FBI agent excluded information from informant Stefan Halper in FISA application

by WorldTribune Staff, February 24, 2020

An FBI agent who was “primarily responsible for some of the most significant errors and omissions” during the bureau’s obtaining FISA warrant to wiretap Trump campaign adviser Carter Page has been referred for disciplinary review, a report said.

Sources told The New York Times that Stephen Somma, a counterintelligence investigator in the FBI’s New York field office, is the agent.

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz found 17 ‘significant inaccuracies and omissions’ in the FBI’s applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to wiretap Carter Page.

Somma was identified only as “Case Agent 1” in Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the FBI’s FISA abuses.

In his December report, Horowitz noted that Somma had excluded significant information that had been provided by confidential informant Stefan Halper, specifically from an October 2016 meeting during which Halper recorded Page. The meeting occurred before the FBI filed its first FISA application to spy on Page.

Horowitz concluded that Somma failed to include key “exculpatory” information from that meeting, including Page denying meeting with Russians mentioned in Christopher Steele’s dossier, denying knowledge of the WikiLeaks dissemination of the DNC emails hacked by the Russians, and denying any role in the Republican Party’s platform related to Russia.

Related: Senator demands answers from secret Pentagon agency on Stefan Halper contracts, January 23, 2020

“When Halper’s role as an FBI informant was leaked to the media in May 2018, it led to accusations from President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress that the Obama administration used Halper as part of an illegal effort to spy on the Trump campaign,” the Washington Examiner noted in a Feb. 24 report.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, wrote to the Defense Department’s Office of Net Assessment in January asking whether any of the funds from Pentagon contracts awarded to Halper were used for the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation.

Horowitz confirmed in his report that the FBI relied heavily upon the unverified Steele dossier to obtain the FISA warrants.

The DOJ IG found 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the FBI’s applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to wiretap Page, who was under suspicion of being an agent for Russia. He was never charged with any wrongdoing.

Horowitz wrote that Somma and an unnamed Staff Operations Specialist “were the original Crossfire Hurricane team members who had primary responsibility over the Carter Page investigation.”

FBI documents showed that in late August 2016, Somma was told he had “not yet presented enough information to support a FISA application targeting Carter Page.” Somma told Horowitz’s investigators “that the team’s receipt of the reporting from Steele [in September] supplied missing information in terms of what Page may have been doing during his July 2016 visit to Moscow and provided enough information on Page’s recent activities that [Somma] thought would satisfy the Office of Intelligence.”

“Case Agent 1 said he prepared the FISA request form,” Horowitz wrote. “The FISA request form drew almost entirely from Steele’s reporting in describing the factual basis to establish probable cause to believe that Page was an agent of a foreign power.”

“We found no information indicating that the FBI provided the Office of Intelligence with the documents containing Page’s denials before finalizing the first FISA application,” Horowitz wrote. “Instead, Case Agent 1 provided a summary that did not contain those denials to the OI Attorney and that the OI Attorney relied upon that summary in drafting the first application.”

The inspector general did not find that Somma or his immediate supervisors were politically biased. Horowitz also did not find evidence showing the “pattern of errors” were intentional, but he noted: “we also did not find his explanations for so many significant and repeated failures to be satisfactory.”

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