The FBI started investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia without any official intelligence to justify it, according to House intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes.
Nunes said on Sunday that his committee has reviewed electronic communications that passed through the Five Eyes intelligence agencies to the U.S. government and found nothing that could be used to start an investigation. The Five Eyes is an intelligence-sharing agreement between the United States, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
“We now know that there was no official intelligence that was used to start this investigation,” Nunes told Fox News.
According to the official narrative, the FBI started investigating allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia based on intelligence that Trump campaign associate George Papadopoulos met with a professor in London who had Russian ties. The professor, Joseph Mifsud, told Papadopoulos that the Russians had thousands of Clinton-related emails.
The content of that meeting somehow made it to the FBI; the House intelligence committee is trying to determine how that happened.
Nunes pointed out that the committee already knows that longtime Clinton associates Cody Shearer and Sydney Blumenthal funneled a collection of notes written by Shearer to the State Department. Someone in the State Department then shared these notes with former British spy Christopher Steele, who, in turn, handed them to the FBI, according to CNN.
The House intelligence committee is now investigating the State Department, where Nunes said there were “major irregularities.”
The investigation of Papadopoulos enabled the FBI to eventually use counterintelligence surveillance tools to spy on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
“This is really important to us because the counterintelligence investigation uses the tools of our intelligence services that are not supposed to be used on American citizens,” Nunes said. “We’ve long wanted to know, ‘Well, what intelligence did you have that actually led to this investigation?'”
The FBI applied for a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. A House intelligence committee memo published in February revealed that both the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) intentionally withheld from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that much of the evidence presented in the application was based on the so-called Trump dossier.
The dossier, produced by Fusion GPS and paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), relies almost exclusively on Russian sources.
During a June 2017 testimony, former FBI Director James Comey said under oath that the dossier was both “salacious and unverified.”
The intentional misleading of the FISA court, knowingly presenting it with false information to justify a FISA warrant on a political campaign, could lead to criminal prosecution of those involved.
A FISA warrant allowed the FBI to use extensive spying powers, including communications obtained by spy agencies such as the National Security Agency, to spy on an American citizen. Through the so-called two-hop rule, it could also spy on those who were in contact with the original target—and in the case of Page, it allowed them to potentially spy on a large number of members of the Trump campaign.
The lead agent on the FBI counterintelligence investigation, Peter Strzok, was demoted and fired from the team of special counsel Robert Mueller after nearly 10,000 text messages sent between him and FBI lawyer Lisa Page revealed a strong bias against Trump and toward Clinton.
Strzok oversaw the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server to send classified information while serving as secretary of state. He was also part of the FBI team that worked on the exoneration statement for Clinton before the investigation into her case had even concluded.
Jasper Fakkert contributed to this report.
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