by WorldTribune Staff, January 18, 2021
A newly declassified transcript shows the FBI took steps to expand its Russia investigation in 2017 even after being told as many as six times there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The transcript was from closed door testimony by Dana J. Boente, the Department of Justice official who was overseeing the FBI’s Russia investigation, also known as Crossfire Hurricane.
“There was no ‘there’ there,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, who released Boente’s June 22, 2020 testimony. “The investigation was pushed when it should have been stopped and the only logical explanation is that the investigators wanted an outcome because of their bias.”
Boente’s was put in the position of overseeing the FBI’s Russia probe after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself and before Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was confirmed by the Senate.
That left Boente as acting deputy and in charge of Crossfire Hurricane in February, March and April.
“I felt that it was important to know something about it,” said Boente, according to the transcript. “I don’t know if and when I was told that. I think — I recall being told at some point, maybe not February, between February and April, because thankfully my involvement ended in April, that there was no evidence of collusion with the Trump campaign.”
During the time frame Boente testified about, the FBI was ramping up the investigation.
Then-FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017 that the entire Trump campaign was under scrutiny for any possible links to the Kremlin.
“Campaign veterans have told The Washington Times that his testimony that day put a target on their backs for the national news media,” Washington Times reporter Rowan Scarborough noted.
During this time, the FBI also won a judge’s approval for continued wiretapping of Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. The FBI’s affidavit was based almost exclusively on evidence provided by the bogus Democrat Party-financed dossier prepared by ex-British spy Christopher Steele and sourced to the Kremlin.
The FBI learned in January of 2017 that Steele’s main source, Russian-born Igor Danchenko, had told agents his information was unconfirmed hearsay. But the FBI continued to rely on the dossier.
Boente testified that Comey wanted to brief Congress on Crossfire Hurricane and whether Trump aides colluded with Russia to hack Democrat Party computers in 2016 and mount information warfare on social media.
“Well, I certainly felt that he could,” Boente testified. “ ‘Should’ is a much more difficult question. But I ceded to his request to brief on it.”
Boente said the issue was a briefing to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Comey’s public House committee appearance was not mentioned by Boente.
Graham’s chief investigative attorney said the committee had just acquired an email written by Crossfire Hurricane chief agent Peter Strzok from February 2017.
“We are unaware of ANY ‘in call caps’ Trump advisers engaging in conversations with Russian intelligence officials,” the Strzok email said.
Scarborough noted that Trump associates told The Washington Times that with Sessions’ recusal the president had no trusted ally inside the DOJ who could have told him that Crossfire Hurricane was hitting dead ends. If he knew that, he might not have fired Comey, they say, and there never would have been a special counsel.
Graham’s staff interviewed Boente and other DOJ officials as part of a probe into abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) under which Page was wiretapped for 12 months in 2016-17.
“I consider the Crossfire Hurricane investigation a massive system failure by senior leadership, but not representative of the dedicated, hardworking patriots who protect our nation every day at Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice,” Graham said. “I believe that Crossfire Hurricane was one of the most incompetent and corrupt investigations in the history of the FBI and DOJ.”
Boente announced his decision to retire from federal service on May 29, 2020.