Opinion| Oh, my! In a normal world the revelations of this testimony from Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr would have rocked the headlines of the mainstream media. We don’t live in normal times.
The Hill’s John Solomon has chronicled the handwritten notes and congressional testimony that he gleaned from sources to expose this explosive admission by the then-No. 4 Department of Justice official:
The then-No. 4 Department of Justice (DOJ) official briefed both senior FBI and DOJ officials in summer 2016 about Christopher Steele’s Russia dossier, explicitly cautioning that the British intelligence operative’s work was opposition research connected to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and might be biased.
Ohr’s briefings, in July and August 2016, included the deputy director of the FBI, a top lawyer for then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and a Justice official who later would become the top deputy to special counsel Robert Mueller.
At the time, Ohr was the associate attorney general. Yet his warnings about political bias were pointedly omitted weeks later from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant that the FBI obtained from a federal court, granting it permission to spy on whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to hijack the 2016 presidential election.
Ohr claimed he initially warned the FBI was on July 31, 2016. He testified that he had reached out to then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and FBI attorney Lisa Page to alert them to his concerns about the possible lack of veracity of the Steele dossier.
Ohr told congressional investigators that he was referred to the agents working Russia counterintelligence. That included Peter Strzok.
Ohr also said that he was asked to brief senior DOJ officials, in August 2016.
Those officials included then head of the DOJ fraud section Andrew Weissmann, Bruce Swartz, who headed the DOJ’s international operations, and terrorism prosecutor Zainab Ahmad who was assigned to work with Lynch as a senior counselor.
This means that the officials who signed off on the FISA application, at the highest levels of the FBI and DOJ, were fully aware of the fact that the dossier was paid for by the Clinton campaign and was likely unreliable.
They chose to ignore the warnings, and in October 2016, more than two months after Ohr’s warning, and without substantiating the document, they chose to defraud the FISC by including the dossier as a central piece of evidence to secure the surveillance warrant.
It gets worse:
Ahmad and Weissmann would eventually join the special prosecutor’s team overseeing the Russia probe. The foxes were guarding the hen house.
More than two months later, the dossier remained unverified:
Then-FBI Director James Comey’s written statement to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence also made clear that nothing in the Steele dossier had been proven.
Comey’s statement was delivered on January 6, 2017:
The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified.
This was an outright abuse of the FISC. Comey admitted as much when he testified to a joint session of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on December 7, 2018 and said the FBI is expected to divulge exculpatory evidence to the court.
“We certainly consider it our obligation, because of our trust relationship with federal judges, to present evidence that would paint a materially different picture of what we’re presenting. You want to present to the judge reviewing your application a complete picture of the evidence, both its flaws and its strengths.”
As bad as this is – defrauding the FISC in order to surveil the campaign of a political opponent and then hiring two of the culprits to oversee the investigation, it gets worse.
As Congressional Republicans investigating this corruption began closing in on the truth, the ranking Democrat on the House intel committee, Adam Schiff (D-CA), sought to obscure the truth about the Clinton campaign, the DNC, and the Obama administration’s involvement in perhaps the greatest political scandal ever.\
Schiff released a separate memo, with the approval of every other Democrat on the House Permanent Special Committee on Intelligence.
That memo claimed that it wasn’t until “weeks after the election and more than a month after the Court approved the initial FISA application” that Ohr made contact with the FBI.
That was a bald-faced lie and every Democrat on the HPSCI was aware of it when their memo was released.
Mark Levin was right; The Clinton campaign paid for, and received a surveillance warrant from the FISC with the help of the Obama administration.