Inspector general’s report on Russia probe: key takeaways

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A much-anticipated review of how the FBI came to investigate the Trump campaign’s possible links to Russia has validated the agency’s decision to open its probe.

The report, compiled by the Justice Department’s inspector general, stresses that political bias did not influence the bureau’s actions, as President Donald Trump and his allies have frequently alleged.

But the document is also littered with criticisms of FBI officials and how they vetted some information, such as a dossier of salacious allegations compiled by an ex-British spy.

We pored through the 434-page document and highlighted the most important revelations. Check back for updates.

The FBI did not use the Steele dossier to open Russia probe

A key accusation among Trump’s allies has been that the FBI predicated its investigation of Trump campaign officials Carter Page, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn on information the bureau received from British ex-spy Christopher Steele.

But Horowitz found that the Crossfire Hurricane team — the codename agents gave to the Russia inquiry — did not receive Steele’s election reporting materials until after the investigation had already been opened using information about Papadopoulos the team received from a foreign ally.

Lynch, Comey sat for IG interviews

The inspector general wasn’t lacking in materials. According to the report, Horowitz’s team got to examine more than 1 million documents and conducted 170 interviews with more than 100 witnesses.

Pretty much all the key players who were integral to the Russia probe agreed to meet with the investigators, including former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former FBI Director James Comey and former deputy attorneys general Sally Yates and Rod Rosenstein. The IG also interviewed Dana Boente, the current FBI general counsel who also has served as an acting attorney general and acting No. 2 at the Justice Department.

Steele also met with the IG investigators. Two witnesses — Glenn Simpson and former State Department official Jonathan Winer — turned down requests for voluntary interviews and the IG chose not to force the issue.

FBI’s receipt of Steele’s dossier ‘played a crucial role’ in seeking surveillance order, but no evidence political bias was a factor

The Crossfire Hurricane team initially was waived off of applying for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant for Carter Page by high-level Justice Department officials.

The officials said the team needed more evidence first that Page was an agent of a foreign power. But after receiving Steele’s report, which detailed alleged coordination between Page and the Kremlin in the summer of 2016, the team asked again and were allowed to move forward.

While the agents did not have corroborating information to support Steele’s reporting, Horowitz found, he also “did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page.”

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2019/12/09/inspector-generals-report-russia-key-takeaways-079030
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The Article Was Written/Published By: dsamuelsohn@politico.com (Darren Samuelsohn)

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