Our latest Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, just declassified a response that the FISA court sent to the Department of Justice back in June, which lays out a “road map” of John Durham’s investigation.
Ratcliffe comes through again
Our official Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, picked up the declassification work started by Richard Grenell. Last week, he turned loose a report written by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court giving them guidance on how much they had to turn over and what they could hold on to.
Reading between the lines, conservative pundit Sundance at Conservative Treehouse noticed that what Ratcliffe revealed not only provides crucial information about the Carter Page wiretap conspiracy, it maps out the direction of the Durham probe. From what judge Boasberg had to say, Page will get a serious answer to his FOIA request even if nobody else does.
According to Conservative Treehouse, each of five separate points “queried by the DOJ” points “to a specific path being taken by the DOJ in general and the John Durham probe specifically.” Ratcliffe teamed up with Attorney General William Barr to release “an opinion dated June 25, 2020,” that lays out “limited circumstances” under which the Government “may temporarily retain, use, or disclose information that was unlawfully acquired pursuant to a FISC order.” Like what happened in the Carter Page case. It is important to note that if the report was dated near the end of June, the request for guidance had to have been submitted even earlier.
All four Page warrants were granted based on lies
The bombshell revelation from the report is that the Department of Justice admits for the very first time that all four of the Carter Page wiretap warrants were illegally obtained, not just the last two renewals as they were trying to claim. “This is a big deal,” Sundance writes. The paperwork just made public by Ratcliffe admits “all four submissions contained material omissions and violations of ‘the duty of candor’ by the FBI investigative unit and the DOJ team that assembled the applications.” So the FBI lied and the DOJ helped them lie some more and the lies were “material” which means “they mattered.” If the FBI had told the truth, they would not have been allowed to have their warrant so they left the truth totally out of the file.
All five of the questions Ratcliffe made public are related to the Page investigation. More importantly they’re about the evidence used to get the wiretap and renew it three times. The FBI needs “guidance” on how much they should release. They wanted guidance on “distribution of material due to FOIA demands,” including the one made by Carter Page to see the evidence used against him. They wanted clues on how to distribute “material due to ongoing and anticipated civil litigation.” Because Page will sue them for it. They wanted more guidance “for distribution of material to internal investigative units from the FBI inspectors division.” That’s because they are under an internal investigation amounting to damage control.
While the first three requests are related to the material that had already been “sanitized” to file off all the serial numbers and incriminating marks, the last two questions ask for guidance about “distribution of non-minimized information.” They need to turn some of that over to the Inspector General for his ongoing investigation. The real biggie is John Durham. The documents Ratcliffe unsealed show the FBI asked specifically for “guidance for distribution of material to John Durham probe, both for criminal prosecution and possible evidence gathering attached to other ongoing investigative needs.”
Judge Boasberg got straight to the point and said first and foremost that there is a huge difference between the rules on keeping records and distributing them. Distribution should be a cautious affair, the Ratcliffe release notes. One noteworthy point raised some eyebrows at the Conservative Treehouse. “One of the disconcerting parts of this segment seems to be the FISA court subtly guiding the DOJ away from using non-minimized raw FISA material in prosecution of intentional malfeasance.” They strongly suggest that only the redacted and scrubbed information gets used in shady deals. It makes it harder for people like Durham to find the mistakes. In the Page case, the “raw material” would be the “Steele Dossier.”
The paperwork Ratcliffe disclosed quotes the court as saying “allowing a target to escape prosecution is part of the penalty upon the DOJ for wrongful assembly.” Sundance quickly points out, “the court does not consider the DOJ is targeting the ‘assemblers’ for their criminal conduct. Rather, the response is general toward criminals who were targets of a FISA application assembled with corrupt intent. A little weird.” One thing is sure. Carter Page will get his documents. “On the topic of Carter Page getting his FOIA fulfilled, the court supports expansive distribution to Mr. Page.”