institution that their late colleague played a central role in establishing to protect Americans’ civil liberties.