The Russia Hoax was at first a criminal fraud designed to swing the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton, and then became ab attempted coup after the election, with acts taken both to both divert from Hillary Clinton’s attempted coup and to destroy the administration of Donald Trump. It is hard to imagine a more direct attack on our nation in violation of the Constitution and the laws of this nation — an attack carried out by the Clinton campaign, fully supported by the DOJ, FBI, and others.
The people involved in this should be facing not merely years in prison for civil rights violations (virtually everything about this hoax was a 4th Amendment violation), but capital charges for treason. The damage the perpatrators have done to this nation is incalculable. And yet, a simple shurg of our shoulders and a failure to hold any of these people liable for their criminal acts will be even worse.
And yet that is what we get with the Durham Report (see here). It amounts to a replay of Comey’s infamous 2016 press conference, stating that Hillary Clinton had committed federal crimes but they shouldn’t be prosecuted. (And as becomes obvious from this report, that act set the stage for all that followed.) Moreover, Durham does not even address Comey’s significant role in furthering the attempted coup with his announcement that Trump was personally under investigation for colluding with Russia.
Here is Durham’s maddening executive summary.
Executive Summary [Footnotes Omitted; Emphasis Added]
The public record contains a substantial body of information relating to former President Trump’s and the Trump Organization’s relationships with Russian businesses, Russian business people, and Russian officials, as well as separate evidence of Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. These and related subjects are well-documented in the careful examinations undertaken by (i) the Department’s Office ofthe Inspector General of issues related to the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation and its use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) authorities, 17 (ii) former FBI Director Robert Mueller as detailed in his report entitled “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election,” issued in March 2019, 18 and (iii) the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence entitled, “Russian Active Measures Campaigns and Interference in the 2016 US. Election. ” 19 The scope of these earlier inquiries, the amount of important information gathered, and the contributions they have made to our understanding of Russian election interference efforts are a tribute to the diligent work and dedication ofthose charged with the responsibility of conducting them. Our review and investigation, in turn has focused on separate but related questions, including the following:
- Was there adequate predication for the FBI to open the Crossfire Hurricane investigation from its inception on July 31, 2016 as a full counterintelligence and Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”) investigation given the requirements of The Attorney General’s Guidelines for FBI Domestic Operations and FBI policies relating to the use of the least intrusive investigative tools necessary?
- Was the opening of Crossfire Hurricane as a full investigation on July 31, 2016 consistent with how the FBI handled other intelligence it had received prior to July 31, 2016 concerning attempts by foreign interests to influence the Clinton and other campaigns?
- Similarly, did the FBI properly consider other highly significant intelligence it received at virtually the same time as that used to predicate Crossfire Hurricane, but which related not to the Trump campaign, but rather to a purported Clinton campaign plan “to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services,” which might have shed light on some of the Russia information the FBI was receiving from third parties, including the Steele Dossier, the Alfa Bank allegations and confidential human source (“CHS”) reporting? If not, were any provable federal crimes committed in failing to do so?
- Was there evidence that the actions of any FBI personnel or third parties relating to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation violated any federal criminal statutes, including the prohibition against making false statements to federal officials? If so, was that evidence sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?
- Was there evidence that the actions of the FBI or Department personnei in providing false or incomplete information to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (“FISC”) violated any federal criminal statutes? If so, was there evidence sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?
Our findings and conclusions regarding these and related questions are sobering.
State of Intelligence Community Information Regarding Trump and Russia Prior to the Opening of Crossfire Hurricane
As set forth in greater detail in Section IV.A.3 .b, before the initial receipt by FBI Headquarters of information from Australia on July 28, 2016 concerning comments reportedly made in a tavern on May 6, 2016 by George Papadopoulos, an unpaid foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, the government possessed no verified intelligence reflecting that Trump or the Trump campaign was involved in a conspiracy or collaborative relationship with officials of the Russian government. 21 Indeed, based on the evidence gathered in the multiple exhaustive and costly federal investigations of these matters, including the instant investigation, neither U.S. law enforcement nor the Intelligence Community appears to have possessed any actual evidence of collusion in their holdings at the commencement of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
The Opening of Crossfire Hurricane
As set forth in greater detail in Section IV, the record in this matter reflects that upon receipt of unevaluated intelligence information from Australia, the FBI swiftly opened the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. In particular, at the direction of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Deputy Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Peter Strzok opened Crossfire Hurricane immediately. Strzok, at a minimum, had pronounced hostile feelings toward Trump. The matter was opened as a full investigation without ever having spoken to the persons who provided the information. Further, the FBI did so without (i) any significant review
of its own intelligence databases, (ii) collection and examination of any relevant intelligence from other U.S. intelligence entities, (iii) interviews of witnesses essential to understand the raw information it had received or (iv) using any of the standard analytical tools typically employed by the FBI in evaluating raw intelligence. Had it done so, again as set out in Sections IV.A.3.b and c, the FBI would have learned that their own experienced Russia analysts had no information about Trump being involved with Russian leadership officials, nor were others in sensitive positions at the CIA, the NSA, and the Department of State aware of such evidence concerning the subject. In addition, FBI records prepared by Strzok in February and March 2017 show that
at the time of the opening of Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI had no information in its holdings indicating that at any time during the campaign anyone in the Trump campaign had been in contact with any Russian intelligence officials.
The speed and manner in which the FBI opened and investigated Crossfire Hurricane during the presidential election season based on raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence also reflected a noticeable departure from how it approached prior matters involving possible attempted foreign election interference plans aimed at the Clinton campaign. As described in Section IV.B, in the eighteen months leading up to the 2016 election, the FBI was required to deal with a number of proposed investigations that had the potential of affecting the election. In each of those instances, the FBI moved with considerable caution. In one such matter discussed in Section IV.B.l, FBI Headquarters and Department officials required defensive briefings to be provided to Clinton and other officials or candidates who appeared to be the targets of foreign interference. In another, the FBI elected to end an investigation after one of its longtime and valuable CHSs went beyond what was authorized and made an improper and possibly illegal financial contribution to the Clinton campaign on behalf of a foreign entity as a precursor to a much larger donation being contemplated. And in a third, the Clinton Foundation matter, both senior FBI and Department officials placed restrictions on how those matters were to be handled such that essentially no investigative activities occurred for months leading up to the election.
These examples are also markedly different from the FBI’ s actions with respect to other highly significant intelligence it received from a trusted foreign source pointing to a Clinton campaign plan to vilify Trump by tying him to Vladimir Putin so as to divert attention from her own concerns relating to her use of a private email server. Unlike the FBI’s opening of a full investigation of unknown members of the Trump campaign based on raw, uncorroborated information, in this separate matter involving a purported Clinton campaign plan, the FBI never opened any type of inquiry, issued any taskings, employed any analytical personnel, or produced any analytical products in connection with the information. This lack of action was despite the fact that the significance of the Clinton plan intelligence was such as to have prompted the Director of the CIA to brief the President, Vice President, Attorney General, Director of the FBI, and other senior government officials about its content within days of its receipt. It was also of enough importance for the CIA to send a formal written referral memorandum to Director Corney and the Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, Peter Strzok, for their consideration and action. The investigative referral provided examples of information the Crossfire Hurricane fusion cell had “gleaned to date.
The Crossfire Hurricane Investigation
Within days after opening Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI opened full investigations on four members of the Trump campaign team: George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn. No defensive briefing was provided to Trump or anyone in the campaign concerning the information received from Australia that suggested there might be some type of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, either prior to or after these investigations were opened. Instead, the FBI began working on requests for the use of FISA authorities against Page and Papadopoulos. The effort as related to Papadopoulos proved unsuccessful. Similarly, the initial effort directed at Page was unsuccessful until the Crossfire Hurricane investigators first obtained what were designated as “Company Intelligence Reports” generated by Christopher Steele. As set forth in Sections IV.D. l .b.ii and iii and in brief below, the Steele Reports were first provided to the FBI in early July 2016 but, for unexplained reasons, only made their way to the Crossfire Hurricane investigators in mid-September. The reports were ostensibly assembled based on information provided to Steele and his company by a “primary sub source,” who the FBI eventually determined in December 2016 was Igor Danchenko.
Our investigation determined that the Crossfire Hurricane investigators did not and could not corroborate any of the substantive allegations contained in the Steele reporting. Nor was Steele able to produce corroboration for any of the reported allegations, even after being offered $1 million or more by the FBI for such corroboration. Further, when interviewed by the FBI in January 2017, Danchenko also was unable to corroborate any of the substantive allegations in the Reports. Rather, Danchenko characterized the information he provided to Steele as “rumor and speculation” and the product of casual conversation.
Section IV.D. l .h describes other efforts undertaken by the Crossfire Hurricane investigators working on the Page FISA application. Those efforts included having CHSs record conversations with Page, Papadopoulos and a senior Trump foreign policy advisor. The FBI’s own records and the recordings establish that Page made multiple exculpatory statements to the individual identified as CHS-I, but the Crossfire Hurricane investigators failed to make that information known to the Department attorneys or to the FISC. Page also made explicit
statements refuting allegations contained in the Steele reporting about his lack of any relationship with Paul Manafort, but the FBI failed to follow logical investigative leads related to those statements and to report to Department lawyers what they found. Similarly, multiple recordings of Papadopoulos were made by CHS-1 and a second CHS, in which Papadopoulos also made multiple exculpatory statements that were not brought to the attention of the Department lawyers or the FISC.
Furthermore, our investigation resulted in the prosecution and conviction of an FBI OGC attorney for intentionally falsifying a document that was material to the FISC’s consideration of one of the Page FISA applications. [This “prosecution” was so minimal that it did not amount to even a slap on the wrist.]
The Steele Dossier
In the spring of 2016, Perkins Coie, a U.S.-based international law firm, acting as counsel to the Clinton campaign, retained Fusion GPS, a U.S.-based investigative firm, to conduct opposition research on Trump and his associates. In mid-May 2016, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS met with Steele in the United Kingdom and subsequently retained Steele and his firm, Orbis Business Intelligence (“Orbis”), to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia. Steele described himself as a former intelligence official for the British government, and was also at the time an FBI CHS. Beginning in July 2016 and continuing through December 2016, the FBI received a series of reports from Steele and Orbis that contained derogatory information about Trump concerning Trump’s purported ties to Russia. As discussed in Section IV.D.l.b.ii, Steele provided the first of his reports to his FBI handler on July 5th. These reports were colloquially referred to as the “Steele Dossier”. or “Steele Reports.”
As noted, it was not until mid-September that the Crossfire Hurricane investigators received several of the Steele Reports. Within days of their receipt, the unvetted and unverified Steele Reports were used to support probable cause in the FBI’s FISA applications targeting Page, a U.S. citizen who, for a period of time, had been an advisor to Trump. As discussed later in the report, this was done at a time when the FBI knew that the same
information Steele had provided to the FBI had also been fed to the media and others in Washington, D.C.
In particular, one allegation contained in an undated Steele Report, identified as 2016/095, described a “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation” between Trump, his campaign, and senior Russian officials. This allegation would ultimately underpin the four FISA applications targeting Page. Specifically, the allegation stated:
Speaking in confidence to a compatriot in late July 2016, Source E, an ethnic Russian close associate ofRepublican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP, admitted that there was a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between them and the Russian leadership. This was managed on the TRUMP side by the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Paul MANAFORT, who was using foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE, and others as intermediaries. The two sides had a mutual interest in defeating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, whom President PUTIN apparently both hated and feared.
Igor Danchenko – Steele’s Primary Sub-Source
As noted, the FBI attempted, over time, to investigate and analyze the Steele Reports but ultimately was not able to confirm or corroborate any of the substantive allegations contained in those reports. In the context of these efforts, and as discussed in Sections IV.D. l .b.ix and x, the FBI learned that Steele relied primarily on a U.S.-based Russian national, Igor Danchenko, to collect information that ultimately formed the core allegations found in the reports. Specifically, our investigation discovered that Danchenko himself had told another person that he (Danchenko) was responsible for 80% of the “intel” and 50% of the analysis contained in the Steele Dossier.
In December 2016, the FBI identified Danchenko as Steele’s primary sub-source. Danchenko agreed to meet with the FBI and, under the protection of an immunity letter, he and his attorney met with the Crossfire Hurricane investigators on January 24, 25, and 26, 2017.
Thereafter, from January 2017 through October 2020, and as part of its efforts to determine the truth or falsity of specific information in the Steele Reports, the FBI conducted multiple interviews of Danchenko regarding, among other things, the information he provided to Steele. As discussed in Section IV.D.1.b.ix, during these interviews, Danchenko was unable to provide any corroborating evidence to support the Steele allegations, and further, described his interactions with his sub-sources as “rumor and speculation” and conversations of a casual nature. Significant parts of what Danchenko told the FBI were inconsistent with what Steele told the FBI during his prior interviews in October 2016 and September 2017. At no time, however, was the FISC informed of these inconsistencies. Moreover, notwithstanding the repeated assertions in the Page FISA applications that Steele’s primary sub-source was based in Russia, Danchenko for many years had lived in the Washington, D.C. area. After learning that Danchenko continued to live in the Washington area and had not left except for domestic and foreign travel, the FBI never corrected this assertion in the three subsequent Page FISA renewal applications. Rather, beginning in March 2017, the FBI engaged Danchenko as a CHS and began making regular financial payments to him for information – none of which corroborated Steele’s reporting.
The Unresolved Prior FBI Counterintelligence Investigation of Danchenko
Importantly, and as discussed in Section IV.D.l.c, the FBI knew in January 2017 that Danchenko had been the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011. In late 2008, while Danchenko was employed by the Brookings Institution, he engaged two fellow employees about whether one of the employees might be willing or able in the future to provide classified infonnation in exchange for money. According to one employee, Danchenko believed that he (the employee) might be following a mentor into the incoming Obama
administration and have access to classified information. During this exchange, Danchenko informed the employee that he had access to people who were willing to pay for classified information. The concerned employee passed this information to a U.S. government contact, and the information was subsequently passed to the FBI. Based on this information, in 2009 the FBI opened a preliminary investigation into Danchenko. The FBI converted its investigation into a full investigation after learning that Danchenko (i) had been identified as an associate of two FBI counterintelligence subjects and (ii) had previous contact with the Russian Embassy and known Russian intelligence officers. Also, as discussed in Section IV.D. l .c, at that earlier time, Agents had interviewed several former colleagues of Danchenko who raised concerns about Danchenko’s potential involvement with Russian intelligence. For example, one such colleague, who had interned at a U.S. intelligence agency, informed the Office that Danchenko frequently inquired about that person’s knowledge of a specific Russian military matter. Meanwhile in July 2010, the FBI initiated a request to use FISA authorities against Danchenko, which was subsequently routed to Department attorneys in August 2010. However, the investigation into Danchenko was closed in March 2011 after the FBI incorrectly concluded that Danchenko had left the country and returned to Russia.
Our review found no indication that the Crossfire Hurricane investigators ever attempted to resolve the prior Danchenko espionage matter before opening him as a paid CHS. Moreover, our investigation found no indication that the Crossfire Hurricane investigators disclosed the existence of Danchenko’s unresolved counterintelligence investigation to the Department attorneys who were responsible for drafting the FISA renewal applications targeting Carter Page. As a result, the FISC was never advised of information that very well may have affected the FISC’s view of Steele’s primary sub-source’s (and Steele’s) reliability and trustworthiness.
Equally important is the fact that in not resolving Danchenko’s status vis-a-vis the Russian intelligence services, it appears the FBI never gave appropriate consideration to the possibility that the intelligence Danchenko was providing to Steele – which, again, according to Danchenko himself, made up a significant majority of the information in the Steele Dossier reports – was, in whole or in part, Russian disinformation.
Danchenko’s Relationship with Charles Dolan
During the relevant time period, Danchenko maintained a relationship with Charles Dolan, a Virginia-based public relations professional who had previously held multiple positions and roles in the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”) and the Democratic Party. In his role as a public relations professional, Dolan focused much of his career interacting with Eurasian clients, with a particular focus on Russia. As described in Section IV.D. l.d.ii, Dolan previously conducted business with the Russian Federation and maintained relationships with several key Russian government officials, including Dimitry Peskov, the powerful Press Secretary of the Russian Presidential Administration. A number of these Russian government officials with whom Dolan maintained a relationship – and was in contact with at the time Danchenko was collecting information for Steele – would later appear in the Dossier.
In the summer and fall of 2016, at the time Danchenko was collecting information for Steele, Dolan traveled to Moscow, as did Danchenko, in connection with a business conference. As discussed in Section IV.D. l .d.iii, the business conference was held at the Ritz Carlton Moscow, which, according to the Steele Reports, was allegedly the site of salacious sexual conduct on the part of Trump. Danchenko would later inform the FBI that he learned of these allegations through Ritz Carlton staff members. Our investigation, however, revealed that it was Dolan, not Danchenko, who actually interacted with the hotel staff identified in the Steele Reports, so between the two, Dolan appears the more likely source of the allegations.
As discussed in Section IV.D. l .d.vi, our investigation also uncovered that Dolan was the definitive source for at least one allegation in the Steele Reports. This allegation, contained in Steele Report 2016/105, concerned the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Paul Manafort from the Trump campaign. When interviewed by the Office, Dolan admitted that he fabricated the allegation about Manafort that appeared in the Steele Report.
Our investigation also revealed that, in some instances, Dolan independently received other information strikingly similar to allegations that would later appear in the Steele Reports. Nevertheless, when interviewed by the FBI, Danchenko denied that Dolan was a source for any information in the Steele Reports.
Furthermore, as discussed in Section IV.D. l .d.iii, during the relevant time period, Dolan maintained a business relationship with Olga Galkina, a childhood friend of Danchenko, who, according to Danchenko, was a key source for many of the allegations contained in the Steele Reports. In fact, when Galkina was interviewed by the FBI in August 2017, she admitted to providing Dolan with information that would later appear in the Steele Reports.
The FBI’s Failure to Interview Charles Dolan
Our investigation revealed that the Crossfire Hurricane investigators were aware of Dolan and his connections to Danchenko and the Steele Reports. In fact, as discussed in Section IV.D.l.b.v, in early October 2016, Steele informed the FBI that Dolan was a person who might have relevant information about Trump. The FBI interviewed hundreds of individuals through the course of the Crossfire Hurricane and later investigations, and yet it did not interview Dolan as a possible source of information about Trump. Our investigators interviewed Dolan on several occasions, as well as the two other persons mentioned by Steele. Dolan initially denied being a source of information for the Steele Reports. When, however, he was shown a particular Steele Report relating to Paul Manafort and his resignation as Trump’s campaign manager, along with related emails between himself and Danchenko in August 2016, he acknowledged that the reporting mirrored the information he had provided to Danchenko. Dolan acknowledged to the Office that he fabricated this information. Although both Steele and Olga Galkina suggested to the FBI that Dolan may have had information related to the Steele Reports, our investigation was not able to definitively show that Dolan was the actual source – whether wittingly or unwittingly – for any additional allegations set forth in the Steele Reports. Regardless, in light of the foregoing, there does not appear to have been an objectively sound reason for the FBI’s failure to interview Dolan.
Danchenko’s Claims Regarding Sergei Millian
Perhaps the most damning allegation in the Steele Dossier reports was Company Report 2016/95, which Steele attributed to “Source E,” one of Danchenko’s supposed sub-sources. This report, portions of which were included in each of the four Page FISA applications, contributed to the public narrative of Trump’s conspiring and colluding with Russian officials. As discussed in Section IV.D. l.f, Danchenko’s alleged source for the information (Source E) was an individual by the name of Sergei Millian who was the president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in New York City and a public Trump supporter. The evidence uncovered by the Office showed that Danchenko never spoke with Sergei Millian and simply fabricated the allegations that he attributed to Millian.
When interviewed by Crossfire Hurricane investigators in late January 201 7, Danchenko said that Source E in Report 2016/95 sounded as though it was Sergei Millian. As discussed in Section IV.D.1.f.i, Danchenko stated that he never actually met Millian. Instead, he said that in late-July 2016 he received an anonymous call from a person who did not identify himself, but who spoke with a Russian accent. Danchenko further explained that he thought it might have been Millian – someone Danchenko previously had emailed twice and received no response – after watching a YouTube video of Millian speaking. Thus, as detailed in Section IV.D. l .f.i, the total support for the Source E information contained in Steele Report 2016/95 is a purported anonymous call from someone Danchenko had never met or spoken to but who he believed might be Sergei Millian – a Trump supporter – based on his listening to a YouTube video of Millian. Unfortunately, the investigation revealed that, instead of taking even basic steps, such as securing telephone caii records for either Danchenko or Miilian to investigate Danchenko’ s hard-to-believe story about Millian, the Crossfire Hurricane investigators appear to have chosen to ignore this and other red flags concerning Danchenko’s credibility, as well as Steele’s.
The Alfa Bank Allegations
The Office also investigated the actions of Perkins Coie attorney Michael Sussmann and others in connection with Sussmann’s provision of data and “white papers” to FBI Genera! Counsel James Baker purporting to show that there existed a covert communications channel between the Trump Organization and a Russia-based bank called Alfa Bank. As set forth in Section IV.E.1.c.iii, in doing so he represented to Baker by text message and in person that he was acting on his own and was not representing any client or company in providing the information to the FBI. Our investigation showed that, in point of fact, these representations to Baker were false in that Sussmann was representing the Clinton campaign (as evidenced by, among other things, his law firm’s billing records and internal communications). In addition, Sussmann was representing a second client, a technology executive named Rodney Joffe (as evidenced by various written communications, Sussmann’s subsequent congressional testimony, and other records).
Cyber experts from the FBI examined the materials given to Baker and concluded that they did not establish what Sussmann claimed they showed. At a later time, Sussmann made a separate presentation regarding the Alfa Bank allegations to another U.S. government agency and it too concluded that the materials did not show what Sussmann claimed. In connection with that second presentation, Sussmann made a similar false statement to that agency, claiming that he was not providing the information on behalf of any client.
With respect to the Alfa Bank materials, our investigation established that Joffe had tasked a number of computer technology researchers who worked for companies he was affiliated with, and who had access to certain internet records, to mine the internet data to establish “an inference” and “narrative” tying then-candidate Trump to Russia. In directing these researchers to exploit their access in this manner, Joffe indicated that he was seeking to please certain “VIPs,” in context referring to individuals at Perkins Coie who were involved in campaign matters and the Clinton campaign. During its investigation, the Office also learned that, after the 2016 presidential election, Joffe emailed an individual and told that person that “[he – Joffe] was tentatively offered the top [cybersecurity] job by the Democrats when it looked like they’d win.”
As explained in Section IV.E. l .c.i, the evidence collected by the Office also demonstrated that, prior to providing the unfounded Alfa bank claims to the FBI, Sussmann and Fusion GPS (the Clinton campaign’s opposition research firm) had provided the same information to various news organizations and were pressing reporters to write articles about the alleged secret communications channel. Moreover, during his September 2016 meeting at the FBI, Sussmann told Baker that an unnamed news outlet was in possession of the information and would soon publish a story about it. The disclosure of the media’s involvement caused the FBI
to contact the news outlet whose name was eventually provided by Sussmann in the hope of delaying any public reporting on the subject. In doing so it confirmed for the New York Times that the FBI was looking into the matter. On October 31, 2016, less than two weeks before the election, the New York Times and others published articles on the Alfa Bank matter and the Clinton campaign issued tweets and public statements on the allegations of a secret channel of communications being used by the Trump Organization and a Russian bank – allegations that had been provided to the media and the FBI by Fusion GPS and Sussmann, both of whom were
working for the Clinton campaign.
Based on the review of Crossfire Hurricane and related intelligence activities, we conclude that the Department and the FBI failed to uphold their important mission of strict fidelity to the law in connection with certain events and activities described in this report. As noted, former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith committed a criminal offense by fabricating language in an email that was material to the FBI obtaining a FISA surveillance order. In other instances, FBI personnel working on that same FISA application displayed, at best, a cavalier attitude towards accuracy and completeness. FBI personnel also repeatedly disregarded important requirements when they continued to seek renewals of that FISA surveillance while acknowledging – both then and in hindsight – that they did not genuinely believe there was probable cause to believe that the target was knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of a foreign power, or knowingly helping another person in such activities.
And certain personnel disregarded significant exculpatory information that should have prompted investigative restraint and re-examination. Our investigation also revealed that senior FBI personnel displayed a serious lack of analytical rigor towards the information that they received, especially information received from politically affiliated persons and entities.
This information in part triggered and sustained Crossfire Hurricane and contributed to the subsequent need for Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation. In particular, there was significant reliance on investigative leads provided or funded (directly or indirectly) by Trump’s political opponents. The Department did not adequately examine or question these materials and the motivations of those providing them, even when at about the same time the Director of the FBI and others learned of significant and potentially contrary intelligence.
In light of the foregoing, there is a continuing need for the FBI and the Department to recognize that lack of analytical rigor, apparent confirmation bias, and an over-willingness to rely on information from individuals connected to political opponents caused investigators to fail to adequately consider alternative hypotheses and to act without appropriate objectivity or restraint in pursuing allegations of collusion or conspiracy between a U.S. political campaign and a foreign power. Although recognizing that in hindsight much is clearer, much of this also seems to have been clear at the time. We therefore believe it is important to examine past conduct to
identify shortcomings and improve how the government carries out its most sensitive functions. Section V discusses some of these issues more fully.
This report does not recommend any wholesale changes in the guidelines and policies that the Department and the FBI now have in place to ensure proper conduct and accountability in how counterintelligence activities are carried out. Rather, it is intended to accurately describe the matters that fell under our review and to assist the Attorney General in determining how the Department and the FBI can do a better, more credible job in fulfilling its responsibilities, and in analyzing and responding to politically charged allegations in the future. Ultimately, of course, meeting those responsibilities comes down to the integrity of the people who take an oath to follow the guidelines and policies currently in place, guidelines that date from the time of Attorney General Levi and that are designed to ensure the rule of law is upheld. As such, the answer is not the creation of new rules but a renewed fidelity to the old. The promulgation of additional rules and regulations to be learned in yet more training sessions would likely prove to be a fruitless exercise if the FBI’s guiding principles of “Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity” are not engrained in the hearts and minds of those sworn to meet the FBI’ s mission of “Protect[ing] the American People and Uphold[ing] the Constitution of the United States.”