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Heads must roll for illegal spying on Trump campaign in 2016
Robert Romano
Robert Romano

According to the now-released memorandum from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, in October 2016 former FBI Director James Comey and the Justice Department all but told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court that the DNC and Clinton campaign-funded Christopher Steele dossier was credible.

We know that because he submitted it as evidence of probable cause to the FISA Court to justify spying on a Trump campaign operative, Carter Page - and likely, others.

Here's the kicker. The Justice Department knew it was all political. They knew where it had come from the Democrats. That it was paid for. And later, it admitted there was nothing to it.

And they hid it from the FISA Court.

Per the memo, "Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele's efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials."

Later Comey would testify in June 2017 that the Steele dossier was "salacious and unverified." Specifically, he said when he briefed incoming President Donald Trump on January 6 that "The [Intelligence Community] leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified."

The Justice Department, to generate probable cause, used a "salacious and unverified" dossier created out of whole cloth by the Hillary Clinton campaign. A dirty trick. Then it downplayed its significance to the President-Elect.

That was right before Trump took office. And so what did the Justice Department and FBI do? After that briefing, and after Trump was sworn in, they kept renewing the warrant(s) based on the dossier, even after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein took over on April 26, 2017, even though it could not be validated.

Comey downplayed the dossier's signficance to Trump, and to Congress later in his testimony. But they were still using it. If lying to the FBI is a crime, then so should lying to the President. Certainly, lying to Congress is a crime. Did Comey lie?

Either, way, the memo implies that the Justice Department not only intended to mislead Trump about the extent of the investigation, but also about whether there was an investigation at all. Comey testified that he had assured Trump he was not under investigation, and that there was nothing to do with the dossier, when all the while there was an ongoing investigation.

And now, Trump is supposed to sit by idly while a false, malicious national security investigation, now taken over by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is carried forward based on the fruit from the poisoned tree? If you fight back, the Democrats cry obstruction. What a joke.

In the meantime, there have long been reasons to both doubt Steele and to conclude the FBI had used his dossier to initiate its investigation in the first place.

As it turns out, nobody has verified Steele's souces.

According to Fusion GPS CEO Glenn Simpson, who hired Steele, in his Nov. 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, Steele never traveled to Russia. Instead, he hired "a network of sources who live in or came from the place that you're interested in... who can travel and talk to people and find out what's going on" to get the dirt.

But we don't know who, since, per Simpson, "I didn't ask for the specific identities of specific people."

So, Steele never corroborated the dossier's sources in person because he never went to Russia. He had contractors who spoke to the sources. There has been no indication Steele spoke directly to his sources.

Simpson never corroborated the dossier's sources. He didn't speak with them directly.

NBC News' Cynthia McFadden reported in January 2017 that the reason the Steele dossier had been included in the year-end briefing to outgoing President Barack Obama and then-President-Elect Trump was "they felt they needed to explain to the President-elect the difference between vetted intelligence ... and this raw kind of disinformation that's out there, they had it available."

FBI agent Peter Strzok, who had been one of the leading agents on the Russia probe the whole time, said in a May 19, 2017 text message to his mistress, FBI Agent Lisa Page, that he didn't want to join Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe because he thought there was "no big there there."

Comey said the dossier was "salacious and unverified" as of June 8, 2017.

Per the House Intelligence Committee memo, "a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele's reporting as only minimally corroborated."

Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe says about the only thing they could corroborate from the dossier was the fact that Page had traveled to Moscow.

Finally, if it was not for the dossier, there would not have been a FISA court memo: "Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information."

From this sloppy record, there can be no more pretense that the Russia collusion investigation was ever properly initiated. It was rotten from its inception. There was never probable cause that any member of the Trump campaign was working as a Russian agent.

From this, and from President Trump fighting against these false allegations-trying to defend himself - Congressional Democrats would have you believe that President Trump ought to be impeached. Nonsense.

After this memo, heads must roll. The Mueller probe should be dismissed. Congress must act. And this can never be allowed to happen again. The country, and no less than the future of constitutional government, is at stake.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government. RcomX