Fired FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday testified that he is “proud” of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane (CH) investigation, the manifestly corrupt deep state operation that targeted the Trump campaign in 2016.
Comey appeared remotely before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions about his role in the anti-Trump operation, which included the FBI’s use of fraudulent applications to obtain surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.
“In the main, it [Crossfire Hurricane] was done by the book, it was appropriate, and it was essential that it be done,” Comey stated, when asked by Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham to rate the FBI’s job on the CH investigation.
“So you’re proud of it,” Graham replied, nonplussed.
“Overall, I’m proud of the work,” Comey answered matter-of-factly. “There are parts of it that are concerning which I’m sure we’ll talk about, but overall I’m proud of the work” he added.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) September 30, 2020
Much has been learned since Comey’s last public testimony on June 7, 2017, before the Senate Intelligence Committee and his closed-door deposition to House investigators in December 2018.
The Special Counsel in the Spring of 2019 released a report finding that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election, which was the main focus of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
Moreover, the Justice Department inspector general released a report last Fall saying that the FBI’s surveillance applications under Comey’s direction were riddled with “significant” errors and omissions.
It has also since been revealed that the FBI knew in August of 2016 that Carter Page had contacts with certain Russians because he was working with the CIA, and that the FBI doctored evidence to indicate the opposite.
Crossfire Hurricane team member, Kevin Clinesmith, pleaded guilty in August to making false statements by altering a June 2017 email from a CIA analyst to say that Carter Page was “not a ‘source’” rather than “a source” for the spy agency. Clinesmith told government prosecutors that he shared both the doctored email and the original with some of his FBI conspirators, suggesting that other malefactors are probably being investigated for the same crime.
Comey testified that he knew nothing about Page’s relationship with the CIA except for what he read in IG Michael Horowitz’s report, but disagreed with Graham’s premise that Page was a source for the spy agency.
He also told the senator that he knew nothing about Clinesmith other than what he had read in the public record.
“How do you feel in general about an FBI lawyer doctoring information exculpatory to someone being surveilled?” Graham asked Comey, cutting to the chase.
“Any false statement during the course of the investigation is deeply concerning,” the disgraced G-man admitted.
“But you didn’t know anything about that, okay!” Graham fired back dismissively.
He went on to ask Comey what actions were taken in October of 2016 to verify the discredited Steele dossier before the FBI submitted their application to the FISA court.
Comey answered that he didn’t know “specifically,” but the CH Hurricane team had spent a certain amount of time ruling in and ruling out Christopher Steele’s allegations.
Steele was hired by liberal opposition research firm Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on candidate Trump during the 2016 campaign. Fusion, in turn, was paid by the Clinton Campaign and the DNC for that purpose.
Comey told Graham that he didn’t know who actually prepared the fraudulent application, and when asked if he agreed that there was never an effort to verify the anti-Trump dossier, he demurred.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” the disgraced former g-man said.
A recently declassified FBI memo revealed that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation against Igor Danchenko, the primary source for dossier author Christopher Steele, in 2009, strongly suggesting that Russian disinformation was planted in the dossier.
Although the Bureau’s Crossfire Hurricane team learned of the Danchenko investigation in December 2016, it continued to rely on the dossier for its investigation of the Trump team and went on to obtain three additional Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Carter Page.
Senator Graham noted that the bureau did not disclose the investigation of Danchenko to the FISA Court in the applications Comey signed off on. He also noted that the FBI interviewed Danchenko over a three day period January 2017 when he dismissed Steele’s reporting on Trump and his associates as unverified rumors.
Comey said under oath that he didn’t remember anything about Steele’s source.
“I don’t remember learning anything additional about Steele’s sources,” he told Graham.
“How can it be Mr. Director that the FBI finds in its file that the man that prepared the dossier for Steele was suspected of being a threat to national security—and it doesn’t make it up to you?!” Graham asked.
“I don’t know,” Comey said. “I could speculate, but I don’t know, I haven’t spoken with the people … ” Comey answered weakly.
The former FBI director also said he doesn’t remember being briefed by DOJ official Bruce Ohr about Steele’s anti-Trump bias. Nor could he remember being warned by the CIA that the Steele dossier was a collection unreliable “internet rumors.”
“I don’t remember ever being told anything like that,” Comey said.
Even though Comey, if one is to believe him, was ignorant of these basic facts, he fought hard to use the unverified dossier in the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on Russian election interference, according to the IG report.
Comey also denied having heard that the salacious information in the Steele dossier was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
“I’m not familiar with what you’re reading from,” Comey told Graham after he had read the allegations.
“It’s in the Horowitz report!” Graham exclaimed.
“If in fact the Russians had infiltrated Steele’s sources to create this myth about sexual misconduct of the president, that to me seems to cry out for slowing down or stopping [the investigation], not keep using the document!” Graham added incredulously.
“There was ample evidence of the other side [Democrats] being involved with Russia to create a scandal around Trump, Graham pointed out, noting that they even “hired a foreign agent” to carry out the operation.
“Did you have a duty to look at any allegations regarding Clinton and Russia?” Graham asked.
After a long pause, Comey answered, “I don’t know what you mean.”
Graham pointed out that the former FBI director had testified that he felt it was his duty to investigate allegations regarding Trump and the Russians, but as a recent memo declassified by the DNI John Ratcliffe revealed, the FBI were aware of Russian analysis regarding Hillary Clinton’s plan to link Trump to Russia. Did you have an investigation to look into whether any of that was true?” the S.C. senator asked.
“I can’t answer that. I’ve read Mr. Ratcliffe’s letter which frankly I have trouble understanding,” Comey answered dismissively, although the letter is quite clear.
Comey and fired former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok were sent an investigative referral on September 7, 2016, regarding “Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail server.” Ratcliffe wrote.
As Mollie Hemingway and Sean Davis noted at the Federalist: “Rather than investigate at the time whether Russian intelligence had infiltrated the Clinton operation’s anti-Trump campaign and sowed Russian disinformation within it, the FBI instead used unverified gossip from a suspected Russian agent to obtain federal warrants to spy on the Trump campaign.”
But Comey had trouble remembering that detail about what the Russians said they knew about the Clinton campaign.
In fact, according to his testimony, Comey was very much out of the loop on a lot of the FBI’s shenanigans in 2016, although he does find some of it “concerning.”