So the Horowitz Report (here) was just released, and we Ricochetti are already suffering serious indigestion. My buddy Gary Robbins has already lamented:
Gary Robbins (View Comment): The Executive Summary is 15 pages long! Can we please have an Executive Summary of the Executive Summary?
OK, I’ll give it a shot, but I think that this deserves a separate post. Incidentally, Gary is not quite correct. The executive summary is actually 19 pages long.
As a matter of terminology, the Horowitz Report involves the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation and four individual investigations on current and former members of the Trump campaign — George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn. The initial decision to open the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was made in July 2016.
1. The decision to open the Crossfire Hurricane and four related investigations did not violate DoJ or FBI guidelines or procedures, which the Report characterized as a “low threshold” and a “judgment call” that could be made at a relatively low level within the FBI. The decision was made by Counterintelligence Division Assistant Director Bill Priestap. This decision followed consultation and consensus including the FBI Deputy Director (Andrew McCabe), the FBI General Counsel (James Baker), and Section Chief Peter Strzok (who reported to Priestap). Strzok and Lisa Page made “statements of hostility toward then candidate Trump and statements of support for then candidate Hillary Clinton.” While Lisa Page attended some discussions, she did not play a role in the decisions to open the investigations.
2. The Horowitz team did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced Priestap’s decision to open the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Priestap was Strzok’s boss, and while there was evidence of political bias on the part of Strzok, he wasn’t the decision-maker.
3. The Horowitz team did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decision to open the four individual investigations. These were technically opened by Strzok, who was biased, but were a result of a consensus process that included his boss Priestap.
4. The Crossfire Hurricane team’s use of more intrusive techniques, including the use of Confidential Human Sources (CHSs) to record conversations with high-level Trump campaign officials, was properly approved by Priestap under FBI policies. The next point criticizes the policies.
5. The Horowitz Report recommends changing FBI policy to require consultation with DoJ in advance of conducting CHS operations involving advisors to a major party candidate’s presidential campaign. Policies require such consultation in “numerous other sensitive circumstances,” but prior policy did not require it in this instance.
6. There were very serious problems with the initial FISA application. The report is brutal on this point. “Our review found that FBI personnel fell far short of the requirement in FBI policy that they ensure that all factual statements in a FISA application are ‘scrupulously accurate.’ We identified multiple instances in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time the application was filed.” The report details “seven significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the initial FISA application.
7. There were additional, very serious problems with the subsequent three renewal FISA applications. None of the initial seven inaccuracies and omissions were corrected, and the report identified “10 additional significant errors in the renewal applications.” As a result, the DoJ “officials who reviewed one or more of the renewal applications, including [former Deputy AG] Yates, [former acting AG and acting DAG] Boente, and [former Deputy AG] Rosenstein, did not have accurate and complete information at the time they approved them.”
8. “We concluded that the failures described above and in this report represent serious performance failures by the supervisory and non-supervisory agents with responsibility over the FISA applications. . . . Although some of the factual misstatements and omissions we found in this review were arguably more significant than others, we believe that all of them taken together resulted in FISA applications that made it appear that the information supporting probable cause was stronger than was actually the case.” The Horowitz report does not speculate regarding whether accurate and complete information would have led senior DoJ officials, or the FISA court, to decline to approve any or all of the four FISA applications.
9. The serious errors in the FISA application process implicate the chain of command at the FBI, including senior officials. Again, the report is quite brutal on this point. “That so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations that was briefed to the highest levels within the FBI, and that FBI officials expected would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny, raised significant questions regarding the FBI chain of command’s management and supervision of the FISA process. … In our view, this was a failure not only of the operational team, but also of the managers and supervisors, including senior officials, in the chain of command.”
10. While not violating a policy, the FBI sent a participant to a strategic intelligence briefing given by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to candidate Trump and his national security advisors for investigative purposes, which “could potentially interfere with the expectation of trust and good faith among participants in strategic intelligence briefings, thereby frustrating their purpose.” In other words, the FBI sent a “spy” into what was supposed to be an important national security briefing for someone who might be the next President — Hillary Clinton was also briefed, as were the VP candidates. The spy was not named, and was identified only as “SSA 1,” and described as “the supervisor for the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.” (Context indicates that this person was not Priestap, Strzok, or Lisa Page.) Senior FBI officials approved this action by consensus after a meeting, including former FBI Deputy Director McCabe and former FBI General Counsel Baker. Horowitz recommended hat the FBI establish a policy regarding the use of defensive and transition briefings for investigative purposes, including DoJ approval. The decision to send “SSA 1” to the Trump briefing was discussed at high levels of the FBI, including Deputy Director McCabe and General Counsel Baker, but was not approved by DoJ.
I think that these are the major points.Published in