Conclusion of Special Counsel Probe Puts Focus on Origins of FBI’s Investigation

News Analysis

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year-long investigation concluded on March 22 with a report to Attorney General William Barr that recommended no further indictments.

“The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” the report states.

None of Mueller’s prior indictments involved collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The news confirms reporting by The Epoch Times over the past two years that there was no evidence to support the claim that Trump colluded with Russia.

Instead, serious questions have arisen about the origins of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign, as well as the bureau’s use of politicized information in obtaining a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz confirmed last week that his office is still investigating the potential FISA abuse by the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Andrew McCabe and the Start of the Mueller Probe

A crucial figure in the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign was FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

McCabe held meetings with the key people involved in the investigation, such as FBI agent Peter Strzok, outside of the regular chain of command, and was personally involved in the FBI’s FISA warrant application on Carter Page.

One of those meetings was described in the now infamous “insurance policy” text message in which Strzok described to Lisa Page—McCabe’s special counsel with whom Strzok was having an affair—a meeting that took place in “Andy’s” (McCabe’s) office:

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way he gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

McCabe and Strzok had previously worked together at the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Just months after McCabe was transferred to headquarters, Strzok was transferred to rejoin McCabe to work on the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to send classified information.

McCabe’s actions as the acting FBI director also appear to have led to the appointment of the special counsel.

McCabe became acting director after Trump fired James Comey on May 9, 2017, at the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Just two days later, McCabe testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a pre-scheduled appearance. In his testimony, McCabe said there had been “no effort to impede our investigation to date.”

Yet despite McCabe’s statement that there had been no obstruction from the White House, he appears to have pursued opening an obstruction of justice investigation of Trump just days later. During a May 16 meeting with Rosenstein, McCabe reportedly tried to push “for the Justice Department to open an investigation into the president,” as relayed by a participant at the meeting to The Washington Post.

Rosenstein would meet later that same day with former FBI Director Robert Mueller and President Trump in the oval office, ostensibly as part of Mueller’s interview for the position of FBI director.

The next day, Rosenstein announced the appointment of Mueller as special counsel.

The special counsel probe, in essence, took away control of the investigation from the FBI under Acting Director McCabe and placed it in the hands of Mueller.

This was confirmed by the DOJ in a statement last month that read, “The deputy attorney general in fact appointed special counsel Robert Mueller, and directed that Mr. McCabe be removed from any participation in that investigation.”

This sequence of events was first reported by Epoch Times contributor Jeff Carlson in a Dec. 7, 2018, article.

The Steele Dossier

At the heart of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign was the so-called “Steele dossier” produced by Fusion GPS.

The firm had been hired by Perkins Coie on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to produce the dossier. Fusion GPS, in turn, had hired former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele to produce the dossier—at least in part.

Steele, alongside Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, was instrumental in spreading the dossier and the allegations contained in it to the media, politicians, the FBI, and the State Department.

Notably, the FBI relied heavily on the dossier to obtain the FISA warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

One of the ways that Simpson and Steele spread the unverified information to the FBI was through high-ranking DOJ official Bruce Ohr. At the time, Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr—a former CIA contractor—was hired by Fusion GPS to research the Trump campaign.

The Ohrs, Steele, and one other individual, whose identity is not known, met over breakfast on July 30, 2016.

Ohr recalled the meeting to congressional investigators in August last year, saying:

“In the July 30th conversation, one of the items of information that Chris Steele gave to me was that he had information that a former head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR, had stated to someone—I didn’t know who—that they had Donald Trump over a barrel.”

In the days following the meeting, Bruce Ohr had a meeting with McCabe and Lisa Page in McCabe’s office.

From that point on, Ohr would continue to pass on information from Steele into the FBI. This continued even after the FBI formally terminated its relationship with Steele over his unauthorized contact with members of the media.

Ohr had been assigned an FBI handler, Joe Pientka, who summarized his meetings with Ohr in official FD-302 forms.

Notably, in the days following the firing of Comey as FBI director in May 2017, the FBI under McCabe requested that Ohr reach out to Steele. According to Ohr’s testimony, this was the only time he was asked to reach out to Steele—normally the flow of information was initiated by Steele.

The decision by McCabe’s FBI to reach out to Steele again—despite that his dossier had become public by this point and was widely discredited—came at the same time when he was considering investigating Trump. The attempts to re-engage Steele, however, were thwarted by the appointment of special counsel Mueller.