FISA Memo Deconstructed

Notes:

  1. Memo text was OCR’ed, I have made corrections to mis-scans, but typo may remain.
  2. Wikipedia links for individuals were added, for background.
  3. Original Classification was TOP SECRET/NOFORN:
    1. TOP SECRET – shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.
    2. NOFORN – the statement of NOFORN (meaning “no foreign nationals”) is applied to any information that may not be released to any non-U.S. citizen.
  4. The Memo contains no paragraph/portion marking and does not appear to adhere to the guidelines for marking of “Derivatively Classified Information”.  {I am assuming that DOJ/FBI and House marking requirements are similar to DOD requirements.}
  5. The Memo has no “Classification Authority Block” as required by EO-13526CAB
  6. Subsequent to the first page of the memo, the marking are:
    header
    Header
    Unclass
    Footer

    which I have confirmed is incorrect, they should contain the declassification authority.

  7. The threshold for issuing a FISA warrant is; “To issue a FISA order authorizing investigators to eavesdrop on an American, a judge must agree that there is reason to believe the target was knowingly engaging in clandestine intelligence activities for a foreign power that violate American criminal laws — or is knowingly aiding or conspiring with someone else who is doing that.”
    1. Thus Dr. Carter W. Page was either a foreign agent, who reported to a foreign power, or,
    2. Conspiring with someone (President elect Trump, or campaign staff) who was.  But since Dr. Page was not openly associated with the campaign it would be necessary to show that he was clandestinely associated with the campaign.
  8. The memo addresses only the FISA warrant re: Carter Page, it does not address the speculated FISA warrant used to Surveil The Trump Organization Mail Server.  It does not address other campaign staff who are speculated to have been surveilled.

Contrary to earlier reporting in the New York Times, which cited FBI sources as saying that the agency did not believe that the private server in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower which was connected to a Russian bank had any nefarious purpose, the FBI’s counter-intelligence arm, sources say, re-drew an earlier FISA court request around possible financial and banking offenses related to the server. The first request, which, sources say, named Trump, was denied back in June {2016}, but the second was drawn more narrowly and was granted in October {2016} after evidence was presented of a server, possibly related to the Trump campaign, and its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank. While the Times story speaks of metadata, sources suggest that a FISA warrant was granted to look at the full content of emails and other related documents that may concern US persons.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/443752/trump-kompromat-story-its-all-disturbing

 

The Memo

FisaMemo1

January 18, 2018

To:                      HPSCI Majority Members
From:                HPSCI Majority Staff
Subject:            Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of                                    Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Purpose

This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to the
Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.

Does this paragraph:

  • Disclose a source: No
  • Disclose a method: No
  • Disclose classified Information:  Without portion marking it can’t be verified, but likely NO

Simple statement of purpose

Investigation Update

On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order
(not under Title VII) {JCM-1} authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC.  Page is a US citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign.  Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.

JCM-1
Additional Procedures Regarding Certain Persons Outside the United States
Sections 701-708
Added to FISA by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA) on July 10, 2008
[Citation]

 

Does this paragraph:

  • Disclose a source: No
  • Disclose a method: No
  • Disclose classified Information:  Without portion marking it can’t be verified, but likely Yes

It does disclose appear to disclose classified information, e.g. Page was under FISA counterintelligence surveillance.

It should be noted that Carter has been on the FBI radar since the 2013 of Evgeny Buryakov (a Russian bank executive, convicted of spying in 2015).  The context of “on the FBI radar” is he was mentioned in an intercepted phone call, and was interviewed by FBI.

The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISA.  As required by statute (50 U.S.C. S1805(d)(1), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISA every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one.  Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.

Does this paragraph:

  • Disclose a source: No
  • Disclose a method: No
  • Disclose classified Information:  Without portion marking it can’t be verified, but likely No

A key piece of information is missing from this paragraph, when was the 1st warrant applied for, from previous paragraphs it was October 21st 2016.

Dana Boente was appointed by President Donald Trump as Acting Deputy Attorney General on January 30, 2017, after Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was dismissed by Trump earlier that evening  He was confirmed on Feb. 8th and served as Acting DAG until Rosenstein was appointed on April 25th.

Timeline:

July 18, 2017 90 day Renewal – McCabe for FBI, Rosenstein for DOJ
April 19, 2017 90 day Renewal – Comey for FBI, Boente for DOJ  (only time                                                                        Boente was Acting DAG)
January 19, 2017  90 day Renewal – Comey for FBI, Yates for DOJ
October 16, 2016. Initial Request – Comey for FBI, Yates for DOJ

Other key events

  • November ’17 Dr. Carter Page interview, in a closed hearing, by HPSCI, and transcript was released on Nov. 6th.
  • March ’17 Dr. Carter Page interviewed five time by FBI for approximately 10 hours.
  • Sep 26, 2016 Dr. Carter Page take leave from voluntary position with Trump campaign.
  • Sep 23, ’16 Yahoo News reports that Dr. Carter Page met with high ranking Russian during his time in Russia to deliver a commencement speech at the invitation of New Economic School and a lecture at the Moscow  Crowne Plaza World Trade Center.
  • July ’16 Dr. Carter Page is invited to speak in Russia and does.
  • July ’16 FBI begins counterintelligence investigation based on Australian diplomats report on meeting with George Papadopoulos, another unpaid volunteer Trump aide.
  • June ’16  Clinton secures the Democratic nominationMay ’16 Washington Free Beacon shuts down OPO research
  • May ’16  Trump clinches Republican nomination
  • April ’16  Papadopoulos is told by a contact with connections to the Russian government that it has “dirt” on Clinton in the form of emails. The next month, Papadopoulos mentions this during a conversation with an Australian diplomat.
  • April ’16 With Trump‘s nomination all but inevitable, Fusion GPS approaches the Clinton campaign and the DNC about continuing its research into Trump. Marc Elias, a lawyer representing the two organizations, hires the firm.
  • March ’16  During a conversation with The Post, Trump announces his foreign-policy team, including Page and an energy consultant named George Papadopoulos.
  • Oct ’15 Washington Free Beacon hires Fusion GPS to do OPO research
  • June ’15  Donald Trump announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.
  • June ’13  Carter Page, an energy industry consultant, is interviewed by the FBI after it records a Russian agent, Victor Podobnyy, discussing a plan to apparently leverage a relationship with Page to get information. “It’s obvious that he wants to earn lots of money,” Podobnyy allegedly [1] said of Page.

[1} Allegedly is a strange term in reportage using quotes and attributed to the transcript of an intercept.  This this is because the transcript identifies “male-1” as the subject of the conversation and Buzzfeed has reported (April 3, 2017), based on unnamed source that it was Page, a case of leaking an un-masking.

 

Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including renewals) before the FISC are classified.  As such, the public’s confidence in the integrity of the FISA process depends on the court’s ability to hold the government to the highest standards particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens.  However, the rigor in protecting the rights of Americans, which is reinforced by 90-day renewals of surveillance orders, is necessarily dependent on the government’s production to the court of all material and relevant facts. This should include information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application that is known by the government.  In the case of Carter Page, the government had at least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts.  However, our findings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant information was omitted.

Does this paragraph:

  • Disclose a source: No
  • Disclose a method: No
  • Disclose classified Information:  Without portion marking it can’t be verified, but likely No
  1. The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the
    Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application.  Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research frm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

    Does this paragraph:

    • Disclose a source: Yes, “Steele was a longtime FBI source”
    • Disclose a method: No
    • Disclose classified Information:  Without portion marking it can’t be verified, but likely Yes, “Steele was a longtime FBI source”
    1. Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior and FBI officials.

      Does this paragraph:

      • Disclose a source: No
      • Disclose a method: No

      Disclose classified Information:  Without portion marking it can’t be verified, but likely No

      It implies, but doesn’t state, that dosier was cited in subsequent applications.  I would expect that subsequent applications would site incriminating material from previous warrant.

    2. The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the, time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier).  The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of — and paid by — the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.

      Does this paragraph:

      • Disclose a source: No
      • Disclose a method: No
      • Disclose classified Information:  Without portion marking it can’t be verified, but likely No
  2. The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by- Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow.  This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News.  The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News.  Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News — and several other. outlets — in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS.  Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington DC. in2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.

    Does this paragraph:

    • Disclose a source: No
    • Disclose a method: No
    • Disclose classified Information:  Without portion marking it can’t be verified, but likely No
    1. Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations — an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets’ in September — before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October — but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about
      those contacts.

      Does this paragraph:

      • Disclose a source: No
      • Disclose a method: No
      • Disclose classified Information:  Without portion marking it can’t be verified, but likely No
    2. Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling –maintaining confidentiality — and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.

      Does this paragraph:

      • Disclose a source: No
      • Disclose a method: No
      • Disclose classified Information:  Without portion marking it can’t be verified, but likely No
    3. Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce 0hr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein.  Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing 0hr, documenting his communications with Steele.  For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to 0hr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not, being president.” This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI ?les?but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications.

      Does this paragraph:

      • Disclose a source: No
      • Disclose a method: No
      • Disclose classified Information:  Without portion marking it can’t be verified, but likely No
      1. During this same time period, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump.  Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS.  The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.

        Does this paragraph:

        Disclose a source: No
        Disclose a method: No
        Disclose classified Information:  Without portion marking it can’t be verified, but likely No

    4. According to the head of the counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its ?infancy? at the time of the initial Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele?s reporting as only minimally corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was??according to his June 2017 and unveri?ed.? While the FISA application relied on Steele?s past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his anti?Trump ?nancial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director Source McCabe testi?ed before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.

      Does this paragraph:

      • Disclose a source: No
      • Disclose a method: No
      • Disclose classified Information:  Without portion marking it can’t be verified, but likely No
    5. The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok.  Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel?s Office to FBI Human Resources for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known relation to Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton, Whom Strzok had also investigated. The Strzok/Lisa Page texts also re?ect
      extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an ?insurance? policy against President Trump?s election.

Does this paragraph:

  • Disclose a source: No
  • Disclose a method: No
  • Disclose classified Information:  Without portion marking it can’t be verified, but likely No

 

Citation for memo Politico

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