Consider the source.
The FBI did not allow the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to do just that.
Instead, the heavily-redacted application for a warrant to surveil U.S. citizen Carter Page obscures the source. It never says, at least in the unredacted portions, that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid operatives to dig dirt on Donald Trump.
This allows the warrant to talk of “research” and not “opposition research.” The warrant application shields the partisan origins of the “dossier” and talks of a “law firm” hiring the investigators. In reality, Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC paid the law firm, which paid Fusion GPS, which paid Christopher Steele (and, given the reference to a “U.S. person” in the warrant, perhaps others — unless that “U.S. person” was, in fact, a U.K. person, which complicates the narrative of foreign interference) to conduct opposition research.
By using intermediaries to effectively launder dirty money clean, the Clinton campaign kept its name off of a story it generated — and dodged the whole intent of campaign finance laws in the process. The FBI, not wanting to undermine its case to the FISA court, similarly omitted that the material it presented to the court came from a political operative paid by the opponent of “Candidate #1.” It now omits the name of the agent bringing the application forth to the court. Judging by what we know about the various FBI employees involved in the investigation, the agent’s identity may prove similarly damning. Why redact the investigating agent’s name and not the subject of his or her investigation?
The date of the application also remains redacted, at least partially so. Although we see a stamp that indicates “2016” and “OCT,” we do not know the exact date. Christopher Steele reported findings to the FBI beginning in early July 2016. At some point before Election Day, the bureau and Steele reached an agreement, later voided, in which the FBI pledged to pay the former MI6 officer to continue his investigation. Surely the FBI knew by that point just who had been paying Steele, right? It is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, after all.
If the bureau did not, it reveals itself in the warrant as comically incompetent. If the bureau did, it reveals itself in the warrant as terribly dishonest. Lying to judges, like lying to the FBI, comes with consequences — at least it should.
Here’s what the application states in a footnote:
Source #1, who now owns a foreign business/financial intelligence firm, was approached by an identified U.S. person, who indicated to Source #1 that a U.S. based law firm had hired the identified U.S. person to conduct research regarding Candidate #1’s ties to Russia (the identified U.S. person and Source #1 have a long-standing business relationship). The identified U.S. person hired Source #1 to conduct this research. The identified U.S. person never advised Source #1 as to the motivation behind the research into Candidate #1’s ties to Russia. The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #1’s campaign.
Did the FBI merely speculate at this point or did it know? A few lines later the FBI hints at a “reason” — without explaining the nature of the “reason” — for Source #1’s research.
“Notwithstanding Source #1’s reason for conducting the research into Candidate #1’s ties to Russia,” a footnote explains, “based on Source #1’s previous reporting history with the FBI, whereby Source #1 provided reliable information to the FBI, the FBI believes Source #1’s reporting herein to be credible.”
In excising information directly pertaining to that source’s credibility, the FBI impugned its own. Congressman Devin Nunes said earlier this year that the FBI “basically lied to the court” to get the warrant. The application partially released seems to confirm this.
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