Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, January 30, 2020
When President Donald Trump on Jan. 23 tweeted a Photoshopped picture showing former President Barack Obama perched outside Trump Tower with binoculars and a listening device, the reaction was intense.
Many on the Left regurgitated the false narrative that there is no evidence the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign.
Did they read the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report on the FBI FISA’s abuses?
Michael Horowitz’s report firmly established that substantial spying on the Trump campaign took place under the guise of investigating Russia collusion.
“And there were many hints that even more spying occurred that has yet to be exposed,” Margot Cleveland noted in a Jan. 28 analysis for The Federalist.
Reports are also surfacing that Horowitz’s public report was misleading and held back further evidence of the depth of the FBI’s spying operation against Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Cleveland also noted the key role played by Stefan Halper, who the FBI inserted to spy on Trump’s campaign.
In an August 2016 conversation with Page that Halper secretly recorded, “Halper quizzed the foreign policy advisor on an ‘October Surprise,’ ” Cleveland noted. “Halper then asked Page ‘if the Trump campaign could access information that might have been obtained by the Russians from the DNC files.’ But Halper’s next line shows Halper was doing more than seeking evidence of collusion — he was trying to influence the Trump campaign: Halper told Page that in past campaigns ‘we would have used [it] in a heartbeat.’ ”
Cleveland continued: “To fully grasp the significance of Halper’s comments, one must understand his long history as a campaign advisor. That history dated back nearly four decades, with Halper holding a high-level position in George H.W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 1979. Halper then joined the staff of the Reagan-Bush campaign after Ronald Reagan won the nomination and tapped Bush as his choice for vice president. In fact, the IG report noted a Crossfire Hurricane case agent had initially reached out to Halper because he knew Halper ‘had been affiliated with national political campaigns since the early 1970s.’
“Given Halper’s history as a seasoned campaign guru, his ‘we would have used [it] in a heartbeat’ comment to Page sought not to elicit information from Page that the Trump team was colluding with Russia, but to entice the Trump campaign to do just that.”
The Republican chairmen of two Senate committees wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr which suggested Horowitz misled the public.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson want Barr to declassify four footnotes they say contradict information in Horowitz’s December report.
“Specifically, we are concerned that certain sections of the public version of the report are misleading because they are contradicted by relevant and probative classified information redacted in four footnotes,” the senators stated.
“This classified information is significant not only because it contradicts key statements in a section of the report, but also because it provides insight essential for an accurate evaluation of the entire investigation,” the senators wrote. “The American people have a right to know what is contained within these four footnotes and, without that knowledge, they will not have a full picture as to what happened during the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.”
The Federalist noted that the Grassley-Johnson letter “raises questions about whether the FBI or other U.S. intelligence or agencies deliberately classified certain evidence that could potentially show that the Comey-led investigation against the Trump campaign was based on false premises known to the FBI and was therefore legally invalid and not properly predicated.”
In his December report on FISA abuses, Horowitz said the Obama administration was guilty of 17 “significant errors or omissions” in its use of the discredited anti-Trump “dossier” funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign to obtain warrants to spy on Trump’s campaign.
Despite the evidence in his report, Horowitz claimed he found no reason to believe the Obama administration’s actions were rooted in political bias.
Grassley and Johnson said the contents of the four classified footnotes would provide further evidence to refute Horowitz’s conclusion that there was no political bias.
“The American people have a right to know what is contained within these four footnotes and, without that knowledge, they will not have a full picture as to what happened during the Crossfire Hurricane investigation,” the senators wrote.
The IG report obliterated the corporate media’s false narrative that, while the FBI did surveil former Trump campaign associate Carter Page, “that didn’t happen until after Page left the campaign.”
But Horowitz’s report confirmed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) order “gave the government access to Page’s past emails and other electronic communications with members of the Trump campaign,” Cleveland wrote.
“The FISA warrants, of course, gave the FBI authority to spy on Page, and now that the government has finally made a mea culpa, we know that surveillance was illegal. But contrary to the continuing narrative, that spying wasn’t limited to Page. It included internal Trump campaign communications,” Cleveland wrote.
It is not known how many Trump campaign emails and communications were swept into the FISA surveillance of Page, but “we do know the FBI would have had access to all campaign emails that originated from Page or included him as a recipient,” Cleveland wrote. “And the number of emails accessed appears large, given that the IG report stated that 45 days into the surveillance order, the FBI ‘team had not reviewed all of the emails the first FISA application yielded and believed there were additional emails not yet collected.’ The IG report also established that the Crossfire Hurricane team recognized ‘the possibility that the FISA collection would include sensitive political campaign related information.’ ”
Cleveland pointed to the instance where a case agent working the Crossfire Hurricane investigation “explained to the IG’s team that because Page had just ‘returned from his trip to Russia’ before the Republicans’ national convention, the FBI’s ‘belief was that Page was involved in the platform change [concerning Ukraine] and the team was hoping to find evidence of that in their review of the FISA collections of Page’s email accounts.’ ”