Thursday, January 24, 2019

Trisha Anderson: Andy McCabe and Sally Yates Read The FISA Application "Line By Line"

Gregg Jarrett at Fox News has a new article up, just over an hour ago: Testimony in Russia probe shows FBI and Justice Department misconduct in effort to hurt Trump. This appears to be another in a series of leaks of testimony given by FBI and DoJ officials before the House Intelligence Committee, going back to when Republicans were still in control. Jarrett leads with this:

Newly revealed testimony by a former top FBI counterintelligence lawyer shows that former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe examined “line-by-line” the faulty warrant applications to spy on Trump presidential campaign adviser Carter Page.

The former to FBI lawyer in question is Trisha Beth Anderson, an Eric Holder protege. She was working at Holder's firm, Covington & Burling, and was recruited for DoJ. The Covington web page provides this summary of Anderson's stint with the Federal government before returning to Covington:

Ms. Anderson rejoined the firm after over a decade of service in the federal government. She held senior positions at the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury. Most recently she served as Principal Deputy General Counsel at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where she handled complex and sensitive matters relating to national security and cyber intrusions. 
Previous Experience 
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation, Principal Deputy General Counsel
  • U.S. Treasury Department, Assistant General Counsel for Enforcement & Intelligence
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Associate Deputy Attorney General; Attorney-Adviser at the Office of Legal Counsel  

Obviously these were all sensitive positions. Principal Deputy General Counsel at the FBI means she was the principal deputy to James Baker, currently leaking to the NYT and under criminal investigation for other leaks as well. Since she handled "complex and sensitive matters relating to national security and cyber intrusions" she would very likely have been knowledgeable about such "cyber intrusions" as the potential intrusions into Hillary Clinton's illegal home brewed email server as well as the DNC "hack."

A press release dated 9/18/18 provides a somewhat fuller account:

Trisha B. Anderson, an experienced national security and cybersecurity lawyer who has held senior positions at multiple federal agencies, has rejoined Covington as a partner in Washington. Ms. Anderson most recently served as Principal Deputy General Counsel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where she handled complex national security and cyber legal issues. 
Ms. Anderson’s practice will focus on a range of national security and government enforcement matters, including surveillance and law enforcement compliance and litigation, cybersecurity and data privacy, economic sanctions, and CFIUS, with a particular emphasis on clients in the information technology, communications, and financial services industries.  
Ms. Anderson brings more than a decade of high-level government experience. From 2007 to 2014, she held a number of senior positions at the Department of Justice, including Attorney-Adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel and Associate Deputy Attorney General. In 2014, Ms. Anderson moved to the Treasury Department where she served as Assistant General Counsel for Enforcement & Intelligence, overseeing the legal support to the agency’s national security functions. She joined the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel in 2015. Prior to her time in government, Ms. Anderson was an associate at Covington.

So, what did this lawyer with "more than a decade of high-level government experience" have to tell the House about her time in the top echelons of the FBI, during the 2016 Presidential campaign and its aftermath, when so much was happening? It may be helpful to first recall what we discussed in The FBI: Working Hand In Glove With Clinton Operatives, helpfully summarized by Jarrett:

Newly revealed testimony by a former top FBI counterintelligence lawyer shows that former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe examined “line-by-line” the faulty warrant applications to spy on Trump presidential campaign adviser Carter Page. 
Even though the applications to spy on Page were deficient and deceptive, Yates and McCabe affixed their signatures to at least one of the four warrant applications. They then submitted the applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and obtained warrants to wiretap Page, who worked briefly on a foreign policy board advising presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016. 
The bulk of the information contained in those applications was based on an anti-Trump “dossier” that was not verified and was funded by Trump’s opponents – the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and Democrats. 
It’s of critical importance that this vital information was deliberately concealed from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. 
And on top of this, the judges on the court were never advised that the author of the “dossier” – ex-British spy Christopher Steele – had expressed severe bias against Trump and may have had a motive to lie. 
Specifically, the judges were not told that Steele had confided to Justice Department official Bruce Ohr that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.”

With that in mind, here's the portion of Anderson's testimony that was leaked to Jarrett:

“The sensitivity level of this particular FISA resulted in lots of very high level attention both within the FBI and DOJ. The general counsel (Baker) … personally reviewed and made edits to the FISA, for example. The deputy director (McCabe) was involved in reviewing the FISA line-by-line. The Deputy Attorney General (Yates) over on the DOJ side of the street was similarly involved, as I understood, reviewing the FISA application line-by-line.” 
“I would not say that this was a circumstance where there was any deference given to Jim Baker. In other words, when Andy McCabe looked at it, certainly when Sally Yates looked at it, I don’t believe they were simply relying on the judgment of Jim Baker having reviewed the application,” Anderson said. “My understanding and my impression at the time was that they very much gave it their own de novo independent review and that, you know, it was very carefully reviewed by those individuals.”

(Parenthetically, I hope I'm not the only reader who read this and was amused to recall Rod Rosenstein's testimony that he basically just flipped through the application when it was his turn to review it, rather than submitting it to a "line by line" "de novo review" as Yates did. Different personal style of lawyering, or was Rod maybe pulling the Committee's collective leg a bit? Haha! Rosenstein Testifies He Doesn’t Need to Read FISA Applications He Signs)

Anyway, as Principal Deputy to James Baker, Anderson was obviously in a position to know all about the FISA process, specifically with regard to the Carter Page FISA. Unfortunately, these leaks are highly selective, so we have no way of knowing how deeply the House questioners probed. Here are some of the issues that come to my mind.

As we learned from Ohr's testimony, Ohr claims to have gone directly to Andy McCabe with the Steele material--Lisa Page also being present. Ohr claims that from then on he dealt with lower officials at the FBI as well as at DoJ. He was adamant that he warned McCabe and Page that Steele--his good friend--might be a highly biased source. So, when it came time--only about two months later--to write up the FISA application on Carter Page, did McCabe mention this important caveat regarding material that McCabe later testified was "crucial" to obtaining the FISA? Did McCabe mention this caveat to any of these people who worked on the application? Baker, Anderson, Yates? Ohr says he didn't mention any of this to Yates, but did McCabe mention it--and Ohr's role--to Yates? In my considered opinion McCabe or perhaps Comey would have been remiss if they hadn't done so. Moreover, if I were in Ohr's position I would have wanted to be in the right with my superior, Yates. Moreover, how could he know that McCabe or Comey wouldn't mention his name to Yates, like: Hey, Sally, your deputy is turning out to be a great source for us! Sally would not have been happy to have learned about this from the FBI rather than from Ohr. Something doesn't add up here, on way or the other.

Another matter of interest to me is this: Did Ohr and Anderson ever discuss the whole Russia Hoax, in any aspect? We know that Lisa Page, who appears from her texts to have been on good terms with Anderson, had worked for several years with Ohr, and that she attended at least one meeting with Ohr and Steele. We also now know that during the years from 2007 to 2014 when Anderson occupied "a number of senior positions at the Department of Justice" Ohr was also rising into senior positions. And since they both worked in broadly national security areas, it would surprise me if they weren't acquainted. There appears to have been a relatively small group of people "in the know" regarding the Russia Hoax. It seems to me more likely than not that they would have been largely aware of one another's involvement, at least in a general way as persons to be trusted.

All of this also goes to Lisa Page's interesting statement, which I flagged recently. Page appeared to be genuinely puzzled that political appointees at DoJ appeared to know about the ongoing Russia Hoax, despite the fact that to the best of her knowledge they had never been briefed into it by the FBI. As I pointed out, that surely points to a separate line of communication at levels above Page's need to know, which would have been very high:

Page: “I do know that at least John Carlin, for example, who is a political appointee, was kept abreast of the sort of investigative activity that was going on. And the only reason I know this is because when there was conflicts between us and DOJ, John might call over to—John Carlin might call over to Andy McCabe, and sort of make his team’s pitch, and then Andy would, you know, sort of the back-and-forth would go on. So it is clear that John had, was getting some sort of briefing, but he was not, it was, it never occurred by the FBI, which is, in my view, atypical.”

Finally, one other point of interest.

The testimony of another FBI lawyer, Sally Moyer, has also been partially leaked: Investigators had '50/50' chance of securing FISA warrant for Trump aide without dossier: testimony. Take it with a grain of salt. Or compare it to McCabe's testimony that the dossier was "crucial."


  1. I think that Bruce Ohr kept Sally Yates apprised of everything, and that John Carlin was kept informed by Yates. But Ohr did not want to draw attention to his DOJ colleagues, who no doubt kept Loretta Lynch informed as well. Yates is the key figure here, since she was working against Trump in coordination with Lynch (above her) and Carlin, Andrew Weissman and James Comey/Andrew McCabe (below her). Notably, Yates was present at the White House meeting with Obama on January 5, 2017, where Comey was prepped for his next-day schmoozing of Trump. If I remember correctly, according to Susan Rice's email to herself, Yates and Comey stayed after the meeting to convene privately with Obama.

  2. Mike, I'm skeptical re the report of Page being the "subject" of a FISA since 2014. Notice how absurdly thin the "sourcing" for the articles are--the Washington Examiner doesn't even bother sourcing their "report." The truth of the matter, as I set out at some length in The Schiff Memo and the Scandal of FISAGATE, is almost certainly that the known Russian IO's were picked up on routine FISA coverage talking to Carter Page. Page was not the "subject," and even if he had been for a time, which I strongly doubt, that would have been dropped when he became an asset. Moreover, the circumstances of that case actually make it basically irrelevant to the Carter Page FISA we know--which is why the FBI didn't give the FISC the whole story.

  3. Mike, recall also that the Russian IO's were overheard on FISA disparaging Page as an "idiot." And, if we're to believe James Baker--admittedly a stretch--the Alfa Bank hoax came to the FBI courtesy of Michael Sussman, of Perkins Coie.

  4. Mike, re your third comment, those are some tantalizing ideas. Ordinarily, I would say that the FBI suggested the casino gambit to Page as part of the bait, since casinos and banks and money flow are all logically joined. OTOH, the fact of Trump's past venture into the casino business does give one pause, as you suggest.

    I'll get to those articles a bit later today--I have some errands to run. And I'll need to try to learn something about the Roger Stone arrest. I see that they did the usual guns drawn pre-dawn raid against a guy with no criminal past that I'm aware of and who isn't accused of any remotely violent offense. Prosecutorial abuse and prejudicial, IMO, but courts let them get away with that.

    Re the Washington Examiner and Carter Page, yes, try their coverage of Roger Stone's arrest: Romanticizing Roger Stone as a puckish ‘trickster’ was probably a bad idea, huh? One would think from the tone that Stone had been convicted already.

  5. Steve, I agree that some version of what you're suggesting must have been the case. I wish I knew more about how the line of communications between the FBI and DoJ worked. For example, would McCabe at FBI have been in routine contact with Yates, the DAG at the time in question--and who would have been supervising FBI? If so, it might be possible that McCabe would brief Yates and Yates would then brief in those at DoJ deemed to have a need to know--John Carlin and George Toscas, if we're to believe Lisa Page. OTOH, I would think that Comey would want to deal directly with his DoJ supervisor, Yates, and control contact with her by his subordinates. If so, that definitely draws Yates and Comey into the picture--the flow would go first from McCabe to Comey and then to Yates at DoJ. That also fits in with your reminder re Yates and Comey meeting at the WH, including at least once together with Obama. Another issue that has interested me, and for which I don't have a definite answer, is: to what extent were lawyers at the FBI routinely briefed into the details of investigations?

  6. Steve, getting back to your comment, yes, I tend to agree that--his testimony to the contrary--the most likely explanation for some of this is that Ohr DID somehow advise Yates of what was going on. Maybe there was some arrangement that provides for a technical denial, but it's extremely hard to believe that Ohr was acting as an FBI asset as a complete rogue as far as his duties at DoJ were concerned. Extremely difficult to believe for a variety of reasons.

  7. Mike, for some reason I had a problem with your comments. I will paste them in. Even when I recover them, they won't publish normally. My problem, not yours. I did something wrong, but I was sure I clicked "publish."

  8. Mike Sylwester Unsubscribe
    Jan 24, 2019, 11:05 PM (11 hours ago)

    to me

    Mike Sylwester has left a new comment on your post "Trisha Anderson: Andy McCabe and Sally Yates Read ...":

    Investigators had '50/50' chance of securing FISA warrant for Trump aide without dossier: testimony.

    According to an August 2017 article in The Washington Examiner, Carter Page has been the subject of a foreign surveillance warrant since 2014.

    An August 2017 article published by CNN reports:


    Page had been the subject of a secret intelligence surveillance warrant since 2014, earlier than had been previously reported, US officials briefed on the probe told CNN.

    When information emerged last summer suggesting that the Russians were attempting to cultivate Page as a way to gain an entrée into the Trump campaign, the FBI renewed its interest in him. Initially, FBI counterintelligence investigators saw the campaign as possible victims being targeted by Russian intelligence.

    Page denies working with any Russians as part of the Kremlin's election meddling, though he admits interacting with some Russians during the campaign.

    [end quote]

    Surely the 2014 FISA warrant targeted Page because of his interactions with Victor Podobnyy, a Russian Intelligence officer. However, the FBI eventually recruited Page to help entrap Podobnyy. In May 2016 the US Justice Department reported as follows:


    In the summer of 2014, Buryakov met multiple times with a confidential source [Carter Page] working for the FBI and an FBI undercover employee, both of whom purported to be working on a casino [!!!] development project in Russia. During these meetings, Buryakov accepted documents that were purportedly obtained from a U.S. government agency and which supposedly contained information potentially useful to Russia, including information about U.S. sanctions against Russia.

    [end quote]

    I suspect that the still-secret parts of the 2016 FISA warrant against Page must insinuate that Page might still be involved in a project to develop a casino in Russia.


  9. Mike Sylwester has left a new comment on your post "Trisha Anderson: Andy McCabe and Sally Yates Read ...":

    I suggest that you read the US Justice Department's press release, dated May 25, 2016, titled Russian Banker Sentenced in Connection with Conspiracy to Work for Russian Intelligence.

    Evgeny Buryakov was a Russian Intelligence agency working in the USA as an employee of a Russian bank called Vnesheconombank (VEB). He was trying to collect information about the following two subjects:

    1) potential US sanctions against Russian banks

    2) US efforts to develop alternative energy resources

    In order to collect such information, Buryakov met several times in the summer of 2014 with ...


    ... a confidential source [Carter Page] working for the FBI and an FBI undercover employee, both of whom purported to be working on a casino development project in Russia. During these meetings, Buryakov accepted documents that were purportedly obtained from a U.S. government agency and which supposedly contained information potentially useful to Russia, including information about U.S. sanctions against Russia.

    [end quote]

    So, Page purported to be working on a casino development project in Russia.

    * Donald Trump had developed casinos in the USA and had negotiated to build a hotel in Russia.

    * By May 2016, when the Justice Department issued this press release, Page had become an adviser to Donald Trump about Russian issues.

    * Russian Intelligence had tried to use Carter Page to collect information about "potential US sanctions against Russian banks".

    * The FBI was studying communications between Russia's Alfa Bank and Trump Tower.

    Some of this might be addressed in the still-secret parts of the 2016 FISA warrant against Carter Page.


  10. Mike Sylwester has left a new comment on your post "Trisha Anderson: Andy McCabe and Sally Yates Read ...":

    Following up my previous two comments, I wonder if the DOJ/FBI was trying already in the summer of 2014 [fourteen] to cause trouble for Donald Trump. During that time, Carter Page was purporting to promote the construction of a casino in Russia.

    Was Page involved somehow with Trump already in the summer of 2014? If not, then how was Page qualified to promote the construction of a casino in Russia? Why would a Russian Intelligence officer working for a Russian bank in the USA think that Page had any ability to promote such a project?

    If Page was not actually involved with Trump in the summer of 2014, did the FBI help Page purport falsely that he indeed was involved with Trump?

    I think that the Obama Administration was looking for ways to cause trouble for Trump ever since Trump compelled President Obama to release belatedly his long-form birth certificate.


    On a different topic, I recommend that you read an article published on January 21, 2019, written by Elizabeth Vos, titled Death Of Russiagate: Mueller Team Tied To Mifsud’s Network.

    Read also A Conversation With Chris Blackburn On The Contradictions Surrounding Mifsud.

  11. This evidence train is only germane if DOJ (or a separate special council) actually investigates and prosecutes the coup conspirators (who have just launched a new attack in the ongoing campaign to remove Trump by any means necessary). Both sides are leaking like sieves as psyops in order to push public opinion toward their preferred direction. Neither Mueller nor Pelosi can go for the jugular unless or until they can drive Trump's approval rating down below 30%. The coup plotters can only win with smoke and mirrors in the court of public opinion and thereby try to force Trump to resign (as they did with Nixon). The heavy-handed arrest of Stone was a pure Gestapo move deliberately designed to influence and intimidate public opinion. That type of conduct is consistent with an incipient tyranny, and Trump should take it very seriously.

  12. Unknown, re your interesting comments re impeachment, here's a Wikipedia article that may contain relevant data--it has a nice chart: Public image of Bill Clinton.

  13. Mike, I took a look at those articles. By far the most interesting one, from my perspective, was the "Conversation With Chris Blackburn" one. Just to take one point, which the author doesn't specifically address--the fact that a key player such as Mifsud could be disappeared by Deep State actors and kept in cold storage, protected from inquisitive Congressional investigators, should be deeply troubling to anyone who cares about constitutional government.