In October 2016, and then on two subsequent occasions, then-FBI Director James Comey lied to the secret court overseeing warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Full stop. Here is that lie:
I, the undersigned, having been designated as one of the officials authorized to make the certifications required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, as amended, do hereby certify with regard to the [redacted] requested in this verified application targeting Carter W. Page, an agent of the Government of Russia, a foreign power, as follows . . . The foreign intelligence information sought by the authorities requested herein cannot be reasonably obtained by normal investigative techniques.
His signature appears on page 64 of the October 2016 application for a warrant to spy on Carter Page. Look at it for yourself. In all of the fawning television interviews of Comey that have followed, nobody has confronted him on his lie or asked him why he submitted a blatant falsehood to the court.
He lied again on page 76 of the January 2017 renewal application. He lied yet again on page 88 of another April 2017 FISA application to extend the warrant against Page. As I wrote, Comey’s April 2017 signature came after the entire Russia collusion investigation officially became a willful hoax perpetrated on the American public and the FISA court.
The “Only Way”?
How do we know Comey lied? Because he passed on Page’s offer to participate voluntarily in an FBI interview. By September 25, 2016, Page had already received several harassing and accusatory contacts from journalists checking on the Christopher Steele/Fusion GPS story alleging he was a Russian agent. Page had had enough. He decided to volunteer to participate in an interview with the FBI.
And to make sure that Comey wouldn’t forget or deny that Page made the offer in writing, he sent a copy to the Washington Post. Page had a long history of cooperating with the U.S. government to provide accurate information about Russia. He was so reliable and cooperative that the CIA cleared him to receive sensitive information to help him know what to listen for when he was in Russia.
“Having interacted with members of the U.S. intelligence community including the FBI and CIA for many decades, I appreciate the limitations on your staff’s time and assets,” Page wrote. “Although I have not been contacted by any member of your team in recent months, I would eagerly await their call to discuss any final questions they might possibly have in the interest of helping them put these outrageous allegations to rest while allowing each of us to shift our attention to relevant matters. Thank you in advance for your consideration.”
Page addressed the letter to, “The Honorable James Comey, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” He sent the letter on September 25, 2016, a month before Comey certified to the court that electronic surveillance was the only way to get information from Page.
Horowitz’s Findings Are Damning
Comey’s lies matter. He turned away Page’s voluntary cooperation with the Russia collusion investigators in order to surveil Page and everyone with whom he communicated. Likely, Page was not the real target anyway, just a convenient excuse to cast a broader net sweeping up communication with Trump campaign officials.
As noted on page 18 of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on Comey’s FISA abuse, Justice Department guidelines provide that, “search warrants, wiretaps, and undercover operations are considered to be very intrusive, while database searches and communication with established sources are less intrusive. The least intrusive method principle reflects an attempt to balance the FBl’s ability to effectively conduct investigations with the potential negative impact an investigation can have on the privacy and civil liberties of individuals encompassed within an investigation.”
Of the 17 acts of deception the inspector general highlighted, several were perpetrated to hide the fact that Page was clearly not a Russian agent. Horowitz notes on page ix of the report that the applications “[o]mitted Page’s consensually monitored statements to an FBI CHS in August 2016 that Page had ‘literally never met’ or ‘said one word to’ Paul Manafort and that Manafort had not responded to any of Page’s emails; if true, those statements were in tension with claims in Report 95 that Page was participating in a conspiracy with Russia by acting as an intermediary for Manafort on behalf of the Trump campaign.”
The FBI’s spying on Page impacted the election. In September 2016, the existence of Comey’s phony investigation leaked to the press. Yahoo News reported: “A senior U.S. law enforcement official did not dispute that characterization when asked for comment by Yahoo News. ‘It’s on our radar screen,’ said the official about Page’s contacts with Russian officials. ‘It’s being looked at.’” This emboldened more negative stories smearing Page, in publications such as Politico, Mother Jones, Vanity Fair, and the Daily Beast, to name just a few examples.
The Statute of Limitations Is Running
The leak of the phony FBI investigation into Page just weeks before the election led Page to resign immediately from the Trump campaign after writing an open letter offering a voluntary interview to the FBI to clear his name.
There’s no missing piece. The former FBI chief has been caught red-handed. The FISA applications bear his signatures and can be read by anyone. The applications clearly claim that the warrant is the only way to obtain the information that easily could have been obtained from the voluntary interview Page offered.
It’s low-hanging fruit. It’s a smoking gun. The statute of limitations is running. Another election is approaching. Future election integrity depends on punishing Comey’s illegal interference.
Arrest James Comey for lying to the FISA court. Now. He defrauded a court to undermine a U.S. election and the peaceful transfer of power. He undermined the exercise of the core constitutional right of the people to elect the head of the executive branch. He is guilty of many other sins. But this one is a slam dunk. Comey’s freedom is a beacon of temptation to future bureaucrats who want to seize power.
The next Comey is watching and learning. Government officials must understand that using the FBI to interfere in our elections will have severe consequences or elections will stop mattering.
Without a doubt, Comey lied to the FISA court. He lied to perpetuate an investigation that tore this country apart. He didn’t want the truth about Carter Page. Quite the opposite. He wanted to spy. That was the point. The evidence is irrefutable. He must be brought to justice. Immediately.