Justice inspector general nearing close of FBI investigation

  • 14 May 2019
  • NormanL

The Justice Department's inspector general is looking into the FBI's surveillance of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, and the infamous Steele dossier that eventuall helped launch the Mueller investigation. From the Wall Street Journal:

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s team has been asking why the FBI continued to cite Mr. Steele as a credible source in the renewal applications, the people said. In particular, they asked about a news report cited extensively in the applications that appeared to bolster Mr. Steele’s credibility. The report said U.S. intelligence officials were investigating allegations similar to those Mr. Steele had raised.

In the last application, the FBI said it didn’t believe that Mr. Steele directly provided the information in the Yahoo News article, even though Mr. Steele had admitted in U.K. proceedings in spring 2017 that he had briefed the reporter.

Investigators have also asked about an internal FBI evaluation of Mr. Steele’s credibility that found his reporting had been “minimally corroborated,” even as it also said he had provided information “of value” to the U.S. intelligence community. The evaluation was reflected in a “human source validation report” written by a unit of the FBI after the bureau cut off its relationship with Mr. Steele in October 2016. It did so because of his disclosures to the media about his work for the FBI.

In the last renewal application, dated June 2017, the FBI continued to state that it believed Mr. Steele’s information “credible,” given that his “previous reporting” had been “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings.”

The use of Mr. Steele’s information as part of a secret surveillance warrant was among the most controversial actions taken by the FBI during the 2016 campaign. It was the subject of dueling partisan memos by members of the House Intelligence Committee last year—with Republicans alleging that the electronic eavesdropping on Mr. Page was improper, and Democrats saying the surveillance was based on real concerns and allowed investigators to collect “valuable intelligence,” the details of which are redacted. Renewals are often based on whether the earlier surveillance was productive.

Inspectors general are supposed to have wide discretion when investigating their agencies. The Justice inspector general, Michael Horowitz, has previously shown he is both stubbornly ndependent, and determined to find answers. While we cannot speculate on what the IG will discover, we are certain that when the report is made public, it will provide a thorough and, if Horowitz's past work is any indication, scathing analysis of what happened inside the FBI.