Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) held a press conference on Monday after the release of the Department of Justice inspector general’s long-awaited FISA report pertaining to the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.
Graham slammed the FBI’s investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign as a “criminal enterprise” that got off the rails.
“The point I want to make, let’s assume for a moment it started out okay. It sure as hell didn’t end okay,” Senator Graham said referring to investigators’ efforts to seek a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the early months of the Russia investigation.
“What I see in this report, … while there may be reasonable differences about whether or not there was a lawful predicate, there will be no debate among reasonably minded people, particularly lawyers, about how the system not only got off the rails, but in my view, became a criminal enterprise to defraud the FISA court, to deny American citizen Carter Page his constitutional rights, and to continue an operation against President Trump as president of the United States, that I think was fundamentally flawed and unlawful,” the South Carolina Senator explained.
He added, “These are statements I don’t make lightly and these are statements based on the findings of the report.”
The report listed multiple errors by the FBI in its efforts to obtain a FISA warrant. The IG probe identified at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the Page applications and said a new audit into the FISA process would take place. (Continued Below)
Graham explained that on page 186 of the FISA report, “it talks about the FBI identifying and interviewing a primary Sub-source, for the Steele dossier. What I want you to understand is that Christopher Steele had a primary Sub-source and this person had other people reporting to him. And that formed the basis of the dossier.”
Graham went on to say: “What did the FBI find in January of 2017? Once they identified the sub source and actually interviewed the Sub-source, the Sub-source says [on page 187], ‘The primary Sub-source told the FBI that he/she had not seen Steele’s reports until they became public that month, and that he/she made statements indicating that Steele misstated or exaggerated the Primary Sub-source’s statements in multiple sections of the reporting.'”
“The Primary Sub-source told the FBI that… basically this was rumor and speculation, hearsay, bar talk and he never believed that Steele would use the information provided in any official document. That should have been a red light for the Department of Justice and the FBI, Graham noted. “Ladies and gentlemen, in January 2015, and thereafter, the Primary Sub-source of the dossier is telling the FBI and the Department of Justice that the Russia dossier is not reliable– that it was never meant to be used as an official document. … He specifically talks about the episode involving President Trump … and says it was all rumor and speculation, word of mouth and hearsay.” (Continued Below)
“Once the FBI and the Department of Justice was told by the Primary Sub-source that the information in the dossier is not reliable, they had a duty in my view, to report to the FISA court exculpatory information. Not only did they not tell the court that the Sub-source trashed out their document, this is what they told the court on page 190: ‘Carter Page FISA Renewal Application Nos. 2 and 3 advised the court that following the January interview with the Primary Subsource, “the FBI found the Russian-based sub-source to be truthful and cooperative,'” Graham read.
“That’s a lie!” Senator Graham declared. “The Sub-source said exactly the opposite. So not only did they continue to get a warrant against Mr. Page, after being told about the primary source of the document that is all garbage hearsay, bar talk, not reliable, they got two more warrants using that document and they described to the court, the interview in January, found that the Russian based Sub-source to be truthful and cooperative. I don’t know who told the court that, I don’t know who was in the meeting in January, February, but I want to find out who these people are and they need to be held accountable!”
“What they did from that point on, this whole endeavor became a criminal conspiracy to defraud the court to trample on the rights of an American citizen, Mr. Carter Page, and to continue an operation against the president of the United States,” he said. “On page 186-190 in the Horowitz report, it describes in great detail how the FBI found out that the Sub-source for the Steele dossier disavowed it! And they used it two more times to get warrants. They never told the court and they actually lied to the court about the interview,” Graham said.
“If that doesn’t bother you, you hate Trump way too much,” he expressed. “That should bother every American. And it gets worse.” (Continued Below)
“In June 2017, one of the lawyers in the FBI, who’s supposed to review warrants is told by the CIA that Carter Page is a source. What does he tell the FISA court? That he is not a source. He took the information supplied to him by the FBI and doctored an email, so the court would not be aware of the fact that Carter Page was a source for the CIA. Why is that important? In building a case against Carter Page, they used the dossier. They tried to get a warrant in August and they couldn’t. Somebody thought of the great idea of beginning to use the dossier to get a warrant,” Graham continued.
He noted the problem with that: “Three people named in the dossier as having talked to Carter Page, believed to be foreign agents– Carter Page while being wired, unknown to him said, ‘I don’t know these two people.’ And to this day, there’s no proof that he met the two people he denies meeting. And that was one of the reasons they classified him as a foreign agent. The third contact was with a person known to be a foreign agent, and he told the CIA about the contact because he was their source.”
“Why is it important that they lied to the court?” Graham asked. “If the court had known that he had a reason to be talking to this person, it would have been completely different. That’s why Mr. [Kevin] Clinesmith lied. Because if that fact ever got confirmed, it would change the entire predicate they set up to the court as to whether or not Carter Page was a foreign agent. You cannot surveil somebody unless you have proof.” (Video Below)
Senator Graham’s full remarks: