Q: So, Joe, news that didn't really get super noticed because of the cornonavirus--but really no news other than the coronavirus *is* getting noticed--the President fired Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson on Friday. [Trump] put [Atkinson] on--[Atkinson] will leave his job technically in thirty days but he was placed on administrative leave effective *immediately*--why now?
diGenova: It was time. The evidence has been gathered against Michael Atkinson, and here it is. Michael Atkinson was fired, not just because of the way he corruptly influenced the Office of the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community in his handling of the whistleblower, Eric Ciaramella--who was *not* a whistleblower, did not have an intel matter to complain about, and who was actually allowed to give hearsay evidence because of *Michael Atkinson's changing of the rules.* Remember, Michael Atkinson testified before the Schiff Impeachment Committee. [Atkinson's] transcript of his testimony has never been released. Ask yourself: Why? But here's the most important part of Michael Atkinson besides that. You will recall that this week the Inspector General issued a scathing report. He stopped his full review of FISA applications to issue an interim report where he found almost one hundred percent of all cases the [Federal] Bureau [of Investigation] had done did not have what's called a "Woods" file. Inside the Department of Justice there's supposed be what's called an "Accuracy Review" for all of those applications. Guess who was leading up those reviews in 30 and [sic] 42 of those cases? Michael Atkinson! And in the cases in which he reviewed, 39 of 42 failed all tests. That was a 93% failure rating for Michael Atkinson! Remember that the Office of Legal Counsel [DoJ office that assists the AG in advising the President] also *excoriated* him--Michael Atkinson--for his legal analysis on why he was required to take Eric Ciaramella's complaint to the Hill. In short, Michael Atkinson was an incompetent, he was politically corrupt, he was part of the coup d'etat, and he should have been fired. And then last night he issues a smarmy, preening, sanctimonious statement about how grand it was to be an Inspector General and everybody needs to support [Inspectors General]. And by the way--Horowitz, Michael Horowitz [DoJ Inspector General], issued a statement *praising* Mr. Atkinson after [Horowitz] had *crushed* Mr. Atkinson earlier in the week. Go figure!
Q: OK, interesting, so let me just double back on a point you just made. Which is: The FISA applications--they are supposed to be reviewed by Atkinson, the *Intelligence Community* Inspector General, not the DoJ IG?
I like that question, because it shows the host really wants to understand this process. Of course, as diGenova explains, Inspectors General have nothing to do with the approval or review process for FISA applications. The DoJ's IG conducts audits or inspections in retrospect.
diGenova: No, no, no! He did that job when he was Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General [in DoJ's National Security Division--got all that?] under Mary McCord, and he did it while he was *counsel* for the Division, for Accuracy Reviews, for the FISA Court. He was a total failure.
Q: OK, I'm following with you now. And then, on the issue of it not being appropriate to file a whistleblower complaint for a variety of reasons--you mentioned Eric Ciaramella not being a direct witness, those rules were changed by Atkinson--and then, early on, we know--and Joe we've talked about this regularly--the President doesn't even fall under the definition of a *member* of the Intelligence Community for purposes of the Inspector General.
diGenova: That is correct. The President is not someone covered by the Intelligence Community Act--*and* this was not a matter involving intelligence. This was a foreign policy political matter--it had *nothing to do* with the jurisdiction of the Intelligence Community IG, Michael Atkinson. This was a setup. This was *designed*, purposely. And remember--Atkinson worked for Mary McCord, who was one of the people who went to work for Schiff--through lawfare at the Brookings Institution--to do this. They're very old friends, they've worked together before. Mr. Atkinson was part of the plot.
Q: Joe, you mentioned how [Atkinson's] testimony is the only testimony that has not been released in the impeachment inquiry. Does the President have the ability and the power to release that testimony?
diGenova: No. That testimony belongs to the House Intelligence Committee and the generic Impeachment Panel that they set up, and Schiff has refused to release it. And apparently, some of the members, apparently all of the Republican members have *never seen* the transcript. So this is, this really dynamite stuff--I'd like to see what's in there, but that's an afterthought because I'm sure he did not commit perjury. He's probably slick enough to realize that he can't lie under oath--even to a friendly committee--so I'm sure there's some devastating stuff in there. But believe me--the President didn't need to see that to fire [Atkinson], but of course all of us would like to see it, and if the Republicans take over the Committee after the next election they'll be able to release it.
Q: Let me go back to the issue of the DoJ IG that you mentioned, finding *so many*--one hundred percent of the FISA applications that he reviewed had flaws in them, mistakes, problems, before the court, which is a huge problem. Now, we were told by the New York Times when that report came out last week that this somehow *mitigates* the political consequences for the FBI, because it suggests that there was no *targeting* of Carter Page but instead that *everybody* has been subject to these types of errors, so therefore President Trump wasn't uniquely targeted. And to that, you say?
Joe's answer here is very important--it goes to an aspect of this report from Horowitz that really amazed me. You'll see reference something like 42 FISA applications that were reviewed. There problems with essentially all of them--and big problems--but that isn't the fact that suggests the real problem. Here's what stunned me. The accuracy reviews that Horowitz was reviewing were all on FISA's of US persons--USPERs. The 42 that were reviewed were picked out of a pool of 700 FISA applications on USPERs from, I believe, 2014 up to pretty much the present.
While I'm not in a position to say how many such FISAs we should expect the FBI to obtain on USPERs over any given period of years, 700 FISAs on USPERs over that period seems to me to be an outrageously large number. Contrary to anything you've probably heard, a FISA on an USPER is not easy to get. When I heard that number my reaction was--Wow! Could they have had FISAs on so many USPERs in counterterrorism cases? I thought that had to be it because there is no possible way that they could be getting so many FISAs on USPERs in counterintelligence cases. From my experience that should be wildly impossible, even with some of the Patriot Act expansions. But I was still amazed--who could these large numbers of USPERs be who were believed to be engaged in foreign intelligence operations? Now, read what diGenova has to say about all that, keeping in mind that the really important number is -- 700:
diGenova: BS! First of all, the New York Times does not know that. They were guessing. This is where the New York Times has ended up--they're crazy. And second of all--*very* interesting--the FISA Court, after Michael Horowitz issued this scathing interim report, the FISA Court said to the FBI: I wanna know the names of *every target* in those items that Mr. Horowitz identified. Who were the people you were targeting? And you know why the Court did that? Because the Court suspects that they're all political figures, or people *connected* to political figures, and that the FISAs were done for the purpose of targeting so that they could get political information, unmask the people, and then leak the information. This is a fascinating development that has gone unreported. It has been reported that the Court has *demanded* from the FBI the names of all the targets on the FISA applications that Horowitz found wanting. Why did the Court do that? Because the Court suspects that once it sees the names of the people who were being surveilled it will be able to conclude that they were all political targets, which we all know has been going on since almost the beginning of the Obama administration.
With that number of 700 firmly in mind, does that give you some idea of the enormity of what we may be looking at? This is why diGenova said on the Howie Carr show that "the FBI as an agency is in freefall. It's not your mother's FBI." (It's well worth listening to that whole podcast, which starts around the 18 minute mark here.)
Q: Wow! That would be *huge!* Joe, when it comes to all these people we're hearing about--Eric Ciaramella, and Atkinson, and all these people being fired and their names being floated--if the Republicans take over the House are we gonna start to see some action on these people? Is that what's gonna happen, or is it gonna be disappointment as usual?
diGenova: Oh, I think you'll see lots of action, but I think something that's even more interesting than that, Mary, is that, last week, while all this is going on--and this all got lost, understandably, because of coronavirus--the Durham investigation, it is now confirmed, is targeting John Brennan. Brennan is, in fact, the target of the Durham investigation. A number of people from the Intelligence Community who were interviewed or went before the Grand Jury with Durham have told associates that all of the questions were about Brennan--What he was doing, What was the basis for what he was doing?--and they are delving *deeply* into the Intelligence Assessment that was done and ordered by President Obama, which was a fake from the beginning. This is Brennan time! This is all about Brennan! So, You're question is right on the money, and that targeting of the people who were responsible for everything that's gone on for almost six years--in fact it's *longer* than six years--Durham is now targeting Brennan.
And now you know why Barr speaks of the investigation as a "sprawling" one.