Wednesday, December 4, 2019

John Solomon's Guide To The OIG FISA Report

John Solomon has written what I'm calling a "guide" to the long awaited FISA report that IG Michael Horowitz will present to the public on December 9, 2019. Solomon himself has titled his blog The 10 most important revelations to expect from the Russia probe FISA report, but if you're looking for actual revelations you'll be disappointed. It's much more an educated what-to-expect "guide" for navigating the 500 page report, because Solomon doesn't claim in all cases that the report will in fact deal with each issue. In other words, Solomon's guide in part gives a measuring rod against which it judge the seriousness of the report. It's an easy enough read and I urge everyone to read it. What I'll do here is present my version of Solomon's ten headings with brief explanations which include my comments:

1. The first thing to look for is the actual scope of the FBI's misconduct--whether by omission or commission. Solomon expects Horowitz to document

"between six and 12 failures, mistakes and acts of misconduct. These will range from the serious offense of altering a government document to failures to provide the courts evidence and information required under the FISA process."

Obviously, the larger the number of serious problems of this sort that are identified, the louder the calls for tougher oversight and reform of FBI procedures will be.

2. A major focus falling under #1 is whether the FBI withheld from the FISC exculpatory evidence that it is required to reveal. Solomon expects the report to focus on the exculpatory statements that George Papadopoulos made to one of the FBI informants who was targeted against Papadopoulos in London--one of the now famous "OCONUS lures." However, Solomon also will be looking for similar issues to be raised regarding Carter Page. In the case of Page, in my opinion, a concerted effort was made in the FISA application to conceal the true nature and extent of Page's past cooperation with the FBI, which would have cast serious doubt on the claim that Page was a Russian agent.

3. A second focus under the heading of "information withheld" has to do with "derogatory information" concerning Christopher Steele--by far the most important source used to justify the FISA order against Carter Page. A reading of the application reveals that the FBI clearly obscured the major point that Steele was working for the Clinton campaign and was known to have provided demonstrably false information. This becomes of increased importance when the renewal applications are examined. We should examine the report carefully in that regard. To give just one example, the demonstrably false story of the Alfa bank server should have been revealed to the FISC as blowing huge holes in Steele's credibility. Will Horowitz go there?

4. The Use of Steele's planted dossier stories in Yahoo News as corroboration for Steele's "official" dossier--what Solomon calls "circular reporting." In other words, had the FBI been honest with the FISC they would have said something like: We know Steele is reliable because he said the same things to Yahoo that he produced as opposition research for the Clinton campaign. I'll also be interested to learn whether this is also the case with the claim that the State Department had identified Page was a foreign agent. I strongly suspect that that was more circular reporting, deriving from Steele. None of this was revealed to the FISC.

5. Did the FBI actually conduct full verification under the Woods Procedures for vetting FISA applications? This issue has to do with Steele's claims that Carter Page met close associates of Vladimir Putin in Russia while Page was associated with the Trump campaign.

6. When did the FBI first begin to doubt the validity of the Steele dossier? In this regard Solomon notes:

Congressional Republicans have demanded the release of a series of email chains they claim might show FBI and DOJ officials had similar heartburn about the reliability of the document.

Will Horowitz go there?

7. Related to #6 is the question: What did the FBI know and when did they learn it--regarding Steele's multiple leaks to media outlets? How did that affect the FBI's views as to Steele's reliability and his asset relationship--which appears to have continued on the sly, using DoJ's Bruce Ohr as a cutout?

8. How will Horowitz deal with the endemic political bias at the FBI? Will he regard that as having an effect on the FISA application process--including the renewal applications?

9. How many, if any, criminal referrals and referrals for disciplinary action will Horowitz make?

10. Lessons Learned.  Under this heading Solomon suggests we look for recommendations for reform of the entire FISA regime:

What will Horowitz recommend as remedies so we don’t have another Russia collusion fiasco in the future? Do FBI and DOJ need new rules and thresholds for opening probes of candidates and campaigns? Does the FBI system for vetting informants need to be fixed? Does the FISA court need a public advocate to protect the liberties of Americans targeted for warrants to create a check and balance on the FBI? Do the Woods procedures for verifying evidence for a FISA warrant need revision or overhaul? These are weighty questions that the FBI, DOJ and Congress almost certainly will face in the coming months.

Read it all.


  1. Thanx to numerous folks (e.g. Hannity), some of these things are quite widely know, at least among patriots.
    This esp. applies, to the fact that the FBI clearly obscured the major point, that Steele was working for the Clinton campaign.
    I, and millions of others, will be aghast, if the IG ducks that evidence.

  2. Typo: "some of these things are quite widely KNOWN".
    The DoJ's obscuring of the major point, on who Steele was working for, has been succinctly described by Dersh as Contempt of Court.

    1. None of those things were left out by mistake.

    2. Yeah, all but the most Lefty of jurors should be able to see that, if Comey etc. are pushed to a trial.

  3. Some of your typos:
    I'll bet you meant "against which TO judge";
    "MISCONDUCT--whether by OMISSION"

  4. Another typo:

    whether by omission or [not "of"] commission

    1. Got it, tx. Live by spellcheck, die by spellcheck. Except I usually don't. So that would be, pride goeth before the fall.

  5. I haven't read Solomon's article yet, but I hope that Horowitz will inform the public whether the FBI know the identities of Steele's sources.

    * Source A

    * Source B

    * Source C

    * Source D

    * Source E

    Any such unidentified source should not have been used as a justification for a FISA warrant.


    I also want to know why the FBI considered Steele to be so reliable. I have read that Steele accused some Russian officials of being involved in corruption in international soccer. However, no Russians were charged in that scandal.

    Beyond Steele's useless accusations in the soccer scandal, what did he ever do to prove his reliability to the FBI?


    I am not aware that Steele provided significant information about the Russian bank. I thought that some computer experts came up with that accusation. (Maybe I am wrong about this point.)


    I hope that Horowitz will explain Steele's accusation that Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague in July 2016.

    Evidently, some improper search of the NSA database found data that a Michael Cohen visited Prague in July 2016, and this NSA info was placed into Steele's Dossier. The intention was that the NSA database would confirm what Steele's Dossier said about Michael Cohen being in Prague in July 2016.

    However, the Michael Cohen in Prague was a different Michael Cohen (not Trump's lawyer).

    What did the FBI know about all that?

    1. Yes. Actually the FISC should know better. If you're considering a FISA application on an USPER you should demand from the government some confirmation that all those supposed sources of Steele are reliable--tangible confirmation. The alternative is absurd. Even supposing that Steele has been trustworthy in the past--doubtful--that's no guarantee in the present case using new sources.

  6. The Horowitz report should not treat the FISA application against Carter Page in isolation from the alleged "Enterprise" in Trump's campaign staff.

    After all, Page was conspiring along with Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos. Did the FBI request or obtain FISA warrants also against the latter three conspirators? If not, then why not?

    Did any FISA applications against these four link the four conspirators with each other? For example, did any FISA application against Page mention, for example, Papadopoulos?

    If not, then why not?


    What was the FBI's theory about the Enterprise? What evidence was there that any of the four conspirators ever interacted with each other?

    If each of the four interacted only independently and directly with Russian Intelligence, then how did the four constitute an enterprise?


    What did George Papadopoulos ever say to Stefan Halper or to Alexander Downer that would cause a reasonable suspicion that he was a secret agent and also that he was one of four members of a treasonous "enterprise" within Trump's campaign staff?

    Did the FBI try to get a FISA warrant against Papapdopoulos? If so, then was it rejected by a FISA judge? If so, then why?

    1. Bingo, Mike! I've long wondered about that "enterprise." I'd very much like to see that opening EC to see exactly what is claimed. If they open an "enterprise" investigation they need to present tangible reason to believe that such an enterprise actually exists. My suspicion as to why an enterprise was alleged in the first place--rather than sticking with separate investigations--has to do with a plan to get a much broader FISA in the future. That plan may have fallen apart as the "four Americans" started dropping off the Trump bandwagon. Pretty hard to have an enterprise within the Trump campaign at that point, which was really only about a month or so after opening CH.

    2. Am I right, to assume that the IG would be denied access to the text of the EC?
      Can we expect, that the IG has scope to probe, not only spying on DJT, but on his competitors for the GOP nod?

    3. Here's the thing about the EC. We're told by the WaPo that that Horowitz made a finding of some sort re the opening of the CH investigation. The only way he can make any finding at all about that is if he's seen the EC--otherwise he has no basis upon which to make any finding. The EC sets out the predication.

  7. We all will know more on December 9.

    In the meantime, however, the search and seizure of Carter Page's communications (and other private belongings) do not seem to be reasonable, in accordance with the US Constitution.

    Perhaps the search and seizure actually did seem to be reasonable to all the loons at the top of DOJ/FBI during 2016. However, now with hindsight in 2019, the justifications should seem preposterous.

    The DOJ/FBI leadership should not be approving and acting on FISA applications that are preposterous.


    We already have seen in the Horowitz report about Hilary Clinton's e-mails that Horowitz accepts preposterous justifications. Unless he finds a document in which a DOJ/FBI official admits intentional wrong-doing explicitly, Horowitz finds that the wrong-doing was done in good faith.


    Horowitz's report should not limit William Barr. No matter what the report says, Barr can declare his own, more rational findings and can initiate prosecutions.

  8. OK, I have not read Solomon's article. Having said that, one person/one entity that sits near the center of the enterprise conspiracy/FISA warrant/Steele dossier/circular reporting is FusionGPS and Glenn Simpson.

    FusionGPS is a known smear shop, was hired for the purpose to infiltrate rumor and innuendo into campaign media reporting, and leveraged relationships into FBI/DOJ/State/CIA and media (he accompanied Steele to most every media interview).

    There can be NO "good faith" explanation for not vetting the FusionGPS reputation and relationships with Clinton/DNC, and etc. The entire "collusion" investigation collapses once the agenda (motive) is understood. Those are the articulable facts the FBI/DOJ failed to ascertain and verify.

    The government in the form the DOJ, and the FBI--the nation's preeminent law enforcement and investigatory agency--was played, was manipulated by two-bit media hacks, for the objective to overturn an election because, incredibly, the top personnel at the country's security services wanted to believe their partisan fantasies over professional judgment and integrity to the public service oath they had sworn.

    I'm fearful the Horowitz report will be a yawn. I hope Durham has some Christmas eve indictments to help the holiday cheer go down...

    1. Christmas Eve indictments would be very welcome. The point you raise illustrates the inherent shortcomings of an OIG investigation in a case of this sort. While we can sit here and say: Of course we know the FBI couldn't have dealt in good faith with people who were working for a smear shop like Fusion GPS, OIG can't actually do much of anything in that regard because Fusion GPS isn't part of DoJ. Technically, therefore, all they really know is what the FBI tells them about vetting assets. OIG ends up doing a sort of audit in that regard and has to leave alone what we all know is the big issue.

    2. Mark, I hear you. Yet, doesn't this take us to the question of OIG's ability to pronounce on predication of the full investigation? Of the enterprise conspiracy counter-intelligence investigation?

      OIG can't address it because they can't interview personnel at Fusion/GPS. They no power to investigate a significant player.

      So any OIG conclusion regarding predication is incomplete because the audit/review/investigation is incomplete, and therefore the OIG should be duty bound to be mute on the question. (Not the conduct, but any conclusion.)

      This is not high school. There's no credit for partial answers for showing your work...

    3. The most OIG can probably say is that the FBI unwisely relied on an asset they thought was reliable but who turned out to be making it all up. No harm, no foul--sorry for the last three years, Mr. President.

      Hopefully Durham will have more to say, and soon.

  9. If indeed, OIG can't say boo about the FBI's dereliction, of obvious duty to perform needed vetting, is that due to a loophole in the FISA law, a weakness in laws about OIGs, or what?

    1. Actually OIG just did a report on FBI vetting of sources that totally slammed them. OIG can recommend anything they want but they have no enforcement powers.

  10. But OIG can't recommend prosecution, for what Dersh calls Contempt of Court?
    (In this case, for falsely claiming to have vetted evidence?)

    1. No. The FISC would have to take that action on its own.

  11. That's brutal.
    If the FISA system is worth preserving at all, it'll stay a kangaroo system, until victims of witch hunts get recourse, against such hatchet-job predicates containing BS "evidence".