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The press used to uncover government wrongdoing. Today’s press is defending it.

FISA Memo Is Scarier than Watergate.

Victor Davis Hanson write: The Watergate scandal of 1972–74 was uncovered largely because of outraged Democratic politicians and a bulldog media. They both claimed that they had saved American democracy from the Nixon administration’s attempt to warp the CIA and FBI to cover up an otherwise minor, though illegal, political break-in.

In the Iran-Contra affair of 1985–87, the media and liberal activists uncovered wrongdoing by some rogue members of the Reagan government. They warned of government overreach and of using the “Deep State” to subvert the law for political purposes.

We are now in the midst of a third great modern scandal. Members of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice sought court approval for the surveillance of Carter Page, allegedly for colluding with Russian interests, and extended the surveillance three times.

But none of these government officials told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the warrant requests were based on an unverified dossier that had originated as a hit piece funded in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign to smear Donald Trump during the current 2016 campaign.

[Read the full story here, at National Review]

Nor did these officials reveal that the author of the dossier, Christopher Steele, had already been dropped as a reliable source by the FBI for leaking to the press.

Nor did officials add that a Department of Justice official, Bruce Ohr, had met privately with Steele — or that Ohr’s wife, Nellie, had been hired to work on the dossier.

Unfortunately, such disclosures may be only the beginning of the FISA-gate scandal.

Members of the Obama administration’s national security team also may have requested the names of American citizens connected with the Trump campaign who had been swept up in other FISA surveillance. Those officials may have then improperly unmasked the names and leaked them to a compliant press — again, for apparent political purposes during a campaign.

Read the rest of this entry »

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A Reckoning for the FBI 

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The House memo reveals disturbing facts about the misuse of FISA.

Now we know why the FBI tried so hard to block release of the House Intelligence Committee memo. And why Democrats and the media want to change the subject to Republican motivations. The four-page memo released Friday reports disturbing facts about how the FBI and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court appear to have been used to influence the 2016 election and its aftermath.

The White House declassified the memo Friday, and you don’t have to be a civil libertarian to be shocked by the details. The memo confirms that the FBI and Justice Department on Oct. 21, 2016 obtained a FISA order to surveil Carter Page, an American citizen who was a relatively minor volunteer adviser to the Trump presidential campaign.

The memo says an “essential” part of the FISA application was the “dossier” assembled by former British spy Christopher Steele and the research firm Fusion GPS that was hired by a law firm attached to the Clinton campaign. The memo adds that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told the committee in December 2017 that “no surveillance warrant would have been sought” without the dossier.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

This is troubling enough, but the memo also discloses that the FBI failed to inform the FISA court that the Clinton campaign had funded the dossier. The memo says the FBI supported its FISA application by “extensively” citing a September 2016 article in Yahoo News that contained allegations against Mr. Page. But the FBI failed to tell the court that Mr. Steele and Fusion were the main sources for that Yahoo article. In essence the FBI was citing Mr. Steele to corroborate Mr. Steele.

Unlike a normal court, FISA doesn’t have competing pleaders. The FBI and Justice appear ex parte as applicants, and thus the judges depend on candor from both. Yet the FBI never informed the court that Mr. Steele was in effect working for the Clinton campaign. The FBI retained Mr. Steele as a source, and in October 2016 he talked to Mother Jones magazine without authorization about the FBI investigation and his dossier alleging collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. The FBI then fired Mr. Steele, but it never told the FISA judges about that either. Nor did it tell the court any of this as it sought three subsequent renewals of the order on Mr. Page. Read the rest of this entry »


‘The Reasons for Chutkan’s Recusals Remain a Mystery’: Federal Judge Recuses Herself From A Second Fusion GPS Case

Tanya S. Chutkan, during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, to be United States District Judge for the District of Columbia. February 25, 2014. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

Chuck Ross reports: A federal judge in Washington, D.C. has recused herself from a second case involving Trump dossier firm Fusion GPS.

Tanya S. Chutkan, an Obama appointee, recused herself on Monday from a case involving a dispute over subpoenas issued for Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the dossier.

Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian tech executive accused in the dossier of hacking Democrats’ computer systems, has sought to subpoena Fusion GPS records and to depose its employees to find out more about the research firm’s work on the dossier.

Gubarev is suing BuzzFeed for defamation for publishing the dossier earlier this year. He denies the allegations laid out in the document, which was written by former British spy Christopher Steele.

[Read the full story here, at The Daily Caller]

Chutkan recused herself last month from another case involving Fusion GPS. The firm had filed suit against its bank, TD Bank, to keep it from complying with a subpoena issued by the House Intelligence Committee, which sought Fusion’s bank records.

Chutkan presided over that case from Oct. 20 to Nov. 9. It was reassigned to Judge Richard Leon, a George W. Bush appointee. Since taking over the case, Leon has indicated that he plans to allow more transparency into the court proceedings involving the battle over Fusion’s bank records. He has ordered several documents be unsealed and made public.

Chutkan has presided over the case involving the lawsuit against BuzzFeed since Aug. 31. Her replacement is Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee who assumed office in October.

The reasons for Chutkan’s recusals remain a mystery. Read the rest of this entry »


Nothing to See Here, Move Along

The research firm that put together a dossier filled with unsubstantiated claims about Donald Trump hired a top DOJ official’s wife to dig up dirt on Trump … (read more)

Source: thefederalist.com


WOAH NELLIE: Wife of Demoted DOJ Official Worked for Firm Behind Anti-Trump Dossier

Bruce G. Ohr was demoted at the DOJ for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump ‘dossier.’ (AP)

Investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year.

James Rosen and Jake Gibson report: A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump “dossier” had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than has been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official’s wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.

Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr’s duties – including whether she worked on the dossier – remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.

Fusion GPS has attracted scrutiny because Republican lawmakers have spent the better part of this year investigating whether the dossier, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, served as the basis for the Justice Department and the FBI to obtain FISA surveillance last year on a Trump campaign adviser named Carter Page.

“The House Intelligence Committee,” Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told Fox News in a statement on Monday, “is looking into all facets of the connections between the Department of Justice and Fusion GPS, including Mr. Ohr.”

Until Dec. 6, when Fox News began making inquiries about him, Bruce Ohr held two titles at DOJ. He was, and remains, director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force; but his other job was far more senior. Mr. Ohr held the rank of associate deputy attorney general, a post that gave him an office four doors down from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The day before Fox News reported that Mr. Ohr held his secret meetings last year with the founder of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, and with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier, the Justice Department stripped Ohr of his deputy title and ousted him from his fourth floor office at the building that DOJ insiders call “Main Justice.”

Initially, DOJ officials provided no explanation for Ohr’s demotion. Later, they said his wearing of two hats was “unusual”; still later, they confirmed Ohr had withheld his contacts with the Fusion GPS men from superiors.

A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump “dossier” had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than has been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official’s wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.

[Read the full story here, at Fox News]

Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr’s duties – including whether she worked on the dossier – remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.

Fusion GPS has attracted scrutiny because Republican lawmakers have spent the better part of this year investigating whether the dossier, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, served as the basis for the Justice Department and the FBI to obtain FISA surveillance last year on a Trump campaign adviser named Carter Page. Read the rest of this entry »