First Round of Obamagate Documents Released

January 15th, 2021 | The committee released 11 transcripts of bipartisan staff interviews conducted from Tuesday, March 3, 2020 to Thursday, October 29, 2020.

WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), today released transcripts of interviews conducted during its inquiry into the origins and aftermath of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation.

“I consider the Crossfire Hurricane investigation a massive system failure by senior leadership, but not representative of the dedicated, hardworking patriots who protect our nation every day at Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have decided to release all transcripts of depositions involving the committee’s oversight of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. I believe that Crossfire Hurricane was one of the most incompetent and corrupt investigations in the history of the FBI and DOJ.

“The FISA court was lied to. Exculpatory information was withheld on those being investigated. The investigators, with some notable exceptions, were incredibly biased and used the powers of law enforcement for political purposes.

“The leadership of the FBI under Comey and McCabe was either grossly incompetent or they knowingly allowed tremendous misdeeds. There was a blind eye turned toward any explanation other than the Trump campaign was colluding with foreign powers. At every turn the FBI and DOJ ran stop signs that were in abundance regarding exculpatory information. The FISA warrant applications against Carter Page were a travesty, and those who signed them have acknowledged that if they knew then what they know now, they would not have signed it.

“It is hard to believe that the senior officials at the FBI did not know that the Steele Dossier had been disavowed by the Russian subsource. It is equally hard to believe that the warnings from the CIA and other agencies about the reliability of Christopher Steele and the dossier were not known to senior leadership. It is my hope that the Durham report will hold those accountable for the travesty called Crossfire Hurricane. The investigation was pushed when it should have been stopped and the only logical explanation is that the investigators wanted an outcome because of their bias.

“Former FBI Director Comey and his deputy Mr. McCabe, through their incompetence and bias, have done a great disservice to the FBI and DOJ, and the senior DOJ leadership who signed off on the work product called the Crossfire Hurricane investigation have created a stain on the department’s reputation that can only be erased by true reform.

“I hope that the media will look closely at what happened and examine these documents, but I am not holding my breath. I appreciate the hard work of Inspector General Horowitz who uncovered the massive abuses of Crossfire Hurricane. His team should be proud of the work they did, as it will be used over time to reform the DOJ and FBI.

“I’m proud of the Judiciary staff and the work product produced by the Senate Judiciary Committee. I am disappointed that Democrats did not take it more seriously, but I do believe what the committee did will pave the way for much-needed reforms regarding future investigations.

“I will be pursuing reforms of counterintelligence investigations and warrant applications, and hope that my Democratic and Republican colleagues can find common ground on these matters. I also hope and expect that FBI Director Wray will continue the reforms he has started. It is hard to believe that something like Crossfire Hurricane could have happened in America. The bottom line is that going forward we must have more checks and balances when it comes to political investigations. We must have more meaningful sign-offs on warrant applications, and we need to restore the trust to the American people in this system.”


Handling Agent 1: Interviewed on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 (Transcript) 159 pgs. Senate Judiciary Committee Transcripts

We don’t know who the interview is of. That is still redacted. Chairman Graham requested the interview as part of an investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee in matter related to the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, including the application for and removals of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant on Carter Page.

Witnesses for the Senate Judiciary Committee:

  • Arthur Radford Baker, Senior Investigative Counsel
  • Zachary N. Somers, Chief Investigative Counsel
  • Lee Holmes, Chief Counsel and Staff Director (Chairman Graham’s chief counsel)
  • Gabrielle M. Michalak, Investigative Counsel, Senate Judiciary Committee
  • *Redacted*, Assistant General Counsel (FBI,OGC.)
  • *Redacted*, Assistant General Counsel (FBI,OGC.)
  • *Redacted*, Counterintelligence Law Unit Chief (FBI,OGC.)
  • *Redacted*, Section Chief, Litigation Section (FBI,OGC.)
  • Sara Zdeb, Senior Counsel, Senate Judiciary, Minority Staff
  • Heather Sawyer, Staff Director & Chief Counsel, Senator Feinstein’s Chief Counsel
  • Christina Calce, Counsel, Senate Judiciary, Minority Staff
  • Alex Haskell, Counsel, Senate Judiciary, Minority Staff

For the Witness:

  • Benjamin Gruenstein, ESQ., Cravath, Swaine, & Moore LLP, Counsel for *Redacted*.
  • Lawrence J. Berger, ESQ., The Law Offices of LJBPC, Counsel for *Redacted (same person)*.

Then, they go on to list additionally:

  • Christopher Ventura, Associate Counsel, Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Elliott Waldon, Investigative Counsel, Senate Judiciary Committee
  • They also redact a name or a entity.
  • Then another redaction, FBI. “Examination by Majority Staff by Mr. Somers.

The witness retired from the FBI August of 2019 from a special supervisory positions, acting as a special agent out of the New York Field Office in the money laundering investigation, *___*. The witness mess Christopher Steele in 2010, while they were supervisor of the Russian Organized Crime * ___*. They testified they were a supervisor of the Russian organized crime in New York from late 2009 until May of 2014, at which point they were transferred to assistant legal attached in the *___* office in the embassy in *________*. After that, they returned to the New York Field Office where they became a supervisory special agent of the money laundering investigation, *___* August of 2017 remaining in that position until they retired in August of 2019.

The IG report indicated that the witness had signed Christopher Steele up as a confidential human sort when you switched over to your position is ALAT in *___*. What necessitated you having Christopher Steele as a CHA in a ALAT position? A: “They were told by the assistant director at the time that his goal was to have the attaches act as agents overseas, and that they would be promoting the developments and handling of sources internationally, done obviously within policy and where we could do so. But to do that and proactively seek to handle sources. Being that Christopher Steele, who was opened as a source originally while I was the supervisor of *________* the Russian organized crime *___* New York, being that he was in London and I was going to *___*, it would make sense from a logistical standpoint to open up him as a source while I was in Rome.

New York Field Office has an — I think a special relationship with headquarters, special relationship in the bureau. The conversations that we had in October, Steele and myself, were really focused on, after that meeting, the money that he was offered, the 15,000. It was about getting the money. That I specifically recall. More than once. Numerous times.”


Michael B. Steinbach: Interviewed on Friday, June 12, 2020 (Transcript)

Appearances:

  • Arthur Radford Baker, Senior Investigative Counsel, Majority
  • Zachary N. Somers, Chief Investigative Counsel, Majority
  • Sara Zdeb, Senior Counsel, Senate Judiciary, Minority Staff
  • Christina Calce, Counsel, Senate Judiciary, Minority Staff
  • Heather Sawyer, Staff Director & Chief Counsel, Senator Feinstein’s Chief Counsel, Minority
  • *Redacted*, Assistant General Counsel (FBI,OGC.)
  • *Redacted*, Assistant General Counsel (FBI,OGC.)
  • *Redacted*, US DOJ FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Office of Congressional Affairs
  • Joan V. Cain, Court Reporter

Said he did not know the subject matter. Retired from the FBI in February 2017 as Executive Assistant Director of the National security Branch. He was responsible for 4 programs: Counterintelligence, Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, and the Terrorist Screening Center, providing policy and strategic directions for the Director’s Office on those divisions and directories. Stated FISA’s were not something that would come to him in any way.

Explains that the Woods Process is designed to ensure that every part of the affidavit is factually grounded, and a Woods addendum or document that accompanies the FISA is designed to be that burden of proof for the actual statement in a FISA application, coming from is 22 years of knowledge working in the FBI Counterterrorism. He explains the National Security Branch does training and advisories in the field on the Woods Procedures, and these are in conjunction with DOJ.

Graduated from the FBI Academy in summer of 1995, assigned to Chicago Field Office working criminal matters. Started off on a fugitive task force, then moved to violent crimes, and back and forth between essentially fugitive task force and violent crime task force, responsible for fugitive investigations, bank robbers, kidnappings, extortions as part of the task force environments. His first exposure to counterterrorism was after 2011, where his did temporary duty assignment to New Delhi, India for 60-odd days, after which he applied for a supervisor job in counterterrorism. Worked on the Guantanamo Bay program for a while, deployed to Afghanistan, became the Afghanistan SSA program manager, and then ultimately acting unit chief of MLDU. For about 2 years he was transferred to Tel Aviv where he was the first Assistant Legal Attache (ALAT), then the Legal Attache to Tel Aviv responsible for Israel and Palestinian authorities. *_______________________…..*, so he spent a significant amount of time on the national security side of the house there. When returning from Israel, spent about a year at the Washington Field Office back as supervisor of a violent crime and fugitive task force. Was transferred one year later to a promotion as an Assistant Section Chief in Counterterrorism in the International Terrorism Operation Section in charge of ITOS *_*, which is international terrorism in the United States. For a year and a half took a promotion to be the lead FBI agent to the CIA’s counterterrorism center, CTC. Was then pulled back and became special assistant to Tom Harington, who was the Associate Deputy Director at the time, had that position for a couple of years. He was then sent to be the SAC of the Jacksonville Field Office for 4 months, went to Miami and was the SAC there for a year and a half. Came back to the FBI headquarters as the Deputy Assistant Director of Counterterrorism. Held that position for 6 months and on the promotion of the current AD, I became the Assistant Director of Counterterrorism for about 2 years. From there he became the Executive Assistant Director of National Security. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1988 and was a naval aviator flying P3s for just under 7 years. Assignments on the west coast and the east coast, and then resigned from the navy. His last ten weeks he was approached by the FBI.

Factors that would come into play to get a renewal on a FISA would include lack of predicate, with proceeding with the investigation, possibly because the FISA ran dry or no longer able to produce the required information to justify going back to the court for renewal. Perhaps the DOJ said, hey, look, we need this much more.. Bring back the case to the field and ask for more. They need to do X, Y, Z.

“But when you talk about Crossfire Hurricane, the way I recall it and what I think the media has somewhat mistaken is there was a day when there was a switch that was flipped on a Russian investigation. That’s not how it happened. There was a break-in, so to speak, in terms of on the cyber side that occurred into a number of places, to include the DNC. As that cyber-based investigation kind of moved forward, there was evidence that there were Russian actors behind it. That investigation kind of moved forward. There’s always been long-standing investigative interest and intelligence collection effort on foreign influence efforts, all the countries you would suspect. Those efforts were ongoing. Then at some point, evidence was collected or intelligence was collected — I should make sure I use the correct term. Intelligence was collected that started to formulate that certain people associated with the campaign may have inappropriate contact or concerning contact with individuals. That’s the formulation of Crossfire Hurricane.”

I’m sure at some point — in general, the way the process worked was at the morning directors’ meeting, which Director Comey held every morning at 8 o’clock or so, at the conclusion of that general meeting, a small group stayed behind to talk about more sensitive matters. We were being briefed on, from the time I was the EAD, on a number of sensitive matters in that forum, to include concerns about individuals associated with the presidential campaign.”

Q What was your understanding of who George Papadopoulos was? He’s the initial name mentioned in the July 31st electronic communication. A Yeah, I don’t — I don’t — I can’t give you any details on what I knew about George Papadopoulos. I’m not even sure I can walk you through, but I believe — no, I can’t. Q Same answer for Carter Page? A Yeah. I mean, the names and the associations are there, but to actually walk you through information associated with each individual, I can’t tell you. Q But you definitely understood they were associated with Trump in some way? A Sure.

Q So, for instance, were you told ahead of time that, hey, we’re going to have to run a confidential human source at George Papadopoulos or Carter Page? A I may have been. Q But you can’t recall? A I can’t recall, no.
Q Were you told before a FISA, hey, we’re going to go seek a FISA on Carter Page? A Yeah, I may have been. Neither of those investigative techniques were alarming, particularly with confidential human sources. That’s one of the first steps you do in an investigative process. You try to build up a network of informants to work against your subject.

What I’m more asking more generally is Carter Page, George Papadopoulos are both recorded prior to the first FISA application being submitted to the court, and I was just wondering if in any of your daily briefings with Steinbach or someone else someone raised a concern about what they received on the recordings from the confidential human source. A No.

So in your experience, do targets or subjects of an investigation sometimes deny that they are engaged in criminal conduct? A Sure. All the time. Q And I think you said earlier that it was fairly common for subjects to not be completely truthful when talking to a confidential human source. A Sure. Yeah. Yes. Q And in your experience, should an agent or a prosecutor stop investigating a particular individual just because that individual denies engagement in criminal conduct? A Course not.
Q Should the FBI shut down a counterintelligence investigation just because a subject happens to deny wittingly working with a foreign government? A The FBI should not shut down that investigation. Q And so, in other words, there could still be a very legitimate need to investigate because that US person could be wittingly working with a foreign government or could be unwittingly working with a government, but in either case there might still be a legitimate basis to investigate? A Correct.

So can you explain why the investigation was opened, in legal terms what the predicate was? A Predicate for Crossfire Hurricane?
Q For Crossfire Hurricane. A So, again, from my perspective as I recall it, there were investigations that kind of bled into that. There were — you know, there was a cyber investigation, and there was a larger Russian influence or Russian intelligence collection effort by the counterintelligence division. As I understand, the predicate for the individuals that are now known as Crossfire Hurricane in each instance singularly those individuals had some interaction with a known or suspected or somebody associated with a known or suspected foreign adversary, a foreign intelligence officer.

So he’s saying that a friendly foreign government, in this case a partner of ours, provided us information suggesting there was a contact, there was a connection between an individual and a foreign government. That along with previous actions such as cyber was all driving towards one overarching counterintelligence — or I’m sorry — intelligence operation.

So specifically with regard to Mr. Papadopoulos, the FBI did come to learn that he had been told or that he had told someone that he had been told in April of 2016 that Russia had e-mails — had, quote, dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of, quote, thousands of e-mails and that they were willing to release them anonymously in order to harm Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Would learning that have been alarming enough or a sufficient predicate or some there-there to open an investigation?

We have actually seen that opening document on the investigation, and it indicates that that information came to the FBI on or about July 26th of 2016 for the first time, even though Mr. Papadopoulos had told someone associated with a friendly foreign government back in April, and it’s just my understanding that the reason the friendly foreign government then told our government was because WikiLeaks had just released 20,000-plus e-mails that appeared to have been hacked from the DNC.

I mean, my recollection is not a hundred percent on the timeline and those topics. I recall the friendly foreign government, if I remember correctly, struggled with the decision because it did not want to appear to be involved in a political situation. They ultimately made the decision because they felt that a foreign government was taking inappropriate steps, but I don’t recall to your point the timeline of WikiLeaks.

And, again, I think it’s key. I think Zach brought it up earlier. Witting or unwittingly, and I was saying that the individual was wittingly an individual. He may be — just by nature be being used as a pawn unwittingly. So there are times when the counterintelligence investigation certainly identifies somebody who’s unwittingly being targeted.

(pg 82 continue reading.)

January 15th, 2020

FISA Abuse Investigation

January 15, 2021

Chairman Graham released 11 transcripts of interviews conducted during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s inquiry into the origins and aftermath of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation.  (press release)

Handling Agent 1: Interviewed on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 (Transcript)

Michael B. Steinbach: Interviewed on Friday, June 12, 2020 (Transcript)

Stephen C. Laycock: Interviewed on Monday, June 15, 2020 (Transcript)

Dana J. Boente: Interviewed on Monday, June 22, 2020 (Transcript)

Bruce Ohr: Interviewed on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 (Transcript)

Stuart Evans: Interviewed on Friday, July 31, 2020 (Transcript)

Supervisory Special Agent 1: Thursday, August 27, 2020 (Transcript)

Jonathan Moffa: Interviewed on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 (Transcript)

Deputy Chief, Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, Justice Department: Interviewed on Friday, September 18, 2020 (Transcript)

Case Agent 1: Interviewed on Friday, September 25, 2020 (Transcript)

Supervisory Intelligence Analyst: Interviewed on Thursday, October 29, 2020 (Transcript)

September 29, 2020

Chairman Graham released a letter from Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe. DNI Ratcliffe responded to Graham’s request for intelligence community information regarding the FBI’s handling of Crossfire Hurricane.  (document) (press release)

September 24, 2020

Chairman Lindsey Graham released a letter from Attorney General William Barr and a declassified summary from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that indicate Christopher Steele’s Primary Sub-source was a likely Russian agent and had previously been the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation. (document) (press release)

August 23, 2020

Chairman Graham released newly declassified FBI documents and communications demonstrating the Bureau’s double standard when it came to the Clinton and Trump campaigns. (document) (press release)

August 9, 2020

Chairman Graham released a newly declassified FBI document that indicates the Bureau misled the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2018 about the Steele dossier’s Primary Sub-source and therefore, the reliability of the Steele dossier.  (document) (press release)

July 17, 2020

Chairman Graham secured the release of two recently declassified documents that significantly undercut the reliability of the Steele dossier and the accuracy and reliability of many of the factual assertions in the Carter Page FISA applications. (document 1) (document 2) (press release)

June 11, 2020

The Committee authorized Chairman Graham to issue subpoenas related to oversight of the FISA process and the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.  (press release)

June 3, 2020

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing titled, “Oversight of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation: Day 1” with former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as a witness.  (hearing)

May 27, 2020

Chairman Graham announced that former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would testify before the committee at a hearing titled, “Oversight of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation: Day 1.”  (press release)

May 19, 2020

Chairman Graham sent a letter to Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell and Attorney General William Barr to ask that the Committee be provided with the names of any official who made a request to unmask the identity of individuals associated with the Trump campaign or transition team.  (press release)

May 18, 2020

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced that the Committee would debate and vote on a subpoena authorization related to the FISA abuse investigation and oversight of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.  (press release)

May 6, 2020

The Senate Judiciary Committee released a memo from Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to Special Counsel Robert Mueller regarding “The Scope of Investigation and Definition of Authority”. (memo)

May 6, 2020

The Senate Judiciary Committee released an additional declassified transcript between George Papadopoulos and an FBI confidential human source (declassified on May 5, 2020). (document)

April 27, 2020

The Senate Judiciary Committee released an additional declassified transcript between George Papadopoulos and an FBI confidential human source (declassified on April 24, 2020). (document)

April 27, 2020

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) wrote to Attorney General William Barr asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to produce a number of documents related to information from Christopher Steele’s primary source who ultimately contradicted Steele’s reporting. (press releaseletter)

April 16, 2020

The Senate Judiciary Committee released three categories of material:

  1. Declassified DOJ materials related to the Crossfire Hurricane operation.
  2. Timeline of correspondence sent or received by Chairman Graham and Committee activity regarding the FISA abuse investigation.
  3. Corrective actions taken by DOJ and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as a result of the FISA abuse investigation.

As part of Chairman Graham’s efforts to increase transparency and accountability to the American people, these declassified documents and other material may be accessed below.

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