Speaking on the Hugh Hewitt radio program Monday morning, National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy explained why the Grassley-Graham memo released last week detailing how the Obama administration FBI obtained a FISA court warrant to surveil former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, is so “shocking.”
“It shows that they did, the FBI and the Justice Department, did use an unverified, what’s known as the Steele dossier, this set of unverified hearsay claims about Trump that are, you know, completely uncorroborated, and they did not reveal to the FISA Court the fact that this screed that they put in front of the court was actually a Clinton campaign opposition research project,” McCarthy said.
The pressing issue with the Steele dossier, according to McCarthy, is that it contained information supplied from unknown Russian individuals. This information was not verified by the FBI. It was salacious, and the alleged claims made within about things Donald Trump said or did involving the Russians amount to little more than gossip. Yet the Grassley-Graham memo confirms the dossier was used to establish the probable cause factual basis to obtain a FISA court warrant to surveil Carter Page.
“Generally speaking, a court does not care what the credibility of the investigating agent who amasses the informant information is. What they care about is, is there a basis in the warrant application to believe the informants who bring you the factual information? And I simply do not see it in the dossier,” McCarthy said. “And for that reason, then you have to look at, well, why did they bring that and what is the motivation of the people who amassed this information? And if log on top of that the failure to bring to the Court’s attention that this was a campaign product is just, it’s inexplicable to me.”
Now, LevinTV host Mark Levin has argued for months that the motivation behind the FBI and DOJ’s malfeasant surveillance operations was to gather information on the Donald Trump campaign and leak that information to influence the outcome of the election. Failing that, Obama administration holdovers leaked information gained during this surveillance to undermine the Trump administration and reverse-engineer a crime.
Some have responded to this argument by pointing out that at the time the FISA warrant was sought to surveil Carter Page, Page had left the Trump campaign. How, then, could it be possible that communications picked up from Page would contain information from the people involved in the Trump campaign?
But as McCarthy explained to Hewitt, the FBI surveillance would’ve picked up Carter Page’s communications going backwards as well as forwards.
Hewitt: So the most nefarious reading, I’m not persuade of this, yet, but I know what the most nefarious reading is, is that Team Obama, post-shocking election, orchestrated FISA warrants to be renewed in order to keep, they got the one on Page before the election, but to keep them going to get as much info on Trump as possible to delegitimize him. Do you think there’s anything there, Andrew McCarthy?
McCarthy: I do, Hugh, and I think there’s one other thing about that that really ought to be stressed, and that is once you’re up on the guy’s phone or his communication devices, his, you know, emails, text accounts and the like, you not only get the forward-going communications, you get whatever stored communications are on his system.
Hewitt: Oh, I did not know that.
McCarthy: When they got up…
Hewitt: Oh, my gosh.
McCarthy: Yeah, so what, so when they get up on the guy’s phone in the first warrant, it’s not just that you get Carter Page going forward. You get, and what I think they wanted, which was they were hoping to get a motherlode of communications involving Page and Trump campaign people. And I think what has yet to emerge from all this is that that was what they were, that was the goal. And I think it turned out to be a dry hole. (Emphasis added.)
So it is entirely reasonable to ask the question: Did the Obama administration weaponize the FISA court using this Clinton campaign/Russian-manufactured dossier to spy on Trump campaign communications during the election? Was the information gained by spying on Carter Page leaked to the media to undermine President Trump?
Every American should be concerned with the behavior of the FBI. Every American should demand the release of the FISA warrant application. The FBI needs to be fully transparent with the American people and with congressional investigators to ensure the integrity of our federal law enforcement was not compromised for political purposes.
You can listen to the full interview with Andrew C. McCarthy over at Hugh Hewitt’s website.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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