Attorney General William Barr has formed a new team to review the origins of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into President Donald Trump and his 2016 campaign.
According to Fox News, Barr’s assembled team will investigate how the Russia probe began, who opened it, which officials played a role in handling certain aspects, and, perhaps most importantly, did the FBI mislead the FISA court to obtain a warrant to spy on Trump campaign officials.
The FBI’s July 2016 counterintelligence investigation was formally opened by anti-Trump former FBI agent Peter Strzok. Ex-FBI counsel Lisa Page, with whom Strzok was romantically involved, revealed during a closed-door congressional interview that the FBI “knew so little” about whether allegations against the Trump campaign were “true or not true” at the time they opened the probe, noting they had just “a paucity of evidence because we are just starting down the path” of vetting the allegations.
Page later said that it was “entirely common” that the FBI would begin a counterintelligence investigation with just a “small amount of evidence.”
Former FBI Director James Comey would testify later that when agency initiated its counterintelligence probe into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government, investigators “didn’t know whether we had anything” and that “in fact, when I was fired as director [in May 2017], I still didn’t know whether there was anything to it.”During his hearing on Monday before Congress, Barr told lawmakers that he’s reviewing the bureau’s “conduct” in particular during the summer of 2016, when the FBI began spying on Trump campaign officials.
I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016,” Barr said at the hearing.
Here’s more from Fox News:
Republicans have called for a careful review as to whether the FBI, in violation of Page’s constitutional rights and FBI procedures, misled the FISA court or withheld exculpatory information, and Barr testified that a DOJ review of the FBI’s FISA practices was in progress.
The FBI’s ultimately successful October 2016 warrant application to surveil Page, which relied in part on information from British ex-spy Christopher Steele – whose anti-Trump views are now well-documented – flatly accused Page of conspiring with Russians. Page has never been charged with any wrongdoing, and he since has sued the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for defamation.
The FBI assured the FISA court on numerous occasions — in the October 2016 warrant application and in subsequent renewals — that other sources, including a Yahoo News article, independently corroborated Steele’s claims, without evidence to back it up. It later emerged that Steele was also the source of the Yahoo News article, written by reporter Michael Isikoff.
The FBI also quoted directly from a disputed Washington Post opinion piece to argue that Trump’s views on providing lethal arms to Ukraine, and working towards better relations with Russia, was a possible indicator that the campaign had been compromised.
It’s about time that someone investigate the investigators.
The American people want answers about why the Obama administration opened a phony investigation into Trump and spied on his campaign.