Andrew McCarthy: FISA warrants show Trump was criminal target from the beginning

by WorldTribune Staff, September 17, 2018

FISA warrants used by the FBI to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page show that, from the get-go, President Donald Trump was “the main suspect in an investigation with no crime,” National Review columnist Andrew McCarthy wrote on Sept. 15.

“The FBI and the Obama Justice Department launched an investigation of the Democrats’ political adversaries, and they used Clinton-campaign-generated, foreign-provided innuendo to do it,” McCarthy wrote.

Andrew McCarthy: ‘They strained to make a case on Donald Trump even as they were burying a daunting criminal case on Mrs. Clinton.’

“They strained to make a case on Donald Trump even as they were burying a daunting criminal case on Mrs. Clinton. Moreover, the president was misled about his status: not only was he a suspect in the investigation, he was the main suspect.”

While, McCarthy noted, the Obama administration insisted it did not really spy on Trump and his campaign, all four FISA warrant applications make the following assertion (after two redacted lines):

“the FBI believes that the Russian Government’s efforts were being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with Candidate #1’s campaign.”

“Candidate #1” is Trump. “See, the upper hierarchies of the FBI and the Justice Department believed the Steele dossier – or at least they said they did,” McCarthy wrote. “The operating assumption of the Obama administration in the months before the 2016 election was that the Trump campaign was complicit in the Kremlin’s hacking conspiracy. Otherwise, the FBI would not have made this representation to the FISA court four times, including twice after President Trump was already in office.”

McCarthy continued: “You must always bear in mind that the incumbent leadership of the intelligence community had convinced itself that the Trump campaign was in cahoots with the Kremlin. Based on that belief, the FBI and Obama’s DOJ took bold risks because they’d further convinced themselves that there was no risk at all: Everything was in the black box of classified intelligence and, besides, Hillary was a shoo-in to win. No one would ever be any the wiser.”

All four of the Page FISA warrant applications also make the following assertion:

“The FBI’s foreign intelligence goals for this investigation are set forth in the certification of the Executive Branch official contained herein. However, the authorities requested in this application may produce information and material which might, when evaluated by prosecutive authorities, constitute evidence of a violation of United States law, and this investigation may result in an eventual criminal prosecution of the target. Nevertheless, as discussed in the certification, at least a significant purpose of this request for [REDACTED] is to collect foreign intelligence information as part of the FBI’s investigation of this target.”

McCarthy noted that “This is so matter-of-factly brazen, buried on page 41 of the 54-page application, that we can easily miss its significance. FISA authorities are not criminal-law authorities. It is not just that FISA is not designed to ferret out evidence of crime; it is not permitted to be used for that purpose. FISA’s objective is the collection of foreign intelligence, the gathering of information about the actions and intentions of foreign powers that may threaten American interests.”

The Page FISA warrant application “implies that it is a standard part of the process that ‘prosecutive authorities’ — i.e., prosecutors, criminal investigators, grand juries — peruse FISA evidence to determine whether crimes have been committed. Not true,” McCarthy wrote. “Prosecutors normally have nothing to do with FISA. Counterintelligence is not ‘prosecutive’; it aims to gather information about other countries and their operatives, not make criminal cases.”
McCarthy noted that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “persists in his refusal to identify any crime for which there was such a strong basis to believe Trump could be guilty that a special counsel had to be appointed. If there were such a crime, we would have been told about it by now.”

The unverified dossier authored by ex-British spy Christopher Steele was the “factual” basis “for suspecting Trump of an espionage conspiracy with Russia,” McCarty noted. “The Obama Justice Department and the FBI used the dossier to get FISA warrants, and in so doing told the court that ‘prosecutive authorities’ would ‘evaluate’ the ‘foreign intelligence’ in a hunt for crimes.”

The DOJ and the FBI “know they are not permitted to use FISA as a pretext,” McCarthy wrote. “If I were a member of Congress, I’d be asking them whether this promise of ‘prosecutive’ review in the Page warrant application (a) was unique to the Trump investigation or (b) is invoked whenever the FBI seeks a FISA warrant.”

Meanwhile, The Hill’s John Solomon noted in a Sept. 16 report that FBI lawyer Lisa Page said the agency couldn’t prove Trump-Russia collusion before Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel.

When questioned on texts she exchanged with FBI agent Peter Strzok in May 2017 as Mueller was being named to take over the Russia investigation, Page told Rep. John Ratcliffe, Texas Repulican, that “It’s a reflection of us still not knowing.”

Solomon wrote: “With that statement, Page acknowledged a momentous fact: After nine months of using some of the most awesome surveillance powers afforded to U.S. intelligence, the FBI still had not made a case connecting Trump or his campaign to Russia’s election meddling.”

Page further acknowledged that “it still existed in the scope of possibility that there would be literally nothing” to connect Trump and Russia, no matter what Mueller or the FBI did. “As far as May of 2017, we still couldn’t answer the question,” she said.

Former FBI Director James Comey, after he was fired, told the Senate there was not yet evidence to justify investigating Trump for colluding with Russia. “When I left, we did not have an investigation focused on President Trump,” Comey testified.

Strzok texted Page in May 2017 that he was reluctant to join Mueller’s probe and leave his senior FBI post because he feared “there’s no big there, there.”

Solomon wrote: “So, by the words of Comey, Strzok and Page, we now know that the Trump Justice Department – through Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – unleashed the Mueller special counsel probe before the FBI could validate a connection between Trump and Russia. Which raises the question: If there was no concrete evidence of collusion, why did we need a special counsel?”

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