Oh, the FISA abuse that occurred during the 2016 election hasn’t gone away. Well, it’s a story that shouldn’t go away at least. Let’s do a brief recap. The FBI executed a wide-range surveillance operation into the Trump campaign. On one hand, they had a network of operatives trying to glean information for Trump campaign officials under false pretenses, but don’t call that spying. It was a spying non-spying operation that involved Stefan Halper, a longtime CIA asset, and some woman named Azra Turk, who tried to get information on any Trump-Russia angle from George Papadopoulos. The New York Times reported on this Crossfire Hurricane operation. Papadopoulos reportedly had no qualms with the report, only that he felt Turk was a CIA asset, not FBI (via NYT 5/3/19):
He wasn't a spy.... he was hired by the FBI to secretly engage in conversations under false pretenses and then report back whatever he learned in those conversations.— Larry O'Connor (@LarryOConnor) May 22, 2018
But he wasn't a spy.
The conversation at a London bar in September 2016 took a strange turn when the woman sitting across from George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser, asked a direct question: Was the Trump campaign working with Russia?
The woman had set up the meeting to discuss foreign policy issues. But she was actually a government investigator posing as a research assistant, according to people familiar with the operation. The F.B.I. sent her to London as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to better understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.
The American government’s affiliation with the woman, who said her name was Azra Turk, is one previously unreported detail of an operation that has become a political flash point in the face of accusations by President Trump and his allies that American law enforcement and intelligence officials spied on his campaign to undermine his electoral chances. Last year, he called it Spygate.
The decision to use Ms. Turk in the operation aimed at a presidential campaign official shows the level of alarm inside the F.B.I. during a frantic period when the bureau was trying to determine the scope of Russia’s attempts to disrupt the 2016 election…
Ms. Turk went to London to help oversee the politically sensitive operation, working alongside a longtime informant, the Cambridge professor Stefan A. Halper. The move was a sign that the bureau wanted in place a trained investigator for a layer of oversight, as well as someone who could gather information for or serve as a credible witness in any potential prosecution that emerged from the case.
And how did this come about? Well, the infamous Trump dossier, which was compiled by ex-MI6 spook Christopher Steele. Steele was hired by research firm Fusion GPS and their services were solicited by the Hillary Clinton campaign. The goal was for him to find dirt on Trump from Russia. It was a Clinton-funded piece of political opposition research that was unverified. The FBI appears to have taken no steps to vet the document, which had glaring errors, inaccuracies that could have been corrected by simple Google searches. It was cited as credible evidence and used to secure a FISA spy warrant against Carter Page, a former Trump campaign official. And now we know that DOJ officials either omitted or altered portions of the FISA application process with this warrant. It was a systemic failure from management on down that was noted brutally by Michael Horowitz, the DOJ Inspector General. Someone needs to be fired—that was made clear by Horowitz. And now, The New York Times might have identified the agent at the center of the FISA fiasco under Obama (via Daily Caller):
An FBI agent faulted for some of the most significant problems laid out in the Justice Department’s inspector general report on FISA abuse against a Trump campaign associate has been identified.
The New York Times, citing people familiar with the FBI’s Russia probe, identified Stephen A. Somma, a counterintelligence investigator who works out of the bureau’s New York field office, as “Case Agent 1” from the inspector general’s (IG) report.
The IG blasted the FBI for its handling of information used to obtain four surveillance orders against Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide.
“Case Agent 1” is singled in the report as being “primarily responsible for some of the most significant errors and omissions in the FISA applications.”
Yes, Bernie Sanders is going full speed toward securing the Democratic nomination, the 2020 primary season is going full bore, and coronavirus is spreading with impunity. There is a lot going on, but the FISA abuses, the deep state antics should always be in the back of our minds. We have a name now. Drip. Drip. Drip. Let’s see what happens.