Critics of the FBI’s handling of the Carter Page FISA warrants have frequently misunderstood their purpose
Horowitz determined that the FBI’s Trump-Russia Crossfire Hurricane investigation was properly predicated.
This part of the Horowitz Report was a major disaster for Trump. 1/27
That is not the case, however, with Horowitz’s findings about the FBI’s handling of the four Carter Page FISA applications, so it’s not surprising that Trump’s defenders would prefer to talk about *that*. 2/27
Two prominent examples are AG Bill Barr (the Examiner gives the full video) 3/27
Barr says John Durham could finish inquiry into Russia investigation by late spring 2020U.S. Attorney John Durham’s inquiry into the Russia investigation is not expected to wrap up until the spring or summer of 2020.https://tinyurl.com/v8qb2bt
and LIndsey Graham 4/27
Senator Graham: FBI Russia Probe ‘Didn’t End Okay’Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks to reporters following the release of Justice Department Inspector General Michael…https://tinyurl.com/r8tcurh
To his credit, CATO Institute libertarian (and Trump critic) Julian Sanchez (@normative) addresses forthrightly the issues around the FISA warrants, which provide the strongest case that Trump and his critics have against Crossfire Hurricane. 5/27
The Crossfire Hurricane Report’s Inconvenient Findings”Despite furious efforts from all quarters to claim otherwise, the Inspector General Report fails to neatly validate anyone’s favored political narrative.”https://tinyurl.com/se6tod4
Lindsey Graham has declared that *no* lawyer could defend the FBI’s handling of the FISA warrant applications, particularly with respect to the Steele dossier. (Graham has actually denounced the FBI as a “criminal enterprise” for the way it handled the applications.) 6/27
Sanchez doesn’t go nearly this far, but he does say: 7/27
I must respectfully disagree.
Note that Sanchez goes on to say: 8/27
One of the problems here is that the warrants were not fruitless. It is clear from the Report itself that the warrants produced new evidence. (This new evidence has been redacted.) 9/27
Note also that we cannot assume that this new evidence in any way incriminated *Page*, or in fact any other member of the Trump campaign or Trump associate. 10/27
Barr and Graham, who deplore even the first warrant, assume that any new evidence would have to have found evidence of collusion (by which they mean criminal conspiracy). For all I can tell, Sanchez might be making this assumption as well. 11/27
In any case, this entirely misconstrues the purpose of FISA, because the primary purpose of FISA surveillance is to get intel on the active measures and influence operations of hostile foreign powers (like Russia), 12/27
rather than to gather possibly incriminating information on the U.S. citizen who is the target. 13/27
That means that the FISA court would have properly granted the subsequent warrants if they produced sufficiently valuable intel on what *Russia* was doing to influence Trump and his associates, 14/27
even if the targets were totally resistant to those blandishments (which of course we knew Page wasn’t; he even said so!). 15/27
It is also important to understand the role that HUMINT like the Steele dossier plays — and should play — in the FISA warrant application process. 16/27
Sanchez says, about the first (October) FISA application to FISC: 17/27
While it is undeniable that an accurate description of Steele’s contributions should have been included in the documentation that the FBI sent on to the DOJ, and which the DOJ would then have submitted to FISC, 18/27
it needs stressing that HUMINT — whether it is the CIA’s or that from a foreign source like Steele — is raw intelligence that needs vetting and confirmation, not established findings of fact. 19/27
If the FBI, DOJ, and FISC judge the HUMINT to be worth pursuing, and the HUMINT together with other evidence is sufficient to establish probable cause, then FISA surveillance 20/27
(as a last resort if less intrusive measures aren’t sufficient) can be employed as a tool to *either confirm or disconfirm the HUMINT*.
(Some HUMINT could properly be deemed sufficient to provide probable cause on its own.) 21/27
Though FISA surveillance was not involved in the FIFA investigations, Steele’s information seems to have played that kind of role there.
As Sanchez said: 22/27
That is, Steele’s information was used to *launch* an investigation, it didn’t *close the case* against FIFA.
(Ditto for the Trump-Russia investigation — which of course is exactly why Trump hates Steele.) 23/27
In sum, HUMINT can be used by the FBI and FISC if it contributes towards establishing probable cause for a FISA surveillance. 24/27
This might seem a pretty obvious point, but I can get rather exercised over it, because I have received hostile replies to some of my tweets that clearly implied that the government must have dispositive evidence of the target’s guilt before the target can be surveilled — 25/27
which, besides being obviously circular, fundamentally misunderstands the purpose of FARA and FISA. 26/27
I discuss these and other aspects of the FBI’s handling of the Carter Page FISA warrants here: 27/27
Michael Horowitz and the Steele dossier — Thomas Wood — MediumThe Horowitz Report deals in great detail (and in many different places) with the Steele dossier and its use in the Carter Page FISA applications. 1/47 tinyurl.com/toqaslc Horowitz neither impugns…https://tinyurl.com/v6wy4tf