The Justice Department’s watchdog has identified critical errors in every FBI wiretap application
By Greg Re
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that it’s “time for people to go to jail” as part of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe into FBI misconduct — prompting ex-Trump aide George Papadopoulos to sound a celebratory noteon Twitter.
The comments came as Fox News learned this weekend that Jennifer Boone, a senior FBI official who oversaw the flawed probe into former Trump adviser Carter Page, has received a major promotion to lead a field office — and the bureau won’t say why.
Meadows, during his Sunday interview with Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” also previewed the Trump administration’s soon-to-be-released plans for reopening schools and implementing new economic stimulus measures. More details, Meadows said, would be coming this week.
However, Meadows’ comments on the Durham probe were among his most suggestive yet. They followed Attorney General Bill Barr’s comments to Fox News earlier this year that Durham’s findings have been “very troubling” and that familiar names are currently being probed.
“I think the American people are expecting indictments,” Meadows told anchor Maria Bartiromo. “I expect indictments based on the evidence I’ve seen. Lindsey Graham did a good job in getting that out. We know that they not only knew that there wasn’t a case, but they continued to investigate and spy.”
Internal FBI documents that emerged in April showed that Peter Strzok — the now-disgraced anti-Trump former head of FBI counterintelligence — ordered the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to remain open even after it was slated to be closed due to a lack of so-called “derogatory” information. Strzok pursued an investigation based on the Logan Act, a law never used in a successful prosecution and that was intended to prevent individuals from falsely representing the U.S. government abroad in a pre-telephone era.
“And yes, I use the word spy on Trump campaign officials and actually even doing things when this president was sworn in,” Meadows continued. “And after that and doing in an inappropriate manner, you’re going to see a couple of other documents come out in the coming days that will suggest that not only was the campaign spied on, but the FBI did not act appropriately as they were investigating. It’s all starting to come unraveled. And I tell you, it’s time that people go to jail and people are indicted.”
The Justice Department’s (DOJ’s) watchdog has identified critical errors in every FBI wiretap application that it audited as part of the fallout from the bureau’s heavily flawed investigation into former Trump adviser Carter Page, who was surveilled during the campaign in part because of a largely discredited dossier funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The FBI repeatedly accused Page of being a “foreign agent” in its warrant applications. Page has not been charged with any wrongdoing, and the DOJ has since admitted that its warrant applications lacked probable cause and should not have been sought.
Additionally, an ex-FBI lawyer in that case even falsified a CIA email submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court in order to make Page’s communications with Russians appear nefarious, the DOJ inspector general found. The FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, was allegedly told by the CIA that Page had reported his Russian contacts and was essentially acting as an informant — only for Clinesmith to allegedly omit that exculpatory information in a surveillance warrant application that framed Page’s communications with Russians as a sign that he was a secret foreign agent.
Separately, Fox News has learned that senior FBI official Jennifer Boone, who the IG said was “at Headquarters overseeing” the Page investigation, received a promotion to head the bureau’s Baltimore field office last year. Boone was at the same level as Strzok in the FBI hierarchy.
The IG report indicates that Boone also handled outreach to Bruce Ohr, who was a key contact inside the Justice Department for ex-British spy Christopher Steele — the author of the now-discredited anti-Trump dossier produced by the research firm Fusion GPS as opposition research for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS at the time.
“Boone did not recall who ultimately decided to move forward with [Page FISA] Renewal Application No. 2, and available documents do not indicate,” the IG wrote.
Boone also “told us that [she] did not recall being advised that the information from the [Steele] Primary Sub-source significantly differed from the information in Steele’s reporting,” the IG added.
The FBI declined to comment specifically about Boone’s promotion when reached by Fox News this weekend.
“As I’m sure you know, Director [Christopher] Wray recently sat for an interview with your colleague Bret Baier where he talked about the corrective measures he has instituted in response to the FISA IG Report,” an FBI spokesperson told Fox News. “We won’t have a comment beyond what the director said to Mr. Baier.”
Republicans have complained that Wray hasn’t responded to their requests to interview other key officials who oversaw aspects of the Page probe, including Joe Pietnka — who was scrubbed from the FBI website after Fox News inquired about him. Sources say Pientka received a major promotion that moved him from Virginia to a senior role in the San Francisco field office, and public records reviewed by Fox News confirm that Pientka has moved residences.
On Friday, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee released newly declassified documents that they say “significantly undercut” the “reliability” of the infamous Steele dossier from the Russia probe, as well as the accuracy and reliability of the factual assertions in the FISA warrants against Page.
The first document, which the committee said spanned 57 pages, is a summary of a three-day interview with Steele’s primary sub-source. The document revealed that the dossier was “unsubstantiated and unreliable,” according to sources who reviewed it, and showed that the FBI was on notice of the dossier’s credibility problems, yet continued to seek further FISA warrant renewals for Page.
Moreover, the document demonstrated that the information Steele’s primary sub-source provided him was “second and third-hand information and rumors at best.”
The document also revealed that Steele’s primary sub-source “disagreed with and was surprised by” how information he gave Steele was then conveyed by Steele in the dossier.
The documents were not the first evidence showing the FBI had reason to doubt the Steele dossier. It emerged in April that the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team investigating the Trump 2016 campaign received multiple indications that Steele was part of an elaborate “Russian disinformation campaign,” according to several declassified footnotes from the IG report.
The information flatly contradicted numerous media reports.
The FBI’s legal counsel has described the warrant to surveil Page as “essentially a single source FISA” wholly dependent on the dossier, which also made numerous other unsubstantiated claims about Russian hackers in a nonexistent consulate in Miami, Cohen’s purported trips to Prague, and lurid blackmail tapes. Special Counsel Robert Muller couldn’t find any evidence supporting those allegations.