Office of the Inspector General – FISA Abuse Report

Office of the Inspector General – FISA Abuse Report

REDACTED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE
Office of the Inspector General
U.S. Department of Justice
OVERSIGHT* INTEGRITY * GUIDANCE
Review of Four FISA Applications and
Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
Hurricane Investigation
Oversight and Review Division 20-012 December 2019
All information contained herein is unclassified
Date: 12/8/2019 BY: C28W34B64
This redacted version only
REDACTED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE
Executive Summary
Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
Hurricane Investigation
Background
The Department of Justice (Department) Office
of the Inspector General (OIG) undertook this review to
examine certain actions by the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) and the Department during an FBI
investigation opened on July 31, 2016, known as
“Crossfire Hurricane,” into whether individuals
associated with the Donald J. Trump for President
Campaign were coordinating, wittingly or unwittingly,
with the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the
2016 U.S. presidential election. Our review included
examining:
• The decision to open Crossfire Hurricane and four
individual cases on current and former members
of the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos,
Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn;
the early investigative steps taken; and whether
the openings and early steps complied with
Department and FBI policies;
• The FBI’s relationship with Christopher Steele,
whom the FBI considered to be a confidential
human source (CHS); its receipt, use, and
evaluation of election reports from Steele; and its
decision to close Steele as an FBI CHS;
• Four FBI applications filed with the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) in 2016 and
2017 to conduct Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act (FISA) surveillance targeting Carter Page; and
whether these applications complied with
Department and FBI policies and satisfied the
government’s obligations to the FISC;
• The interactions of Department attorney Bruce
Ohr with Steele, the FBI, Glenn Simpson of Fusion
GPS, and the State Department; whether work
Ohr’s spouse performed for Fusion GPS implicated
ethical rules applicable to Ohr; and Ohr’s
interactions with Department attorneys regarding
the Manafort criminal case; and
• The FBI’s use of Undercover Employees (UCEs)
and CHSs other than Steele in the Crossfire
Hurricane investigation; whether the FBI placed
any CHSs within the Trump campaign or tasked
any CHSs to report on the Trump campaign;
whether the use of CHSs and UCEs complied with
Department and FBI policies; and the attendance
of a Crossfire Hurricane supervisory agent at
counterintelligence briefings given to the 2016
presidential candidates and certain campaign
advisors.
OIG Methodology
The OIG examined more than one million
documents that were in the Department’s and FBI’s
possession and conducted over 170 interviews involving
more than 100 witnesses. These witnesses included
former FBI Director Corney, former Attorney General
(AG) Loretta Lynch, former Deputy Attorney General
(DAG) Sally Yates, former DAG Rod Rosenstein, former
Acting AG and Acting DAG and current FBI General
Counsel Dana Boente, former FBI Deputy Director
Andrew McCabe, former FBI General Counsel James
Baker, and Department attorney Bruce Ohr and his
wife. The OIG also interviewed Christopher Steele and
current and former employees of other U.S.
government agencies. Two witnesses, Glenn Simpson
and Jonathan Winer (a former Department of State
official), declined our requests for voluntary interviews,
and we were unable to compel their testimony.
We were given broad access to relevant
materials by the Department and the FBI. In addition,
we reviewed relevant information that other U.S.
government agencies provided the FBI in the course of
the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. However,
because the activities of other agencies are outside our
jurisdiction, we did not seek to obtain records from
them that the FBI never received or reviewed, except
for a limited amount of State Department records
relating to Steele; we also did not seek to assess any
actions other agencies may have taken. Additionally,
our review did not independently seek to determine
whether corroboration existed for the Steele election
reporting; rather, our review was focused on
information that was available to the FBI concerning
Steele’s reports prior to and during the pendency of the
Carter Page FI?A authority.
Our role in this review was not to second-guess
discretionary judgments by Department personnel
about whether to open an investigation, or specific
judgment calls made during the course of an
investigation, where those decisions complied with or
were authorized by Department rules, policies, or
procedures. We do not criticize particular decisions
merely because we might have recommended a
different investigative strategy or tactic based on the
facts learned during our investigation. The question we
considered was not whether a particular investigative
decision was ideal or could have been handled more
effectively, but rather whether the Department and the
FBI complied with applicable legal requirements,
policies, and procedures in taking the actions we
reviewed or, alternatively, whether the circumstances
surrounding the decision indicated that it was based on
Executive Summary
Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
Hurricane Investigation
inaccurate or incomplete information, or considerations
other than the merits of t he investigation. If the
explanations we were given for a particular decision
were consistent with legal requirements, policies,
procedures, and not unreasonable, we did not conclude
that t he decision was based on improper considerations
in the absence of documentary or testimonial evidence
to the contrary.
The Opening of Crossfire Hurricane and
Four Related Investigations, and Early
Investigative Steps
The Opening of Crossfire Hurricane and Four Individual
Cases
As we describe in Chapter Three, the FBI
opened Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016, just days
after its receipt of information from a Friendly Foreign
Government (FFG) reporting that, in May 2016, during
a meeting with the FFG, then Trump campaign foreign
policy advisor George Papadopoulos “suggested the
Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from
Russia that it could assist this process with the
anonymous release of information during the campaign
that would be damaging to Mrs. Clinton (and President
Obama).” The FBI Electronic Communication (EC)
opening the Crossfire Hurricane investigation stated
that, based on the FFG information, “this investigation
is being opened to determine whether individual(s)
associated with the Trump campaign are witting of
and/or coordinating activities with the Government of
Russia.” We did not find informat ion in FBI or
Department ECs, emails, or other documents, or
through witness testimony, indicating that any
information other than the FFG information was relied
upon to predicate the opening of t he Crossfire Hurricane
investigation. Although not mentioned in the EC, at the
time, FBI officials involved in opening the investigation
had reason to believe that Russia may have been
connected to the Wikileaks disclosures that occurred
earlier in July 2016, and were aware of information
regarding Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016
U.S. elections. These officials, though, did not become
aware of Steele’s election reporting until weeks later
and we therefore determined that Steele’s reports
played no role in the Crossfire Hurricane opening.
The FBI assembled a Headquarters-based
investigative team of special agents, analysts, and
supervisory special agents (referred to throughout this
report as “the Crossfire Hurrica ne team”) who
conducted an initial analysis of links between Trump
campaign members and Russia. Based upon this
ii
analysis, the Crossfire Hurricane team opened individual
cases in August 2016 on four U.S. personsPapadopoulos,
Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael
Flynn- all of whom were affiliated with the Trump
campaign at the time the cases were opened.
As detailed in Chapter Two, the Attorney
General’s Guidelines for Domestic Operations (AG
Guidelines) and the FBI’s Domestic Investigations
Operations Guide (DIOG) both require that FBI
investigations be undertaken for an “authorized
purpose”-that is, “to detect, obtain information about,
or prevent or protect against federal crimes or threats
to the national security or to collect foreign
intelligence.” Additionally, both the AG Guidelines and
the DIOG permit the FBI to conduct an investigation,
even if it might impact First Amendment or other
constitutionally protected activity, so long as there is
some legitimate law enforcement purpose associated
with the investigation.
In addition to requiring an authorized purpose,
FBI investigations must have adequate factual
predication before being initiated. The predication
requirement is not a legal requirement but rather a
prudential .one imposed by Department and FBI policy.
The DIOG provides for two types of investigations,
Preliminary Investigations and Full Investigations. A
Preliminary Investigation may be opened based upon
“any allegation or information” indicative of possible
criminal activity or threats to the national security. A
Full Investigation may be opened based upon an
“articulable factua l basis” that “reasonably indicates”
any one of three defined circumstances exists,
including:
An activity constituting a federal crime
or a threat to the national security has
or may have occurred, is or may be
occurring, or will or may occur and t he
investigation may obtain information
relating to the activity or the
involvement or role of an individual,
group, or organization in such activity.
In Full Investigations such as Crossfire
Hurricane, all lawful investigative methods are allowed.
In Preliminary Investigations, all lawful investigative
methods (includ ing the use of CHSs and UCEs) are
permitted except for mail opening, physical searches
requiring a search warrant, electronic surveillance
requiring a judicial order or warrant (Title III wiretap or
a FISA order), or requests under Title VII of FISA. An
investigation opened as a Preliminary Investigation may
be converted subsequently to a Full Investigation if
Executive Summary
Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
Hurricane Investigation
information becomes available that meets the
predication standard. As we describe in the report, all
of the investigative actions taken by t he Crossfire
Hurricane team, from the date the case was opened on
July 31 unt il October 21 (the date of the first FISA
order) would have been permitted whether the case
was opened as a Preliminary or Full I nvest igation.
The AG Guidelines and the DIOG do not provide
heightened predication standards for sensitive matters,
or allegations potentia lly impacting constitutionally
protected activity, such as First Amendment rights.
Rather, the approval and notification requirements
contained in the AG Guidelines and the DIOG are, in
part, intended to provide t he means by which such
concerns can be considered by senior officials.
However, we were concerned to find that neither the AG
Guidelines nor the DIOG contain a provision requiring
Department consultation before opening an
investigation such as the one here involving the alleged
conduct of individuals associated with a major party
presidential campaign.
Crossfire Hurricane was opened as a Full
Investigation and all of the senior FBI officials who
participated in discussions about whether to open a
case told us the information warra nted opening it. For
example, then Counterintel ligence Division (CD)
Assistant Director (AD) E.W. “Bill” Priestap, who
approved the case opening, told us that the
combination of t he FFG information and the FBI ‘s
ongoing cyber intrusion investigation of the July 2016
hacks of the Democratic Nat ional Committee’s (DNC)
emails, created a count erintelligence concern that the
FBI was “obligated” to investigate. Priestap stated that
he considered whether the FBI should cond uct
defensive briefings for the Trump campaign but
ultimately decided that providing such briefings created
the risk that “if someone on the campaign was engaged
with the Russians, he/she would very likely change
his/her tact ics and/or otherwise seek to cover-up
his/her activities, thereby prevent ing us from finding
the truth.” We did not identify any Department or FBI
policy t hat applied to this decision and therefore
determined that the decision was a judgment call that
Department and FBI policy leaves to the discretion of
FBI officia ls. We also concluded that, under the AG
Guidelines and the DIOG, t he FBI had an authorized
purpose when it opened Crossfire Hurricane to obtain
information about, or protect against, a national
security threat or federal crime, even though the
investigation also had the potent ial to impact
constitutionally protected activity.
iii
Additionally, given the low threshold for
predication in the AG Guidelines and the DIOG, we
concluded that t he FFG information, provided by a
government the United States Intelligence Community
(USIC) deems trustworthy, and describing a first-hand
account from an FFG employee of a conversation with
Papadopoulos, was sufficient to predicate the
investigation. This information provided the FBI with an
articulable factual basis that, if true, reasonably
indicated activity constituting either a federal crime or a
t hreat to national security, or both, may have occurred
or may be occurring. For similar reasons, as we detail
in Chapter Three, we concluded that the quantum of
information articulated by the FBI to open t he individual
investigations on Papadopoulos, Page, Flynn, and
Manafort in August 2016 was sufficient to satisfy the
low threshold established by the Department and the
FBI.
As part of our review, we also sought to
determine whether there was evidence that political
bias or other improper considerations affected decision
making in Crossfire Hurrica ne, including the decision to
open the investigation. We discussed t he issue of
political bias in a prior OIG report, Review of Various
Actions in Advance of the 2016 Election, where we
described text and instant messages between then
Special Counsel to the Deputy Director Lisa Page and
then Section Chief Peter Strzok, among others, that
included statements of hostility toward then candidate
Trump and statements of support for then candidate
Hillary Clinton. I n t his review, we found that, while Lisa
Page attended some of the discussions regarding the
opening of the investigations, she did not play a role in
the decision to open Crossfire Hurrica ne or the four
individual cases. We further found that while Strzok
was directly involved in the decisions to open Crossfire
Hurricane and the four individual cases, he was not the
sole, or even the highest-level, decision maker as to
any of those matters. As noted above, then CD AD
Priestap, Strzok’s supervisor, was the official who
ultimately made the decision to open the investigation,
and evidence reflected that this decision by Priestap
was reached by consensus after multip le days of
discussions and meetings that included Strzok and
other leadership in CD, the FBI Deputy Director, the FBI
General Counsel, and a FBI Deputy General Counsel.
We concluded that Priestap’s exercise of discretion in
opening the investigation was in compliance with
Department and FBI policies, and we did not find
documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias
or improper motivation influenced his decision. We
similarly found that, while the formal documentation
opening each of the fou r individual investigat ions was
approved by Strzok (as required by the DIOG), the
Executive Summary
Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
Hurricane Investigation
decisions to do so were reached by a consensus among
the Crossfire “Hurricane agents and analysts who
identified individuals associated with the Trump
campaign who had recently traveled to Russia or had
other alleged t ies to Russia. Priestap was involved in
these decisions. We did not find documentary or
testimonial evidence that political bias or improper
motivation influenced the decisions to open the four
individual investigat ions.
Sensitive Investigative Matter Designation
The Crossfire Hurricane investigation was
properly designated as a “sensitive investigative
matter,” or SIM, by the FBI because it involved the
activit ies of a domestic political organization or
individuals prominent in such an organization. The
DIOG requires that SIMs be reviewed in advance by the
FBI Office of the General Counsel (OGC) and approved
by the appropriate FBI Headquarters operational section
chief, and t hat an “appropriate [National Security
Division] official” receive notification after the case has
been opened.
We concluded that the FBI satisfied the DIOG’s
approval and notificat ion requirements for SIMs. As we
describe in Chapter Three, the Crossfire Hurricane
opening was reviewed by an OGC Unit Chief and
approved by AD Priestap (two levels above Section
Chief). The team also ora lly briefed National Security
Division (NSD) officials within the first few days of the
investigations being initiated. We were concerned,
however, that Department and FBI policies do not
require t hat a senior Department official be notified
prior to the opening of a particularly sensitive case such
as t his one, nor do they place any additional
requi rements for SIMs beyond the approval and
notification requirements at the t ime of opening, and
therefore we include a recommendation to address this
issue.
Early Investigative Steps and Adherence to the Least
Intrusive Method
The AG Guidelines and the DIOG require that
the ” least intrusive” means or method be “considered”
when selecting investigative techniques and, ” if
reasonable based upon the circumstances of the
investigation,” be used to obtain information instead of
a more intrusive method. The DIOG states that the
degree of procedural protection the law and Department
and FBI policy provide for the use of a particular
investigative method helps to determine its
intrusiveness. As described in Chapter Three,
immediately after opening the investigation, the
iv
Crossfire Hurricane team submitted name t race
requests to other U.S. government agencies and a
foreign intelligence agency, and conducted law
enforcement database and open source searches, to
identify individuals associated with the Trump campaign
in a position to have received the alleged offer of
assistance from Russia. The FBI also sent Strzok and a
Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) abroad to interview
t he source of the information the FBI received from the
FFG, and also searched t he FBI ‘s database of CHSs to
identify sources who potentially cou ld provide
information about connections between individuals
associated with the Trump campaign and Russia. Each
of these steps is authorized under the DIOG and was a
less intrusive investigative technique.
Thereafter, the Crossfire Hurr icane team used
more int rusive techniques, including CHSs to interact
and consensually record multiple conversations with
Page and Papadopoulos, both before and after they
were working for the Trump campaign, as well as on
one occasion with a high-level Trump campaign official
who was not a subject of the investigation. We found
that, under Department and FBI policy, al though this
CHS activity implicated Fi rst Amendment protected
activity, the operations were permitted because their
use was not for the sole purpose of monitoring activ it ies
protected by the First Amendment or the lawful exercise
of other rights secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States. Additionally, we found t hat under
FBI policy, the use of a CHS to conduct consensual
monitoring is a matter of investigative j udgment that,
absent certain circumstances, can be authorized by a
first-line supervisor (an SSA). We determined that the
CHS operations conducted during Crossfire Hurricane
received the necessary FBI approvals and t hat, while
AD Priestap knew about and approved of all of the
operations, review beyond a first-level FBI supervisor
was not requ ired by Department or FBI policy.
We found it concerni ng that Department and
FBI policy did not require the FBI to consult with any
Department official in advance of conducting CHS
operations involving advisors to a major party
candidate’s presidential campaign, and we found no
evidence that the FBI consulted with any Department
officials before conducting these CHS operations. As we
describe in Chapter Two, consultation, at a minimum, is
required by Department and FBI policies in numerous
other sensitive ci rcumstances, and we include a
recommendation to address this issue.
Shortly after opening the Carter Page
investigation in August 2016, the Crossfire Hurricane
team discussed the possible use of FISA-authorized
Executive Summary
Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
Hurricane Investigation
electronic surveillance targeting Page, which is among
the most sensitive and intrusive investigative
techniques. As we describe in Chapter Five, the FBI
ultimately did not seek a FISA order at that time
because OGC, NSD’s Office of Intelligence (OI), or both
determined that more information was needed to
support probable cause that Page was an agent of a
foreign power. However, immediately after the
Crossfire Hurricane team received Steele’s election
reporting on September 19, the team reinit iated their
discussions with or and their efforts to obtain FISA
surveillance authority for Page, which they received
from the FISC on October 21.
The decision to seek to use this highly intrusive
investigative technique was known and approved at
multiple levels of the Department, including by then
DAG Yates for the initial FISA application and first
renewal, and by then Acting Attorney General Boente
and then DAG Rosenstein for the second and third
renewals, respectively. However, as we explain later,
the Crossfire Hurricane team failed to inform
Department officials of significant information that was
available to the team at the time that the FISA
applications were drafted and filed. Much of that
information was inconsistent with, or undercut, the
assertions contained in the FISA applications that were
used to support probable cause and, in some instances,
resulted in inaccurate information being included in the
applications. While we do not speculate whether
Department officials would have authorized the FBI to
seek to use FISA authority had they been made aware
of all relevant information, it was clearly the
responsibility of Crossfire Hurricane team members to
advise them of such critical information so that they
could make a fully informed decision.
The FBI’s Relationship with Christopher
Steele, and Its Receipt and Evaluation of
His Election Reporting before the First
FISA Application
who, in 2009,
formed a consulting firm specializing in corporate
intelligence and investigative services. In 2010, Steele
was introduced by Ohr to an FBI agent, and for several
years provided information to the FBI about various
matters, such as corruption in the International
Federation of Association Football (FIFA). Steele also
provided the FBI agent with reporting about Russian
oligarchs.
V
In 2013, the FBI completed the paperwork
allowing the FBI to designate Steele as a CHS.
However, as described in Chapter Four, we found that
the FBI and Steele held significantly differing views
about the nature of their relationship. Steele’s handling
agent viewed Steele as a former intelligence officer
colleague and FBI CHS, with obligations to the FBI.
Steele, on the other hand, told us that he was a
businessperson whose firm (not Steele) had a
contractual agreement with the FBI and whose
obligations were to his paying clients, not the FBI. We
concluded that this disagreement affected the FBI’s
control over Steele during the Crossfire Hurricane
investigation, led to divergent expectations about
Steele’s conduct in connection with his election
reporting, and ultimately resulted in the FBI formally
closing Steele as a CHS in November 2016 (although,
as discussed below, the FBI continued its relationship
with Steele through Ohr).
In June 2016, Steele and his consulting firm
were hired by Fusion GPS, a Washington, D.C.,
investigative firm, to obtain information about whether
Russia was trying to achieve a particular outcome in the
2016 U.S. elections, what personal and business ties
then candidate Trump had in Russia, and whether there
were any ties between the Russian government and
Trump or his campaign. ·steele’s work for Fusion GPS
resulted in his producing numerous election-related
reports, which have been referred to collectively as the
“Steele Dossier.” Steele himself was not the originating
source of any of the factual information in his reporting.
Steele instead relied on a Primary Sub-source for
information, who used his/her network of sub-sources
to gather information that was then passed to Steele.
With Fusion GPS’s authorization, Steele directly
provided more than a dozen of his reports to the FBI
between July and October 2016, and several others to
the FBI through Ohr and other third parties. The
Crossfire Hurricane team received the first six election
reports on September 19, 2016- more than two months
after Steele first gave his handling agent two of the six
reports. We describe the reasons it took two months
for the reports to reach the team in Chapter Four.
FBI’s Efforts to Evaluate the Steele Reporting
Steele’s handling agent told us that when Steele
provided him with the first election reports in July 2016
and described his engagement with Fusion GPS, it was
obvious to him that the request for the research was
politically motivated. The supervisory intelligence
analyst who supervised the analytical efforts for the
Crossfire Hurricane team (Supervisory Intel Analyst)
Executive Summary
Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
Hurricane Investigation
explained that he also was aware of the potential for
political influences on the Steele reporting.
The fact that the FBI believed Steele had been
retained to conduct political opposition research did not
require the FBI, under either DOJ or FBI policy, to
ignore his reporting. The FBI regularly receives
information from individuals with potentia lly significant
biases and motivations, including drug traffickers,
convicted felons, and even t errorists. The FBI is not
required to set aside such information; rather, FBI
policy requires that it critically assess the information.
We found that after receiving Steele’s reporting, the
Crossfire Hurricane team began those efforts in earnest.
We determined that the FBI’s decision to
receive Steele’s information for Crossfire Hurricane was
based on multiple factors, including: ( 1 Steele’s prior
work as an intelli ence rofessional for
; (2)
his expertise on Russia; (3) his record as an FBI CHS;
( 4) the assessment of Steele’s handling agent that
Steele was reliable and had provided helpful information
to the FBI in the past; and (5) the themes of Steele’s
reporting were consistent with the FBI’s knowledge at
the time of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S.
elections.
However, as we describe later, as the FBI
obtained additional information raising significant
questions about the reliability of the Steele election
reporting, the FBI failed to reassess the Steele reporting
relied upon in the FISA applications, and did not fully
advise NSD or 01 officials. We also found that the FBI
did not aggressively seek to obtain certain potentially
important information from Steele. For example, the
FBI did not press Steele for information about the actual
funding source for his election reporting work. Agents
also did not question Steele about his role in a
September 23, 2016 Yahoo News article entitled, “U.S.
intel officials probe ties between Trump advisor and
Kremlin,” that described efforts by U.S. intelligence to
determine whether Carter Page had opened
communication channels with Kremlin officials. As we
discuss in Chapters Five and Eight, the FBI assessed in
the Carter Page FISA applications, without any support,
that Steele had not “directly provided” the information
to Yahoo News.
The First Application for FISA Authority
on Carter Page
At the request of the FBI, the Department filed
four applications with the FISC seeking FISA authority
vi
targeting Carter Page: the first application on October I, 2016.,and three renewal applications on January
, April •, and June •, 2017. A different FISC judge
considered each application and issued the requested
orders, collectively resulting in approximately 11
months of FISA coverage targetin.2,_ Carter Page from
October •, 2016, to September., 2017. We discuss
the first FISA application in this section and in Chapter
Five.
Decision to Seek FISA Authority
We determined that the Crossfire Hurricane
team’s receipt of Steele’s election reporting on
September 19, 2016 played a centra l and essential role
in the FBI’s and Department’s decision to seek the FISA
order. As noted above, when the team first sought to
pursue a FISA order for Page in August 2016, a decision
was made by OGC, 01, or both that more information
was needed to support a probable cause finding that
Page was an agent of a foreign power. As a result, FBI
OGC ceased discussions with 01 about a Page FISA
order at that time.
On September 19, 2016, the same day that the
Crossfire Hurricane team first received Steele’s election
reporting, the team contacted FBI OGC again about
seeking a FISA order for Page and specifically focused
on Steele’s reporting in drafting the FISA request. Two
days later, on September 21, the FBI OGC Unit Chief
contacted the NSD 01 Unit Chief to advise him that the
FBI believed it was ready to submit a formal FISA
request to 01 relating to Page. Almost immediately
thereafter, 01 assigned an attorney (01 Attorney) to
begin preparation of the application.
Although the team also was interested in
seeking FISA surveillance targeting Papadopoulos, the
FBI OGC attorneys were not supportive. FBI and NSD
officials told us that the Crossfire Hurricane team
ultimately did not seek FISA surveillance of
Papadopoulos, and we are aware of no information
indicating that the team requested or seriously
considered FISA surveillance of Manafort or Flynn.
We did not find documentary or testimonial
evidence that political bias or improper motivation
influenced the FBI’s decision to seek FISA authority on
Carter Page.
Preparation and Review Process
As we detail in Chapter Two, the FISC Rules of
Procedure and FBI policy required that the Carter Page
FISA applications contain all material facts. Although
Executive Summary
Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
Hurricane Investigation
the FISC Rules do not define or otherwise explain what
constitutes a ” material” fact, FBI policy guidance states
that a fact is ” material” if it is relevant to the court’s
probable cause determination. Additionally, FBI policy
mandates that the case agent ensure that all factual
statements in a FISA application are “scrupulously
accurate.”
On or about September 23, the QI Attorney
began work on the FISA application. Over the next
several weeks, the QI Attorney prepared and edited a
draft application using information principally provided
by the FBI case agent assigned to the Carter Page
investigation at the t ime and, in a few instances, by an
OGC attorney (OGC Attorney) or other Crossfire
Hurricane team members. The drafting process
culminated in an application that asserted that the
Russian government was attempting to undermine and
influence the upcoming U.S. presidential election, and
that the FBI believed Carter Page was acting in
conjunction with the Russians in those efforts. The
application’s statement of facts supporting probable
cause to believe that Page was an agent of Russia was
broken down into five main elements:
• The efforts of Russian Intelligence Services (RIS)
to influence t he upcoming U.S. presidential
election;
• The Russian government’s attempted
coordination wit h members of the Trump
campaign, based on the FFG information
reporting the suggestion of assistance from the
Russians to someone associated with the Trump
campaign;
• Page’s historical connections to Russia and RIS;
• Page’s alleged coordination with the Russian
government on 2016 U.S. presidential election
activities, based on Steele’s report ing; and
• Page’s statements to an FBI CHS in October
2016 that that he had an “open checkbook” from
certain Russians to fund a think tank project.
In addition, the statement of facts described
Page’s denials of coord ination with the Russian
government, as reported in two news articles and
asserted by Page in a September 25 letter to then FBI
Director Corney.
The application received the necessary
Department approvals and certifications as required by
law. As we fully describe in Chapter Five, this
application received more attention and scrutiny than a
typical FISA application in terms of the additional layers
v ii
of review and number of high-level officials who read
the application before it was signed. These officials
included NSD’s Acting Assistant Attorney General,
NSD’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General with oversight
over QI, QI’s Operations Section Chief and Deputy
Section Chief, the DAG, Principal Associate Deputy
Attorney General, and the Associate Deputy Attorney
General responsible for ODAG’s national security
portfolio. However, as we explain below, the
Department decision makers who supported and
approved the application were not given all relevant
information.
Role of Steele Election Reporting in the First Application
In support of the fourth element in the FISA
application-Carter Page’s alleged coordination with the
Russian government on 2016 U.S. presidential election
activities-the application relied entirely on the following
information from Steele Reports 80, 94, 95, and 102:
• Compromising information about Hillary Clinton
had been compiled for many years, was
controlled by the Kremlin, and had been fed by
the Kremlin to the Trump campaign for an
extended period of time (Report 80);
• During a July 2016 trip to Moscow, Page met
secretly with Igor Sechin, Chairman of Russian
energy conglomerate Rosneft and close associate
of Putin, to discuss future cooperation and the
lifting of Ukraine- related sanctions against
Russia; and with Igor Divyekin, a highly-placed
Russian official, to discuss sharing with the
Trump campaign derogatory information about
Clinton (Report 94);
• Page was an intermediary between Russia and
the Trump campaign’s then manager (Manafort)
in a “well-developed conspiracy” of cooperation,
which led to Russia’s disclosu re of hacked DNC
emails to Wikileaks in exchange for the Trump
campaign’s agreement to sideline Russian
intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue
(Report 95); and
• Russia released the DNC emails to Wikileaks in
an attempt to swing voters to Trump, an
objective conceived and promoted by Page and
others (Report 102).
We determined that the FBI’s decision to rely
upon Steele’s election reporting to help esta blish
probable cause that Page was an agent of Russia was a
judgment reached initially by the case agents on the
Executive Summary
Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
Hurricane Investigation
Crossfire Hurricane team. We further determined that
FBI officials at every level concurred with this
judgment, from the OGC attorneys assigned to the
investigation to senior CD officials, then General
Counsel James Baker, then Deputy Director Andrew
McCabe, and then Director James Corney. FBI
leadership supported relying on Steele’s reporting to
seek a FISA order on Page after being advised of, and
giving consideration to, concerns expressed by Stuart
Evans, then NSD’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General
with oversight responsibility over OI, that Steele may
have been hired by someone associated with
presidential candidate Clinton or the DNC, and that the
foreign intelligence to be collected through the FISA
order would probably not be worth the “risk” of being
criticized later for collecting communications of
someone (Carter Page) who was “politically sensitive.”
According to McCabe, the FBI “felt strong ly” that the
FISA application should move forward because the team
believed they had to get to the bottom of what they
considered to be a potentially serious threat to national
security, even if the FBI would later be criticized for
taking such action. McCabe and others discussed the
FBI’s position with NSD and ODAG officials, and these
officials accepted the FBI’s decision to move forward
with the application, based substantially on the Steele
information.
We found that the FBI did not have information
corroborating the specific allegations against Carter
Page in Steele’s reporting when it relied upon his
reports in the first FISA application or subsequent
renewal applications. OGC and NSD attorneys told us
that, while the FBI’s “Woods Procedures” (described in
Chapter Two) require that every factual assertion in a
FISA application be “verified,” when information is
attributed to a FBI CHS, the Woods Procedures require
only that the agent verify, with supporting
documentation, that the application accurately reflects
what the CHS told the FBI. The procedures do not
require that the agent corroborate, through a second,
independent source, that what the CHS told the FBI is
true. We did not identify anything in the Woods
Procedures that is inconsistent with these officials’
description of the procedures.
However, absent corroboration for the factual
assertions in the election reporting, it was particularly
important for the FISA applications to articulate the
FBI’s knowledge of Steele’s background and its
assessment of his reliabi lity. On these point s, t he
applications advised the court that Steele was believed
to be a reliable source for three reasons: his
professional background; his history of work as an FBI
CHS since 2013; and his prior non-election reporting,
viii
which the FBI described as “corroborated and used in
criminal proceedings.” As discussed below, the
representations about Steele’s prior reporting were
overstated and had not been approved by Steele’s
handling agent, as required by the Woods Procedures.
Due to Evans’s persistent inquiries, the FISA
application also included a footnote, developed by OI
based on information provided by the Crossfire
Hurricane team, to address Evans’s concern about the
potential political bias of Steele’s research. The
footnote stated that Steele was hi red by an identified
U.S. person (Glenn Simpson) to conduct research
regarding “Candidate # l’s” (Donald Trump) t ies to
Russia and that the FBI “speculates” that th is U.S.
person was likely looking for information that could be
used to discredit the Trump campaign.
Relevant Information Inaccurately Stated, Omitted, or
Undocumented in the First Application
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. We found that the problems we
identified were primarily caused by the Crossfi re
Hurricane team failing to share all relevant information
with OI and, cons~quently, the information was not
considered by the Department decision makers who
ultimately decided to support the applications.
As more fully described in Chapter Five, based
upon the information known to t he FBI in October 2016,
the first application contained the following seven
significant inaccuracies and omissions:

  1. Omitted information the FBI had obtained from
    another U.S. government agency detailing its
    prior relationship with Page, including that Page
    had been approved as an “operational contact”
    for the other agency from 2008 to 2013, and
    that Page had provided information to the other
    agency concerning his prior contacts with certain
    Russian intelligence officers, one of which
    overlapped with facts asserted in the FISA
    application;
  2. Included a source characterization statement
    asserting that Steele’s prior reporting had been
    “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings,”
    Executive Summary
    Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
    Hurricane Investigation
    which overstated the significance of Steele’s past
    reporting and was not approved by Steele’s
    handling agent, as req uired by the Woods
    Procedures;
  3. Omitted information relevant to the reliabi lity of
    Person 1, a key Steele sub-source (who was
    attributed with providing the information in
    Report 95 and some of the information in
    Reports 80 and 102 relied upon in the
    application), namely that (1) Steele himself told
    members of the Crossfire Hurricane team that
    Person 1 was a “boaster” and an “egoist” and
    “ma en a e in some embellishment” and (2)
  4. Asserted that the FBI had assessed that Steele
    did not directly provide to the press information
    in the September 23 Yahoo News article based
    on the premise that Steele had told the FBI that
    he only shared his election-related research with
    the FBI and Fusion GPS, his client; this premise
    was incorrect and contradicted by documentation
    in the Woods File- Steele had told the FBI that
    he also gave his information to the State
    Department;
  5. Omitted Papadopoulos’s consensually monitored
    statements to an FBI CHS in September 2016
    denying that anyone associated with the Trump
    campaign was collaborating with Russia or with
    outside groups like Wikileaks in the release of
    emails;
  6. Omitted Page’s consensually monitored
    statements to an FBI CHS in August 2016 that
    Page had ” literally never met” or “said one word
    to” Paul Manafort and that Manafort had not
    responded to any of Page’s emails; if true, those
    statements were in tension with claims in Report
    95 that Page was part icipating in a conspiracy
    with Russia by acting as an intermediary for
    Manafort on behalf of the Trump campaign; and
  7. I ncluded Page’s consensually monitored
    statements to an FBI CHS in October 2016 that
    the FBI believed supported its theory that Page
    was an agent of Russia but omitted other
    statements Page made that were inconsistent
    with its theory, including denying having met
    with Sechin and Divyekin, or even knowing who
    Divyekin was; if true, those statements
    contradicted t he claims in Report 94 that Page
    ix
    had met secretly with Sechin and Divyekin about
    future cooperat ion with Russia and shared
    derogatory information about candidate Clinton.
    None of these inaccuracies and omissions were
    brought to the attention of OI before the last FISA
    application was fi led in June 2017. Consequently, these
    fa ilures were repeated in all three renewal applications.
    Further, as we discuss later, we identified 10 additional
    significant errors in the renewal applications.
    The fai lure to provide accurate and complete
    information to the OI Attorney concerning Page’s prior
    relationship with another U.S. government agency (i tem
    1 above) was particularly concerning because the OI
    Attorney had specifically asked the case agent in late
    September 2016 whether Carter Page had a current or
    prior relationship with the other agency. In response to
    that inquiry, the case agent advised t he OI Attorney
    that Page’s relationship was “dated” ( claiming it was
    when Page lived in Moscow in 2004-2007) and “outside
    scope.” This representation, however, was contrary to
    information that the other agency had provided to the
    FBI in August 2016, which stated that Page was
    approved as an “operational contact” of the other
    agency from 2008 to 2013 (after Page had left
    Moscow). Moreover, rather than being “outside scope,”
    Page’s status with the other agency overlapped in time
    with some of the interactions between Page and known
    Russian intelligence officers that were relied upon in the
    FISA applications to establish probable cause. Indeed,
    Page had provided information to the other agency
    about his past contacts with a Russian Intelligence
    Officer (Intelligence Officer 1), which were among the
    historical connections to Russian intelligence officers
    that the FBI relied upon in t he first FISA application
    (and subsequent renewal applications). According to
    the information from the other agency, an employee of
    t he other agency had assessed that Page “candidly
    described his contact with” Intelligence Officer 1 to the
    other agency. Thus, the FBI relied upon Page’s
    contacts with Intelligence Officer 1, among others, in
    support of its probable ca use statement in t he FISA
    application, while failing to disclose to OI or the FISC
    that ( 1) Page had been approved as an operational
    contact by the other agency during a five-year period
    that overlapped with allegations in the FISA application,
    (2) Page had disclosed to the other agency contacts
    that he had with Intelligence Officer 1 and certain other
    individuals, and (3) the other agency’s employee had
    given a positive assessment of Page’s ca ndor.
    Further, we were concerned by the FBI’s
    inaccurate assertion in the application that Steele’s prior
    reporting had been “corroborated and used in criminal
    Executive Summary
    Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
    Hurricane Investigation
    proceedings,” which we were told was primarily a
    reference to Steele’s role in the FIFA corruption
    investigation. We found that the team had speculated
    that Steele’s prior reporting had been corroborated and
    used in criminal proceedings without clearing the
    representation with Steele’s handling agent, as required
    by the Woods Procedures. According to the handling
    agent, he would not have approved the representation
    in the application because only “some” of Steele’s prior
    reporting had been corroborated-most of it had notand
    because Steele’s information was never used in a
    criminal proceeding. We concluded that these failures
    created the inaccurate impression in the applications
    that at least some of Steele’s past reporting had been
    deemed sufficiently reliable by prosecutors to use in
    court, and that more of his information had been
    corroborated than was actually the case.
    We found no evidence that the 01 Attorney,
    NSD supervisors, ODAG officials, or Yates were made
    aware of these issues before the first application was
    submitted to the court. Although we also found no
    evidence that Corney had been made aware of these
    issues at the time he certified the application, as
    discussed in our analysis in Chapter Eleven, multiple
    factors made it difficult for us to precisely determine the
    extent of FBI leadership’s knowledge as to each fact
    that was not shared with 01 and not included, or
    inaccurately stated, in the FISA applications. These
    factors included, among other things, limited
    recollections, the inability to question Corney or refresh
    his recollection with relevant, classified documentation
    because of his lack of a security clearance, and the
    absence of meeting minutes that would show the
    specific details shared with Corney and McCabe during
    briefings they received, beyond the more general
    investigative updates that we know they were provided.
    FBI Activities After the First FISA
    Application and FBI Efforts to Assess
    Steele’s Election Reporting
    On October 31, 2016, shortly after the first FISA
    application was signed, an article entitled “A Veteran
    Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian
    Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump,” was published by
    Mother Jones. Steele admitted to the FBI that he was a
    source for the article, and the FBI closed him as a CHS
    for cause in November 2016. However, as we describe
    below, despite having been closed for cause, the
    Crossfire Hurricane team continued to obtain
    information from Steele through Ohr, who met with the
    FBI on 13 occasions to pass along information he had
    been provided by Steele.
    X
    In Chapter Six, we describe the events that
    followed Steele’s closing as a CHS, including the FBI’s
    receipt of information from several third parties who
    had acquired copies of the Steele election reports, use
    of information from the Steele reports in an interagency
    assessment of Russian interference in the U.S. 2016
    elections, and continuing efforts to learn about Steele
    and his source network and to verify information from
    the reports following Steele’s closure.
    Starting in December 2016, FBI staff
    participated in an interagency effort to assess the
    Russian government’s intentions and actions concerning
    the 2016 U.S. elections. We learned that whether and
    how to present Steele’s reporting in the Intelligence
    Community Assessment (ICA) was a topic of significant
    discussion between the FBI and the other agencies
    participating in it. According to FBI staff, as the
    interagency editing process for the ICA progressed, the
    Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) expressed concern
    about the lack of vetting for the Steele election
    reporting and asserted it did not merit inclusion in the
    body of the report. An FBI Intel Section Chief told us
    the CIA viewed it as “internet rumor.” In contrast, as
    we describe in Chapter Six, the FBI, including Corney
    and McCabe, sought to include the reporting in the ICA.
    Limited information from the Steele reporting ultimately
    was presented in an appendix to the ICA.
    FBI efforts to verify information in the Steele
    election reports, and to learn about Steele and his
    source network continued after Steele’s closure as a
    CHS. In November and December 2016, FBI officials
    travelled abroad and met with persons who previously
    had professional contacts with Steele or had knowledge
    of his work. Information these FBI officials obtained
    about Steele was both positive and negative. We
    found, however, that the information about Steele was
    not placed in his FBI CHS file.
    We further learned that the FBI’s Validation
    Management Unit (VMU) completed a human source
    validation review of Steele in early 2017. The VMU
    review found that Steele’s past criminal reporting was
    “minimally corroborated,” and included this finding in its
    report that was provided to the Crossfire Hurricane
    team. This determination by the VMU was in tension
    with the source characterization statement included in
    the initial FISA application, which represented that
    Steele’s prior reporting had been ”corroborated and
    used in criminal proceedings.” The VMU review also did
    not identify any corroboration for Steele’s election
    reporting among the information that the Crossfire
    Hurricane team had collected. However, the VMU did
    not include this finding in its written validation report

Executive Summary
Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
Hurricane Investigation
Hurricane team, from Ohr and others, that
provided greater clarity on the political origins
and connections of Steele’s reporting, including
that Simpson was hired by someone associated
with the Democratic Party and/or the DNC;

  1. Failed to correct the assertion in the first FISA
    application that the FBI did not believe that
    Steele directly provided information to the
    reporter who wrote the September 23 Yahoo
    News article, even though there was no
    information in the Woods File to support this
    claim and even after certain Crossfire Hurricane
    officials learned in 2017, before the third
    renewal application, of an admission that Steele
    made in a court filing about his interactions with
    the news media in the late summer and early
    fall of 2016;
  2. Omitted the finding from a FBI source validation
    report that Steele was suitable for continued
    operation but that his past contributions to the
    FBI’s criminal program had been ” minimally
    corroborated,” and instead continued to assert
    in the source characterization statement that
    Steele’s prior reporting had been “corroborated
    and used in criminal proceedings”;
  3. Omitted Papadopoulos’s statements to an FBI
    CHS in late October 2016 denying that the
    Trump campaign was involved in the
    circumstances of the DNC email hack;
  4. Omitted Joseph Mifsud’s denials to the FBI t hat
    he supplied Papadopoulos with the info rmation
    Papadopoulos shared with the FFG (suggesting
    that the campaign received an offer or
    suggestion of assistance from Russia); and
  5. Omitted information indicating that Page played
    no role in the Republican platform change on
    Russia’s annexation of Ukraine as alleged in the
    Report 95, which was inconsistent with a factual
    assertion relied upon to support probable cause
    in all four FISA applications.
    Among the most serious of the 10 additional
    errors we found in the renewal applications was the
    FBI’s failure to advise OI or the court of the
    inconsistences, described in detail in Chapter Six,
    between Steele and his Primary Sub-source on the
    reporting relied upon in the FISA applications. Although
    the Primary Sub-source’s account of these
    communications, if true, was not consistent with and, in
    fact, contradicted the allegations of a “well-developed
    conspiracy” in Reports 95 and 102 attributed to Person
    1, the FBI did not share this information with OI. The
    xii
    FBI also failed to share other inconsistencies with OI,
    including the Primary Sub-source’s account of the
    alleged meeting between Page and Sechin in Steele’s
    Report 94 and his/her descript ions of the source
    network. The fact that the Primary Sub-source’s
    account contradicted key assertions attributed to
    his/her own sub-sources in Steele’s Reports 94, 95, and
    102 should have generated significant discussions
    between the Crossfire Hurricane team and OI prior to
    submitting the next FISA renewal application.
    According to Evans, had OI been made aware of the
    information, such discussions might have included the
    possibility of foregoing the renewa l request altogether,
    at least until the FBI reconciled the differences between
    Steele’s account and the Primary Sub-source’s account
    to the satisfaction of OI. However, we found no
    evidence that the Crossfire Hurricane team ever
    considered whether any of the inconsistencies
    warranted reconsideration of the FBI’s assessment of
    the reliability of the Steele reports or notice to OI
    before the subsequent renewal applications were filed.
    I nstead, the second and t hird renewal
    applications provided no substantive information
    concerning the Primary Sub-source’s interview, and
    offered only a brief conclusory statement that the FBI
    met with the Primary Sub-source “[i]n an effort to
    further corroborate Steele’s reporting” and found the
    Primary Sub-source to be ” truthful and cooperative.”
    We believe that including this statement, without also
    informing OI and the court that the Primary Subsource’s
    account of events contradicted key assert ions
    in Steele’s reporting , left a misimpression that the
    Primary Sub-source had corroborated the Steele
    reporting. Indeed, in a letter to the FISC in July 2018,
    before learning of these inconsistencies from us during
    this review, the Department defended the reliability of
    Steele’s reporting and the FISA applications by citing, in
    part, to the Primary Sub-source’s interview as
    “additional information corrobora t ing [Steele’s]
    reporting” and noting the FBI’s determination that
    he/she was “truthful and cooperative.”
    The renewal applications also continued to fail
    to include information regarding Carter Page’s past
    relationship with another U.S. government agency,
    even though both 01 and members of the Crossfire
    Hurricane expressed concern about the possibility of a
    prior relationship following interviews that Page gave to
    news outlets in April and May 2017 stating that he had
    assisted other U.S. government agencies in the past.
    As we describe in Chapter Eight, in June 2017, SSA 2,
    who was to be the affiant for Renewal Application No. 3
    and had been the affiant for the first two renewals, told
    us t hat he wanted a definitive answer to whether Page
    Executive Summary
    Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
    Hurricane Investigation
    had ever been a source for another U.S. government
    agency before he signed the fina l renewal application.
    This led to interactions between the OGC Attorney
    assigned to Crossfire Hurrica ne and a liaison from the
    other U.S. government agency. In an email from the
    liaison to the OGC Attorney, the liaison provided written
    guidance, including that it was the liaison’s recollect ion
    that Page had or continued to have a relationshi p with
    the other agency, and directed the OGC Attorney to
    review the information that the other agency had
    provided t o t he FBI in August 2016. As noted above,
    that August 2016 information stated that Page did, in
    fact, have a prior relationship with that other agency.
    The next morning, immediately following a 28 minute
    telephone call between the OGC Attorney and the 0I
    Attorney, the OGC Attorney forwarded to the 0I
    Attorney the liaison’s email (but not the or iginal email
    from the OGC At torney to the liaison setting out the
    questions he was asking) . The OI Attorney responded
    to the OGC Attorney, “thanks I think we are good and
    no need to carry it any further.” However, when the
    OGC Attorney subsequently sent the liaison’s email to
    SSA 2 the OGC Attorney altered the liaison’s email by
    insert{ng the words ” not a source” into it, thus making it
    appear that the liaison had said that Page was “not a
    source” for the other agency. Relying upon this altered
    email, SSA 2 signed t he third renewal application that
    again fai led to disclose Page’s past relationship with the
    other agency. Consistent with the I nspector General
    Act of 1978, following the OIG’s discovery that the OGC
    Attorney had altered and sent t he email to SSA 2, who
    thereaher relied on it to swear out the thi rd FISA
    application, the OIG promptly informed the Attorney
    General and t he FBI Director and provided them with
    the relevant information about the OGC Attorney’s
    actions.
    None of the inaccuracies and omissions that we
    identified in the renewal applications were brought to
    the attention of OI before the applications were filed.
    As a result, similar to the first application, the
    Department officials who reviewed one or more of the
    renewa l applications, including Yates, Boente, and
    Rosenstein, did not have accurate and complete
    information at the t ime t hey approved them.
    We do not speculate whether or how having
    accurate and complete information might have
    influenced the decisions of senior Department leaders
    who supported the four FISA applications, or t he court,
    if they had known all of the relevant information.
    Nevertheless, it was the obligation of the FBI agents
    and supervisors who were aware of the information to
    ensure that.the FISA applications were “scru pulously
    accurate” and t hat OI, the Department’s decision
    xiii
    makers, and ultimately, the court had the opportunity
    to consider the additional information and the
    information omitted from the fi rst application. The
    individuals involved did not meet t his obligation.
    Conclusions Concerning All Four FISA
    Applications
    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. These
    failures prevented OI from fully performing its
    gatekeeper function and deprived the decision makers
    the opportunity to make fully informed decisions.
    Although some of the factual misstatements and
    omissions we fou nd in t his review were arguably more
    significant than others, we believe t hat all of them
    taken together resulted in FISA applicat ions that made
    it appear that the information supporting probable
    cause was stronger than was actually the case.
    We identified at least 17 significant errors or
    omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications, and
    many addit ional errors in the Woods Procedures. These
    errors and omissions resulted from case agents
    providing wrong or incomplete infor mation to OI and
    failing to flag important issues for discussion. While we
    did not f ind documentary or testimonial evidence of
    intent ional misconduct on the part of the case agents
    who assisted OI in preparing the applications, or the
    agents and supervisors who performed the Woods
    Procedures, we also did not receive satisfactory
    explanations for the errors or problems we identified.
    In most instances, t he agent s and supervisors told us
    that they either did not know or recall why the
    information was not shared with OI, that the fa ilure to
    do so may have been an oversight, that they did not
    recognize at t he time the relevance of the information
    to t he FISA application, or that they did not believe the
    missing information to be significant . On this last point,
    we believe that case agents may have improperly
    substituted their own j udgments in place of the
    j udgment of OI, or in place of the court, to weigh t_he
    probative va lue of t he information. Further, the failu re
    to update OI on all significant case developments
    relevant to the FISA applications led us to conclude that
    the agents and supervisors did not give appropriate
    at tention or t reatment to t he facts that cut against
    probable cause, or reassess t he information supporting
    probable cause as the investigation progressed. The
    agents and SSAs also did not follow, or appear to even
    know, the requirements in t he Woods Procedures to reverify
    the factual assertions from previous applications
    Executive Summary
    Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
    Hurricane Investigation
    that are repeated in renewal applications and verify
    source characterization statements with the CHS
    handling agent and document the verification in the
    Woods File.
    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. FBI Headquarters established a
    chain of command for Crossfire Hurricane that included
    close supervision by senior CD managers, who then
    briefed FBI leadership throughout the investigation.
    Although we do not expect managers and supervisors to
    know every fact about an investigation, or senior
    officials to know all the details of cases about which
    they are briefed, in a sensitive, high-priority matter like
    this one, it is reasonable to expect that they will take
    the necessary steps to ensure that they are sufficiently
    familiar with the facts and circumstances supporting
    and potentially undermining a FISA application in order
    to provide effective oversight, consistent with their level
    of supervisory responsibility. We concluded that the
    information that was known to the managers,
    supervisors, and senior officials should have resulted in
    questions being raised regarding the reliability of the
    Steele reporting and the probable cause supporting the
    FISA applications, but did not.
    In our view, this was a failure of not only the
    operational team, but also of the managers and
    supervisors, including senior officials, in the chain of
    command. For these reasons, we recommend that the
    FBI review the performance of the employees who had
    responsibility for the preparation, Woods review, or
    approval of the FISA applications, as well as the
    managers and supervisors in the chain of command of
    the Carter Page investigation, including senior officials,
    and take any action deemed appropriate. In addition,
    given the extensive compliance failures we identified in
    this review, we believe that additional OIG oversight
    work is required to assess the FBI’s compliance with
    Department and FBI FISA-related policies that seek to
    protect the civil liberties of U.S. persons. Accordingly,
    we have today initiated an OIG audit that will further
    examine the FBI’s compliance with the Woods
    Procedures in FISA applications that target U.S. persons
    in both counterintelligence and counterterrorism
    investigations. This audit will be informed by the
    findings in this review, as well as by our prior work over
    the past 15 years on the Department’s and FBI’s use of
    xiv
    national security and surveillance authorities, including
    authorities under FISA, as detailed in Chapter One.
    Issues Relating to Department Attorney
    Bruce Ohr
    In Chapter Nine, we describe the interactions
    Department attorney Bruce Ohr had with Christopher
    Steele, the FBI, Glenn Simpson (the owner of Fusion
    GPS), and the State Department during the Crossfire
    Hurricane investigation. At the time of these
    interactions, which took place from about July 2016 to
    May 2017, Ohr was an Associate Deputy Attorney
    General in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General
    (ODAG) and the Director of the Organized Crime and
    Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).
    Ohr’s Interactions with Steele, the FBI, Simpson, and
    the State Department
    Beginning in July 2016, at about the same time
    that Steele was engaging with the FBI on his election
    reporting, Steele contacted Ohr, who he had known
    since at least 2007, to discuss information from Steele’s
    election reports. At Steele’s suggestion, Ohr also met
    in August 2016 with Simpson to discuss Steele’s
    reports. At the time, Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked at
    Fusion GPS as an independent contractor. Ohr also met
    with Simpson in December 2016, at which time
    Simpson gave Ohr a thumb drive containing numerous
    Steele election reports that Ohr thereafter provided to
    the FBI.
    On October 18, 2016, after speaking with Steele
    that morning, Ohr met with McCabe to share Steele’s
    and Simpson’s information with him. Thereafter, Ohr
    met with members of the Crossfire Hurricane team 13
    times between November 21, 2016, and May 15, 2017,
    concerning his contacts with Steele and Simpson. All
    13 meetings occurred after the FBI had closed Steele as
    a CHS and, except for the November 21 meeting, each
    meeting was initiated at Ohr’s request. Ohr told us that
    he did not recall the FBI asking him to take any action
    regarding Steele or Simpson, but Ohr also stated that
    “the general instruction was to let [the FBI]
    know … when I got information from Steele.” The
    Crossfire Hurricane team memorialized each of the
    meetings with Ohr as an ” interview” using an FBI FD-
    302 form. Separately, in November 2016, Ohr met with
    senior State Department officials regarding Steele’s
    election reporting.
    Department leadership, including Ohr’s
    supervisors in ODAG and the ODAG officials who
    Executive Summary
    Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
    Hurricane Investigation
    reviewed and approved the Carter Page FISA
    applications, were unaware of Ohr’s meetings with FBI
    officials, Steele, Simpson, and the State Department
    until after Congress requested information from the
    Department regarding Ohr’s activities in late November
    2017.
    We did not identify a specific Department policy
    prohibiting Ohr from meeting with Steele, Simpson, or
    the State Department and providing the information he
    learned from those meetings to the FBI. However, Ohr
    was clearly cognizant of his responsibility to inform his
    supervisors of these interactions, and acknowledged to
    the OIG that the possibility that he would have been
    told by his supervisors to stop having such contact may
    have factored into his decision not to tell them about it.
    We concluded that Ohr committed
    consequential errors in judgment by ( 1) failing to advise
    his direct supervisors or the DAG that he was
    communicating with Steele and Simpson and then
    requesting meetings with the FBI’s Deputy Director and
    Crossfire Hurricane team on matters that were outside
    of his areas of responsibility, and (2) making himself a
    witness in the investigation by meeting with Steele and
    providing Steele’s information to the FBI. As we
    describe in Chapter Eight, the late discovery of Ohr’s
    meetings with the FBI prompted NSD to notify the FISC
    in July 2018, over a year after the final FISA renewal
    order was issued, of information that Ohr had provided
    to the FBI but that the FBI had failed to inform NSD and
    01 about (and therefore was not included in the FISA
    applications), including that Steele was “desperate that
    Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about
    him not being the U.S. President.”
    FBI Compliance with Policies ·
    The FBI’s CHS Policy Guide (CHSPG) provides
    guidance to agents concerning contacts with CHSs after
    they have been closed for cause, as was the case with
    Steele as of November 2016. According to the CHSPG,
    a handling agent must not initiate contact with or
    respond to contacts from a former CHS who has been
    closed f.or cause absent exceptional circumstances that
    are approved by an SSA. The CHSPG also requires
    reopening of the CHS if the relationship between the
    FBI and a closed CHS is expected to continue beyond
    the initial contact or debriefing. Reopening requires
    high levels of supervisory approval, including a finding
    that the benefits of reopening the CHS outweigh the
    risks.
    We found that, while the Crossfire Hurricane
    team did not initiate direct contact with Steele after his
    xv
    closure, it responded to numerous contacts made by
    Steele through Ohr. Ohr himself was not a direct
    witness in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation; rather,
    his purpose in communicating with the FBI was to pass
    along information from Steele. While the FBI’s CHS
    policy does not explicitly address indirect contact
    between an FBI agent and a closed CHS, we concluded
    that the repeated contacts with Steele should have
    triggered the CHS policy requiring that such contacts
    occur only after an SSA determines that exceptional
    circumstances exist. While an SSA was present for the
    meetings with Ohr, we found no evidence that the SSAs
    made considered judgments that exceptional
    circumstances existed for the repeated contacts. We
    also found that, given that there were 13 different
    meetings with Ohr over a period of months, the use of
    Ohr as a conduit between the FBI and Steele created a
    relationship by proxy that should have triggered,
    pursuant to FBI policy, a supervisory decision about
    whether to reopen Steele as a CHS or discontinue
    accepting information indirectly from him through Ohr.
    Ethics Issues Raised by Nellie Ohr’s Former Employment
    with Fusion GPS
    Fusion GPS employed Nellie Ohr as an
    independent contractor from October 2015 to
    September 2016. On his annual financial disclosure
    forms covering calendar years 2015 and 2016, Ohr
    listed Nellie Ohr as an “independent contractor” and
    reported her income from that work on the form. We
    determined that financial disclosure rules, 5 C.F.R. Part
    2634, did not require Ohr to list on the form the specific
    organizations, such as Fusion GPS, that paid Nellie Ohr
    as an independent contractor during the reporting
    period.
    In addition, for reasons we explain in Chapter
    Eleven, we concluded that the federal ethics rules did
    not require Ohr to obtain Department ethics counsel
    approval before engaging with the FBI in connection
    with the Crossfire Hurricane matter because of Nellie
    Ohr’s prior work for Fusion GPS. However, we found
    that, given the factual circumstances that existed, and
    the appearance that they created, Ohr displayed a lapse
    in judgment by not availing himself of the process
    described in the ethics rules to consult with the
    Department ethics official about his involvement in the
    investigation.
    Meetings Involving Ohr, CRM officials, and the FBI
    Regarding the MLARS Investigation
    Executive Summary
    Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
    Hurricane Investigation
    Ohr’s supervisors in ODAG also were unaware
    that Ohr, shortly after the U.S. elections in November
    2016, and again in early 2017, participated in
    discussions about a money laundering investigation of
    Manafort that was then being led by prosecutors from
    the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section
    (MLARS), which is located in the Criminal Division
    (CRM) at the Department’s headquarters.
    As described in more detail in Chapter Nine, in
    November 2016, Ohr told CRM Deputy Assistant
    Attorney General Bruce Swartz and Counsel to the CRM
    Assistant Attorney General Zainab Ahmad about
    information he was getting from Steele and Simpson
    about Manafort. Between November 16, 2016 and
    December 15, 2016, Ohr participated in several
    meetings that were attended, at various times, by some
    or all of the fo llowing individuals: Swartz, Ahmad,
    Andrew Weissmann (then Section Chief of CRM’s Fraud
    Section), Strzok, and Lisa Page. The meetings involving
    Ohr, Swartz, Ahmad, and Weissmann focused on their
    shared concern that MLARS was not moving quickly
    enough on the Manafort criminal investigation and
    whether there were steps they could take to move the
    investigation forward. The meetings with Strzok and
    Page focused primarily on whether the FBI could assess
    the case’s relevance, if any, to the FBI’s Russian
    interference investigation. MLARS was not represented
    at any of these meetings or told about them, and none
    of attendees had supervisory responsibility over the
    MLARS investigation.
    There were no meetings about the Manafort
    case involving Ohr, Swartz, Ahmad, and Weissmann
    from December 16, 2016 to January 30, 2017. On
    January 31, 2017, one day after Yates was removed as
    DAG, Ahmad, by then an Acting CRM Deputy Assistant
    Attorney General, after consulting with Swartz and
    Weissmann, sent an email to Lisa Page, copying
    Weissmann, Swartz, and Ohr, requesting a meeting the
    next day to discuss “a few Criminal Division related
    developments.” The next day, February 1, Swartz, Ohr,
    Ahmad, and Weissmann met with Strzok, Lisa Page,
    and an FBI Acting Section Chief. None of the attendees
    at the meeting cou ld explain to us what the “Criminal
    Division related developments” were, and we did not
    find any. Meeting notes reflect, among other things,
    that the group discussed the Manafort crimina l
    investigation and efforts that the Department could
    undertake to investigate attempts by Russia to
    influence the 2016 elections. MLARS was not
    represented at, or told about, the meeting.
    We are not aware of information indicating that
    any of the discussions involving Ohr, Swartz,
    xvi
    Weissmann, Ahmad, Strzok, and Lisa Page resulted in
    any actions taken or not taken in the MLARS
    investigation, and ultimately the investigation remained
    with MLARS until it was transferred to the Office of the
    Special Counsel in May 2017. We also did not identify
    any Department policies prohibiting internal discussions
    about a pending investigation among officials not
    assigned to the matter, or between those officials and
    senior officials from the FBI. However, as described in
    Chapter Nine, we were told that there was a decision
    not to inform the leadership of CRM, both before and
    after the change in presidential administrations, of
    these discussions in order to insulate the MLARS
    investigation from becoming “politicized.” We
    concluded that this decision, made in the absence of
    concerns of potential wrongdoing or misconduct, and for
    the purpose of avoiding the appearance that an
    investigation is “politicized,” fundamentally
    misconstrued who is ultimately responsible and
    accountable for the Department’s work. We agree with
    the concerns expressed to us by then DAG Yates and
    then CRM Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell.
    Department leaders cannot fulfill their management
    responsibilities, and be held accountable for the
    Department’s actions, if subordinates intentionally
    withhold information from them in such circumstances.
    The Use of Confidential Sources (Other
    Than Steele) and Undercover Employees
    As discussed in Chapter Ten, we determined
    that, during the 2016 presidential campaign, the
    Crossfire Hurricane team tasked several CHSs, which
    resulted in multiple interactions with Carter Page and
    George Papadopoulos, both before and after they were
    affiliated with the Trump campaign, and one with a
    high-level Trump campaign official who was not a
    subject of the investigation. All of these CHS
    interactions were consensually monitored and recorded
    by the FBI. As noted above, under Department and FBI
    policy, the use of a CHS to conduct consensual
    monitoring is a matter of investigative judgment that,
    absent certain circumstances, can be authorized by a
    first-line supervisor (a supervisory special agent). We
    determined that the CHS operations conducted during
    Crossfire Hurricane received the necessary FBI
    approvals, and that AD Priestap knew about, and
    approved of, all of the Crossfire Hurricane CHS
    operations, even in circumstances where a first-level
    supervisory special agent could have approved the
    operations. We found no evidence that the FBI used
    CHSs or UCEs to interact with members of the Trump
    campaign prior to the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane
    investigation. After the opening of the investigation, we
    Executive Summary
    Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
    Hurricane Investigation
    found no evidence that the FBI placed any CHSs or
    UCEs within the Trump campaign or tasked any CHSs or
    UCEs to report on the Trump campaign. Finally, we
    also found no documentary or testimonial evidence t hat
    political bias or improper motivations influenced the
    FBI’s decision to use CHSs or UCEs to interact with
    Trump campaign officials in the Crossfire Hurricane
    investigation.
    Although the Crossfire Hurricane team’s use of
    CHSs and UCEs complied with applicable pol icies, we
    are concerned that, under these policies, it was
    sufficient for a fi rst-level FBI supervisor to authorize the
    domestic CHS operations that were undertaken in
    Crossfire Hurricane, and that there was no applicable
    Department or FBI policy requiring the FBI to notify
    Department officials of the investigative team’s decision
    to task CHSs to consensually monitor conversat ions
    with members of a presidential campaign. We found no
    evidence that the FBI consulted with any Department
    officials before conducting t hese CHS operations. We
    believe that current Department and FBI policies are
    not sufficient to ensure appropriate oversight and
    accountability when such operations potentially
    implicate sensitive, constitutionally protected activity,
    and that t hey should require, at minimum, Department
    consultation. As noted above, we include a
    recommendation in this report to address this issue.
    Consistent with current Department and FBI
    policy, we learned that decisions about the use of CHSs
    and UCEs were made by the case agents and the
    supervisory special agents assigned to Crossfire
    Hurricane. These agents told the OIG that they focused
    the CHS operations on the FFG information and the four
    investigative subjects, and that they viewed CHS
    operations as one of the best methods available to
    quickly obtain information about the predicating
    allegations, while preventing information about the
    nature and existence of the investigation from
    becoming public, and potent ially impacting the
    presidential election.
    During the meeting between a CHS and the
    high-level Trump campaign official who was not a
    subj ect of the investigation, the CHS asked about the
    role of three Crossfire Hurricane subjects-Page,
    Papadopoulos, and Manafort-in the Trump campaign.
    The CHS also asked about allegations in public reports
    concerning Russian interference in the 2016 elections,
    the campaign’s response to ideas featured in Page’s
    Moscow speech, and the possibility of an “October
    Surprise.” In response, the campaign official made no
    comments of note about those topics. The CHS and the
    high-level campaign official also discussed
    xvii
    We
    found that the Crossfire Hurricane team made no use of
    any information collected from the high-level Trump
    campaign officia l, because the team determined that
    none of t he information gathered was “germane” to the
    allegations under investigation. However, we were
    concerned that t he Crossfire Hurricane team did not
    recall having in place a plan, prior to the operation
    involving the high-level campaign official, to address
    the possible collection of politically sensit ive
    information.
    As discussed in Chapter Ten, through the use of
    CHSs, the investigative team obtained statements from
    Carter Page and Papadopoulos that raised questions
    about the validity of allegations under investigation.
    For example, when questioned in August 2016 about
    other individuals who were subjects in the investigation,
    Page to ld a CHS that he had “literally never met” or
    “said one word to” Manafort and that Manafort had not
    responded to any of Page’s emails. As another
    example, Papadopoulos denied to a CHS that anyone
    associated with t he Trump campaign was collaborating
    with Russia or with outside groups like Wikileaks in the
    release of emails. Papadopoulos stated that the
    “campaign, of course, [does not] advocate for this type
    of activity because at the end of the day it’s … illegal”
    and t hat “our campaign is not. .. engag[ing] or reach ing
    out to Wikileaks or to the whoever it is to tell them
    please work with us, collaborate because we don’t, no
    one does that….” Papadopoulos also said that “as far as
    I understand … no one’s collaborating, there’s been no
    collusion and it’s going to remain that way.” In another
    interaction, Papadopoulos told a CHS that he knew “for
    a fact” that no one from the Trump campaign had
    anything to do with releasing emails from the DNC, as a
    resu lt of Papadopoulos’s involvement in the Trump
    campaign. Despite the relevance of this material, as
    described in Chapters Five and Seven, none of
    Papadopoulos’s statements were provided by the
    Crossfi re Hurricane team to the OI Attorney and Page’s
    statements were not provided to t he OI attorney until
    June 2017, approximately ten months a~er the initial
    Carter Page FISA application was granted by the FISC.
    Through our review, we also determined that
    there were other CHSs tasked by the FBI to attempt to
    contact Papadopoulos, but that those attempted
    contacts did not lead to any operational activity. We
    also identified several ind ividuals who had either a
    connection to candidate Trump or a role in the Trump
    Executive Summary
    Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
    Hurricane Investigation
    campaign, and were also FBI CHSs, but who were not
    tasked as part of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
    One such CHS did provide the Crossfire Hurricane team
    with general information about Crossfire Hurricane
    subjects Page and Manafort, but we found that this CHS
    had no further involvement in the investigation.
    We identified another CHS that the Crossfire
    Hurricane team first learned about in 2017, alter the
    CHS voluntaril rovided his/her handlin a ent with an
    -and the handling
    agent forwarded the material, through his supervisor
    and FBI Head uarters to the Crossfire Hurricane team.
    The handling agent told us that,
    when he subsequently informed the Crossfire Hurricane
    team that the CHS had access to
    , a Crossfire Hurricane team
    intelligence analyst asked the handling agent to collect
    • from the CHS, which the handling agent did.
    We found that the Crossfire Hurricane team determined
    that there was not “anything significant” in this –
    collection, and did not seek to task the CHS. While we
    found that no action was taken by the Crossfire
    Hurricane team in response to receiving
    we nevertheless were concerned to learn that the
    handling agent for the CHS placed
    • • into the FBl’s files, and we
    promptly notified the FBI upon learning that they were
    still being maintained in the FBI’s files. We further
    concluded that, because the CHS’s handling agent did
    not understand the CHS’s political involvement, no
    assessment was performed by the source’s handling
    agent or his supervisors (none of whom were members
    of the Crossfire Hurricane team) to determine whether
    the CHS required re-designation as a “sensitive source”
    or should have been closed during the pendency of the
    campaign.
    While we concluded that the investigative
    activities undertaken by the Crossfire Hurricane team
    involving CHSs and UCEs complied with applicable
    Department and FBI policies, we believe that in certain
    circumstances Department and FBI policies do not
    provide sufficient oversight and accountability for
    investigative activities that have the potential to gather
    sensitive information involving protected First
    Amendment activity, and therefore include
    recommendations to address these issues.
    Finally, as we also describe in Chapter Ten, we
    learned during the course of our review that in August
    xviii
    2016, the supervisor of the Crossfire Hurricane
    investigation, SSA 1, participated on behalf of the FBI in
    a strategic intelligence briefing given by Office of the
    Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to candidate
    Trump and his national security advisors, including
    Michael Flynn, and in a separate strategic intelligence
    briefing given to candidate Clinton and her national
    security advisors. The stated purpose of the FBI portion
    of the briefing was to provide the recipients “a baseline
    on the presence and threat posed by foreign intelligence
    services to the National Security of the U.S.” However,
    we found that SSA 1 was selected to provide the FBI
    briefings, in part, because Flynn, who was a subject in
    the ongoing Crossfire Hurricane investigation, would be
    attending the Trump campaign briefing.
    Following his participation in the briefing of
    candidate Trump, Flynn, and another Trump advisor,
    SSA 1 dralted an EC documenting his participation in
    the briefing, and added the EC to the Crossfire
    Hurricane investigative file. We were told that the
    decision to select SSA 1 to participate in the ODNI
    briefing was reached by consensus among a group of
    senior FBI officials, including McCabe and Baker. We
    noted that no one at the Department or ODNI was
    informed that the FBI was using the ODNI briefing of a
    presidential candidate for investigative purposes, and
    found no applicable FBI or Department policies
    addressing this issue. We concluded that the FBI’s use
    of this briefing for investigative reasons could
    potentially interfere with the expectation of trust and
    good faith among participants in strategic intelligence
    briefings, thereby frustrating their purpose. We
    therefore include a recommendation to address this
    issue.
    Recommendations
    Our report makes nine recommendations to the
    FBI and the Department to assist them in addressing
    the issues that we identified in this review:
    • The Department and the FBI should ensure that
    adequate procedures are in place for OI to obtain
    all relevant and accurate information needed to
    prepare FISA applications and renewal
    applications, including CHS information. In
    Chapter Twelve, we identify a few specific steps
    to assist in this effort.
    Executive Summary
    Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire
    Hurricane Investigation
    • The Department and FBI should evaluate which
    types of SIMs require advance notification to a
    senior Department official, such as the DAG, in
    addition to the notifications currently required for
    SIMs, especially for case openings that implicate
    core First Amendment activity and raise policy
    considerations or heighten enterprise risk, and
    establish implementing policies and guidance, as
    necessary.
    • The FBI should develop protocols and guidelines
    for staffing and administrating any future
    sensitive investigative matters from FBI
    Headquarters.
    • The FBI should address the problems with the
    administration and assessment of CHSs identified
    in this report, including, at a minimum, revising
    the FBI’s standard CHS admonishments,
    improving the documentation of CHS
    information, revising FBI policy to address the
    acceptance of information from a closed CHS
    indirectly through a third party, and taking other
    steps we identify in Chapter Twelve.
    • The Department and FBI should clarify the terms
    (1) “sensitive monitoring circumstance” in the
    AG Guidelines and the DIOG to determine
    whether to expand its scope to include
    consensual monitoring of a domestic political
    candidate or an individual prominent within a
    domestic political organization, or a subset of
    these persons, so that consensual monitoring of
    such individuals would require consultation with
    or advance notification to a senior Department
    official, such as the DAG, and (2) “prominent in a
    domestic political organization” so that agents
    understand which campaign officials fall within
    that definition as it relates to “sensitive
    investigative matters,” “sensitive UDP,” the
    designation of “sensitive sources,” and “sensitive
    monitoring circumstance.”
    • The FBI should ensure that appropriate training
    on DIOG § 4 is provided to emphasize the
    constitutional implications of certain monitoring
    situations and to ensure that agents account for
    these concerns, both in the tasking of CHSs and
    in the way they document interactions with and
    tasking of CHSs.
    xix
    • The FBI should establish a policy regarding the
    use of defensive and transition briefings for
    investigative purposes, including the factors to
    be considered and approval by senior leaders at
    the FBI with notice to a senior Department
    official, such as the DAG.
    • The Department’s Office of Professional
    Responsibility should review our findings related
    to the conduct of Department attorney Bruce Ohr
    for any action it deems appropriate. Ohr’s
    current supervisors in CRM should also review
    our findings related to Ohr’s performance for any
    action they deem appropriate.
    • The FBI should review the performance of all
    employees who had responsibility for the
    preparation, Woods review, or approval of the
    FISA applications, as well as the managers,
    supervisors, and senior officials in the chain of
    command of the Carter Page investigation for
    any action it deems appropriate.
    [PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK]
    TABLE OF CONTENTS
    CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………. 1
    I. Background and Overview …………………………………………………………… 1
    II. Prior OIG Reports on FISA and Related Issues ………………………………….. 9
    III. Methodology ……………………………………………………….•……………….. 11
    IV. Structure of the Report …………………………………………………………….. 14
    CHAPTER TWO: APPLICABLE LAWS AND DEPARTMENT AND FBI POLICIES ………. 16
    I. FBI Counterintelligence Investigations ………………………………………….. 16
    A. Predicated Investigations ………………………………………………….. 19
    B. Sensitive Investigative Matters (SIM) …………………………………… 21
    II. Department and FBI Policies Governing the Use of Confidential Human
    Sources (CHS) ………………………………………………………………………. 22
    A. Risk Management Issues Related to CHSs ……………………………… 22
    B. Documenting CHS Activities ………………………………………………. 25
    C. Validation Process for CHSs ……………………………………………….. 26
    D. Closure and Re-Opening of CHSs ………………………………………… 28
    E. Use of CHSs in Sensitive Monitoring Circumstances ………………….. 29
    F. Use of CHS Reporting in FISA Applications ……………………………… 30
    III. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) ………………………………. 31
    A. Statutory Requirements and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
    Court ………………………………………………………………………….. 31
    B. FBI and Department FISA Procedures …………………………………… 39
  6. Preparation and Approval of FISA Applications ………………… 39
  7. “Woods Procedures” ………………………………………………… 42
    IV. Ethics Regulations …………………………………………………………………… 45
    V. Examples of Other Department and FBI Policies Regulating Investigative
    Activity that Could Potentially Impact Civil Liberties ………………………….. 46
    A. Undisclosed Participation ………………………………………………….. 46
    B. Investigative Activities Concerning Members of the News Media, White
    House and Executive Branch Personnel, and Members of Congress .. 47
  8. Members of the News Media ………………………………………. 47
    xx
  9. White House and Executive Branch Personnel …………………. 48
  10. Members of Congress and Their Staff ……………………………. 48
    CHAPTER THREE THE OPENING OF CROSSFIRE HURRICANE, STAFFING, AND THE
    EARLY STAGES OF THE INVESTIGATION ……………………………………….. 49
    I. Intelligence Community Awareness of Attempted Ru~sian Interference in the
    2016 U.S. Elections …………………………………………………………………. 49
    II. The Friendly Foreign Government Information and the FBI’s Decision to Open
    Crossfire Hurricane and Four Related Counterintelligence Investigations …. 50
    A. Receipt of Information from the Friendly Foreign Government and the
    Opening of Crossfire Hurricane …………………………………………… 51
    B. The FBI Opens Counterintelligence Investigations on Papadopoulos,
    Carter Page, Manafort, and Flynn ………………………………………… 59
    C. The Pre-Existing FBI New York Field Office Counterintelligence
    Investigation of Carter Page ………………………………………………. 61
    III. Organization and Oversight of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation ………. 63
    A. FBI Staffing of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation …………………. 64
  11. The Management and Structure of the Crossfire Hurricane
    Team ………………………………………………………………….. 64
  12. The Role of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page in Crossfire Hurricane
    and Relevant Text Messages ………………………………………. 66
    B. The Role of Senior FBI and Department Leadership in the Crossfire
    Hurricane Investigation ……………………………………………………. 68
  13. FBI Leadership ………………………………………………………. 68
  14. Department of Justice ……………………………………………… 69
  15. White House Briefings ……………………………………………… 76
    IV. Investigative Steps in Crossfire Hurricane Prior to Receipt of Christopher
    Steele Reporting on September 19 ………………… ; …………………………… 77
    CHAPTER FOUR: THE FBl’S RECEIPT AND EVALUATION OF INFORMATION FROM
    CHRISTOPHER STEELE PRIOR TO THE FIRST FISA APPLICATION ………….. 84
    I. Steele and His Assistance to the FBI Prior to June 2016 ……………………… 84
    A. Introduction to Handling Agent 1 and Early Assistance ………………. 84
    B. The FBI Opens Steele as a CHS in October 2013 ……………………… 86
    C. , Steele’s Work for the FBI During 2014-2015 …………………………… 90
    II. Steele Provides the FBI with Election Reporting in 2016 …………………….. 93
    A. Steele’s Engagement by Fusion GPS in June 2016 ……………………. 93
    xxi
    B. Steele Informs Handling Agent 1 in July 2016 about his Election
    Reporting Work ……………………………………………………………… 95
    C. The Crossfire Hurricane Team Receives Steele’s Reports on September
    19 ……………………………………………………………………………… 98
    D. The Crossfire Hurricane Team’s Initial Handling of the Steele Reporting
    in September 2016 ………………………………………………………… 101
    E. Steele Discusses His Reporting with Third Parties in Late September
    2016 and the Yahoo News Article ………………………………………… 104
    F. The FBI’s Early October Meeting with Steele ………………………….. 108
    G. FBI Disclosures to Steele during the Early October Meeting ………… 114
    H. Steele’s Reporting to the FBI Following the Early October Meeting and
    Continuing Media Contacts ……………………………………………….. 116
    CHAPTER FIVE: THE FIRST APPLICATION FOR FISA AUTHORITY ON CARTER
    PAGE …………………………………………………………………………………. 121
    I. Decision to Seek FISA Authority …………………………………………………. 121
    A. Early Consideration of a Potential FISA ………………………………… 121
    B. The FBI’s Submission of a FISA Request Following Receipt of the
    Steele Reporting ……………………………………………………………. 124
    II. Preparation and Approval of the First FISA Application ……………………… 128
    A. Initial Drafts ………………………………………………………………… 128
    B. Review and Approval Process ……………………………………………. 133
  16. Initial Feedback and NSD Concerns over Steele’s Potential
    Motivation and Bias ………………………………………………… 134
  17. FBI Leadership Supports Moving Forward with the FISA
    Application and 01 Drafts Additional Disclosures Concerning
    Steele ………………………………………………………………… 139
  18. Other Substantive Changes to the Application before ODAG
    Review ……………………………………………………………….. 144
  19. October Meeting between Page and an FBI CHS ……………… 146
  20. Feedback from ODAG and Submission of the Read Copy ……. 147
    III. Feedback from the FISC on the Read Copy, Completion of the Woods
    Procedures, and Final Briefing and Signatures ………………………………… 150
    A. Feedback from the FISC and Revisions to the Application ………….. 150
    B. The FBI’s Completion of the Factual Accuracy Review (“Woods
    Procedures”) ………………………………………………………………… 151
    C. FBI Director’s Certification ……………………………………………….. 153
    D. DAG Oral Briefing and Approval …………………………………………. 154
    xxii
    E. Final Orders …………………………………………………………………. 156
    IV. Inaccurate, Incomplete, or Undocumented Information in the First FISA
    Application …………………………………………………………………………… 156
    A. Information about Page’s Prior Relationship with Another U.S.
    Government Agency and Information Page Provided to the Other
    Agency that Overlapped with Facts Asserted in the FISA Application 157
    B. Source Characterization Statement …………………………………….. 160
    C. Information about a Steele Sub-Source Relied Upon in the FISA
    Application (Person 1) …………………………………………………….. 163
    D. September 23 Media Disclosure …………………………………………. 165
    E. Papadopoulos’s Denials to an FBI CHS in September 2016 ………….. 166
    F. Carter Page’s Denials to an FBI CHS in August and October 2016 … 168
    CHAPTER SIX: FBI ACTIVITIES INVOLVING CHRISTOPHER STEELE AFTER THE
    FIRST FISA AND FBI EFFORTS TO ASSESS STEELE’S ELECTION
    REPO·RTING …………………………………………………………………………. 172
    I. Steele’s Briefing to Mother Jones and the FBI’s Closure of Steele as a CHS in
    November 2016 …………………………………………………………………….. 172
    II. The FBI Receives Additional Steele Reporting Post-Election ………………… 175
    III. The FBI Disseminates the Steele Reporting to the U.S. Intelligence
    Community and Seeks to Have It Included in the January 2017 Intelligence
    Community Assessment …………………………………………………………… 177
    IV. FBI Validation Efforts Following Steele’s Closure as a CHS …………………. 182
    A. Information from Persons with Direct Knowledge of Steele’s Work-
    Related Performance in a Prior Position ………………………………… 182
    B. The FBI’s Human Source Validation Review of Steele in March 2017183
    C. The FBI Identifies and Interviews the Primary Sub-Source in Early
    2017 ………………………………………………………………………….. 186
    D. The FBI Obtains Additional Information about the Reliability of Steele’s
    Reporting after FISA Renewal Application No. 3 ………………………. 190
    E. Crossfire Hurricane Team’s Assessment of Potential Russian Influence
    on the Steele Election Reporting ………………………………………… 193
    V. The FBI’s Efforts to Assess Steele’s Election Reporting in 2016 and 2017 .. 195
    CHAPTER SEVEN: THE THREE RENEWAL APPLICATIONS FOR CONTINUED FISA
    AUTHORITYON CARTER PAGE ……………………………………………………. 197
    I. FISA Renewal Application No. 1 (January •, 2017) …………………………. 197
    xxiii
    A. Investigative Developments and Decision to Seek Renewal ………… 198
    B. Preparation and Approval of Renewal Application No. 1 …………….. 199
  21. Draft Renewal Application ………………………………………… 199
  22. Review and Approval Process ……………………………………. 204
  23. Feedback from the FISC, Completion of the Final Renewal
    Application and Woods Procedures, and Final Legal Review … 207
  24. FBI Director’s Certification ………………………………………… 208
  25. DAG Oral Briefing and Approval …………………………………. 209
  26. Final Orders …………………………………………………………. 209
    II. FISA Renewal Application No. 2 (April I, 2017) ………………………………. 210
    A. Case Reorganization, Investigative Developments, and Decision to
    Seek Renewal ………………………………………………………………. 210
    B. Preparation and Approval of Renewal Application No. 2 …………….. 212
  27. Draft Renewal Application ………………………………………… 212
  28. Review and Approval Process ……………………………………. 215
  29. Feedback from the FISC, Completion of the Final Renewal
    Application and Woods Procedures, and Final Legal Review … 216
  30. FBI Director’s Certification ………………………………………… 218
  31. Oral Briefing and Approval ……………………………………….. 218
  32. Final Orders …………………………………………………………. 219
    III. FISA Renewal Application No. 3 (June •, 2017) …………………………….. 219
    A. Investigative Developments and Decision to Seek FISA Renewal …. 219
    B. Preparation and Approval of Renewal Application No. 3 …………….. 220
  33. Draft Renewal Application ………………………………………… 220
  34. Review and Approval Process ……………………………………. 224
  35. Feedback from the FISC, Completion of the Final Renewal
    Application and Woods Procedures, and FBI Director
    Certification …………………………………………………………. 224
  36. DAG Oral Briefing and Approval …………………………………. 226
  37. Final Orders …………………………………………………………. 227
    CHAPTER EIGHT: MISSTATEMENTS, OMISSIONS, AND ERRORS IN THE FISA
    RENEWAL APPLICATIONS …………………………………………………………. 229
    I. Omissions in the FISA Applications, as NSD Reported to the FISC in July
    2018 ………………………………………………………………………………….. 230
    A. Papadopoulos’s Denials to FBI Confidential Human Sources ……….. 232
    B. Information the FBI Received From Bruce Ohr Concerning Steele and
    His Reporting ……………………………………………………………….. 233
    C. Inaccuracies Regarding Steele’s Disclosures to Third Parties and
    Admissions Concerning Steele’s Yahoo News Contact ……………….. 238
    xxiv
    II. Other Inaccurate, Incomplete, or Undocumented Information in the Three
    FISA Renewal Applications ……………………………………………………….. 240
    A. Inconsistencies between Steele’s Reporting and Information His
    Primary Sub-source Provided to the FBI ……………………………….. 241
    B. Information about Page’s Prior Relationship with Another U.S.
    Government Agency and Information Page Provided the Other Agency
    that Overlapped with Facts Asserted in the FISA Applications ……… 24 7
  38. June 15, 2017-FBI OGC Attorney Requests Information about
    Page from Other U.S. Government Agency ……………………. 249
  39. June 16, 2017-FBI OGC Attorney Provides the Liaison’s
    Response to the 01 Attorney …………………………………….. 251
  40. June 19, 2017-FBI OGC Attorney Provides SSA 2 with
    Inaccurate Information ……………………………………………. 252
    C. Information Concerning Steele’s Past Work-Related Performance …. 256
    D. Information Regarding Steele Reporting’s Ties to the Democratic Party,
    the Democratic National Committee, and the Hillary Clinton
    Campaign ……………………………………………………………………. 258
    E. FBI’s Source Validation Report Concerning Steele ……………………. 261
    F. Joseph Mifsud’s Denials to the FBI.. …………………………………….. 262
    G. Carter Page’s Alleged Role in Changing the Republican Platform on
    Russia’s Annexation of Ukraine ………………………………………….. 263
    CHAPTER NINE: DEPARTMENT ATTORNEY BRUCE OHR’S ACTIVITIES DURING THE
    CROSSFIRE HURRICANE INVESTIGATION ……………………………………… 268
    I. Bruce Oh r’s Background …………………….. ~ ………………………………….. 268
    A. Department Positions and Responsibilities …………………………….. 268
    B. Ohr’s Relationship with Steele and Glenn Simpson …………………… 269
  41. Ohr’s Relationship with Steele from 2007 to March 2016 …… 269
  42. Ohr’s Relationship with Simpson ………………………………… 270
    C. Nellie Ohr’s Relationship with Steele and Work for Fusion GPS …….. 271
    II. Ohr’s Communications with Steele, Simpson, and the FBI in 2016 and
    2017 ………………………………………………………… · ……………………….. 271
    A. Ohr’s 2016 Contacts with Steele and Simpson Regarding Russian
    Issues ………………………………………………………………………… 272
  43. Oh r’s July 30, 2016 Meeting with Steele ……………………….. 272
  44. Ohr’s August 22, 2016 Meeting with Simpson ………………… 274
  45. Ohr’s September 23, 2016 Meeting with Steele ………………. 274
  46. Ohr’s Early October 2016 Activities Regarding Steele’s
    Information ………………………………………………………….. 275
    XXV
  47. Ohr’s October 18-19, 2016 Communications with Steele and
    Meeting with McCabe and Lisa Page …………………………….. 276
  48. Ohr’s November 2016 Communications with the FBI and State
    Department Regarding Steele ……………………………………. 278
  49. Ohr’s December 2016 Meetings with the FBI and Simpson …. 281
    B. Ohr’s Continued Contacts with Steele and Simpson from January to
    November 2017 …………………………………………………………….. 283
    C. Ohr’s Lack of Notification to ODAG, NSD, and Others Regarding His
    Contacts with Steele, Simpson, and the FBI. ………………………….. 284
    III. The FBI’s Understanding of Its Relationship and Communications with
    Ohr ……………………………………………………………………………………. 286
    A. The Crossfire Hurricane Team’s Understanding of Ohr’s Activities
    Related to the Investigation ……………………………………………… 286
    B. FBI Management’s Knowledge of Ohr’s Activities …………………….. 288
    IV. Ohr’s Activities Relating to the Criminal Division’s Manafort Investigation .291
    A. November 2016 to December 2016 …………………………………….. 291
    B. January 31 and February 1, 2017 Meetings …………………………… 295
    V. Ohr’s Removal from ODAG and OCDETF ……………………………………….. 298
    A. ODAG’s Communication Expectations and Lack of Knowledge of Ohr’s
    Activities …………………………………………………………………….. 298
    B. Ohr Provides Rosenstein with Limited Information about His
    Connection with Steele and Fusion GPS ………………………………… 301
    C. ODAG Learns of Ohr’s Activities in Connection to the Russian
    Investigation and Transfers Ohr …………………………………………. 302
    CHAPTER TEN: THE USE OF OTHER CONFIDENTIAL HUMAN SOURCES AND
    UNDERCOVER EMPLOYEES IN CROSSFIRE HURRICANE …………………….. 305
    I. Methodology ………………………………………………………………………… 306
    II. Background …………………………………………………………………………. 307
    III. Strategy and Planning for Use of CHSs and UCEs in the Crossfire Hurricane
    Investigation ………………………………………………………………………… 308
    A. Strategy for Use of CHSs and UCEs in Crossfire Hurricane …………. 308
    B. Planning for Operations Involving CHSs and UCEs …………………… 309
    C. Absence of FBI CHSs Inside the Trump Campaign ……………………. 311
    IV. Use of CHSs and UCEs in the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation ……………. 312
    A.. No CHSs and UCEs Used Prior to the Opening of the Crossfire
    Hurricane Investigation …………………………………………………… 312
    xxvi
    B. CHS and UCE Involvement in Crossfire Hurricane ……………………. 313
  50. Source 2 ……………………………………………………………… 313
  51. Source 3 ……………………………………………………………… 333
    B. Other CHSs Who Were Not Tasked As Part of Crossfire Hurricane … 336
    V. ODNI Strategic Intelligence Briefing Provided to Candidate Trump, Flynn, and
    Another Trump Campaign Advisor ………………………………………………. 340
    CHAPTER ELEVEN ANALYSIS ……………………………………………………………. 345
    I. The Opening of Crossfire Hurricane and Four Related Counterintelligence
    Investigations ………………………………………………………………………. 346
    A. Authorized Purpose ………………………………………………………… 347
    B. Factual Predication …………………………………………………………. 350
    C. Sensitive Investigative Matters (SIMs) …………………………………. 352
    D. Staffing of Investigation ………………………………………………….. 354
    E. Least Intrusive Investigative Techniques ………………………………. 355
    II. The FISA Applications ……………………………………………………………… 357
    A. The Role of the Steele Election Reporting in the Applications ………. 359
    B. Inaccurate, Incomplete, or Undocumented Information in the FISA
    Applications …………………………………………………………………. 361
  52. The First FISA Application ………………………………………… 363
  53. The Three Renewal Applications …………………………………. 368
  54. Failures in the Woods Process ……………………………………. 373
    C. Conclusions Regarding the FISA Applications …………………………. 375
  55. The Failure to Share Relevant Factual Information with 01, the
    Department’s Decision Makers, and the Court, and Other FISA
    Related Errors ………………………………………………………. 375
  56. Failure of Managers and Supervisors, including Senior Officials,
    in the Chain of Command …………………………………………. 378
  57. Clarification Regarding OGC Legal Review During the Woods
    Process ………………………………………………………………. 380
    III. The FBI’s Relationship with Christopher Steele and Its Receipt and Use of His
    Election Reporting ………………………………………………………………….. 380
    A. The FBI’s Receipt, Use, and Assessment of Steele’s Reporting …….. 382
    B. The Lack of Agreement on Steele’s Status as an FBI CHS and its Effect
    on the Crossfire Hurricane Team’s Relationship with Steele ………… 386
    IV. Issues Relating to Department Attorney Bruce Ohr ………………………….. 390
    xxvii
    A. Bruce Ohr’s Interactions with Steele, Simpson, the State Department,
    and the FBI ………………………………………………………………….. 392
    B. FBI Interactions with Ohr Concerning Steele and Simpson …………. 394
    C. Ethics Issues Raised by Nellie Ohr’s Former Employment with Fusion
    GPS …………………………………………………………………………… 396
    D. Meetings Involving Ohr, CRM officials, and the FBI Regarding the
    MLARS Investigation ………………………………………………………. 397
    V. The Use of Other Confidential Human Sources and Undercover Employees
    and Compliance with Applicable Policies ……………………………………….. 399
    E. Use of CHSs and UCEs …………………………………………………….. 401
    F. Compliance with FBI Policies ……………………………………………. .403
    G. Participation in ODNI Strategic Intelligence Briefing …………………. 407
    CHAPTER TWELVE CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS …………………….. 410
    I. Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………. 410
    II. Recommendations …………………………………………………………………. 414
    APPENDIX 1: WOODS PROCEDURES ………………………………………………….. .418
    APPENDIX 2: FBI RESPONSE ……………………………………………………………. 424
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    CHAPTER ONE
    INTRODUCTION
    I. Background and Overview
    The Department of Justice (Department) Office of the Inspector General
    (OIG) undertook this review to examine certain actions by the Federal Bureau of
    Investigation (FBI) and the Department during an FBI investigation into whether
    individuals associated with the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign were
    coordinating, wittingly or unwittingly, with the Russian government. The FBI’s
    counterintelligence investigation, known as “Crossfire Hurricane,” was opened on
    July 31, 2016, weeks after the Republican National Convention (RNC) formally
    nominated Trump as its candidate for President, and several months before the
    November 8, 2016 elections, through which Trump was elected President of the
    United States. On May 17, 2017, th~ Crossfire Hurricane investigation was
    transferred from the FBI to the Office of Special Counsel upon the appointment of
    Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Russian interference with the
    2016 presidential election and related matters.
    The FBI opened Crossfire Hurricane in July 2016 following the receipt of
    ·certain information from a Friendly Foreign Government (FFG). According to the
    information provided by the FFG, in May 2016, a Trump campaign foreign policy
    advisor, George Papadopoulos, “suggested” to an FFG official that the Trump
    campaign had received “some kind of suggestion” from Russia that it could assist
    with the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Hillary
    Clinton (Trump’s opponent in the presidential election) and President Barack
    Obama. At the time the FBI received the FFG information, the U.S. Intelligence
    Community (USIC), which includes the FBI, was aware of Russian efforts to
    interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections, including efforts to infiltrate servers and
    steal emails belongfng to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the
    Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The FFG shared this information
    with the State Department on July 26, 2016, after the internet site Wikileaks began
    releasing emails hacked from computers belonging to the DNC and Clinton’s
    campaign manager. The State Department advised the FBI of the information the
    next day.
    Crossfire Hurricane was opened several weeks after the FBI’s July 5, 2016
    conclusion of its “Midyear Exam” investigation into Clinton’s handling of government
    emails during her tenure as Secretary of State. 1 Some of the same FBI officials,
    supervisors, and attorneys responsible for the Midyear investigation were assigned
    to the newly opened Crossfire Hurricane investigation, but there was almost no
    1 See U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG), A Review of
    Various Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the
    2016 Election, Oversight and Review Division Report 18-04 (June 2018),
    https://www.justice.gov/file/1071991/download (accessed November 12, 2019), 2 (hereinafter
    Review of Various Actions in Advance of the 2016 Election).
    1
    overlap between the FBI agents and analysts assigned to the Midyear and Crossfire
    Hurricane investigations.
    The FBI opened Crossfire Hurricane as an umbrella counterintelligence
    investigation, without identifying any specific subjects or targets. FBI officials told
    us that they did not immediately identify subjects or targets because it was unclear
    from the FFG information who within the Trump campaign may have received the
    reported offer of assistance and might be coordinating, wittingly or unwittingly, with
    the Russian government. By August 10, 2016, the FBI had assembled an
    investigative team of special agents, analysts, and supervisory special agents (the
    Crossfire Hurricane team) and conducted an initial analysis of links between Trump
    campaign members and Russia. Based upon this analysis, the FBI opened
    individual cases under the Crossfire Hurricane umbrella on three U.S. personsPapadopoulos,
    Carter Page, and Paul Manafort-all of whom were affiliated with the
    Trump campaign at the time the cases were opened.2 On August 16, 2016, the FBI
    opened a fourth individual case under Crossfire Hurricane on Michael Flynn, who
    was serving at the time as the Trump campaign’s National Security Advisor. 3
    Two of the four Crossfire Hurricane subjects were already the subjects of
    other existing federal investigations. Carter Page was the subject of an ongoing
    counterintelligence investigation opened by the FBI’s New York Field Office (NYFO)
    on April 4, 2016, relating to his contacts with suspected Russian intelligence
    officers. Manafort was the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, supervised
    by the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) in the Department’s
    Criminal Division, concerning millions of dollars Manafort allegedly received from
    the government of Ukraine.4
    2 According to public reporting, Carter Page ceased being associated with the Trump
    campaign as of September 26, 2016, and Manafort resigned as of August 19, 2016. As noted in
    Chapter Ten, accounts vary as to when Papadopoulos left the Trump campaign; according to The
    Special Counsel’s Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference with the 2016 Presidential
    Election, Papadopoulos was dismissed from the campaign in early October 2016. See Special Counsel
    Robert S. Mueller III, Report on the Investigation Into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential
    Election, Vol. I (March 2019), 93 (hereinafter The Special Counsel’s Report).
    3 Flynn remained on the Trump campaign through the election and was subsequently
    appointed as National Security Advisor. Flynn resigned that position on February 13, 2017.
    Papadopoulos, Manafort, and Flynn were later indicted in federal district court for crimes prosecuted
    by the Special Counsel. On October 5, 2017, and December 1, 2017, respectively, Papadopoulos and
    Flynn pleaded guilty to making material false statements and material omissions during interviews
    with the FBI. On August 21, 2018, Manafort was convicted after trial on tax and bank fraud charges,
    and on September 14, 2018, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy against the United States and
    conspiracy to obstruct justice.
    The indictments and sentencing documents are publicly available and therefore we refer to
    these individuals by name in this report. We also refer to Carter Page by name in this report because
    the Department publicly released, in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA} requests,
    redacted versions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA} applications and orders that
    name him.
    4 Prior to January 2017, MLARS was named the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering
    Section.
    2
    Some of the early investigative steps taken by the Crossfire Hurricane team
    immediately after opening the investigation were to develop profiles on each
    subject; send names of, among others, individuals associated with the Trump
    campaign to other U.S. government intelligence agencies for any further
    information; and review FBI files for potential FBI Confidential Human Sources
    (CHSs) who might be able to assist the investigation. FBI witnesses we interviewed
    told us they believed that using CHSs in covert operations would be an efficient way
    to develop a better understanding of the information received from the FFG. We
    determined that the Crossfire Hurricane team tasked several CHSs and Undercover
    Employees (UCEs) during the 2016 presidential campaign, which resulted in
    interactions with Carter Page, Papadopoulos, and a high-level Trump campaign
    official who was not a subject of the investigation. All of these interactions were
    consensually monitored and recorded by the FBI. The interactions between CHSs
    and Page and Papadopoulos occurred both during the time Page and Papadopoulos
    were advisors to the Trump campaign, and after Page and Papadopoulos were no
    longer affiliated with the Trump campaign. We also learned that in August 2016, a
    supervisor of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation participated on behalf of the FBI
    in a strategic intelligence briefing given by the Office of the Director of National
    Intelligence (ODNI) to candidate Trump and his national security advisors, including
    investigative subject Flynn, and also participated in a separate strategic intelligence
    briefing given to candidate Clinton and her national security advisors. The FBI
    viewed the briefing of candidate Trump and his advisors as a possible opportunity
    to collect information potentially relevant to the Crossfire Hurricane and Flynn
    investigations. The supervisor memorialized the results of the briefing in an official
    FBI document, including instances where he was engaged by Trump and Flynn, as
    well as anything he considered related to the FBI or pertinent to the Crossfire
    Hurricane investigation. The supervisor did not memorialize the results of the
    briefing of candidate Clinton and her advisors.
    An early investigative step considered but not initially taken by the Crossfire
    Hurricane team was to seek court orders under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
    Act (FISA) authorizing surveillance of Page and Papadopoulos. The U.S. Foreign
    Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) may approve FISA surveillance of an
    American citizen for a period of up to 90 days, subject to renewal, if the
    government’s FISA application establishes probable cause to believe that the
    targeted individual is an agent of a foreign power by knowingly engaging in at least
    one of the five activities enumerated in the FISA statute.5 The Crossfire Hurricane
    team initially considered seeking FISA surveillance of Papadopoulos as a result of
    his statement to the FFG and of Page based upon information the FBI had collected
    about his prior and more recent contacts with known and suspected Russian
    intelligence officers, as well as Page’s financial, political, and business ties to the
    5 See SO U.S.C. §§ 1801(b)(2)(A) through (E). In the case of the Carter Page FISA
    applications, the government relied upon the definition of an agent of a foreign power in Section
    1801(b)(2)(E), which covers, among other things, any person who knowingly aids or abets any other
    person who knowingly engages in clandestine intelligence activities (other than intelligence gathering
    activities) that involve or are about to involve a violation of the criminal statutes of the United States,
    pursuant to the direction of an intelligence service or network of a foreign power, or knowingly
    conspires with other persons in such activities.
    3
    Russian government. Officials determined there was an insufficient basis to
    proceed with a FISA application concerning Papadopoulos, and the Crossfire
    Hurricane team never submitted a FISA application for Papadopoulos. With regard
    to Page, on August 15, 2016, the Crossfire Hurricane team requested assistance
    from the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC) to prepare a FISA application for
    submission to the FISC. However, after consultation between FBI OGC and
    attorneys in the Office of Intelligence (01) in the Department’s National Security
    Division (NSD), which is responsible for preparing FISA applications and appearing
    before the FISC, the Crossfire Hurricane team was told in late August 2016 that
    more information was needed to establish probable cause for a FISA on Page.
    A few weeks later, on September 19, 2016, the Crossfire Hurricane team
    received a set of six reports prepared by Christopher Steele concerning Russian
    interference in the 2016 U.S. election and alleged connections between this Russian
    effort and individuals associated with the Trum cam · n.6 Steele is a former
    intelligence officer
    who, following his retirement, opened a consulting firm and furnished information
    to the FBI beginning in 2010, primarily on matters concerning organized crime and
    corruption in Russia and Eastern Europe. In 2013, the FBI prepared paperwork to
    enable it to open Steele as an FBI CHS. In providing the first two election reports
    to his FBI handling agent in July 2016, Steele told the handling agent that he had
    been hired by an investigative firm, Fusion GPS, to collect information on the
    relationship between candidate Trump’s businesses and Russia. Steele further
    informed the FBI handling agent that Fusion GPS had been retained by a law firm to
    conduct this research. According to the handling agent, it was obvious to him that
    the request for the research was politically motivated.
    Two of the six Steele reports received by the Crossfire Hurricane team on
    September 19 referenced Carter Page by name. One stated that Page had held
    secret meetings with two high level Russian officials during Page’s July 2016 trip to
    Moscow. This report also indicated that one of the alleged meetings included a
    discussion about the Kremlin potentially releasing compromising information about
    Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to Trump’s campaign team. Another report
    from Steele described “a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation” between the
    Russian government and Trump’s campaign to defeat Clinton, using Carter Page
    and others as intermediaries. 7 On September 21, 2016, 2 days after the team
    received these reports, FBI OGC advised 01 that the FBI believed it was ready to
    6 As described in this report, information from Christopher Steele’s reports-sometimes
    collectively referred to as the “Steele dossier”-that pertained to Carter Page was relied upon in the
    Carter Page FISA applications. In those applications, Steele was referred to as “Source #1.” We refer
    to Steele by name in this report because the Department and the FBI have publicly revealed Steele’s
    identity as Source #1 in connection with FOIA litigation.
    7 A third report from Steele, which did not reference Carter Page, stated that Russian
    intelligence services had used concealed cameras to film Trump’s alleged sexual activities with
    prostitutes at a Moscow hotel, and claimed that the Russians could blackmail Trump by threatening to
    release this compromising material. These allegations, which have come to be known publicly as the
    “salacious and unverified” portion of the reporting, were not included in the original Carter Page FISA
    application or any of the renewal applications.
    4
    submit a request for FISA authority on Carter Page, and 01 and the FBI began
    drafting the first FISA application. Among the FBI’s purposes in ·seeking a FISA
    order for Page was to obtain information about Page’s trip to Russia in July 2016,
    when Page was still a member of the Trump campaign.
    On September 23, 2016, Yahoo News published an article stating that U.S.
    intelligence officials had received reports regarding Carter Page’s private meetings
    in Moscow with senior Russian officials. The article cited a “well-placed Western
    intelligence source,” and contained details about Carter Page’s activities in Russia
    that closely paralleled the information contained in the reporting that Steele had
    provided to the FBI. We found no evidence that anyone from the FBI asked Steele
    in September 2016 or at any other time, if he had spoken with the Yahoo News
    reporter. Steele had, in fact, spoken with the reporter prior to the article’s
    · publication, which the FBI would learn from public records after the submission of
    the first FISA application.
    On October •, 2016, NSD submitted the Carter Page FISA application to the
    FISC, asserting that there was probable cause to believe that Page was an agent of
    the Russian government. The application relied on, among other things:
    • The information provided by the FFG about its interaction with
    Papadopoulos;
    • Information from the FBI’s previously opened counterintelligence
    investigation relating to Page arising from his contacts with Russian
    intelligence officers;
    • Information from Steele’s reports that pertained specifically to Carter
    Page; and
    • Information from a meeting between Page and an FBI CHS that was
    consensually monitored by Crossfire Hurricane investigators.
    The application also stated in a footnote that the FBI “speculates that the
    [person who hired Steele] was likely looking for information that could be used to
    discredit [candidate Trump’s] campaign.” Further, the application advised the court
    of information reported in the September 23, 2016 Yahoo News article and stated
    that (a) the FBI “does not believe that Source # 1 directly provided … to the press”
    the information in the article, (b) according to the article and other news articles,
    individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign made statements distancing the
    campaign from Carter Page, and ( c) Page himself denied the accusations in the
    Yahoo News article and reiterated that denial in a September 25, 2016 letter to the
    FBI Director and in a September 26, 2016 media interview.
    However, the application, as well as the renewal applications, did not include
    · significant relevant information, and contained inaccurate and incomplete
    information, that was known to the Crossfire Hurricane team at the time but that it
    did not share with NSD attorneys. For example, when asked by an NSD attorney
    who was involved in helping to draft the first FISA application whether Page had
    provided information to another U.S. government agency or was a source for that
    other agency, a Crossfire Hurricane agent incorrectly told the NSD attorney that
    5
    Page’s contact with the other U.S. government agency was “dated” and “outside
    scope.” The Crossfire Hurricane agent made this statement despite the fact that
    the Crossfire Hurricane team had been told by the other agency in a written
    memorandum that Page had been approved as an _operational contact for the other
    agency from 2008 to 2013 and that Page had provided information to the other
    agency that was relevant to the FISA application.8 The Crossfire Hurricane team
    also failed to inform NSD attorneys about information obtained by the FBI during
    CHS operations and interviews that was inconsistent with the allegations contained
    in the Steele reporting that was being relied upon in the FISA application.
    The FISA application was reviewed by numerous FBI agents, FBI attorneys,
    and NSD attorneys, and, as required by law, was ultimately certified by then FBI
    Director James Corney and approved by then Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.
    The FISC granted the first FISA application on October •, 2016, authorizing the
    use of FISA authority on Carter Page.
    On October 31, 2016, Mother Jones magazine published an online news
    article titled “A Veteran Spy has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian
    Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump.” The October 31 article quoted a “wellplaced
    Western intelligence source,” and described how that individual had provided
    reports to the FBI about connections between Trump and the Russian government.
    According to the article, the source was continuing to provide information to the
    FBI, and was quoted as saying “it’s quite clear there was or is a pretty substantial
    inquiry going on.” On November 1, 2016, Steele’s FBI handling agent questioned
    Steele, who admitted speaking to the reporter who wrote the October 31 article.
    The handling agent advised Steele at that time that his relationship with the FBI
    would likely be terminated for disclosing his relationship with the FBI to the press,
    and the FBI officially closed Steele for cause on November 17, 2016. Steele was
    never paid by the FBI for any of the reports or information that he provided
    concerning Carter Page or connections between the Russian government and the
    Trump campaign.
    After Steele was closed as an FBI CHS, Crossfire Hurricane agents continued
    to receive information from him through a conduit, Department attorney Bruce Ohr,
    who at the time was an Associate Deputy Attorney General in the Office of the
    Deputy Attorney General (ODAG). Ohr had known Steele, through work, since at
    least 2007 and, starting in July 2016, Steele had contacted Ohr on multiple
    occasions to discuss information from Steele’s reports. At Steele’s suggestion, Ohr
    also met in August and December 2016 with Glenn Simpson, the owner of Fusion
    GPS, which Ohr’s wife had worked for as an independent contractor through
    September 2016. During those meetings, Simpson provided Ohr with several of
    8 According to the other U.S. government agency, “operational contact,” as that term is used
    in the memorandum about Page, provides “Contact Approval,” which allows the other agency to
    contact and discuss sensitive information with a U.S. person and to collect information from that
    person via “passive debriefing,” or debriefing a person of information that is within the knowledge of
    an individual and has been acquired through the normal course of that individual’s
    activities. According to the U.S. government agency, a “Contact Approval” does not allow for
    operational use of a U.S. person or tasking of that person.
    6
    Steele’s election reports. Ohr also communicated with a senior State Department
    official concerning, among other matters, the Steele reporting. Between the date of
    Steele’s closing as an FBI CHS in November 2016 and May 15, 2017, Ohr met with
    the FBI on 13 occasions. In his meetings with the FBI, Ohr provided the FBI with
    information that Steele had provided to him, the Steele election reports that Ohr
    had received from Simpson, as well as a thumb drive containing information Ohr
    had received from his wife that contained open source research she had compiled
    while working for Fusion GPS. Department leaders, including Ohr’s supervisors
    within ODAG, were unaware of Ohr’s meetings with Steele, Simpson, the FBI, or
    the State Department, or of Ohr’s wife’s connection to Fusion GPS, until late
    November 2017, when Congress requested information from the Department
    regarding Ohr’s activities.
    As the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation proceeded, the Department
    submitted three renewal applications to the FISC seeking authority to continue FISA
    surveillance of Carter Page. Corney and Yates approved the first renewal
    application, Corney and then Acting Attorney General Dana Boente approved the
    second renewal, and then Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and then Deputy
    Attorney General (DAG) Rod Rosenstein approved the third renewal. In total, at
    the request of the FBI, the Department filed four FISA applications, each of which
    was granted by the FISC: the first FISA a,Eplication on October •, 2016, and three
    renewal applications on January •, April I, and June •, 2017. A different FISC
    . judge considered each application before issuing the requested orders, which
    collectively resulted in approximately 11 months of FISA coverage of Carter Page
    from October •, 2016, until September •, 2017.
    Each of the FISA orders iss~rized the U.S. government
    to conduct electronic surveillance – targeting Carter Page for a
    period of u to 90 da s. The authorit ermitted the overnment to amon other
    thin
    .T
    to only
    specifically identified in the order and in the manner specified by the order.
    Further, the orders required the government to adhere to standard procedures
    designed to minimize the government’s acquisition and retention of non-public
    information about a U .5. person that did not constitute foreign intelligence
    information. At the request of the government, the orders also included special
    procedures restricting access to acquired information to only those individuals
    assigned to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation (and their supervisors), which the
    Department interpreted to include Department attorneys and officials assisting in
    and overseeing the investigation. The orders also required higher approval than
    would normally be required before disseminating the· information outside the FBI.
    7
    In April and May 2017, following news reports that the FBI had obtained a
    FISA for Carter Page, Page gave interviews to news outlets denying that he had
    collected intelligence for the Russian government and asserting instead that he had
    previously assisted U.S. government agencies. Shortly before the FBI filed the final
    renewal application with the FISC in mid-June 2017, and in response to concerns
    expressed by the investigative team and NSD about Page’s claim, an FBI OGC
    Attorney emailed the U.S. government agency that had provided information to the
    FBI in August 2016, referenced above, about its prior interactions with Carter Page
    to inquire about Page’s past status. The other U.S. government agency’s liaison to
    the Crossfire Hurricane team responded by email to the FBI OGC attorney by
    directing the attorney to a memoranda previously sent to the FBI by the other U.S.
    government agency informing the FBI that Page had been approved as an
    operational contact for the other agency from 2008 to 2013. The email also stated,
    using the other agency’s terminology, that it was the other agency liaison’s
    recollection that Page had prior interactions with that other agency. However,
    when asked by one of the supervisory special agents (SSA) on the Crossfire
    Hurricane team (who was going to be the affiant on the final FISA renewal
    application) about Page’s prior interactions with that other agency, the OGC
    Attorney advised the SSA that Page was “never a source” for the other U.S.
    government agency. In addition, the OGC Attorney altered the email that the other
    U.S. government agency had sent to the OGC Attorney so that the email
    inaccurately stated· that Page was “not a source” for the other agency; the OGC
    •A,t torney then forwarded the altered email to the SSA. Shortly thereafter, on June 2017, the SSA served as the affiant on the final renewal application, which was
    again silent about Page’s prior relationship with the other U.S. government agency.
    On July 12, 2018, while the OIG’s review was ongoing, NSD submitted a
    letter to the FISC advising the court of certain factual omissions in the Carter Page
    FISA applications that had come to NSD’s attention after the final renewal
    application was filed on June •, 2017. 9 The Department’s letter stated that,
    despite the omissions, it was the Department’s view that the applications contained
    sufficient information to support the FISC’s earlier probable cause findings as to
    Page.
    On March 28, 2018, the OIG publicly announced that, in response to requests
    from the Attorney General and Members of Congress, it had initiated this review to
    examine:
    • Whether the Department and the FBI complied with legal requirements
    and applicable policies and procedures in FISA applications filed with
    the FISC relating to surveillance of Carter Page;
    • What information was known to the Department and FBI at the time
    the applications were filed about Christopher Steele; and
    9 At the time of this letter, NSD was unaware of the numerous factual assertions made in the
    FISA applications that were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation that
    the OIG identified during the course of our review and that we detail in this report.
    8
    • How the Department’s and FBl’s relationships and communications
    with Steele related to the FISA applications. 10
    In addition, during the OIG’s Review of Various Actions in Advance of the
    2016 Election, we discovered text messages and instant messages between some
    FBI employees, using FBI mobile devices and computers, which expressed
    statements of hostility toward then candidate Trump and expressed statements of
    support for then candidate Clinton. 11 Because some of the FBI employees
    responsible for those communications, including Section Chief Peter Strzok and FBI
    Attorney Lisa Page, also had involvement in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation,
    we examined whether their communications evidencing a potential bias affected
    investigative decisions made in Crossfire Hurricane. 12 We also examined, where
    available, the government emails, text messages, and instant messages of all
    Department and FBI employees who played a substantive role in Crossfire
    Hurricane to determine if there were any additional communications evidencing a
    potential bias and, if so, whether the views expressed influenced any investigative
    decisions.
    The March 28, 2018 OIG announcement also stated that “if circumstances
    warrant, the OIG will consider including other issues that may arise during the
    course of the review.” In May 2018, in response to Rosenstein’s request, the OIG
    added to the scope of this review to determine whether the FBI infiltrated or
    surveilled the Trump campaign. Accordingly, we examined the FBI’s use of CHSs in
    the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, up through November 8, 2016 (the date of
    the 2016 U.S. elections) to evaluate whether the FBI had placed any CHSs within
    the Trump campaign or tasked any CHSs to report on the Trump campaign, and, if
    so, whether any such use of CHSs was in violation of applicable Department and
    FBI policies or was politically motivated. We subsequently learned of and included
    in our review certain other CHS activities that took place after the 2016 election.
    II. Prior OIG Reports on FISA and Related Issues
    In addition to the requests described above from the Attorney General, the
    Deputy Attorney General, and Members of Congress, our initiation of this review
    was informed by our prior work over the past 15 years on the Department’s and
    FBI’s use of national security and surveillance authorities, including authorities
    under FISA. This prior OIG work considered the challenges faced by the
    Department and the FBI as they utilized national security authorities while also
    striving to safeguard civil liberties and privacy. In every year since 2006, the OIG’s
    10 As part of our review of this issue, the OIG examined the interactions between Ohr and the
    Crossfire Hurricane team as well as Ohr’s communications with Steele and Simpson, both before and
    after the FBI closed Steele as a CHS. Our review also examined Ohr’s interactions with Department
    attorneys regarding the Manafort criminal case.
    11 DOJ OIG, Review of Various Actions in Advance of the 2016 Election, 3.
    12 FBI Attorney Lisa Page is not related to Carter Page, the individual affiliated with the Trump
    campaign who was the subject of the FISA surveillance in Crossfire Hurricane.
    9
    annual report on “Top Management and Performance Challenges Facing the
    Department of Justice has highlighted the difficulty faced by the Department and
    the FBI in maintaining a balance between protecting national security and
    safeguarding civil liberties.
    The OIG’s prior oversight work, some of which was congressionally
    mandated, informed our decision to initiate this review. That prior oversight work
    included OIG reviews of the FBI’s use of specific FISA authorities, 13 the FBI’s use of
    other national security-related surveillance authorities, 14 and the FBI’s or other
    Department law enforcement components’ use of CHSs and administrative
    subpoenas. 15 We also conducted reviews that specifically examined the impact of
    13 DOJ OIG, A Review of the FBI’s Handling of Intelligence Information Related to the
    September 11 Attacks, Oversight and Review Division (November 2004),
    https://oig.justice.gov/special/s0606/final.pdf (accessed November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG, A Review of
    the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Activities Under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence
    Surveillance Act Amendments Act of 2008, Oversight and Review Division (September 2012),
    https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2016/o1601a.pdf (accessed November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG, A Review
    of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Use of Section 215 Order for Business Records, Oversight and
    Review Division (March 2007), https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2014/215-1.pdf (accessed November
    12, 2019); DOJ OIG, A Review of the FBI’s Use of Section 215 Orders for Business Records in 2006,
    Oversight and Review Division (March 2008), https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2016/215-2008.pdf
    (accessed November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG, FBI’s Use of Section 215 Orders: Assessment of Progress in
    Implementing Recommendations and Examination of Use in 2007 through 2009, Oversight and Review
    Division Report 15-05 (May 2015), https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2015/olS0S.pdf (accessed
    November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG, A Review of the FBI’s Use of Section 215 Orders for Business Records
    in 2012 through 2014, Oversight and Review Division Report 16-04 (September 2016),
    https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2016/01604.pdf (accessed November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG, A Review of
    the FBI’s Use of Trap and Trace Devices Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 2007
    through 2009, Oversight and Review Division 15-06 (June 2015),
    https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2015/01506.pdf (accessed November 12, 2019).
    14 DOJ OIG, A Review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Use of National Security
    Letters, Oversight and Review Division (March 2007), https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2016/NSL-
    2007.pdf (accessed November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG, A Review of the FBI’s Use of National Security
    Letters: Assessment of Corrective Actions and Examination of NSL Usage in 2006, Oversight and
    Review Division (March 2008), https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2014/s1410a.pdf (accessed November
    12, 2019); DOJ OIG, A Review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Use of National Security
    Letters: Assessment of Progress in Implementing Recommendations and Examination of Use in 2007
    through 2009, Oversight and Review Division (August 2014),
    https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2014/sl408.pdf (accessed November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG, A Review of
    the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Use of Exigent Letters and Other Informal Requests for
    Telephone Records, Oversight and Review Division (January 2010),
    https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2014/01411.pdf (accessed November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG, A Review of
    the Department of Justice’s Involvement with the President’s Surveillance Program, Oversight and
    Review Division (July 2009), https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2016/PSP-01-08-16-vol-3.pdf (accessed
    November 12, 2019).
    15 DOJ OIG, Audit of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Management
    and Oversight of Confidential Informants, Audit Division 17-17 (March 2017),
    https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2017/a1717.pdf (accessed November li, 2019); DOJ OIG, Audit of the
    Drug Enforcement Administration’s Confidential Source Policies and Oversight of Higher-Risk
    Confidential Sources, Audit Division 15-28 (July 2015), https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2015/al528.pdf
    (accessed November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG, Audit of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s
    Management and Oversight of its Confidential Source Program, Audit Division 16-33 (September
    2016), https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2016/a1633.pdf (accessed November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG,
    10
    the FBI’s use of investigative authorities on U.S. persons engaged in activities that
    are protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 16
    III. Methodology
    During the course of this review, the OIG conducted over 170 interviews
    involving more than 100 witnesses. These interviews included former FBI Director
    Corney, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former DAG Yates, former Acting
    Attorney General and Acting DAG and current FBI General Counsel Dana Boente,
    former FBI Deputy Director McCabe, former DAG Rod Rosenstein, former FBI
    General Counsel James Baker, FBI agents, analysts, and supervisors who worked
    on the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, attorneys from the FBI’s National Security
    and Cyber Law Branch, NSD attorneys who prepared or reviewed the FISA
    applications, Department attorneys from ODAG who reviewed the FISA applications,
    former and current members of the FBI’s senior executive leadership, Department
    attorney Bruce Ohr and his wife, Nellie Ohr, and additional Department attorneys
    who supervised and worked with Ohr on matters relevant to this review.
    The OIG also interviewed witnesses who were not current or former
    Department employees regarding their interactions with the FBI on matters falling
    with the scope of this review, including Christopher Steele and employees of other
    U.S. government agencies. 17 Steele provided the OIG with access to, but not
    copies of, memoranda regarding interactions he had with FBI personnel and Bruce
    Ohr in 2010, 2011, and 2016. Steele represented to us that he drafted the
    memoranda shortly after each interaction. In addition, we reviewed relevant
    information that other U.S. government agencies provided to the FBI in the course
    of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Because the activities of other agencies
    were not within the scope of this review, we did not seek to obtain records from
    them that the FBI never received or reviewed, except for a limited amount of State
    Public Summary of the Addendum to the Audit of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Management
    and Oversight of its Confidential Source Program, Audit Division 16-33a (March 2017),
    https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2017/al633a.pdf (accessed November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG, A Review
    of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Use of Administrative Subpoenas to Collect or Exploit Bulk
    Data, Oversight and Review Division 19-01 (March 2019),
    https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2019/01901.pdf (accessed November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG, The Federal
    Bureau of Investigation’s Management of Confidential Case Funds and Telecommunication Costs, Audit
    Division 18-03 (January 2008), https://oig.justice.gov/reports/FBI/a0803/final.pdf (accessed
    November 12, 2019).
    16 DOJ OIG, A Review of the FBl’s Investigative Activities Concerning Potential Protesters at
    the 2004 Democratic and Republican National Political Conventions, Oversight and Review Division
    (April 2006), https://oig.justice.gov/special/s0604/final.pdf (accessed November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG,
    A Review of the FBl’s Investigations of Certain Domestic Advocacy Groups, Oversight and Review
    Division (September 2010), https://oig.justice.gov/special/sl009r.pdf (accessed November 12, 2019).
    17 According to Steele, his cooperation with our investigation
    11
    Department records relating to Steele. 18 Additionally, our review also did not seek
    to independently determine whether corroboration existed for the Steele election
    reporting; rather, our review was focused on information that was available to the
    FBI prior to and during the pendency of the Carter Page FISAs that related to the
    Steele reporting.
    Two witnesses, Glenn Simpson and Jonathan Winer (a former State
    Department official), declined our requests for voluntary interviews, and we were
    unable to compel their testimony. 19 The OIG does not have authority to subpoena
    for testimony former Department employees or third parties who may have
    relevant information about an FBI or Department program or operation.2° Certain
    former FBI employees who agreed to interviews, including Corney and Baker, chose
    not to request that their security clearances be reinstated for their OIG interviews.
    Therefore, we were unable to provide classified information or documents to them
    during their interviews to develop their testimony, or to assist their recollections of
    relevant events.
    We also received and reviewed more than one million documents that were
    in the Department’s and FBI’s possession. Among these were electronic
    communications of Department and FBI employees and documents from the
    Crossfire Hurricane investigation, including interview reports (FD-302s and
    Electronic Communications or ECs), contemporaneous notes from agents, analysts,
    and supervisors involved in case-related meetings, documents describing and
    analyzing Steele’s reporting and information obtained through FISA coverage on
    18 In this review, we also did not seek to assess the actions taken by or information available
    to U.S. government agencies outside the Department of Justice, as those agencies are outside our
    jurisdiction.
    19 The OIG did not seek to interview Carter Page or any other subject in the Crossfire
    Hurricane investigation because their actions were not the focus of our review. Rather, consistent
    with the OIG’s jurisdiction, we examined the actions of the FBI and Department. In response to a
    request from Page to review a draft of our report, the OIG advised Page in correspondence in
    November 2019 that the OIG would notify him of the report’s anticipated release date shortly before
    the report is made public. This courtesy is consistent with the OIG’s practice in other matters where
    the actions we reviewed affected the personal interests of a private citizen.
    20 In 201G, Congress passed the “Inspector General Empowerment Act” (IGEA) (P. L. 114-
    317). Timely completion of this review would not have been possible without the IGEA’s statutory
    clarification that OIGs must be granted access to all agency records and information, including highly
    sensitive records, such as FISA materials. We note that the Department and the FBI gave us broad
    and timely access to all such material, and provided us with their full cooperation.
    Earlier versions of the IGEA also included a provision to authorize all OIGs to issue testimonial
    subpoenas (the Department of Defense OIG already has such authority, as does the Health and
    Human Services OIG in certain circumstances), but the provision was removed from the IGEA prior to
    its passage. The OIG would have directly benefited from the ability to subpoena former government
    and non-government individuals in this review. In addition to being able to compel the testimony of
    the small number of individuals who did not testify voluntarily, the ability to subpoena witnesses
    would have expedited completion of the review, as multiple individuals only agreed to interviews at a
    late stage in the review. In September 2018, the House of Representatives unanimously passed
    legislation that would provide testimonial subpoena authority to OIGs. No similar legislation has been
    introduced in the current Congress.
    12
    Carter Page, and draft and final versions of materials used to prepare the FISA
    applications and renewals filed with the FISC. 21 We also obtained documents from
    attorneys and supervisors in NSD, Criminal Division (CRM), ODAG, and the Office of
    the Attorney General (OAG).
    As with the OIG’s Review of Various Actions in Advance of the 2016 Election,
    we obtained electronic communications between and among FBI agents, analysts,
    and supervisors, and FBI and Department officials to understand what happened
    during the investigation and identify what was known by the members of the
    Crossfire Hurricane team as the investigation progressed. In addition to a large
    volume of unclassified and classified emails, we received and reviewed hundreds of
    thousands of text messages and instant messages to or from FBI personnel who
    worked on the investigation.22 We also were provided with and reviewed
    transcripts of testimony from numerous witnesses who participated in hearings
    jointly conducted during the 115th Congress by the House Committee on the
    Judiciary and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
    Our review included the examination of highly classified information. We
    were given broad access to relevant materials by the Department and the FBI,
    including emails, text messages, and instant messages from both the FBI’s Top
    Secret SCINet and Secret FBINet systems, as well as access to the FBI’s classified
    Delta database, which FBI agents use to record their interactions with, and
    information received from, CHSs. Chapter Ten provides more information on the
    methodology we employed to examine the FBI’s use of CHSs.
    As with the OIG’s handling of past reviews, we did not analyze all of the
    decisions made during the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Rather, we reviewed
    the issues described below in Section IV of this chapter. Moreover, our role in this
    review was not to second-guess 4iscretionary judgments by Department personnel
    about whether to open an investigation, or specific judgment calls made during the
    course of an investigation, where those decisions complied with or were authorized
    by Department rules, policies, or procedures. We do not criticize particular
    decisions merely because we might have recommended a different investigative
    strategy or tactic based on the facts learned during our investigation. The question
    we considered was not whether a particular investigative decision was ideal or could
    have been handled more effectively, but whether the Department and the FBI
    complied with applicable legal requirements, policies, and procedures in taking the
    actions we reviewed or, alternatively, whether the circumstances surrounding the
    21 We did not review the entirety of FISA obtained through FISA surveillance –
    targeting Carter Page. We reviewed only those documents –• under FISA
    authority that were pertinent to our review.
    22 During our review, we identified a small number of text messages and instant messages,
    beyond those discussed in the OIG’s Review of Various Actions in Advance of the 2016 Election, in
    which FBI employees involved in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation discussed political issues and
    candidates. Unlike the messages in the OIG’s Review of Various Actions in Advance of the 2016
    Election, the messages here did not raise significant questions of potential bias or improper motivation
    because of the potential connection to investigative activity.
    13
    decision indicated that it was based on inaccurate or incomplete information, or
    considerations other than the merits of the investigation. If the explanations we
    were given for a particular decision were consistent with legal requirements,
    policies and procedures, reflected rational investigative strategy and were not
    unreasonable, we did not conclude that the decision was based on improper
    considerations in the absence of documentary or testimonial evidence to the
    contrary. 23
    IV. Structure of the Report
    This report consists of twelve chapters. The public version of this report
    contains limited redactions of information that the FBI and other agencies
    determined is classified or too sensitive for public release. 24 Following this
    introduction, Chapter Two summarizes relevant Department and FBI policies
    concerning counterintelligence investigations, including the policies governing the
    FBI’s use of CHSs and FISA authority in the context of counterintelligence
    investigations.
    In Chapter Three, we provide an overview of the Crossfire Hurricane
    investigation, including the information that predicated the investigation, the
    identification of the subjects of the investigation, the organization and staffing of
    the Crossfire Hurricane team, and the involvement of Department and FBI
    leadership. We also describe the context surrounding the Crossfire Hurricane
    investigation, in particular the conclusion by the USIC that the Russian government
    was attempting to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections. In Chapter Four, we
    discuss the FBI’s receipt and evaluation of information from Steele up and .through
    the first Carter Page FISA application. In Chapter Five, we describe the preparation
    of the first FISA application which, once granted by the FISC, authorized FISA
    surveillance of Carter Page. We also describe instances in which information in the
    first FISA application was inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate
    documentation.
    Chapter Six discusses the FBl’s activities involving Steele after the first FISA
    application, including the FBI’s decision to close Steele as a CHS and the FBI’s
    efforts to assess Steele’s election reports. Chapter Seven describes the three
    renewal applications for FISA surveillance of Carter Page as the Crossfire Hurricane
    investigation proceeded. In Chapter Eight, we discuss a letter NSD sent to the FISC
    23 As part of the standard practice in our reviews, we provided a draft copy of this report to
    the Department and the FBI to conduct a factual accuracy review. Also consistent with our standard
    practice, we contacted individuals who were interviewed as part of the review and whose conduct is
    addressed in this report, and certain other witnesses, to provide them an opportunity to review the
    portions of the report that pertain to their testimony to the OIG. With limited exceptions, these
    witnesses availed themselves of this opportunity, and we provided those who did conduct such a
    review with the opportunity to provide oral or written comments directly to the OIG concerning the
    portions they reviewed, consistent with rules to protect classified information.
    24 Consistent with our standard practice, we provided a draft copy of this report to the
    Department and the FBI, and as appropriate, other government agencies, for the purpose of
    conducting a classification review and providing final classification markings.
    14
    in July 2018, about one year after the final renewal application was filed, outlining
    omissions from the FISA applications. We also describe additional instances of
    inaccurate, incomplete, or undocumented information in the three FISA renewal
    applications that were not identified in NSD’s letter.
    In Chapter Nine, we discuss the interactions between Ohr and the Crossfire
    Hurricane team, Ohr’s communications with Steele and Simpson, both before and
    after the FBI closed Steele as a CHS, and Ohr’s interactions with Department
    attorneys regarding the Manafort criminal case. Chapter Ten discusses the FBI’s
    use of CHSs other than Steele and its use of Undercover Employees (UCEs) as part
    of the· Crossfire Hurricane investigation. We also describe several individuals we
    identified who had either a connection to candidate Trump or a role in the Trump
    campaign, and were also FBI CHSs, and provide the reasons such individuals were
    not tasked as part of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Finally, we describe the
    attendance of an SSA on the Crossfire Hurricane team at counterintelligence
    briefings given to the presidential candidates and certain campaign advisors.
    Chapter Eleven contains our analysis of the factual information presented in
    Chapters Three through Ten. Chapter Twelve provides our conclusions and our nine
    recommendations.
    Appendix One to this report contains a chart illustrating the results of our
    review of the FBI’s compliance with the FISA “Woods Procedures” that are
    described in Chapter Two. Appendix Two is the FBI’s official response to this report
    and the report’s recommendations ..
    15
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    CHAPTER TWO
    APPLICABLE LAWS AND DEPARTMENT AND FBI POLICIES
    In this chapter, we describe the standards set forth in the Attorney General’s
    Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations (AG Guidelines) and implemented through
    the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) and the
    Counterintelligence Division (CD) Policy Directive and Policy Guide (CDPG) for the
    opening of predicated counterintelligence investigations. We then describe the
    FBI’s process for opening and overseeing Sensitive Investigative Matters (SIMs),
    such as those involving political candidates or officials. Next, we discuss relevant
    policies governing the use and handling of Confidential Human Sources (CHS),
    focusing on the validation process, the use of sub-sources, and the continued
    receipt of intelligence from a closed CHS.
    We then summarize the legal standards for obtaining approval to conduct
    electronic surveillance and physical searches under the Foreign Intelligence
    Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), as well as the procedural steps, approval and
    certification standards, and accuracy requirements necessary to obtain such
    approvals. Because our review focuses on the process the FBI used to obtain
    authorization to conduct electronic surveillance and physical searches targeting
    Carter Page, the discussion of FISA in this chapter is limited to the provisions
    applicable to these authorities. We also describe government ethics regulations
    concerning conflicts of interests that apply to certain events discussed in Chapter
    Nine.
    Finally, we discuss examples of other Department and FBI policies regulating
    investigative activity that could potentially impact civil liberties, including policies
    that address when someone acting on behalf of the FBI becomes a member of, or
    participates in, the activity of an organization without disclosing ·their FBI affiliation
    to an appropriate official of the organization, and when investigative actions involve
    members of the news media, White House personnel, and Members of Congress.
    I. FBI Counterintelligence Investigations
    The FBI has the authority to investigate federal crimes that are not
    exclusively assigned to other agencies. 25 In addition, under Executive Order (EO)
    12333 and various statutory authorities, the FBI has the primary domestic
    responsibility for investigating threats within the United States to the national
    security. Such threats are defined to include the following:
    • International terrorism;
    • Espionage and other intelligence activities, sabotage, and
    assassination, conducted by, for, or on behalf of foreign powers,
    organizations, or persons;
    25 See AG Guidelines§ A.1; DIOG §§ 6.4.1, 7.4.1.
    16
    • Foreign computer intrusion; and
    • Other matters determined by the Attorney General, consistent with
    E.O. 12333 or any successor order.
    Beyond these investigative functions, the FBI also serves as a domestic
    intelligence agency and has the authority to collect and analyze foreign intelligence
    as a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC). 26
    The standards that the FBI must follow when conducting investigative and
    intelligence gathering activities are set forth in the AG Guidelines and implemented
    through the DIOG. The AG Guidelines and the DIOG both require that FBI
    investigations be undertaken for an authorized purpose-that is, “to detect, obtain
    information about, or prevent or protect against federal crimes or threats to the
    national security or to collect foreign intelligence. “27 The DIOG requires that the
    authorized purpose be “well-founded and well-documented,” and states that this
    threshold requirement is a safeguard intended to ensure that FBI employees
    respect the constitutional rights of Americans. Under both the AG Guidelines and
    the DIOG, no investigation may be conducted for the sole purpose of monitoring
    activities protected by the First Amendment or the lawful exercise of other rights
    secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. 28 However, the DIOG also
    recognizes that
    the law does not preclude FBI employees from observing and collecting
    any of the forms of protected speech and considering its content-as
    long as those activities are done for a valid law enforcement or
    national security purpose and are conducted in a manner that does not
    unduly infringe upon the ability of the speaker to deliver his or her
    message.29
    Balancing individual rights and the FBI’s legitimate investigative needs requires “a
    rational relationship between the authorized purpose and the protected speech to
    be collected such that a reasonable person with knowledge of the circumstances
    could understand why the information is being collected.”30
    The AG Guidelines recognize that activities subject to investigation as
    “threats to the national security” also may involve violations or potential violations
    of federal criminal laws, or may serve important purposes outside the ambit of
    normal criminal investigation and prosecution by informing national security
    decisions. 31 Given such potential overlaps in subject matter, the AG Guidelines
    6.2.
    26 See AG Guidelines §§ A.2, B.
    27 AG Guidelines§ 11.B.1; DIOG § 7.2.; see also AG Guidelines§§ I.B.1, II; DIOG §§ 2.2.1,
    28 See AG Guidelines§§ 1.B.1, 1.C.3; DIOG § 4.1.2.
    29 DIOG § 4.2. 1.
    30 DIOG § 4.2.1.
    31 See AG Guidelines § A.2.
    17
    state that the FBI is not required to differently label its activities as criminal
    investigations, national security investigations, or foreign intelligence collection, nor
    is it required to segregate FBI personnel based on the subject areas in which they
    operate. Rather, the AG Guidelines state that, where an authorized purpose exists,
    all of the FBI’s legal authorities are available for deployment in all cases to which
    they apply. 32
    The AG Guidelines and the DIOG require that the “least intrusive” means or
    method be “considered” when selecting investigative techniques and, “if reasonable
    based upon the circumstances of the investigation,” be used to obtain information
    instead of a more intrusive method. 33 In choosing whether an investigative method
    is appropriate, the DIOG requires FBI agents to balance the level of intrusion
    against the investigative needs, particularly where the information ·sought involves
    clearly established constitutional, statutory, or evidentiary rights, or sensitive
    circumstances. Considerations include the seriousness of the crime or national
    security threat; the strength and significance of the intelligence or information to be
    gained; the amount of information already known about the subject or group under
    investigation; and the requirements of operational security, including protection of
    sources and methods. 34 The DIOG states that the degree of procedural protection
    the law and Department and FBI policy provide for the use of a particular
    investigative method helps to determine its intrusiveness. 35 According to the DIOG,
    search warrants, wiretaps, and undercover operations are considered to be very
    intrusive, while database searches and communication with established sources are
    less intrusive. 36 The least intrusive method principle reflects an attempt to balance
    the FBI’s ability to effectively conduct investigations with the potential negative
    impact an investigation can have on the privacy and civil liberties of individuals
    encompassed within an investigation. 37 However, the DIOG states that
    investigators “must not hesitate to use any lawful method consistent with the [AG
    Guidelines] when the degree of intrusiveness is warranted in light of the
    seriousness of the matter concerned. “38 According to the DIOG, “[i]n the final
    analysis, choosing the method that [most] appropriately balances the impact on
    privacy and civil liberties with operational needs, is a matter of judgment, based on
    training and experience. “39
    Where the authorized purpose involves a threat to the national security, the
    AG Guidelines require the FBI to coordinate with other Department components,
    32 See AG Guidelines§ A, II.
    33 See AG Guidelines § I.C.2; DIOG § 4.4.1.
    34 See DIOG § 4.4.4.
    35 See DIOG § 4.4.3.
    36 See DIOG § 4.4.3.
    37 See DIOG § 4.4.4.
    38 See DIOG § 4.1.l(F).
    39 See DIOG § 4.4.5.
    18
    specifically including the National Security Division (NSD), and to share information
    with other agencies with national security responsibilities, including other USIC
    agencies, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House. Section
    VI.D of the AG Guidelines governs the FBI’s responsibility to provide information
    concerning threats to the national security to NSD and to the White House. Where
    there is “compromising” information about U.S. officials or political organizations, or
    information concerning activities of U.S. persons intended to affect the political
    process, the FBI may disseminate it to the White House with the approval of the
    Attorney General, based on a determination that the dissemination is needed for
    foreign intelligence purposes, to protect against international terrorism or other
    threats to the national security, or for the conduct of foreign affairs. 40
    A. Predicated Investigations
    Where the FBI has an authorized purpose and factual predication-that is,
    allegations, reports, facts or circumstances indicative of possible criminal activity or
    a national security threat, or the potential for acquiring information responsive to
    foreign intelligence requirements-it may initiate an investigation. The predication
    requirement is not a legal requirement but rather a prudential one imposed by
    Department and FBI policy. 41
    Predicated investigations that concern federal crimes or threats to the
    national security are divided into Preliminary Investigations and Full
    Investigations.42 Preliminary Investigations may be opened on the basis of any
    “allegation or information” indicative of possible criminal activity or threats to the
    national security. Authorized investigative methods in Preliminary Investigations
    include all lawful methods (to include CHS and UCE operations) except mail
    opening, search warrants, electronic surveillance requiring a judicial order or
    warrant (Title III or FISA), or requests under Title VII of FISA. A Preliminary
    Investigation may also be converted to a Full Investigation if the available
    information provides predication for a Full Investigation.43 As described in more
    detail in Chapter Three, both Crossfire Hurricane and an earlier counterintelligence
    investigation on Carter Page were initiated as Full Investigations, and thus we focus
    on the requirements for this level of predicated investigation.44
    4o See AG Guidelines § VI.D.2.b.
    41 For example, the Supreme Court has held that the Department and FBI can lawfully open a
    federal criminal grand jury investigation even in the absence of predication. See United States v.
    Morton Salt, 338 U.S. 632, 642-43 ( 1950) (a grand jury “can investigate merely on suspicion that the
    law is being violated, or even just because it wants assurance that it is not”); see also United States v.
    R. Enterprises, 498 U.S. 292, 297 ( 1991).
    42 See AG Guidelines § 11.B.3.
    43 See AG Guidelines§§ 11.B.3, 11.B.4; DIOG §§ 6.1, 6.4, 6.6, 6.7.2, 6.9 (Preliminary
    Investigations); DIOG §§ 7.5, 7.6, 7.7.3, 7.9 (Full Investigations).
    44 In addition to predicated investigations, the AG Guidelines and the DIOG also authorize the
    FBI to use relatively non-intrusive means to conduct assessments when it receives or obtains
    allegations or other information concerning crimes or threats to the national security. Assessments
    19
    Under Section 11.B.3 of the AG Guidelines and Section 7 of the DIOG, the FBI
    may open a Full Investigation if there is an “articulable factual basis” that
    reasonably indicates one of the following circumstances exists:
    • An activity constituting a federal crime or a threat to the national
    security has or may have occurred, is or may be occurring, or will or
    may occur and the investigation may obtain information relating to the
    activity or the involvement or role of an individual, group, or
    organization in such activity;
    • An individual, group, organization, entity, information, property, or
    activity is or may be a target of attack, victimization, acquisition,
    infiltration, or recruitment in connection with criminal activity in
    violation of federal law or a threat to the national security and the
    investigation may obtain information that would help to protect against
    such activity or threat; or
    • The investigation may obtain foreign intelligence that is responsive to
    a requirement that the FBI collect positive foreign intelligence-i.e.,
    information relating to the capabilities, intentions, or activities of
    foreign governments or elements thereof, foreign organizations or
    foreign persons, or international terrorists.
    The DIOG provides examples of information that is sufficient to initiate a Full
    Investigation, including corroborated information from an intelligence agency
    stating that an individual is a member of a terrorist group, or a threat to a specific
    individual or group made on a blog combined with additional information connecting
    the blogger to a known terrorist group. 45
    A Full Investigation may be opened if there is an “articulable factual basis” of
    possible criminal or national threat activity. When opening a Full Investigation, an
    FBI employee must certify that an authorized purpose and adequate predication
    exist; that the investigation is not based solely on the exercise of First Amendment
    rights or certain characteristics of the subject, such as race, religion, national
    origin, or ethnicity; and that the investigation is an appropriate use of personnel
    and financial resources. The factual predication must be documented in an
    electronic communication (EC) or other form, and the case initiation must be
    approved by the relevant FBI personnel, which, in most instances, can be a
    Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) in a field office or at Headquarters. As described
    in more detail below, if an investigation is designated as a Sensitive Investigative
    Matter, that designation must appear in the caption or heading of the opening EC,
    and special approval requirements apply.
    require an authorized purpose but no particular factual predication, and are the lowest level of
    investigation permitted under the AG Guidelines and the DIOG. See AG Guidelines § II.A; DIOG § 5.2.
    The investigations opened on Carter Page were not assessments.
    45 DIOG§7.S.
    20
    All lawful investigative methods may be used in a Full Investigation, including
    electronic surveillance and physical searches under FISA.46 However, as described
    above, the FBI must consider the least intrusive means or method to accomplish
    the operational objectives of the investigation.
    B. Sensitive.Investigative Matters (SIM)
    The DIOG states that certain investigative matters, known as Sensitive
    Investigative Matters or SIMs, should be brought to the attention of FBI
    management and Department officials, as described in further detail below,
    because of the possibility of public notoriety and sensitivity .47 Section 10.1.2.1 of
    the DIOG, in relevant part, defines a SIM as an assessment or predicated
    investigation of the activities of a domestic public official or domestic political
    candidate (involving corruption or a threat to the national security), or a domestic
    political organization or an individual prominent in such an organization. The term
    “domestic political candidate” includes an individual who is seeking nomination or
    election to federal or other political office, while the term “domestic political
    organization” includes, in relevant part, a committee or group formed to elect an
    individual to public office. Under the DIOG, if an assessment or predicated
    investigation concerns a person prominent in a “domestic political organization” but
    not the political organization itself, it nonetheless must be treated as a SIM. 48
    Section 10.1.3 of the DIOG states that the following factors are to be
    considered when deciding to open a SIM:
    • The seriousness or severity of the violation or threat;
    • The significance of the information sought to the violation or threat;
    • The probability that the proposed course of action will be successful;
    • The risk of public exposure, and if there is such a risk, the adverse
    impact or the perception of the adverse impact on civil liberties and
    public confidence; and
    • The risk to the national security or the public welfare if the proposed
    course of action is not approved (i.e., the risk of doing nothing).
    The DIOG cautions that, when conducting a SIM, the FBI should take
    particular care to consider whether a planned course of action is the least intrusive
    method if reasonable, based upon the circumstances of the investigation.49 As
    noted above, when balancing the needs of the investigation and the intrusiveness
    of an investigative method, the FBI must consider the seriousness of the crime or
    national security threat, the strength and significance of the intelligence or
    46 See AG Guidelines§ II.B.4(b)(ii); see also DIOG §§ 7.9, 18.7.1.
    47 DIOG § 10.1.1
    48 See DIOG § 10.1.2.2.3.
    49 See DIOG § 10.1.3
    21
    information to be gained, the amount of information already known about the
    subject or group under investigation, and the requirements of operational security,
    including protection of sources and methods. 50
    The DIOG and CDPG impose special approval and notification requirements
    for initiating a Full Investigation of a U.S. person relating to a threat to the national
    security or any investigation involving a SIM. When a case is opened and
    designated a SIM by FBI Headquarters, these include review by the FBI Office of
    the General Counsel (OGC), approval by the FBI Headquarters operational Section
    Chief (SC), and notification to NSD. 51 At NSD, counterintelligence investigations fall
    within the purview of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES),
    which has the responsibility of supervising and coordinating, among other things,
    . the criminal investigation and prosecution of national security cases, except ·
    counterterrorism cases, nationwide. CES receives a steady volume of investigation
    notifications from the FBI, referred to as letterhead memoranda or LHMs, and on
    counterintelligence matters CES officials meet regularly with officials from the FBl’s
    Counterintelligence Division.
    II. Department and FBI Policies Governing the Use of Confidential
    Human Sources (CHS)
    CHSs play a crucial role in the FBI’s efforts to combat crime and protect
    national security. CHSs provide the FBI with information and insights about the
    inner workings of criminal, terrorist, and espionage networks that otherwise would
    be unavailable. The intelligence that CHSs generate has enabled the FBI to thwart
    terrorist plots, combat intelligence gathering by malign foreign actors, and collect
    critical evidence for criminal prosecutions.
    A. Risk Management Issues Related to CHSs
    The operation of CHSs carries numerous risks, both for the CHSs and for law
    enforcement. 52 CHSs oftentimes place themselves in significant danger because
    so See DIOG § 4.4.4.
    51 The DIOG states “an appropriate NSD official” should be notified and provides a general
    email account for notification. See DIOG §§ 7.7, 7.10, DIOG Appendix G § G.9.1 (classified); CDPG §
    3.1.2.
    52 The OIG has conducted numerous reviews of the CHS Programs at the Department’s law
    enforcement components, including most recently the OIG’s Audit of the Federal Bureau of
    Investigation’s Management of its Confidential Human Source Validation Processes, Audit Division
    Report 20-009 (November 2019), http://oig.justice.gov/reports/20l9/a20009.pdf (accessed
    December 1, 2019). See also DOJ OIG, Audit of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
    Explosives’ Management and Oversight of Confidential Informants, Audit Division 17-17 (March 2017),
    https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2017/al717.pdf (accessed November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG, Audit of the
    Drug Enforcement Administration’s Confidential Source Policies and Oversight of Higher-Risk
    Confidential Sources, Audit Division 15-28 (July 2015), https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2015/al528.pdf
    (accessed November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG, Audit of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s
    Management and Oversight of its Confidential Source Program, Audit Division 16-33 (September
    2016), https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2016/a1633.pdf (accessed November 12, 2019); DOJ OIG,
    22
    disclosure of their cooperation with the FBI can result in retaliation by the persons
    on whom they are reporting, including physical abuse and even death. Maintaining
    the confidential nature of the FBI’s relationship with its human sources
    consequently is a priority for the FBI and the Department. Without such secrecy,
    the safety of CHSs and the FBI’s ability to recruit CHSs would be severely
    jeopardized.
    Law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, also assume various risks when
    utilizing CHSs. Sources may fail to follow instructions and engage in criminal
    activities that are not authorized, or they may lie or otherwise provide inaccurate
    information. In light of these risks, the Department and the FBI have established
    detailed policies to govern the use of CHSs, which seek to mitigate the various risks
    that such use creates. The Department has established AG Guidelines for FBI CHSs
    (AG CHS Guidelines) and baseline risk and mitigation protocols for CHS
    operations. 53 The AG CHS Guidelines and protocols require, for example, that the
    FBI: (1) complete an initial suitability or validation review prior to operating a CHS;
    (2) admonish the CHS regarding the parameters of his or her service, such as a
    prohibition on unauthorized illegal activity, and the requirement to abide by the
    FBI’s instructions; (3) maintain proper payment documentation; and (4) subject the
    CHS to an on-going validation review, to include quarterly and annual reporting on
    the CH S’s activities. 54 Sources that the FBI operates outside of the United States
    are subject to further requirements under a separate set of Attorney General’s
    Guidelines. 55
    The FBI’s CHS policies provide additional guidance about source operation
    procedures and include the DIOG, the Confidential Human Source Policy Guide
    (CHSPG), and the Confidential Human Source Validation Standards Manual (VSM).56
    Under these policies, FBI case agents (handling agents) are responsible for
    recruiting and operating CHSs, as well as securing approvals for CHS activities and
    maintaining accurate CHS case files. 57 These policies expressly recognize that the
    “FBI must, to the extent practicable, ensure that the information collected from
    Public Summary of the Addendum to the Audit of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Management
    and Oversight of its Confidential Source Program, Audit Division 16-33a (March 2017),
    https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2017/a1633a.pdf (accessed November 12, 2019);
    53 Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General’s Guidelines Regarding the Use of FBI Confidential
    Human Sources (“AG CHS Guidelines”) (Dec. 13, 2006); James M. Cole, Deputy Attorney General,
    Baseline Risk Assessment and Mitigation Policies for Law Enforcement Operations in Criminal Matters
    (December 7, 2013) at 6-10.
    54 AG CHS Guidelines §§ II.A, II.B, II.C & IV.C.4.
    55 William P. Barr, Attorney General’s Guidelines on the Development and Operation of FBI
    Criminal Informants and Cooperative Witnesses in Extraterritorial Jurisdictions (January 15, 1993);
    See also Confidential Human Source Policy Guide (CHSPG) § 19.
    56 The FBI is in the process of drafting new guidance to replace the Confidential Human
    Source Validation Standards Manual (“VSM”), 0258PG (March 26, 2010). Witnesses we interviewed
    told the OIG that the FBI has changed its validation process, and no longer follows much of the VSM,
    but it has not yet been replaced by more recent guidance.
    57 DIOG § 18.5.5; CHSPG § 1.0; VSM § 1.0.
    23
    every CHS is accurate and current, and not given to the FBI in an effort to distract,
    mislead, or misdirect FBI organizational or governmental efforts. “58
    The CHSPG recognizes that the decision to open an individual as a CHS will
    not only forever affect the life of that individual, but that the FBI will also be
    viewed, fairly or unfairly, in light of the conduct or misconduct of that individual.59
    Accordingly, the CHS PG identifies criteria that handling a ents must consider when
    assessin the risks associated with the otential CHS.
    60 These risks must be weighed against the benefits associated with
    use of the potential CHS. 61
    Once a CHS has been evaluated and recruited, the CHSPG does not allow for
    tasking until after the CHS has been approved for opening by an FBI SSA; the
    required approvals for a specific tasking have been granted; and the CHS has met
    with the co-handling agent assigned to his or her file, who has the same duties,
    responsibilities, and file access as the handling agent. 62 The CHSPG requires
    additional supervisory approval by a Special Agent in Charge (SAC) and review b a
    Chief Division Counsel CDC to o en CHSs that are “sensitive” sources
    Before a CHS may be tasked, the CHS must also be admonished by the
    handling agent regarding the nature and parameters of the CHS’s relationship with
    58 VSM § 1.0.
    59 CHSPG § 3.1.
    6° CHSPG § 3.1.
    62 CHSPG §§ 2.2.1, 4.2.
    24
    the FBI. 64 Admonishments must also be given to the CHS “whenever it appears
    necessary or prudent to do so, and at least annually.”65 The CHSPG contains a list
    of required admonishments, which include that the CHS’s assistance to the FBI is
    voluntary; that the CHS must abide by the admonishments of the FBI and must not
    take any independent actions on behalf of the U.S. government; and that the CHS
    must provide truthful information to the FBI.66 The required admonishments listed
    in the CHSPG do not include a specific statement that the CHS must keep his or her
    relationship with the FBI confidential.
    Exceptions to the requirements of the CHSPG and the DIOG may be made in
    “extraordinary circumstances” and require the approval of the Assistant Director of
    the Directorate of Intelligence. 67
    B. Documenting CHS Activities
    The FBI maintains an automated case management system for all CHS
    records which the FBI refers to as “Delta. “68 The Delta file for each CHS contains
    • 70 The handling agent also
    assigns the CHS a , which enables the CHS to sign payment receipts,
    admonishments; and consent forms without indicating the CHS’s true identity.71
    The FBI permanently retains its CHS files, as directed by the National Archives and
    Records Administration (NARA). 72
    Within Delta, handling agents are required to document information reported
    by the CHS, as well as a wide variety of other information includin interactions
    between the handlin a ent and the CHS
    64 CHSPG § 5.1.
    65 CHSPG § 5.1.
    66 CHSPG § 5.2.
    67 CHSPG § 1.5.2.
    68 CHSPG §§ 3.10.1, 16.1.1.
    69 CHSPG § 16.1.5. The FBI’s CHS Policy requires case agents to enter all communications
    concerning their CHSs into Delta, unless an exemption for “compelling circumstances” has been
    gran·ted. CHSPG § 16.1.2. Even if such an exemption is granted, however, all CHSs must
    nevertheless be “registered” in the FBI’s Delta database in a source-opening communication. CHSPG
    §§ 16.1.2, 16.1.4.
    7° CHSPG § 16.2.
    71 CHSPG § 16.3.
    72 CHSPG § 16.1.8.
    25
    -· 73 Handling agents are also specifically required to document derogatory
    information about the CHS, which the FBI broadly defines as “[i]nformation that
    detracts from the character or standing” of an individual. 74 Derogatory information
    can take many forms, including, for example, involvement in criminal activity, drug
    use or possession, financial delinquency or bankruptcy, shifts in beliefs and values,
    unfavorable comments from individuals who know the CHS, undisclosed allegiances,
    or inaccurate or incomplete reporting. 75 Documenting derogatory information is
    critical to the CHS risk management process because, as recognized by the CHSPG,
    “past activities and observable characteristics can provide insights that point to
    future control or handling issues, reliability problems, or lack of credibility” on the
    part of the CHS. The OIG has previously recommended that the FBI create a subsection
    within each CHS Delta file that contains, in a single location, all of the
    information concerning the reliability of the CHS, including any red flags,
    derogatory reporting, anomalies, or other counterintelligence concerns. The FBI
    has not implemented this recommendation. 76
    The CHSPG prohibits FBI personnel from disclosing investigative information
    to a CHS, including “the identity of … actual or potential subjects” of an investigation
    “other than what is strictly necessary for operational reasons. “77 If an agent
    believes that the disclosure of classified information to a source is necessary, the
    agent is required to obtain authorization from an FBI Assistant Director before
    disclosing the classified information.
    C. Validation Process for CHSs
    Validation is the proces$ used by the FBI to measure the value and mitigate
    the risks associated with the o eration of CHSs. 78 B desi n the validation process

    73 CHSPG §§ 5.1, 16.1.7.
    74 CHSPG § 16.1. 7; FBI National Name Check Derogatory Information Policy Implementation
    Guide (FBI NNCPG), 0317PG (July 25, 2010), B-1.
    7s See, e.g., FBI NNCPG § 3.1.1.
    76 See DOJ OIG, A Review of the FBl’s Handling and Oversight of FBI Asset Katrina Leung,
    Oversight and Review Division, Special Report (May 2006), 229.
    77 CHSPG § 2.3; see also AG CHS Guidelines § !.D.S.
    78 VSM § 2.1.1.
    79 VSM § 2.2.
    26



    • 81 FOASRs must be maintained
    in the CHS’s Delta validation sub-file, where they are reviewed and approved by the
    SSA and an Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC), then submitted to the FBI
    Headquarters’ Validation Management Unit (VMU), which assesses each CHS for
    continued operation. 82
    SSAs are responsible for daily oversight of CHSs operated by handling agents
    on the SSA’s squad. SSAs review all communications regarding those CHSs, and
    perform required reviews of documentation collected in each CHS’s Delta file. 83
    Every 90 days, the SSA must also complete a Quarterly Supervisory Source Report
    (QSSR) for each CHS operated by a handling agent under that SSA’s supervisory
    authority. 84 As part of the QSSR, the SSA must review the Delta file for each CHS
    to note any significant anomalies (for example, potential derogatory information,
    sudden requests for money, or substantial changes in behavior, lifestyle, or
    viewpoint) that occurred in the last 90 days. 85
    VMU independently conducts Human Source Validation Reviews (HSVRs),
    which are separate evaluations of the CHS that are completed, among other
    reasons, because an FBI Field Office or Operational Division has requested
    enhanced review. 86 These HSVRs involve:
    • Independent review and analysis of the
    -;87
    • Appropriate traces to , criminal
    activities, or interactions with other intelligence services, terrorist
    groups, or criminal organizations; 88
    80 VSM § 2.1.2.
    81 CHSPG § 16.7; VSM § 4.1.2.
    82 CHSPG §§ 16.7, 4.1.2.1.
    83 CHSPG §§ 2.1.1, 16. 7 & 16.8.
    84 CHSPG § 16.8.
    85 CHSPG § 16.8.
    86 VSM §§ 4.1, 4.1.2, 4.1.3 & 4.1.4.
    87 VSM §§ 4.1.3, 4.1.4.
    88 VSM §§ 4.1.3, 4.1.4.
    27


    The FBI’s validation process also addresses the use of sub-sources by a
    CHS. 92 For exam the VSM re uires the FOASR to assess the CHS’s access to
    information
    D. Closure and Re-Opening of CHSs
    Closing a CHS requires documentation of the reason for the closure, which
    must be included in the CH S’s Delta file. 95 A CHS may be closed for general
    reasons or for cause. General reasons include considerations such as a lack of
    productivity, poor health, or transfer of the handling agent.96 However, a CHS must
    be closed for cause “if there is grievous action by the CHS or a discovery of
    previously unknown facts or circumstances that make the individual unsuitable for
    use as a CHS. “97 Reasons that justify closing a CHS for cause include commission
    89 VSM §§ 4.1.4, 4.1.4.1.
    90 VSM §§ 4.1.4., 4.1.4.2.
    91 VSM § 2.2.
    92 CHSPG § 10.12; VSM § 4.1.2.1.7.
    93 VSM § 4.1.2.1.7.
    94 VSM § 4.1.2.1.7.
    95 CHSPG § 18.1.
    96 CHSPG § 18.1.1.
    97 CHSPG § 18.1.2.
    28
    of unauthorized illegal activity, unwillingness to follow instructions, unreliability, or
    serious control problems. 98 The handling agent must advise the CHS that he or she
    has been closed, and document such notification in the CHS’s validation sub-file,
    including a statement as to whether the CHS acknowledged or refused to
    acknowledge the closure. 99
    Absent exceptional circumstances that are approved (in advance, whenever
    possible) by an SSA, a handling agent must not initiate contact with or respond to
    contacts from a former CHS who has been closed for cause. 100 Where there is
    contact with a CHS following closure (whether or not for cause), new information
    “may be documented” to a closed CHS file. 101 However, the CHSPG requires
    reopening of the CHS if the relationship between the FBI and the CHS is expected
    to continue beyond the initial contact or debriefing.102 ·
    been closed for cause requires
    E. Use of CHSs in Sensitive Monitoring Circumstances
    The CHSPG “emphasizes the importance of oversight and self-regulation to
    ensure that CHS Program activities are conducted within Constitutional and
    statutory parameters and that civil liberties and privacy are protected.”105 To
    protect such rights, the FBI must meet additional requirements for use of CHSs in
    what the AG Guidelines and the DIOG define as “sensitive monitoring
    circumstances. “106
    One of the investigative techniques that the FBI may use in predicated
    investigations is consensual monitoring, which means the monitoring and/or
    recording of conversations, telephone calls, and electronic communications based
    on the consent of one party involved, such as an FBI CHS.107 SSAs may approve
    the use of CHSs for consensual monitoring in ordinary cases, so long as the consent
    98 CHSPG § 18.1.2.
    99 CHSPG § 18.2.
    10° CHSPG § 18.3.
    101 CHSPG § 18.3
    102 CHSPG § 18.3.
    103 CHSPG § 4.5.1.
    104 CHS PG § 4. 5.1.
    105 CHSPG § 1.2.
    106 AG Guidelines § VII.O; DIOG § 18.6.1.6.3.
    107 AG Guidelines§ V.A.4; DIOG §§ 18.6.1.2, 18.6.1.4.
    29
    of the CHS has been documented, and the CDC or OGC has determined that, given
    the facts of the case, the consensual monitoring is legal. 108
    For investigations concerning threats to national security, the FBI is required
    to obtain approval from the Department for consensual monitoring in a “sensitive
    monitoring circumstance. ” 109 A “sensitive monitoring circumstance” as defined by
    the AG Guidelines and the DIOG is not the same as a “sensitive investigative
    matter” or “SIM.” As described in Section I.B of this chapter, DIOG § 10.1.2 defines
    a SIM to include predicated investigations of the activities of a domestic public
    official or political candidate (involving corruption or a threat to the national
    security), or a domestic political organization or an individual prominent in such an
    organization. 110 In contrast, a “sensitive monitoring circumstance” is defined more
    narrowly. As it pertains to this report, a “sensitive monitoring circumstance” arises
    only when the FBI seeks to record communications of officials who have already
    been elected or appointed, such as Members of Congress, federal judges, or high
    ranking members of the executive branch.11 1
    The AG Guidelines and the DIOG do not mandate prior notice to, or approval
    by, the Department before the FBI conducts consensual monitoring of candidates
    for political office or prominent officials in domestic political organizations, including
    the most senior officials in a national presidential campaign. However, the
    definition of a sensitive monitoring circumstance provides that the Attorney
    General, the DAG, or an Assistant Attorney General (AAG) can require that the FBI
    obtain Department approval prior to conducting consensual monitoring for a specific
    investigation of which they are aware. 112 As described in Chapter Ten of this
    report, the consensual· monitoring conducted in the Crossfire Hurricane
    investigation did not meet the definition of sensitive monitoring circumstances
    provided by the AG Guidelines and the DIOG.
    F. Use of CHS Reporting in FISA Applications
    The CHSPG allows the use of CHS reporting in FISA applications without
    revealing the identity of the CHS, so long as the handling agent provides the
    relevant FBI Headquarters operational unit (e.g., Counterintelligence,
    Counterterrorism) with the CHS file number, duration of service to the FBI, and a
    statement on whether the CHS is reliable and has provided reporting that has been
    corroborated. 113 The CHS handling agent must also be prepared to furnish
    information to NSD concerning the CHS’s criminal history, payments, and any
    108 DIOG §§ 18.6.1.5.1, 18.6.1.5.1.7.
    109 AG Guidelines § VII.O; DIOG § 18.6.1.6.3.
    110 AG Guidelines§§ VII.N, VII.O; DIOG §§ 10.1.2, 18.6.1.6.3.
    111 AG Guidelines§§ VII.N, VII.O; DIOG §§ 10.1.2, 18.6.1.6.3.
    112 AG Guidelines§ VII.O(4); DIOG § 18.6.1.6.3.
    113 CHSPG § 10.13.
    30
    impeachment information.114 All information provided to support a FISA application
    must also be documented in the CHS’s Delta file. 115
    Further, the FBI’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Standard
    Minimization Procedures Policy Guide (FISA SMP PG) requires that the FISA
    accuracy or “Woods” file, described in more detail in the next section, contains
    documentation from the CHS handling agent stating that the handling agent has
    reviewed the facts presented in the FISA application regarding the CHS’s reliability
    and background, and that, based upon a review of the CHS file, the facts presented
    in the application concerning the CHS are accurate. ·
    III. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)
    The FBI identified Carter Page as a U.S. person during all times relevant
    herein. 116 Accordingly, in this section, we briefly describe the statutory
    requirements and Department policies and procedures for obtaining approval to
    conduct electronic surveillance and physical searches targeting a U.S. person under
    FISA. 117
    A. Statutory Requirements and the Foreign Intelligence
    Surveillance Court
    FISA authorizes the U.S. government to apply for and obtain an order from
    the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to conduct electronic surveillance
    and physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes. The government’s
    application for electronic surveillance must be approved by the Attorney General ( or
    his or her designee) and contain certain specified information, including a
    statement of the facts and circumstances relied upon by the applicant to support
    the belief that the target is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power, and that
    each facility or place at which the electronic surveillance is directed is being used,
    114 CHSPG § 10.13.
    11s CHSPG § 10.13.
    116 A U.S. person means a U.S. citizen, a lawful permanent resident (i.e., a green card
    holder), an unincorporated association with a substantial number of members who are citizens of the
    United States or lawful permanent residents, or a corporation that is incorporated in the United
    States-provided such corporation does not constitute a foreign government or any component
    thereof, a faction of a foreign nation, or an entity that is openly acknowledged by a foreign
    government to be directed and controlled by the foreign government. See 50 U.S.C. § 1801(i). FISA
    treats U.S. persons and non-U.S. persons differently in various aspects, including by setting forth
    different definitions of an “agent of a foreign power” for non-U.S. persons, and authorizing initial
    electronic surveillance and physical searches targeting a non-U.S. person for a longer duration (120
    days versus 90 days for a U.S. person).
    117 This report does not describe other FISA provisions not relevant here, including the
    statutory requirements for obtaining similar FISA authority on a non-U.S. person, see 50 U.S.C. §§
    1801-1805, 1821-1825; see also E.O. 12139 (May 23, 1979); E.O. 12949 (Feb. 9, 1995). Also not
    relevant here are the circumstances under which the U.S. government may conduct emergency
    electronic surveillance or physical searches without a court order (for not more than 7. days). For the
    emergency provisions, see SO U.S.C. §§ 180S(e), 1824(e).
    31
    or is about to be used, by a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power; proposed
    minimization procedures; and a description of the nature of the information sought
    and the type of communications or activities subject to surveillance.
    An application for physical searches requires substantially similar
    information, except that it also must state the facts and circumstances justifying
    the applicant’s belief that the premises or property to be searched contains “foreign
    intelligence information” and “is or is about to be, owned, used, possessed by, or is
    in transit to or from” the target. 118 Electronic surveillance and physical searches
    targeting a U.S. person may be approved for up to 90 days, and subsequent
    extensions may be approved for up to 90 days provided the government submits
    another application that meets the requirements of FISA.119 The approvals and
    certifications required for applications for electronic surveillance and physical
    searches are discussed in more detail below.
    In addition, 50 U.S.C. § 1881d(b) allows the U.S. government to apply for
    and obtain concurrent authorization to continue targeting a U.S. person reasonably
    believed to be outside the United States when applying for authorization to conduct
    electronic surveillance and physical searches within the United States. Because the
    requirements for such applications are substantially similar to those for surveillance
    and searches within the United States, we discuss them together.
    Probable Cause
    The electronic surveillance and physical search provisions of FISA require the
    FISC to make a probable cause finding based on information submitted by the
    government. Specifically, the FISC must find probable cause to believe that: (1)
    the target of the electronic surveillance and physical searches is a foreign power or,
    as described in more detail below, the agent of a foreign power; (2) for electronic
    surveillance, that each of the facilities or places at which the surveillance is being
    directed is being used, or is about to be used, by the foreign power or agent of a
    foreign power; and (3) for physical searches, that each of the premises or property
    to be searched is or is about to be owned, used, possessed by, or is in transit to or
    from the foreign power or agent of a foreign power. In determining whether
    probable cause exists, a judge may consider the target’s past activities, as well as
    the facts and circumstances relating to his current or future activities. 120 Where the
    118 See SO U.S.C. §§ 1823(a)(l)-(8). Foreign intelligence information means information that
    relates to, and if concerning a U.S. person is necessary to, the ability of the United States to protect
    against actual or potential attack or other grave hostile acts of a foreign power or an agent of a
    foreign power; sabotage, international terrorism, or the international proliferation of weapons of mass
    destruction by a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power; or clandestine intelligence activities by
    an intelligence service or network of a foreign power or by an agent of a foreign power. See, e.g., SO
    U.S.C. § 1801(e)(l).
    119 An order for electronic surveillance or physical searches may be extended on the same
    basis as the original order. The extension for a U.S. person may not exceed 90 days, whereas for
    non-U.S. person who is an agent of a foreign power it may be for a period not to exceed 1 year. See
    SO U.S.C. §§ 1801(b)(l)-(2), 180S(d), 1824(d).
    120 SO U.S.C. §§ 180S(a)(2), 180S(b), 1824(a)(2), 1824(b).
    32
    FISC authorizes the electronic surveillance or physical search of a U.S. person, the
    Attorney General may authorize, for the effective period of the FISC’s order, the
    targeting of the U.S. person for the purpose of acquiring foreign intelligence
    information while such person is reasonably believed to be located outside the
    United States. 121
    According to FISA guidance issued by OGC, probable cause means the
    following:
    “[P]robable cause” is reason to believe, based on the available facts
    and circumstances, as well as the logical inferences that can be drawn
    from them. It is determined by the totality of the facts and
    circumstances, as viewed from the perspective of a reasonable person.
    Probable cause [means] probability, not certainty, and, thus, is
    significantly lower than the “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”
    necessary to support a criminal conviction. It is also lower than the
    “preponderance of the evidence” required in most civil cases.
    The FISA guidance also states:
    [OGC] recommends that a field agent seeking a FISA order focus on
    the object of the belief required, i.e., the facts and circumstances
    demonstrating that the target of the proposed search or surveillance is
    an agent of a foreign power and that the premises to be surveilled .. .is
    used by that agent of a foreign power, rather than on the quantum of
    the belief involved. If you can show that a target is engaged in certain
    activities, and that he is engaged in them for or on behalf of a foreign
    power, you have won most of the battle. 122
    Unlike wiretap applications in a criminal case, which require the government
    to establish probable cause to believe that an individual is committing, has
    committed, or is about to commit a specific criminal offense, among other
    requirements, FISA does not require that the government show a nexus to
    criminality. 123 Rather, a probable cause finding under FISA “focuses on the status
    of the target as a foreign power or the agent of a foreign power,” which ·is discussed
    in more detail below .124 The Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
    121 See SO U.S.C. § 1881b(c)(B)(i).
    122 FBI OGC, What Do I Have to Do to Get a FISA? (“FISA guidance”), Jan. 23, 2003
    (emphasis in original); see also United States v. Rosen, 447 F. Supp. 2d 538, 549 (E.D. Va. 2006).
    123 See, e.g., United States v. Daoud, 761 F.3d 678, 681 (7th Cir. 2014); United States v.
    Abu-Jihaad, 630 F.2d 102, 122, 127 (2d Cir 2010); United States v. Duka, 671 F.3d 329, 339-41 (3d
    Cir. 2011); United States v. Wen, 477 F.3d 896, 898 (7th Cir. 2007); In re Sealed Case, 310 F.3d
    717, 738 (Foreign Intel. Surv. Ct. Rev. 2002) (per curiam); United States v. Cavanagh, 807 F.2d 787,
    790 (9th Cir. 1987).
    124 See, e.g., United States v. EI-Mezain, 664 F.3d 467, 564 (5th Cir. 2011); see also United
    States v. Duggan, 743 F.2d 59, 72-73 (2d Cir. 1984).
    33
    (SSCI) that accompanied the 1978 passage of FISA explains the rationale for the
    different probable cause standards:
    [I]f electronic surveillance is to make an effective contribution to
    foreign counterintelligence, it must be available for use when
    necessary for the investigative process. The criminal laws are enacted
    to establish standards for arrest and conviction[,] and they supply
    guidance for investigations conducted to collect evidence for
    prosecution. Foreign counterintelligence investigations have different
    objectives. They succeed when the United States can insure that an
    intelligence network is not obtaining vital information, that a suspected
    agent’s future access to such information is controlled effectively, and
    that security precautions are strengthened in areas of top priority for
    the foreign intelligence service…. Therefore, procedures appropriate in
    regular criminal investigations need modification to fit the
    counterintelligence context. [FISA] adopts probable cause standards
    that allow surveillance at an early stage in the investigative process by
    not requiring that a crime be imminent or that the elements of a
    specific offense exist. 125
    Given these differences, the FISA guidance notes that the strictures
    developed to assess the reliability of informants providing information used to
    support a wiretap application in criminal cases do not necessarily apply to FISA. 126
    However, the FISA guidance nonetheless cautions that probable cause
    determinations should take into account “the same aspects of reliability … as in the
    ordinary criminal context, including the reliability of any informant, the
    circumstances of the informant’s knowledge, and the age of the information relied
    upon.” The FISA guidance instructs agents to “look to the totality of the
    information and consider its reliability on a case-by-case basis” when judging the
    information supporting a FISA application .127
    Agent of a Foreign Power
    As described above, the probable cause finding required under FISA focuses
    on the status of the target as a foreign power or the agent of a foreign power.
    Under FISA § 1801(b)(2), the definition of “agent of a foreign power” includes, in
    relevant part, “any person” (including any U.S. person) who engages in the
    following conduct:
    A. Knowingly engages in clandestine intelligence gathering
    activities for or on behalf of a foreign power,· which activities
    125 Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
    Act of 1978, S. Rep. No. 701, 95th Cong., 2d Sess. 34 (Mar. 14, 1978) (S. Rep. 95-701), 3981.
    126 The rules for assessing the reliability of information provided by confidential informants or
    sources in counterintelligence cases are discussed above in Section II.
    127 See FISA guidance, supra (citing Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213 {1983)).
    34
    involve or may involve a violation of the criminal statutes of the
    United States; or
    B. Pursuant to the direction of an intelligence service or network of
    a foreign power, knowingly engages in any other clandestine
    intelligence activities for or on behalf of such foreign power,
    which activities involve or are about to involve a violation of the
    criminal statutes of the United States. 128
    Further, under FISA § 1801(b )(2)(E), the provision the Department relied upon in
    the Carter Page FISA applications, an agent of a foreign power also includes any
    person who knowingly aids or abets any person, or conspires with any person, in
    the conduct described above.
    FISA provides that a U.S. person may not be found to be a foreign power or
    an agent of a foreign power solely upon the basis of activities protected by the First
    Amendment.129 Congress added this language to reinforce that lawful political
    activities may not serve as the only basis for a probable cause finding, recognizing
    that “there may often be a narrow line between covert action and lawful activities
    undertaken by Americans in the exercise of the [F]irst [A]mendment rights,”
    particularly between legitimate political activity and “other clandestine intelligence
    activities.”130 The Report by SSCI accompanying the passage of FISA states that
    there must be “willful” deception about the origin or intent of political activity to
    support a finding that it constitutes “other clandestine intelligence activities”:
    If…foreign intelligence services hide behind the cover of some person
    or organization in order to influence American political events and
    deceive Americans into believing that the opinions or influence are of
    domestic origin and initiative and such deception is willfully maintained
    in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, then electronic
    128 FISA does not define what constitutes “other clandestine intelligence activities.” However,
    the 1978 House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) Report accompanying the
    passage of FISA states the following:
    The term “any other clandestine intelligence activities” is intended to refer to covert
    actions by intelligence services of foreign powers. Not only do foreign powers engage
    in spying in the United States to obtain information, they also engage in activities
    which are intended to harm the Nation’s security by affecting the course of our
    Government, the course of public opinion, or the activities of individuals. Such
    activities may include political action (recruiting, bribery or influencing of public
    officials to act in favor of the foreign power), disguised propaganda (including the
    planting of false or misleading articles or stories), and harassment, intimidation, or
    even assassination of individuals who oppose the foreign power. Such activity can
    undermine our democratic institutions as well as directly threaten the peace and
    safety of our citizens. Report of the House Permanent Select Committee on
    Intelligence, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, H. Rep. No. 1283, 95th
    Cong., 2d Sess. 41 (Jun. 8, 1978) (H. Rep. 95-1283).
    129 See 50 U.S.C. §§ 1805(a)(2)(A), 1824(a)(2)(A).
    130 H. Rep. 95-1283 at 41, 79-80; FISA guidance at 7-8; see also Rosen, 447 F. Supp. 2d at
    547-48 (probable cause finding may be based partly on First Amendment protected activity).
    35
    surveillance might be justified under [“other clandestine intelligence
    activities”] if all the other criteria of [FISA] were met. 131
    Approval and Certification Requirements
    Each application for electronic surveillance or physical searches under FISA
    must be approved by the “Attorney General,” defined to include the Attorney
    General, Acting Attorney General, DAG, or, upon designation, the AAG of NSD.132
    The Attorney General ( or his or her designee) must provide written approval that
    an application satisfies the statutory requirements-namely, that the facts and
    circumstances set forth in the affidavit support a finding of probable cause, and that
    the application meets all other statutory criteria. 133 During times relevant herein,
    the general practice was to submit FISA applications to the NSD AAG for approval
    and, in instances where the NSD AAG was unavailable or in an acting position, to
    the DAG. Similarly, in the event the DAG was unavailable or in an acting position,
    the FISA application was submitted to the Attorney General for approval.
    Applications submitted to the FISC must also include written certification by
    certain specified high-ranking executive branch officials. In the case of FISA
    applications for FBI investigations, the application is usually certified by the FBI
    Director or Deputy Director. 134 The written certification must include the following:
    • A statement that the certifying official deems the information sought
    to be “foreign intelligence information;”
    • A statement that a “significant purpose” of the electronic surveillance
    or physical searches is to obtain foreign intelligence information;
    • A statement that such information cannot reasonably be obtained by
    normal investigative techniques;
    • A designation of the type of foreign intelligence information being
    sought (e.g., information concerning a U.S. person that is necessary to
    the ability of the United States to protect against clandestine
    131 See S. Rep. 95-701 at 24-25. The Foreign Agents Registration Act, 22 U.S.C. § 611 et
    seq., is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals such as a
    foreign government or foreign political party in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic
    public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and
    disbursements in support of those activities.
    132 See 50 U.S.C. §§ 1801(g), 1804(a), 1821(1), 1823(a).
    133 See generally David S. Kris and J. Douglas Wilson, National Security Investigations and
    Prosecutions§ 6:5 (2016). In certain cases, the Director of the FBI, the Secretary of Defense, the
    Secretary of State, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), or the Director of the CIA may request
    that the Attorney General personally review a FISA application. This obligation is not delegable by the
    Attorney General (or any of the other officials mentioned) except “when disabled or otherwise
    unavailable.” See 50 U.S.C. §§ 1804(d), 1823(d).
    134 See 50 U.S.C. §§ 1804(a)(6), 1823(a)(6); E.O. 12139 (May 23, 1979) (electronic
    surveillance); E.O. 12949 (Feb. 9, 1995) (physical search).
    36
    intelligence activities by an intelligence service or network of a foreign
    power or by an agent of a foreign power).
    • A “statement of the basis” for the certification that the information
    sought is the type of foreign intelligence designated and that it cannot
    reasonably be obtained by normal investigative means.135
    As described in more detail below, the FISC must find that an application includes
    all of the required statements and certifications (among other requirements) before
    issuing an order authorizing electronic surveillance or physical searches. Where the
    target is a U.S. person, the FISC must find that the certifications are not clearly
    erroneous. 136
    Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)
    The FISC was established in 1978 to hear applications and grant orders for
    electronic surveillance. 137 Subsequent amendments to FISA expanded the FISC’s
    jurisdiction to the collection of foreign intelligence information by other means,
    including physical searches. 138 The FISC consists of 11 federal district court judges,
    chosen by the Chief Justice of the United States, from at least 7 judicial circuits,
    with at least 3 judges required to reside within 20 miles of the District of
    Columbia. 139 Judges on the FISC sit for staggered 7-year terms, during which time
    they also continue to serve as judges in their home districts. 140 According to former
    FISC Presiding Judge John D. Bates, district court judges selected to sit on the FISC
    are typically experienced judges with significant national security or Fourth
    Amendment experience. 141
    The FISC’s Rules of Procedure require the government to submit a proposed
    application for authorization to conduct FISA surveillance and physical searches no
    later than 7 days before the government seeks to have the matter entertained,
    except that the 7-day requirement is waived when submitting an application
    135 See SO U.S.C. §§ 1804(a)(6)(A)-(E), 1823(a)(6); see also H. Rep. 95-1283 at 76.
    136 See SO U.S.C. § 1881b(c)(l)(D). The certifications submitted in support of a FISA
    application are presumed valid. The certifications are upheld absent a “substantial preliminary
    showing” that the application knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth,
    included a false statement, and that the allegedly false statement was “necessary” to the approval of
    the application. In 2002, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review stated: “We think the
    government’s purpose .. .is to be judged by the national security official’s articulation and not be a FISA
    [C]ourt inquiry into the origins of the investigation nor an examination of the personnel involved …. “
    In re Sealed Case, 310 F.3d at 736.
    2007).
    137 See National Security Investigations and Prosecutions§ 5:3.
    138 See In re Motion for Release of Court Records, 526 F. Supp. 2d 484, 487-88 (FISA Ct.
    139 See SO U.S.C. § 1803(a)(l); Rule 4, FISC Rules of Procedure (Nov. 1, 2010).
    140 See so u.s.c. § 1803(d).
    141 See Culper Rule of Law Series: Judge John Bates, Lawfare Podcast at 32:00,
    https://www.lawfareblog.com/lawfare-podcast-culper-partners-rule-law-series-judge-john-bates
    (accessed Dec. 2, 2019) (hereinafter Lawfare Podcast).
    37
    following emergency authorization (not applicable here) or when the court agrees
    to expedite its consideration of an application at the government’s request. 142 The
    proposed application typically is referred to as the “read copy,” which is prepared
    by an attorney in NSD’s Office of Intelligence (01) based upon information provided
    by the FBI. The FISC will review the read copy, evaluate whether it meets the
    requirements of the statute, and, through a legal advisor, discuss with the assigned
    01 attorney, any issues the legal advisor or judge identified. The read copy allows
    FISC legal advisors to have informal interaction with 01 to convey any questions,
    concerns, or requests for additional information from the legal advisor or judge
    before a final application is filed. 143 The 01 attorney then works with the FBI to
    provide additional information to the FISC legal advisor and makes any necessary
    revisions before submitting the final application to the FISC. 144
    Once a final application is submitted, the judge may request that the 01
    attorney present it at a scheduled hearing, or may approve the application based
    on the written submission. 145 The judge is authorized to enter an order approving
    electronic surveillance or physical searches if he or she finds that the facts
    presented in the application are sufficient to establish probable cause, as discussed
    above; that the application includes “minimization procedures” sufficient to
    minimize the acquisition and retention, and prohibit the dissemination, of nonpublic
    information about a U.S. person unless it meets certain criteria; and that the
    application includes all required statements and certifications. 146
    142 See Rules G(a), 9(a), FISC Rules of Procedure (2010). The FISC Rules specifically address
    emergency authorizations but do not address expedited applications. However, Rule 9(a) states that
    the 7-day requirement does not apply to emergency authorizations or “as otherwise permitted by the
    Court.” According to NSD, in instances where the government seeks the court’s expedited
    consideration of a FISA application, and the court is able to do so, the court will rely upon “as
    otherwise permitted by the Court” to waive the 7-day requirement.
    143 According to a 2013 letter explaining how the FISC operates, FISC legal advisors interact
    with NSD on a daily basis. See Letter from Judge Reggie Walton to Senator Patrick Leahy, U.S.
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary (Jul. 29, 2013) (2013 Judge Walton Letter),
    http://www.fisc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/Leahy.pdf (accessed Dec. 2, 2019).
    144 See 2013 Judge Walton Letter, at 6 & n.3.
    145 If the judge denies a final application, he or she is required to draft a statement of reasons
    explaining the basis for the denial. See SO U.S.C. §§ 1803(a)(l), 1822(c). Denials of applications for
    electronic surveillance or physical searches may be appealed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
    Court of Review. See SO U.S.C. §§ 1803(b), 1822(d). Alternatively, if the judge indicates that he or
    she will deny a proposed or final application, NSD may decide not to submit a final application, or may
    withdraw a final application after submission. See 2013 Judge Walton Letter at 3.
    146 See SO U.S.C. §§ 180S(a), 1824(a); see also SO U.S.C. § 1881d(b) (concurrent
    authorization to conduct electronic surveillance and physical searches targeting a U.S. person inside
    and outside the United States). In addition to the standard minimization procedures, which apply to
    all information acquired through electronic surveillance and physical searches, each application may
    describe other minimization procedures that are appropriate for the particular surveillance or search in
    question. The FISC may modify the government’s proposed minimization procedures if it concludes
    they do not meet the statutory requirements. See National Security Investigations and Prosecutions,
    § 9.1.
    38
    If the FISC approves a FISA application, it issues a primary order finding that
    the statutory requirements were met and authorizing the electronic surveillance or
    physical searches. The primary order also must direct the government to follow the
    minimization procedures proposed in the application. 147 Where assistance from a
    third party (such as an email provider, telephone company, or landlord) is required,
    the FISC also issues a secondary order directing the third party to “furnish … all
    information, facilities, or technical assistance necessary” to accomplish the search
    or surveillance “in such a manner as will protect its secrecy and produce a minimum
    of interference. “148
    In addition, under Rule 13(a) of the FISC Rules of Procedure, if the
    government subsequently identifies a misstatement or omission of material fact in
    an application or other document submitted to the FISC, the government, in
    writing, must immediately inform the judge to whom the submission was made of
    the following: (1) the misstatement or omission, (2) any necessary correction, (3)
    the facts and circumstances of the misstatement or omission, ( 4) any modifications
    the government has made or proposes to make to how it will implement any
    authority or approval granted by the FISC, and (5) the government’s proposal for
    disposal of or treatment of any information obtained as a result of the misstatement
    or omission. 149
    B. FBI and Department FISA Procedures
  58. Preparation and Approval of FISA Applications
    The FBI’s policies and procedures for the preparation and approval of
    applications for authorization to conduct electronic surveillance or physical searches
    under FISA are contained in the FBI’s online FISA Management System (FISAMS),
    the FISA Verification Form (described below), the DI0G, and the FISA SMP PG. We
    will describe the typical preparation and approval process below. The preparation
    and approval process taken with respect to the four Carter Page FISA applications,
    including steps that were taken in addition to the steps typically completed during
    the FISA process, are discussed in Chapters Five and Seven.
    The FBI’s FISA process is initiated when a case agent begins drafting a FISA
    Request Form for submission to 01. The FISA Request Form requires that the case
    agent provide specific categories of information to 01, the most important of which
    is a description of the facts and circumstances that the agent views as establishing
    probable cause to believe the target of the application is a foreign power or an
    agent of a foreign power. In particular, the FISA Request Form states that the case
    agent should provide a complete description of all material facts regarding a target
    to justify FISA authority or, in the case of renewals, to justify continued FISA
    coverage. In the case of FISA renewals, the form also asks the case agent to
    describe in detail any previous information that requires modification or correction.
    147 See SO U.S.C. §§ 18OS(c)(2)(A), 1824{c)(2)(A).
    148 See SO U.S.C. § 18OS(c)(2)(B).
    149 See Rule 13{a), FISC Rules of Procedure.
    39
    The form does not specifically require the case agent disclose exculpatory facts or
    facts that, if accurate, would tend to undermine the factual assertions being relied
    upon to support the government’s theory, in whole or in part, that the target is a
    foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.
    After the case agent prepares the FISA Request Form, in ordinary
    circumstances, the supervisory chain in the relevant field office will receive the
    request for approval, including the SSA, CDC, ASAC, and the SAC, before the
    request is sent to the appropriate FBI Headquarters substantive division Unit Chief
    (UC). The UC reviews and approves the request, assigns it to the appropriate FBI
    Headquarters substantive division SSA Program Manager, and to OGC’s National
    Security and Cyber Law Branch (NSCLB) for assignment and review. As described
    in Chapter Five, in the case of Carter Page, because the investigation was closehold
    and being conducted from FBI Headquarters instead of a field office, the case
    agent submitted the FISA Request Form directly to the NSCLB line attorney
    assigned to Crossfire Hurricane.
    Once the FISA Request Form is submitted to NSCLB, an NSCLB line attorney
    reviews the request and provides feedback to the case agent. Once the draft is
    finalized, the NSCLB line attorney approves the FISAMS request and routes the
    form to the appropriate FBI Headquarters Section Chief for review and approval.
    The FBI Headquarters Section Chief reviews the request and, if approved, submits
    the request to the appropriate Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) for approval in the
    case of an expedited request, or, if not, directly to 01. Once in 01, the request is
    then assigned to an 01 line attorney from one of three units within OI’s Operations
    Section: the Counterintelligence Unit, the Counterterrorism Unit, or the Special
    Operations Unit. In this instance, an 01 attorney in the Counterintelligence Unit
    was assigned to the Carter Page FISA request.
    The 01 attorney prepares the read copy application using the information
    provided by the FBI and works with the NSCLB attorney and FBI case agent to
    obtain additional information, frequently resulting in a “back and forth” between OI
    and the FBI. According to NSD, as part of this back and forth process, OI will ask
    whether the FBI is aware of any “exculpatory” information that relates to the target
    of the application, as well as any derogatory information that relates to sources
    relied upon in the application. An OI supervisor, usually the relevant Unit Chief or
    Deputy Unit Chief, then reviews the draft read copy. Neither the FISA statute nor
    FISC procedures dictate who in the Department must approve the read copy before
    it is submitted to the FISC. In most instances, once the FBI case agent affirms the
    accuracy of the information in the read copy, the OI supervisor conducts the final
    review and approval before a read copy is submitted with the FISC. However, in
    some cases, multiple or supervisors, or even senior NSD leadership, may review
    the read copy, particularly if it presents a novel or complicated issue or otherwise
    has been flagged by the or supervisor for further review.
    NSD’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General (Deputy AAG) for Intelligence is
    responsible for, among other things, overseeing OI. According to the Deputy AAG
    for Intelligence at the time of the Carter Page FrSA applications and renewals, not
    all FISA requests from the FBI culminate in the filing of an application with the
    40
    FISC. Sometimes the back and forth process between the OI attorney and the case
    agent does result in sufficient factual information for a showing of probable cause or
    sometimes investigative objectives and needs change during the drafting process,
    obviating the FBI’s desire for FISA authority on a particular target.
    However, as described previously, after a read copy is filed, OI may receive
    feedback from the court through the FISC legal advisor. The OI attorney will then
    work with the case agent to address any issues raised by the legal advisor, such as
    by providing additional information to the FISC legal advisor and making any
    requested revisions before preparing the final application. Occasionally, the
    feedback from the court leads the FBI, in consultation with OI, to decide not to
    submit a final application, or to limit the authorities sought in the final application.
    At the same time the read copy is filed with the FISC, OI sends the
    completed FISA application (referred to as the “FISA Certification Copy” or “cert
    copy”) and a one-page cover memorandum (cert memo) signed by the OI
    supervisor to the case agent for final review within the FBI. This process in OI is
    sometimes referred to as “signing out” a FISA.
    After receiving the cert copy and cert memo, an FBI agent, not necessarily
    the case agent, is assigned to complete an accuracy review of the application,
    which is discussed in more detail in Section III.B.2 below. After any additional edits
    necessitated by the accuracy review are made, the agent and an SSA sign the FISA
    Verification Form, also known as the Woods Procedures (described further below) or
    “Woods Form,” and send the application package to the FBI Headquarters
    substantive division Program Manager who, according to the FISA SMP PG, must
    review the FISA application and coordinate the FISA accuracy and approval process
    that takes place at FBI Headquarters.
    The Headquarters Program Manager is responsible for ensuring that the
    supervisory personnel in the field office have completed and documented their
    reviews of the application; determining whether another field office should also
    review the application for factual accuracy; verifying and providing documentation
    for any factual assertions identified by the field office as requiring Headquarters
    verification; and notifying OI and NSCLB of any factual assertions in the application
    that could not be verified so that the necessary action is taken to remove the
    unverified information from the declaration. If all factual assertions have been
    verified and documented, the Headquarters Program Manager will sign the affidavit
    in the application declaring under penalty of perjury that the information in the
    application is true and correct. The Program Manager then submits the application
    package to NSCLB for final legal review and approval by an NSCLB line attorney and
    Senior Executive Service-level supervisor. Witnesses told us that usually the Senior
    Executive Service-level supervisor is an NSCLB Section Chief or a Deputy General
    Counsel, but that, on occasion, the role is delegated to a GS-15 Unit Chief.
    FBI procedures do not specify what steps must be taken during the final legal
    review. As described in Chapter Five, the FBI’s Deputy General Counsel at the time
    of the Carter Page FISA applications told us that she typically reviewed the cert
    memo and FISA Verification Form to determine whether the FISA application
    41
    package was complete, all the steps of the Woods Procedures were completed, the
    probable cause standard was met, and there were no outstanding issues. 150
    Ultimately, if the NSCLB line attorney and a Senior Executive Service-level
    supervisor approve the FISA cert copy, they both sign the cert memo, and the
    complete application package is then taken to the FBI Director’s Office for review
    and approval. If the FBI Director signs the cert copy, the paper copy of the signed
    application is delivered to 01. 01 then provides the signed application package to
    the final signatory who, as discussed above, is usually the NSD AAG but can
    sometimes be the DAG or Attorney General.
    In addition to receiving the final application and cert memo, the NSD AAG (or
    DAG or Attorney General) typically receives an oral briefing from senior 01
    managers. The NSD AAG receives the application for the first time during or shortly
    before the oral briefing, unless the application was submitted for his or her review
    beforehand, which is not typical. During the oral briefing, senior 01 managers
    present all the FISA applications awaiting final Department approval, which,
    according to NSD, in 2016 generally ranged from 20 to 30 total applications in any
    given week (though the quantity sometimes varied outside that range). Once the
    FISA application is approved and signed by the NSD AAG, 01 will submit it to the
    FISC for its final consideration.
  59. “Woods Procedures”
    In April 2001, the FBI implemented FISA verification procedures (known as
    “Woods Procedures”) for applications for electronic surveillance or physical searches
    under FISA. 151 These procedures were adopted following errors in numerous FISA
    applications in FBI counterterrorism investigations, virtually all of which “involved
    information sharing and unauthorized disseminations to criminal investigators and
    prosecutors. “152
    To address these concerns, the procedures focused on ensuring accuracy in
    three areas: (1) the specific factual information supporting probable cause, (2) the
    existence and nature of any related criminal investigations or prosecutions involving
    the target of the FISA authorization, and (3) the existence and nature of any
    ongoing asset relationship between the FISA target and the FBI. The procedures
    required FBI agents and supervisors to undertake specific steps before filing a FISA
    application, which included a determination of whether the target is the subject of a
    150 As discussed in Chapter Five, the then Deputy General Counsel told us that she would
    sometimes read the FISA application if she determined, based on the cert memo or otherwise, that
    there was a reason to do so.
    151 Memorandum from Michael J. Woods, Unit Chief, FBI Office of the General Counsel,
    National Security Law Unit, to FBI Field Offices (Apr. 5, 2001).
    https://fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fisa/woods.pdf (accessed Dec. 2, 2019); see generally National
    Security Investigations and Prosecutions§ 6.3.
    152 In re All Matters Submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, 218 F. Supp. 2d
    611, 620-21 {FISA Ct. 2002), rev’d, In re Sealed Case, 310 F.3d at 736.
    42
    past or current criminal investigation, negative or positive search results in FBI
    databases on the target, and a review of the affidavit for factual accuracy.
    The Woods Procedures in the original memorandum were subsequently
    expanded and incorporated into other policy documents, including the 2016 FISA
    SMP PG, which was the applicable FBI policy guide in effect during the period
    relevant to this review, and a 2009 joint NSD-FBI guidance memorandum on FISA
    application accuracy (2009 Accuracy Memorandum).153 Both the FISA SMP PG and
    2009 Accuracy Memorandum state that the U.S. government’s ability to obtain FISA
    authority depends on the accuracy of applications submitted to the FISC and that
    because FISA proceedings are ex parte, the FISC relies on the U.S. government’s
    “full and accurate presentation of the facts to make its probable cause
    determinations.” The FISA SMP PG further states that it is the case agent’s
    responsibility to ensure that statements contained in applications submitted to the
    FISC are “scrupulously accurate.”
    Like the original procedures, the accuracy procedures in the FISA SMP PG
    re uire relevant FBI ersonnel to conduct database searches
    o identify any previous or ongoing criminal
    determine the tar et’s immi ration status·
    ; and identify the source of every fact asserted in a FISA application. The
    results of these steps must be documented in the FISA Verification or Woods Form
    and must be reviewed for accuracy and verified by relevant FBI personnel, with the
    results of the factual review documented and included in the final FISA package.
    The FISA SMP PG requires that the case agent who requested the FISA
    application create and maintain an accuracy sub-file (known as a “Woods File”) that
    contains: (1) supporting documentation for every factual assertion contained in a
    FISA -application, and (2) supporting documentation and the results of the required
    searches and verifications. The Woods File must include the documented results of
    the required database and CHS file searches, as well as copies of the “most
    authoritative documents” supporting the facts asserted in the application. The FISA
    SMP PG advises that while there is some “latitude” as to what documents meet this
    requirement, the case agent “should endeavor to obtain the original documentation
    and/or best evidence of any given fact.”
    Further, as described earlier in this chapter, where a FISA application
    contains reporting from a CHS, the Woods File must contain a memorandum, email,
    or other documentation from the handling agent, CHS coordinator, or either of their
    immediate supervisors, stating that: (1) this individual has reviewed the facts
    presented in the FISA application regarding the CHS’s reliability and background,
    153 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Standard Minimization Procedures, 0828PG, Aug.
    11, 2016; Matthew G. Olsen, NSD Acting Assistant Attorney General and Valerie Caproni, FBI General
    Counsel, Memorandum for All Office of Intelligence Attorneys, All National Security Law Branch
    Attorneys, and All Chief Division Counsels, Guidance to Ensure the Accuracy of Federal Bureau of
    Investigation Applications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, February 11, 2009; see also
    previous FBI policy guide, FBI FISA Accuracy Policy Implementation Guide, 0394PG, Mar. 31, 2011
    (superseded by 0828PG).
    43
    and (2) based on this review of the CHS file documentation, the facts presented in
    the FISA application are accurate. Common accurac documentation for a CHS
    include amon other thin s
    After the Woods File is created, the case agent is responsible for verifying
    each factual assertion in the FISA application and ensuring that the supporting
    documentation is in the Woods File. In the case of renewal applications, the case
    agent must re-verify the accuracy of each factual assertion that is carried over from
    the first application and also verify and obtain supporting documentation for any
    new factual assertions that are added. After the case agent completes this process,
    the agent signs the Woods Form affirming the accuracy and documentation of every
    factual assertion in the application. The case agent then submits the Woods Form
    and Woods File to his or her SSA. The SSA is responsible for reviewing the Woods
    File and confirming that it contains supporting documentation of every factual
    assertion in the application. After the SSA completes this process, the SSA signs
    the Woods Form, and then the Woods Form, but not the Woods File, is transmitted
    to Headquarters. As described previously, one of the responsibilities of the
    Headquarters Program Manager is to verify any factual assertions that require
    Headquarters verification and provide supporting documentation for the Woods File.
    After doing so, the Program Manager signs the Woods Form affirming that he or she
    has verified the accuracy of those factual assertions and has transmitted the
    necessary documentation to the field office for inclusion in the Woods File.
    According to FBI training materials, “everyone in the FISA process” relies on
    the case agent’s signature on the Woods Form verifying that the factual assertions
    contained in the application are accurate~ According to the FISA SMP PG, the
    Headquarters Program Manager, who signs the FISA application under penalty of
    perjury certifying that the information in the application is true and correct, does
    not typically have the personal or programmatic knowledge of the factual
    information necessary for a FISA application and therefore must rely on the field
    office for the accuracy of the information in the application. The case agent’s
    signature allows the Program Manager to sign and swear to the application and the
    Director or Deputy Director to certify the application. Further, 01, NSD, the
    approving official (NSD AAG, DAG, or Attorney General), and the FISC rely on the
    Headquarters Program Manager, or declarant, that the application contains a
    complete and accurate recitation of the relevant facts.
    The FISA SMP PG states that information in a FISA application that cannot be
    verified as true and correct must be removed from the application, or the entire
    application must be delayed until the information is verified and the verification is
    documented. According to FBI and NSD officials, in the case of information
    provided by a CHS, the verification process does not require that the FBI establish
    the accuracy of the CHS’s information before that information may be relied upon in
    a FISA application. The OGC Unit Chief who supervised the attorney assigned to
    assist the Carter Page FISA applications told us that the Woods Procedures require
    that the case agent identify documentation stating what the CHS told the FBI, but
    44
    does not require the agent to corroborate the underlying accuracy of the
    information. Similarly, according to NSD supervisors, although the Woods
    Procedures require that every factual assertion in a FISA application be “verified,”
    when a particular fact is attributed to a source, an agent must only verify that the
    fact came from the source and that the application accurately states what the
    source said. The Woods Procedures do not require that the FBI have corroboration
    from a second source for the same information. According to the Deputy AAG who
    had oversight over 01 at the time of the Carter Page FISA applications, the FISC is
    aware of how the FBI “verifies” information that is attributed to a CHS, and the
    court has not requested a change to their Woods Procedures. Further, NSD officials
    told us that in all instances, a FISA application will include an FBI assessment of the
    reliability of the CHS’s information, which may come from factual corroboration or,
    in the absence of factual corroboration, from information about the CHS’s general
    reliability.
    IV. Ethics Regulations
    Government ethics regulations, specifically those providing guidance on
    conflicts of interests pertain to the events discussed in Chapter Nine concerning
    Department attorney Bruce Ohr.
    The Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch
    (Standards of Ethical Conduct), 5 C.F.R. § 2635, is a comprehensive set of
    regulations that set forth the principles of ethical conduct to which all executive
    branch employees must adhere. In addition to the basic obligations of public
    service, the regulations address such ethical issues as gifts from outside sources
    and impar:tiality in performing official duties. Specifically, 5 C.F.R. § 2635.502
    seeks to avoid any appearance of the loss of impartiality in the performance of
    official government duties by an employee due to a financial interest that the
    employee may have. It applies in circumstances:
    [w]here an employee knows that a particular matter involving specific
    parties is likely to have a direct and predictable effect on the financial
    interest of a member of his household … and where the employee
    determines that the circumstances would cause a reasonable person
    with knowledge of the relevant facts to question his impartiality in the
    matter ….
    Another portion of the regulations, 5 C.F.R. § 2635.402(b)(l), defines “direct
    and predictable effect” as “a close causal link between any decision or action to be
    taken in the matter and any expected effect of the matter on the financial interest.”
    Section 502 also includes a catch-all provision, which states:
    An employee who is concerned that circumstances other than those
    specifically described in this section would raise a question regarding
    his impartiality should use the process described in this section to
    45
    determine whether he should or should not participate in a particular
    matter. 5 C.F.R. § 2635.502(a)(2).
    The process referenced in this section is for the employee to describe the
    circumstances that would raise an impartiality question to a Department ethics
    officer for the purpose of receiving guidance on how to address potential conflicts of
    interest, including whether the employee should be disqualified from participation.
    5 C.F.R. § 2635.502(c).
    V. Examples of Other Department and FBI Policies Regulating
    Investigative Activity that Could Potentially Impact Civil Liberties
    On occasion, the Department and the FBI investigate alleged illegal activity
    that is intertwined with, or take investigative steps with the potential to implicate,
    what is otherwise constitutionally protected activity. Examples include
    investigations of allegations of illegal campaign finance activity, allegations of
    violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, or the use of legal process to
    obtain information about the media or Members of Congress. The Department and
    the FBI have promulgated specific policies intended to ensure appropriate oversight
    of and accountability for many of these investigative activities. Some of these
    policies, such as the notification requirement described above for a “Sensitive
    Investigative Matter,” applied to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. In this
    section, we provide examples of other Department and FBI policies and procedures,
    not applicable to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, that establish senior-level
    approval requirements and other procedures to regulate certain investigative
    activity capable of implicating civil liberties and constitutional concerns.
    A. Undisclosed Participation
    Undisclosed Participation (UDP) takes place when anyone acting on behalf of
    the FBI, including a CHS, becomes a member of, or participates in, the activity of
    an organization on behalf of the U.S. government without disclosing their FBI
    affiliation to an appropriate official of the organization. 154 A CHS who participates in
    an organization entirely on his or her own behalf and who is not tasked by the FBI
    to obtain information or undertake other activities in that organization is not
    engaging in UDP-regardless of whether the CHS volunteers information to the FBI
    and regardless of whether the CHS’s affiliation with the FBI is known. However, if
    the CHS is tasked by the FBI to join an organization, obtain specific information
    through participation in the organization, or take specific actions, those activities
    are on behalf of the FBI, and require compliance with the UDP policies set forth in
    the DIOG.155
    154 DIOG § 16.1.
    155 DIOG §§ 16.2.3.1, 16.3.
    46
    In our review, we identified an FBI CHS who months after the residential
    ai n was concluded,
    to the FBI, without being tasked by the FBI to gather that
    information, or directed by the FBI to participate in the campaign. This type of
    voluntary activity does not meet the definition of UDP and therefore does not
    implicate the FBI’s requirements for approval of UDP.
    B. Investigative Activities Concerning Members of the News
    Media, White House and Executive Branch Personnel, and
    Members of Congress
    The Department and the FBI have policies to ensure appropriate oversight
    and accountability for investigative activities involving members of the news media,
    White House personnel, and Members of Congress.
  60. Members of the News Media
    The Department and the FBI have numerous regulations and policies
    regarding investigations that involve members of the news media that relate to
    events arising from their profession. For example, 28 C. F.R. § 50.10 and the
    156 DIOG § 16.2.3.5.
    157 DIOG § 16.4(A).
    15s DIOG § 16.3.1.5.1 (8 ).
    159 DIOG § 16.2.3.2.
    160 DIOG § 16.3.l.5.3(C) .
    47
    Department’s Justice Manual § 9-13.400 govern obtaining information from, or
    records of, members of the news media and questioning, arresting, or charging
    members of the news media. The rules require, with certain exceptions, the
    Attorney General to approve subpoenas issued to members of the news media;
    warrants to search premises, properties, communications records, or business
    records of a member of the news media; and questioning, arresting, or charging
    members of the news media.
    Pursuant to DIOG § 18.5.9.3.1, FBI agents must obtain higher-level
    authority, consistent with 28 C.F.R. § 50.10, when seeking the issuance of a
    subpoena for records relating to members of the news media. Similarly, DIOG §
    18.6.4.3.4.3 requires the FBI to obtain the Attorney General’s approval when using
    an administrative subpoena directed to a telecommunications provider for toll
    records associated with members of the news media.
  61. White House and Executive Branch Personnel
    The Department’s Justice Manual states that any monitoring of oral
    communications without the consent of all parties, when it is known that the
    monitoring concerns an investigation into an allegation of misconduct committed by
    a senior member of the executive branch, must be approved by a Deputy AAG from
    the Department’s Criminal Division. 161
    DIOG § 18.5.6.4. 7 states that an FBI agent may only initiate contact with
    White House personnel as part of an investigation after consulting with the FBI OGC
    and obtaining SAC and appropriate FBI Assistant Director approval.
  62. Members of Congress and Their Staff
    The Department’s Justice Manual states that any monitoring of oral
    communications without the consent of all parties when it is known that the
    monitoring concerns an investigation into an allegation of misconduct committed by
    a Member of Congress must be approved by a Deputy AAG from the Department’s
    Criminal Division. 162
    DIOG § 18.5.6.4.6 requires FBI agents to obtain SAC and appropriate FBI
    Assistant Director approval, along with notice to the AD for the Office of
    Congressional Affairs, when seeking to interview a Member of Congress or
    Congressional staff in connection with a public corruption matter or a foreign
    counterintelligence matter.
    161 Section 9-7.302.
    162 Sections 9-7.302, 9-85.110.
    48
    [PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK]
    CHAPTER THREE
    THE OPENING OF CROSSFIRE HURRICANE, STAFFING, AND THE
    EARLY STAGES OF THE INVESTIGATION
    On July 31, 2016, the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation known
    as “Crossfire Hurricane.” In this chapter, we provide an overview of the opening
    and initial steps of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and its related cases. We
    first summarize the intelligence available to the FBI in the summer of 2016
    regarding the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S.
    elections. We then describe the events that led to the opening of the Crossfire
    Hurricane umbrella investigation and the related counterintelligence investigations
    of George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn. We also
    describe the structure and oversight of these investigations, including the FBI’s
    staffing of the cases and the involvement of senior FBI and Department officials.
    Finally, we describe the early investigative steps taken in furtherance of the
    investigations.
    I. Intelligence Community Awareness of Attempted Russian
    Interference in the 2016 U.S. Elections
    At the time the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was opened in July 2016,
    the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC), which includes the FBI, was aware of
    Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections. The Russian efforts
    included cyber intrusions into various political organizations, including the
    Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Democratic Congressional Campaign
    Committee (DCCC). Throughout spring and early summer 2016, the FBI became
    aware of specific cyber intrusions for which the Russian government was
    responsible, through ongoing investigations into Russian hacking operations
    conducted by the FBI’s Cyber Division and the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division
    (CD).
    In March and May 2016, FBI field offices identified a spear phishing campaign
    by the Russian military intelligence agency, known as the General .Staff Intelligence
    Directorate (GRU), targeting email addresses associated with the DNC and the
    Hillary Clinton campaign, as well as efforts to place malware on DNC and DCCC
    computer networks. In June and July 2016, stolen materials were released online
    through the fictitious personas “Guccifer 2.0” and “DCLeaks.” In addition, in late
    July 2016, WikiLeaks released emails obtained from DNC servers as part of its
    “Hillary Leak Series.” By August 2016, the USIC assessed that in the weeks leading
    up to the 2016 U.S. elections, Russia was considering further intelligence
    operations to impact or disrupt the elections.
    In addition to the Russian infiltration of DNC and DCCC computer systems,
    between March and August 2016, the FBI became aware of numerous attempts to
    hack into state election systems. These included confirmed access into elements of
    multiple state or local electoral boards using tactics, techniques, and procedures
    49
    associated with Russian state-sponsored actors. 163 The FBI learned that Russian
    efforts also included cyber-enabled scanning and probing of election related
    infrastructure in several states.
    It was in this context that the FBI received information on July 28, 2016,
    about a conversation between Papadopoulos and an official of a Friendly Foreign
    Government (FFG) in May 2016 during which Papadopoulos “suggested the Trump
    team had received some kind of suggestion” from Russia that it could assist this
    process with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would
    be damaging to candidate Clinton and President Obama. As described below, the
    FBI opened the Crossfire Hurricane investigation 3 days after receiving this
    information.
    II. The Friendly Foreign Government Information and the FBl’s Decision
    to Open Crossfire Hurricane and Four Related Counterintelligence
    Investigations
    On July 31, 2016, the FBI opened the Crossfire Hurricane counterintelligence
    investigation to determine whether individuals associated with the Donald J. Trump
    for President Campaign were coordinating or cooperating, wittingly or unwittingly,
    with the Russian government to influence or interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections.
    According to the opening Electronic Communication (EC), the investigation was
    predicated on intelligence from an FFG. In this section, we describe the receipt of
    the information from the FFG and the decisions to open the Crossfire Hurricane
    163 Beginning in January 2017 and continuing into 2019, several U.S. government agencies,
    as well as senior intelligence officials, reported on Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S.
    elections. For example, the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) titled “Assessing Russian
    Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” published on January 6, 2017, concluded that
    Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government conducted an influence campaign
    followed by a Russian messaging strategy that blended covert intelligence operations, such as cyber
    activity, with overt efforts in order to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate
    then candidate Clinton, and harm Clinton’s electability and potential presidency. Additionally, in June
    2017, during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Hearing on Russian Interference in the 2016
    U.S. Elections, USIC leadership concurred with the ICA and acknowledged that the Russian
    government was responsible for compromises of and leaks from political figures and institutions,
    among other activities, as part of its efforts to influence and interfere in U.S. elections. Similarly, the
    Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2019 and the House Permanent Select Committee on
    Intelligence in 2018 found, in part, that the Russian government historically has attempted to interfere
    in U.S. elections and attempted to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections through attacks on state voter
    registration databases, cyber operations targeting governments and businesses using tactics such as
    spear phishing, hacking operations to include the DNC network, and social media campaigns. U.S.
    House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Report on Russian Active Measures, 115th Cong.,
    2d sess., 2018, 114-130. U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Russian Active Measures
    Campaigns and Interference in the 2016 U.S. Election, Volume 1: Russian Efforts Against Election
    Infrastructure with Additional Views, 116th Cong., 1st sess., 2019, 1-10. Further, Special Counsel
    Robert 5. Mueller III concluded that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 U.S. elections
    through a social media campaign that favored then candidate Trump and disparaged then candidate
    Clinton, and through cyber intrusion operations against entities and individuals working on the Clinton
    Campaign. See The Special Counsel’s Report, Vol. I at 1, 4-7.
    50
    counterintelligence investigation and the related investigations of Papadopoulos,
    Page, Manafort, and Flynn.
    A. Receipt of Information from the Friendly Foreign Government
    and the Opening of Crossfire Hurricane
    By March 2016, Papadopoulos, Page, and Flynn were among several
    individuals serving as foreign policy advisors for the Trump campaign. Manafort
    joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 as the campaign convention manager.
    In the weeks that followed, Papadopoulos met with officials of an FFG in a European
    city that had arranged several meetings in May 2016 to engage with members of
    the Trump campaign. During one of these meetings, Papadopoulos reportedly
    “suggested” to an FFG official that the Trump campaign “received some kind of a
    suggestion from Russia” that it could assist the campaign by anonymously releasing
    derogatory information about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton .164 However,
    the FFG did not provide information about Papadopoulos’s statements to the U.S.
    government at that time.
    On July 26, 2016, 4 days after Wikileaks publicly released hacked emails
    from the DNC, the FFG official spoke with a U.S. government (USG) official in the
    European city about an “urgent matter” that required an in-person meeting. At the
    meeting, the FFG official informed the USG official of the meetin with
    Papadopoulos. The FFG official also provided
    information from – FFG officials foll~May 2016 meeting
    (hereinafter referred to as the FFG information). –stated, in part, that
    Papadopoulos
    164 During October 25, 2018 testimony before the House Judiciary and House Committee on
    Government Reform and Oversight, Papadopoulos stated that the source of the information he shared
    with the FFG official was a professor from London, Joseph Mifsud. Papadopoulos testified that Mifsud
    provided him with information about the Russians possessing “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Papadopoulos
    raised the possibility during his Congressiona l testimony that Mifsud might have been “working with
    the FBI and this was some sort of operation” to entrap Papadopoulos. As discussed in Chapter Ten of
    t his report, the OIG searched the FBI’s database of Confident ial Human Sources (CHS), and did not
    find any records indicating that Mifsud was an FBI CHS, or that Mifsud’s discussions with Papadopoulos
    were art of an FBI o eration. In Cha ter Ten, we also note that the FBI re uested information
    We refer to Joseph Mifsud by name in this report because the Department publicly revealed
    Mifsud’s identity in The Special Counsel’s Report (public version). According to The Special Counsel’s
    Report, Papadopoulos first met Mifsud in March 2016, after Papadopoulos had already learned that he
    would be serving as a foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign. According to The Special
    Counsel’s Report, Mifsud only showed interest in Papadopoulos after learning of Papadopoulos’s role in
    the campaign, and told Papadopoulos about the Russians possessing “dirt” on then candidate Clinton
    in late April 2016. The Special Counsel found that Papadopoulos lied to the FBI about the timing of his
    discussions with Mifsud, as well as the nature and extent of his communications with Mifsud. The
    Special Counsel charged Papadopoulos under Title 18 U.S.C. § 1001 with making false statements.
    Papadopoulos pied guilty and was sentenced to 14 days in prison. See The Special Counsel’s Report,
    Vol. 1, at 192-94.
    51
    suggested the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from
    Russia that it could assist this process with the anonymous release of
    information during the campaign that would be damaging to Mrs.
    Clinton (and President Obama). It was unclear whether he or the
    Russians were referring to material acquired publicly of [sic] through
    other means. It was also unclear how Mr. Trump’s team reacted to
    the offer. We note the Trump team’s reaction could, in the end, have
    little bearing of what Russia decides to do, with or without Mr. Trump’s
    cooperation.
    On Jul 27 2016 the USG official called the FBI’s Legal Attache (Legat) and
    in the European city to her office and provided them
    with the FFG information. 165 The Legat told us he was not provided any other
    information about the meetings between the FFG and Papadopoulos. 166 The Legat
    also told us that he did not know under what FBI case number the FFG information
    should be documented and transmitted. At the recommendation of the European
    city Assistant Legal Attache (ALAT) for Counterintelligence, the Legat contacted a
    former ALAT who at the time was an Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) in
    the FBI’s Philadelphia Field Office. The ASAC told the Legat that he believed the
    FFG information was related to the hack of DNC emails and identified a case
    number for that investigation for the Legat to use to transmit the information. The
    following day, on July 28, 2016, the Legat sent an EC documenting the FFG
    information to the Philadelphia Field Office ASAC. The same day, the information in
    the EC was emailed to the Section Chief of the Cyber Counterintelligence
    Coordination Section at FBI Headquarters.
    From July 28 to July 31, officials at FBI Headquarters discussed the FFG
    information and whether it warranted opening a counterintelligence investigation.
    The Assistant Director (AD) for CD, E.W. “Bill” Priestap, was a central figure in
    these discussions. According to Priestap, he discussed the matter with then Section
    Chief of CD’s Counterespionage Section Peter Strzok, as well as the Section Chief of
    CD’s Counterintelligence Analysis Section I (Intel Section Chief); and with
    representatives of the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC), including Deputy
    General Counsel Trisha Anderson and a unit chief (OGC Unit Chief) in OGC’s
    National Security and Cyber Law Branch (NSCLB). Priestap told us that he also
    discussed the matter with either then Deputy Director (DD) Andrew McCabe or then
    Executive Assistant Director (EAD) Michael Steinbach, but did not recall discussing
    the matter with then Director James Corney. Corney told the OIG that he did not
    recall being briefed on the FFG information until after the Crossfire Hurricane
    investigation was opened, and that he was not involved in the decision to open the
    case. McCabe said that although he did not specifically recall meeting with Corney
    immediately after the FFG information was received, it was “the kind of thing that
    would have been brought to Director Corney’s attention immediately.” McCabe’s
    165 A Legal Attache (Legat} is the FBI Director’s personal representative in a country in which
    the FBI has regional responsibility.
    166 According to the Legat, the stated at the meeting with the USG
    official that the FFG information “sounds like an FBI matter.”
    52
    contemporaneous notes reflect that the FFG information, Carter Page, and
    Manafort, were discussed on July 29, after a regularly scheduled morning meeting
    of senior FBI leadership with the Director. Although McCabe told us he did not have
    an independent recollection of this discussion, he told us that, based upon his
    nc;>tes, this discussion likely included the Director. McCabe’s notes reflect only the
    topic of the discussion and not the substance of what was discussed.
    McCabe told us that he recalled discussing the FFG information with Priestap,
    Strzok, then Special Counsel to the Deputy Director Lisa Page, and Corney,
    sometime before Crossfire Hurricane was opened, and he agreed with opening a
    counterintelligence investigation based on the FFG information. He told us the
    decision to open the case was unanimous. McCabe said the FBI viewed the FFG
    information in the context of Russian attempts to interfere with the 2016 U.S.
    elections in the years and months prior, as well as the FBI’s ongoing investigation
    into the DNC hack by a Russian Intelligence Service (RIS). He also said that when
    the FBI received the FFG information it was a “tipping point” in terms of opening a
    counterintelligence investigation regarding Russia’s attempts to influence and
    interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections because not only was there information that
    Russia was targeting U.S. political institutions, but now the FBI had received an
    allegation from a trusted partner that there had been some sort of contact between
    the Russians and the Trump campaign. McCabe said that he did not recall any
    discussion about whether the FFG information constituted sufficient predication for
    opening a Full Investigation, as opposed to a Preliminary Investigation, but said
    that his belief at the time, based on his experience, was that the FFG information
    was adequate predication. 167
    According to Priestap, he authorized opening the Crossfire Hurricane
    counterintelligence investigation on July 31, 2016, based upon these discussions.
    He told us that the FFG information was provided by a trusted source-the FFGand
    he therefore felt it “wise to open an investigation to look into” whether
    someone associated with the Trump campaign may have accepted the reported
    offer from the Russians. Priestap also told us that the combination of the FFG
    information and the FBI’s ongoing cyber intrusion investigation of the DNC hacks
    created a counterintelligence concern that the FBI was “obligated” to investigate.
    Priestap said that he did not recall any disagreement about the decision to open
    Crossfire Hurricane, and told us that he was not pressured to open the case.
    We interviewed all of the senior FBI officials who participated in these
    discussions about their reactions to the FFG information and assessments of it as
    167 As detailed in Chapter Two, the DIOG provides for two types of predicated investigations,
    Preliminary Investigations and Full Investigations. A Preliminary Investigation may be opened based
    upon “any allegation or information” indicative of possible criminal activity or threats to the national
    security; a Full Investigation may be opened based upon an “articulable factual basis” of possible
    criminal activity or threats to the national security. In cases opened as Preliminary Investigations, all
    lawful investigative methods (including CHS and UCE operations) may be used except for mail
    opening, physical searches requiring a search warrant, electronic surveillance requiring a judicial order
    or warrant (Title III wiretap or a FISA order), or requests under Title VII of FISA. A Preliminary
    Investigation may be converted to a Full Investigation if the available information provides predication
    for a Full Investigation.
    53
    predication for Crossfire Hurricane. Each of these officials told us the information
    warranted opening a counterintelligence investigation. For example, Anderson told
    us that when the information from the Legat arrived it was “really disturbing,” and
    that she told Priestap the information needed to be reviewed by the Deputy Director
    immediately (Anderson and Priestap, in fact, briefed McCabe that day, July 28).
    She also told us that the decision to open the case was based upon the concern
    that the U.S. democratic process could be manipulated by a foreign power.
    Anderson also told us that “[the FBI] would have been derelict in our
    responsibilities had we not opened the case,” and that a foreign power allegedly
    colluding with a presidential candidate or his team members was a threat to our
    nation that the FBI was obligated to investigate under its counterintelligence
    mission.
    Similarly, then FBI General Counsel James Baker told us that everyone was
    in agreement about opening an investigation because the information came from a
    trusted intelligence partner, and it concerned a “Russian connection to the Trump
    campaign.” He told us the FBI had information about the Russian’s hacking
    activities, which they considered “a threat.” Baker could not specifically recall
    whether Crossfire Hurricane was opened as a Preliminary Investigation or a Full
    Investigation, but told us that a Full Investigation “would have been justified under
    these facts.”
    The Intel Section Chief also told us that he recalled the discussions about the
    FFG information when it arrived and said no one disagreed with opening a
    counterintelligence investigation based on the information. The Intel Section Chief
    also said that in the context of what was occurring with the DNC hacks and the
    release of the DNC emails, there was a possibility that the Russians reached out to
    a campaign to offer their assistance, and the FBI needed to investigate the
    allegation. The OGC Unit Chief had the same recollection, telling us that there was
    no real question about whether to investigate and that her impression was
    everyone thought the FFG information was so serious that the FBI had to
    investigate the allegations: “[T]his is not something we were looking to do, but
    given the allegations, we thought they were serious enough [that] we had to
    investigate.”
    Like Priestap, these officials told us that their evaluation of the FFG
    information was informed by the FBI’s ongoing cyber investigation involving Russia
    and the DNC hack. According to the Intel Section Chief and Strzok, when the FFG
    information arrived, the FBI already had strong corroborating information indicating
    that senior officials in the Russian government were responsible for directing
    attacks on the 2016 U.S. elections, including the hack of the DNC. Anderson said
    the FBI’s ongoing cyber investigation supported the decision to open a
    counterintelligence case based on the FFG information. Anderson stated:
    .. .I don’t remember exactly when we felt, you know, the moment in
    time when we felt that we had Russian attribution, not just to the
    hack, but also to the release of the emails. So though that was
    suspected or we had some information to support that theory for quite
    some time, but whether you … can attribute that to the Russians with a
    54
    high degree of certainty or … not, it sort of puts the whole thing
    together. On the one hand you’ve got the Russian efforts to obtain
    material that could be used as part of a foreign influence campaign
    and then on the other hand you’ve got [this] information about the
    possibility of collusion between the Russians and members of a
    presidential candidate’s campaign.
    Priestap told the OIG that before arriving at a final decision, he considered
    whether to provide a “defensive briefing” to any member of the Trump campaign in
    lieu of opening an investigation. According to Priestap, defensive briefings occur
    when U.S. government or corporate officials are being targeted by a foreign
    adversary and the FBI determines the officials should be alerted to the potential
    threat. Priestap did not recall who first raised the issue of defensive briefings, but
    said he discussed the subject collaboratively with other FBI officials. Priestap told
    us that he ultimately decided not to conduct defensive briefings and explained his
    reasoning:
    While the Counterintelligence Division does regularly provide defensive
    briefings to U.S. government officials or possible soon to be officials, in
    my experience, we do this when there is no indication, whatsoever,
    that the person to whom we would brief could be working with the
    relevant foreign adversary. In other words, we provide defensive
    briefings when we obtain information indicating a foreign adversary is
    trying or will try to influence a specific U.S. person, and when there is
    no indication that the specific U.S. person could be working with the
    adversary. In regard to the information the [FFG] provided us, we had
    no indication as to which person in the Trump campaign allegedly
    received the offer from the Russians. There was no specific U.S.
    person identified. We also had no indication, whatsoever, that the
    person affiliated with the Trump campaign had rejected the alleged
    offer from the Russians. In fact, the information we received indicated
    that Papadopoulos told the [FFG] he felt confident Mr. Trump would
    win the election, and Papadopoulos commented that the Clintons had a
    lot of baggage and that the Trump team had plenty of material to use
    in its campaign. While Papadopoulos didn’t say where the Trump team
    had received the “material,” one could reasonably infer that some of
    the material might have come from the Russians. Had we provided a
    defensive briefing to someone on the Trump campaign, we would have
    alerted the campaign to what we were looking into, and, if someone on
    the campaign was engaged with the Russians, he/she would very likely
    change his/her tactics and/or otherwise seek to cover-up his/her
    activities, thereby preventing us from finding the truth. On the other
    hand, if no one on the Trump campaign was working with the
    Russians, an investigation could prove that. Because the possibility
    existed that someone on the Trump campaign could have taken the
    Russians up on their offer, I thought it wise to open an investigation to
    . look into the situation.
    55
    McCabe said that he did not consider a defensive briefing as an alternative to
    opening a counterintelligence case. He said that based on the FFG information, the
    FBI did not know if any member of the campaign was coordinating with Russia and
    that the FBI did not brief people who “could potentially be the subjects that you are
    investigating or looking for.” McCabe told us that in a sensitive counterintelligence
    matter, it was essential to have a better understanding of what was occurring
    before taking an overt step such as providing a defensive briefing. 168
    We also asked those FBI officials involved in the decision to open Crossfire
    Hurricane whether the FBI received any other information, such as from members
    of the USIC, that the FBI relied upon to predicate Crossfire Hurricane. All of them
    told us that there was no such information and that predication for the case was
    based solely on the FFG information. 169 We also asked Corney and McCabe about
    then CIA Director John Brennan’s statements reported in several news articles that
    he provided to the FBI intelligence on Russian contacts with U.S. persons that
    predicated or prompted the opening of Crossfire Hurricane. Corney told us that
    while Brennan shared intelligence on the overarching efforts by the Russian
    government to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections, Brennan did not provide any
    information that predicated or prompted the FBI to open Crossfire Hurricane.
    McCabe said that he did not recall Brennan providing the FBI with information
    before the FBI’s decision to open an investigation about any U .S person potentially
    cooperating with Russia in the efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections.
    Priestap and the Intel Section Chief also told us that Brennan did not provide the
    FBI any intelligence that predicated the opening of Crossfire Hurricane. We did not
    find information in FBI or Department electronic communications, emails, or other
    documents, or through witness testimony, indicating otherwise.
    On July 31, 2016, the FBI opened a full counterintelligence investigation
    under the code name Crossfire Hurricane “to determine whether individual(s)
    associated with the Trump campaign are witting of and/or coordinating activities
    with the Government of Russia.” As the predicating information did not indicate a
    specific individual, the opening EC did not include a specific subject or subjects. As
    described in Chapter Two, the factual predication required to open a Full
    Investigation under the Attorney General’s Guidelines for Domestic Operations (AG
    168 McCabe told us that the decision to brief the DNC and Clinton campaign about the DNC
    hack was a different situation than the decision not to brief the Trump campaign about allegations of
    Russian efforts to assist the Trump campaign. He said that the DNC was a victim of hacking and the
    FBI had known that the DNC was not responsible for the hacks for some time.
    169 As we describe in Chapter Four, although the FBI first received reporting from Christopher
    Steele regarding alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections in early July 2016, the agents
    and analysts investigating the FFG information (the Crossfire Hurricane team) did not become aware
    of the Steele reporting until September 19, 2016. We found no evidence the Steele election reporting
    was known to or used by FBI officials involved in the decision to open the Crossfire Hurricane
    investigation.
    In the OIG’s Review of Various Actions in Advance of the 2016 Election, we describe in
    Classified Appendix One certain information that the FBI was in possession of in 2016 but the vast
    majority of which the FBI had not reviewed by June 2018. Given that timing, we did not see any
    evidence that any of that information was considered for or part of the predication for the opening of
    Crossfire Hurricane.
    56
    Guidelines) and the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) is
    an “articulable factual basis” that reasonably indicates that one of several
    circumstances exist:
    • An activity constituting a federal crime or a threat to the national
    security has or may have occurred, is or may be occurring, or will or
    may occur and the investigation may obtain information relating to the
    activity or the involvement or role of an individual, group, or
    organization in such activity;
    • An individual, group, organization, entity, information, property, or
    activity is or may be a target of attack, victimization, acquisition,
    infiltration, or recruitment in connection with criminal activity in
    violation of federal law or a threat to the national security and the
    investigation may obtain information that would help to protect against
    such activity or threat; or
    • The investigation may obtain foreign intelligence that is responsive to
    a requirement that the FBI collect positive foreign intelligence-i.e.,
    information relating to the capabilities, intentions, or activities of
    foreign governments or elements thereof, foreign organizations or
    foreign persons, or international terrorists.
    The opening EC describing the predication for Crossfire Hurricane relied
    exclusively on Papadopoulos’s statements to the FFG in the FFG
    information.
    Crossfire Hurricane was opened by CD and was assigned a case number used
    by the FBI for possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA),
    Title 18 U.S.C. § 951, which makes it a crime to act as an agent of a foreign
    government without making periodic public disclosures of the relationship. 170 As
    -described in Chapter Two, the AG Guidelines recognize that activities subject to
    investigation as “threats to the national security” may also involve violations or
    potential violations of federal criminal laws, or may serve important purposes
    outside the ambit of normal criminal investigation and prosecution by informing
    national security decisions. Given such potential overlap in subject matter, neither
    the AG Guidelines nor the DIOG require the FBI to differently label its activities as
    criminal investigations, national security investigations, orforeign intelligence
    collections. Rather, the AG Guidelines state that, where an authorized purpose
    exists, all of the FBI’s legal authorities are available for deployment in all cases to
    which they apply .171
    The opening EC also designated Crossfire Hurricane as a “sensitive
    investigative matter,” or SIM, which as described in Chapter Two, includes matters
    170 The FARA statute defines an “agent of a foreign government” as an individual who agrees
    to operate in the United States subject to the direction or control of a foreign government or official.
    18 U.S.C. § 951(d).
    171 See AG Guidelines § A, II.
    57
    involving the activities of a domestic public official or political candidate (involving
    corruption or a threat to the national security), or a domestic political organization
    or an individual prominent in such an organization. 172 The term “domestic political
    organization” includes, in relevant part, a committee or group formed to elect an
    individual to public office. According to David Laufman, then Chief of the National
    Security Division’s (NSD) Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES), the
    case was designated a SIM because it involved a campaign and “people associated
    with a campaign.” The DIOG requires that cases opened and designated as SIMs
    by FBI Headquarters be reviewed by OGC and approved by the appropriate FBI
    Headquarters operational section chief. The DIOG also requires that the FBI
    provide an “appropriate NSD official” with written notification of the opening of a
    SIM.173 The DIOG does not impose any additional special requirements on SIMs,
    but does state particular care should be taken when considering whether a planned
    course of action is the least intrusive method and if reasonable based upon the
    circumstances of the investigation. 174
    After Priestap authorized the opening of Crossfire Hurricane, Strzok, with
    input from the OGC Unit Chief, drafted and approved the opening EC. 175 Strzok told
    us that the case agent normally drafts the opening EC for an investigation, but that
    Strzok did so for Crossfire Hurricane because a case agent was not yet assigned
    and there was an immediate need to travel to the European city to interview the
    FFG officials who had met with Papadopoulos. With respect to the DIOG’s
    notification requirement to NSD, we located in the Crossfire Hurricane case file a
    Letterhead Memorandum (LHM) dated August 3, 2016, addressed to NSD.
    However, NSD officials told us that NSD has no record showing it received the LHM,
    and we were unable to determine whether the FBI in fact provided the LHM to
    NSD.116
    In addition to being designated a SIM, witnesses told us that, because the
    information being investigated related to an ongoing presidential election campaign,
    the Crossfire Hurricane case file was designated as “prohibited” meaning that
    access to the file was restricted and viewable to only those individuals assigned to
    172 The DIOG requires that if a case is designated as a SIM at the time of opening, the title or
    case caption must contain the words “Sensitive Investigative Matter.” The opening EC for Crossfire
    Hurricane met this DIOG requirement.
    173 There is no requirement under the AG Guidelines or the DIOG that a senior Department
    official approve of or be consulted prior to the opening of an investigation designated a Sir-,.
    174 The DIOG requires that the least intrusive means or method be considered and-if
    reasonable based upon the circumstances of the investigation-used to obtain intelligence or evidence
    in lieu of a more intrusive method. The concept of least intrusive method applies to the collection of
    all information.
    175 Strzok was promoted to a CD Section Chief in February 2016, and later to Deputy
    Assistant Director (DAD) of CD’s Operations Branch I on September 4, 2016.
    176 According to FBI documents, although the FBI usually provides an LHM to NSD, “due to
    the extreme sensitivity of both predication and subject of [Crossfire Hurricane], NSD was orally
    briefed.” Notes and testimony reflect that in early August, NSD officials were briefed on at least two
    occasions at FBI Headquarters about the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
    58
    work on the investigation. Agents and analysts referred to the investigation as
    “close-hold” and, as discussed later in this chapter, used covert investigative
    techniques to ensure information about the investigation remained known only to
    the team and FBI and Department officials.
    B. The FBI Opens Counterintelligence Investigations on
    Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Manafort, and Flynn
    On August 1, 2016, Strzok and a supervisory special agent (SSA 1) traveled
    to the European city to interview the FFG officials who met with Papadopoulos in
    May 2016. 177 According to Strzok and SSA 1, during the interview they learned
    that Papadopoulos did not say that he had direct contact with the Russians; that
    while his statement did not include him, it did not exclude him either; and that
    Papadopoulos stated the Russians told “us.” Strzok and SSA 1 also said they
    learned that Papadopoulos did not specify any other individual who received the
    Russian suggestion. Strzok, the Intel Section Chief, the Supervisory Intelligence
    Analyst (Supervisory Intel Analyst), and Case Agent 2 told the OIG that, based on
    this information, the initial investigative objective of Crossfire Hurricane was to
    determine which individuals associated with the Trump campaign may have been in
    a position to have received the alleged offer of assistance from Russia.
    After conducting preliminary open source and FBI database inquiries,
    intelligence analysts on the Crossfire Hurricane team identified three individualsCarter
    Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn-associated with the Trump
    campaign with either ties to Russia or a history of travel to Russia. On August 10,
    2016, the team opened separate counterintelligence FARA cases on Carter Page,
    Manafort, and Papadopoulos, under code names assigned by the FBI. On August
    16, 2016, a counterintelligence FARA case was opened on Flynn under a code name
    assigned by the FBI. The opening ECs for all four investigations were drafted by
    either of the two Special Agents assigned to serve as the Case Agents for the
    investigation (Case Agent 1 or Case Agent 2) and were approved by Strzok, as
    required by the DIOG. 178 Each case was designated a SIM because the individual
    subjects were believed to be “prominent in a domestic political campaign.”179
    As summarized below, the opening ECs for the investigations provided similar
    descriptions of the predicating information relied upon to open the cases. The ECs
    177 Email exchanges reflect that the FBI planned to interview the FFG officials by telephone;
    however, the Legat told Strzok that a Senior Executive Service-level (SES) FBI official from CD should
    make the trip and meet with the FFG officials. Emails also reflect that a USG official advised the FBI
    that one of the FFG officials the FBI planned to interview would be unavailable on August 9 and
    suggested the interview take place prior to that date.
    178 Although the opening ECs identified Strzok, SSA 1, and the OGC Unit Chief as approvers,
    the OGC Unit Chief said that she provided legal review of the opening ECs only. As we described in
    Chapter Two, when a case is opened and designated a SIM by FBI Headquarters, the case opening
    requires review by OGC and approval by the FBI Headquarters operational Section Chief (SC).
    179 We did not locate any records that indicated the FBI provided written notification to NSD
    about the opening of these cases. However, as we described earlier in this chapter, the FBI orally
    briefed NSD officials on at least two occasions in August 2016 about the Crossfire Hurricane
    investigation to include Papadopoulos, Manafort, Flynn, and Carter Page.
    59
    differed in their descriptions of the particular activities of the subjects that gained
    the FBI’s attention.
    • The opening EC for the Carter Page investigation stated that there was
    an articulable factual basis that Carter Page “may wittingly or
    unwittingly be involved in activity on behalf of the Russian Federation
    which may constitute a federal crime or threat to the national
    security.” The EC cross-referenced the predication for Crossfire
    Hurricane and stated that Page was a senior foreign policy advisor for
    the Trump campaign, had extensive ties to various Russia-owned
    entities, and had traveled to Russia as recently as July 2016. The EC
    also noted that Carter Page was the subject of an open, ongoing
    counterintelligence investigation assigned to the FBI’s New York Field
    Office (NYFO), which we describe in the next section.
    • The opening EC for the Manafort investigation stated that there was an
    articulable factual basis that Manafort “may wittingly or unwittingly be
    involved in activity on behalf of the Russian Federation which may
    constitute a federal crime or threat to the national security.” The EC
    cross-referenced the predication for Crossfire Hurricane and stated
    that Manafort was designated the Delegate Process and Convention
    Manager for the Trump campaign, was promoted to Campaign
    Manager for the Trump campaign, and had extensive ties to proRussian
    entities of the Ukrainian government.
    • The opening EC for the Papadopoulos investigation stated that there
    was an articulable factual basis that Papadopoulos “may wittingly or
    unwittingly be involved in activity on behalf of the Russian Federation
    which may constitute a federal crime or threat to the national
    security.” The EC cross-referenced the predication for Crossfire
    Hurricane and stated that Papadopoulos was a senior foreign advisor
    for the Trump campaign and had “made statements indicating that he
    is knowledgeable that the Russians made a suggestion to the Trump
    team that they could assist the Trump campaign with an anonymous
    release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to
    the Clinton Campaign.”
    • The opening EC for the Flynn investigation stated that there was an
    articulable factual basis that Flynn “may wittingly or unwittingly be
    involved in activity on behalf of the Russian Federation which may
    constitute a federal crime or threat to the national security.” The EC
    cross-referenced the predication for Crossfire Hurricane and stated
    that Flynn was an advisor to the Trump campaign, had various ties to
    state-affiliated entities of Russia, and traveled to Russia in December
    2015.
    60
    C. The Pre-Existing FBI New York Field Office Counterintelligence
    Investigation of Carter Page
    The OGC Unit Chief told us that of all the individuals associated with the
    Trump campaign best positioned to have received the alleged offer of assistance
    from Russia, Carter Page “quickly rose to the top” of the list because of his past
    connections to Russian officials and the FBI’s previous contacts with Page. As
    reflected in the FISA applications described in Chapters Five and Seven, as well as
    in other FBI documents, NYFO had an interest in Carter Page for several years
    before August 2016 and had interviewed him on multiple occasions because of his
    relationships with individuals the FBI knew to be Russian intelligence officers.
    An FBI counterintelligence agent in NYFO (NYFO CI Agent) with extensive
    experience in Russian matters told the OIG that Carter Page had been on NYFO’s
    radar since 2009, when he had contact with a known Russian intelligence officer
    (Intelligence Officer 1). According to the EC documenting NYFO’s June 2009.
    interview with Page, Page told NYFO agents that he knew and kept in regular
    contact with Intelligence Officer 1 and provided him with a copy of a non-public
    annual report from an American company. The EC stated that Page “immediately
    advised [the agents] that due to his work and overseas experiences, he has been
    questioned by and provides information to representatives of [another U.S.
    government agency] on an ongoing basis.” The EC also noted that agents did not
    ask Page any questions about his dealings with the other U.S. government agency
    during the interviews. 180
    NYFO CI agents believed that Carter Page was “passed” from Intelligence
    Officer 1 to a successor Russian intelligence officer {Intelligence Officer 2) in 2013
    and that Page would continue to be introduced to other Russian intelligence officers
    in the future. 181 In June 2013, NYFO CI agents interviewed Carter Page about these
    contacts. Page acknowledged meeting Intelligence Officer 2 following an
    introduction earlier in 2013. When agents intimated to Carter Page during the
    interview that Intelligence Officer 2 may be a Russian intelligence officer,
    specifically, an “SVR” officer, Page told them. he believed in “openness” and because
    180 On or about August 17, 2016, the Crossfire Hurricane team received a memorandum from
    the other U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Carter Page, including that Page
    had been approved as an operational contact for the other agency from 2008 to 2013 and information
    that Page had provided to the other agency concerning Page;s prior contacts with certain Russian
    · intelligence officers. We found no evidence that, after receiving the August 17 Memorandum, the
    Crossfire Hurricane team requested additional information from the other agency prior to submission
    of the first FISA application in order to deconflict on issues that we believe were relevant to the FISA
    application. According to the U.S. government agency, “operational contact,” as that term is used in
    the August 17 Memorandum, provides “Contact Approval,” which allows the agency to contact and
    discuss sensitive information with a U.S. person and to collect information from that person via
    “passive debriefing,” or debriefing a person of information that is within the knowledge of an individual
    and has been acquired through the normal course of that individual’s activities. According to the U.S.
    government agency, a “Contact Approval” does not allow for operational use of a U.S. person or
    tasking of that person.
    181 CI agents refer to this as “slot succession,” whereby a departing intelligence officer
    “passes” his or her contacts to an incoming intelligence officer.
    61
    he did not have access to classified information, his acquaintance with Intelligence
    · Officer 2 was a “positive” for him. In August 2013, NYFO CI agents again
    interviewed Page regarding his contacts with Intelligence Officer 2. Page
    acknowledged meeting with Intelligence Officer 2 since his June 2013 FBI interview.
    In January 2015, three Russian intelligence officers, including Intelligence
    Officer 2, were charged in a sealed complaint, and subsequently indicted, in the
    Southern District of New York (SDNY) for conspiring to act in the United States as
    unregistered agents of the Russian Federation. 182 The indictment referenced
    Intelligence Officer 2’s attempts to recruit “Male-1” as an asset for gathering
    intelligence on behalf of Russia.
    On March 2, 2016, the NYFO CI Agent and SDNY Assistant United States
    Attorneys interviewed Carter Page in preparation for the trial of one of the indicted
    Russian intelligence officers. During the interview, Page stated that he knew he
    was the person referred to as Male-1 in the indictment and further said that he had
    identified himself as Male-1 to a Russian Minister and various Russian officials at a
    United Nations event in “the spirit of openness.” The NYFO CI Agent told us she
    returned to her office after the interview and discussed with her supervisor opening
    a counterintelligence case on Page based on his statement to Russian officials that
    he believed he was Male-1 in the indictment and his continued contact with Russian
    intelligence officers.
    The FBI’s NYFO CI squad supervisor (NYFO CI Supervisor) told us she
    believed she should have opened a counterintelligence case on Carter Page prior to
    March 2, 2016 based on his continued contacts with Russian intelligence officers;
    however, she said the squad was preparing for a big trial, and they did not focus on
    Pa.ge until he was interviewed again on March 2. She told us that after the March 2
    interview, she called CD’s Counterespionage Section at FBI Headquarters to
    determine whether Page had any security clearances and to ask for guidance as to
    what type of investigation to open on Page. 183 On April 1, 2016, the NYFO CI
    Supervisor received an email from the Counterespionage Section advising her to
    o en a investi ation on Pa e. The NYFO CI Su ervisor said that
    In addition, according to FBI
    records, the relevant CD section at FBI Headquarters, in consultation with OGC,
    determined at that time that the Page investigation opened by NYFO was not a SIM,
    but also noted, “should his status change, the appropriate case modification would
    be made.” The NYFO CI Supervisor told us that based on what was documented in
    182 Intelligence Officer 3 pied guilty in March 2016. The remaining two indicted Russian
    intelligence officers were no longer in the United States.
    183 CI agents in NYFO told us that the databases containing security clearance information
    were located at FBI Headquarters. When a subject possesses a security clearance, the FBI opens an
    espionage investigation; if the subject does not possess a security clearance, the FBI typically opens a
    counterintelligence investigation.
    62
    the file and what was known at that time, the NYFO Carter Page investigation was
    not a SIM.
    Although Carter Page was announced as a foreign policy advisor for the
    Trump campaign prior to NYFO receiving this guidance from FBI Headquarters, the
    NYFO CI Supervisor and CI Agent both told the OIG that this announcement did not
    influence their decision to open a case on Page and that their concerns about Page,
    particularly his disclosure to the Russians about his role in the indictment, predated
    the announcement. However, the NYFO CI Supervisor said that the
    announcement required noting his new position in the case file should his new
    position require he obtain a security clearance.
    On April 6, 2016, NYFO opened a counterintelligence – investigation
    on Carter Page under a code name the FBI assigned to him (NYFO investigation)
    based on his contacts with Russian intelligence officers and his statement to
    Russian officials that he was “Male-1” in the SDNY indictment. Based on our review
    of documents in the NYFO case file, as well as our interview of the NYFO CI Agent,
    there was limited investigative activity in the NYFO investigation between April 6
    and the Crossfire Hurricane team’s opening of its investigation of Page on August
  63. The NYFO CI Agent told the OIG that the steps she took in the first few months
    of the case were to observe whether any other intelligence officers contacted Page
    and to prepare national security letters seeking Carter Page’s cell phone number(s)
    and residence information. The NYFO CI agent said that she did not use any CHSs
    to target Page during the NYFO investigation. The NYFO investigation was
    transferred to the Crossfire Hurricane team on August 10 and became part of the
    Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
    III. Organization and Oversight of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation
    The FBI conducted and oversaw the Crossfire Hurricane investigation from
    July 31, 2016, to May 17, 2017, at which time it was transferred to the Special
    Counsel’s Office. Over that 10-month period, three different teams of agents and
    analysts were assigned to the case: the first team worked out of FBI Headquarters
    from the opening of the case through December 2016; the second team worked out
    of three FBI field offices and FBI Headquarters from approximately January 2017
    through April 2017; and the third team worked, like the second team, out of the
    three FBI field offices and FBI Headquarters from April 2017 to May 17, 2017. In
    this section, we describe the organization and staffing of the three investigative
    teams and the FBI’s reasons for making changes as to how the investigation was
    organized. We also describe the role played by FBI and Department senior
    leadership in the investigation.
    63
    A. FBI Staffing of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation
  64. The Management and Structure of the Crossfire Hurricane
    Team
    Witnesses told us that because of the sensitivity of the investigation, CD
    officials originally decided to conduct the investigation out of FBI Headquarters,
    under the program management of Operational Branch I, Section CD-4, rather than
    out of one or more field offices, which is more typical. The original team consisted
    of intelligence analysts, special agents, and SSAs from multiple field offices who
    were assigned to Headquarters for 90-day temporary duty assignments (TDYs). CD
    assigned the original team to the same office space at Headquarters, with both
    agents and analysts working together in close proximity. Agents and analysts on
    the Crossfire Hurricane team told the OIG that the decision to conduct the
    investigation out of FBI Headquarters instead of a field office presented multiple
    challenges, such as difficulties in obtaining needed investigative resources,
    including surveillance teams, electronic evidence storage, technically trained
    agents, and other investigative assets standard in field offices to support
    investigations. We were told that these were known risks consciously taken by CD
    officials, including Priestap, in order to minimize the potential for unauthorized
    public disclosure of the investigation and allow for better coordination with
    Headquarters and interagency partners.
    Priestap told us that although he was ultimately responsible for the
    investigation, Strzok and the Intel Section Chief managed Crossfire Hurricane.
    Following the opening of the case, the team held meetings three times a week to
    discuss and determine the next investigative and analytical steps. The agents and
    analysts told us that the investigative and analytical decisions for the investigation
    were made at these meetings by the agents and analysts and then presented to the
    supervisors. Priestap said that while Strzok managed the operational side of
    Crossfire Hurricane, Priestap also sought the opinions of the Intel Section Chief and
    the OGC Unit Chief on operational decisions. Priestap also told us that he originally
    wanted to assign the investigation to a Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) other than
    Strzok because, although he had confidence in Strzok’s counterintelligence
    capabilities, he had concerns about Strzok’s personal relationship with Lisa Page
    affecting the Crossfire Hurricane team. According to Priestap, he told Steinbach
    about his concerns and Steinbach was supportive of his decision to remove Strzok
    from the team, but his decision was overruled by McCabe. Steinbach told us that
    he had concerns about Strzok and Lisa Page working together because he was
    aware of instances where they bypassed the chain of command to advise McCabe
    about case related information that had not been provided to Priestap or Steinbach.
    Priestap and Steinbach said they did not know why McCabe kept Strzok assigned to
    the investigation. Strzok told the OIG he did not ask McCabe to keep him on the
    investigation and does not know whether Lisa Page requested Strzok remain on the
    investigation in conversations with McCabe. We found no evidence that Page made
    any such request of McCabe.
    McCabe told us that he recalled separate conversations with Steinbach and
    Priestap about Strzok’s work on Crossfire Hurricane, but he said that in neither
    64
    conversation did he (McCabe) overrule a decision by Priestap to remove Strzok
    from the case. According to McCabe, Steinbach said that he wanted to remove
    Strzok from his role on Crossfire Hurricane after Strzok became DAD (in September
    2016) so that Strzok could have a “traditional DAD experience,” rather than
    spending too much attention on a single, major sensitive case. McCabe told us that
    he did not disagree with Steinbach, and he saw it as a decision for Steinbach and
    Priestap to make on their own. McCabe said that in a separate conversation with
    Priestap, Priestap raised a concern about Strzok and Page, but that it was not about
    any personal relationship between the two, which McCabe said he did not know
    about at the time. According to McCabe, Priestap expressed frustration about the
    amount of time Page and Strzok were spending together talking about casework
    and that it was interfering with Strzok’s ability to carry out his other responsibilities.
    McCabe told us that he did not recall Priestap requesting that Strzok be removed
    from the case because of this concern, but McCabe said that he talked to Page
    about reducing the amount of time she was interacting with Strzok.
    Over a dozen agents, analysts, and one Staff Operations Specialist (SOS)
    were originally assigned on a full-time basis to the Crossfire Hurricane team. Only
    one of the team members on Crossfire Hurricane, Case Agent 3, had previously
    been assigned to the team that conducted the investigation, known as “Midyear
    Exam” or “Midyear,” of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email for
    official purposes. However, the supervisory chain of DAD Strzok, the Intel Section
    Chief, AD Priestap, EAD Steinbach, Deputy Director McCabe, and Director Corney
    was the same for the Midyear and Crossfire Hurricane investigations. EAD
    Steinbach retired in February 2017 and was succeeded by Carl Ghattas. The
    Crossfire Hurricane team members were selected by Strzok, the Intel Section Chief,
    and SSA 1. The agents reported to SSA 1 and the analysts reported to the
    Supervisory Intel Analyst. SSA 1 reported operational activities to Strzok. The
    Supervisory Intel Analyst reported analytical findings to the Intel Section Chief. In
    addition, an OGC line attorney (OGC Attorney) was supervised by the OGC Unit
    Chief and provided legal support to the team. 184 The OGC Unit Chief reported to
    Anderson, who reported to Baker.
    Case Agent 1 and the SOS were the original Crossfire Hurricane team
    members who had primary responsibility over the Carter Page investigation. They
    were joined by Case Agent 3 and Case Agent 4 who worked on the Papadopoulos
    and Manafort investigations, respectively.
    Following the November 2016 U.S. elections, the 90-day TDY assignments
    ended for the agents and analysts on the original investigative team, and many of
    the team members, including SSA 1, returned to their field offices. In addition, in
    January 2017, CD reorganized the structure of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation
    by transferring the day-to-day operations of the four individual investigations to
    three field offices, and dividing oversight of the investigations between two
    operational branches at FBI Headquarters-Operations Branch I and Operations
    Branch II. According to Priestap, he transferred the cases to the field offices
    184 Both of these attorneys were also assigned to the Midyear team to provide legal support.
    65
    because of the need to conduct investigative activities in cities where the subjects
    of the investigations were located and to do so efficiently. Priestap told us that he
    also wanted to incorporate Operations Branch II into the program management of
    some of the Crossfire Hurricane cases for its expertise on RIS.
    With respect to the four individual investigations, CD transferred the Carter
    Page investigation to NYFO, and it remained assigned to Case Agent 1, who
    returned to that office following his 90-day TDY. DAD Jennifer Boone and SSA 3 of
    Operations Branch II at FBI Headquarters assumed program management
    responsibilities over the case. The Papadopoulos investigation was transferred to
    the Chicago Field Office and assigned to Case Agent 3. The Flynn investigation was
    transferred to the Washington Field Office (WFO) and assigned to Case Agent 4.
    Strzok and SSA 2 of Operations Branch I retained program management
    responsibilities over both of these investigations. The Manafort investigation was
    transferred to a white collar criminal squad at WFO. 185
    The Supervisory Intel Analyst told us that the shifting makeup of the teams
    and the changing leadership created a divide between the analysts and the agents,
    which resulted in less interaction between the two groups. In April 2017, CD again
    reorganized the Crossfire Hurricane investigation by restructuring the day-to-day
    operations of the cases at FBI Headquarters to recentralize the case. Officials told
    us that the investigation had become too decentralized and that the reason to
    restructure the investigation at Headquarters was to impose greater structure on
    the team’s investigative and analytical efforts. In addition, in March 2017, Corney
    notified Congress about the existence of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
    Witnesses told us that this created a need for a more cohesive effort by the
    Crossfire Hurricane team to keep Priestap regularly informed of case activities so
    that he was better able to respond to Congressional inquiries.
    At the end of this chapter, Figure 3.1 illustrates the FBI chain of command
    for the Crossfire Hurricane investigation from the opening of the case on July 31,
    2016 through December 2016. Figure 3.2 illustrates the chain of command from
    January 2017 through April 2017, and Figure 3.3 from April 2017 until the cases
    were transferred to the Special Counsel’s Office on May 17, 2017.
  65. The Role of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page in Crossfire
    Hurricane and Relevant Text Messages
    In the OIG’s June 20.18 Review of Various Actions in Advance of the 2016
    Election, we described text messages between Strzok and Lisa Page expressing
    statements of hostility toward then candidate Trump and statements of support for
    then candidate Clinton, and several text messages that appeared to mix political
    opinions with discussions of the investigation into candidate Clinton’s email use and
    references to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. One such exchange occurred on
    July 31, 2016, the date of the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation,
    185 As described further in Chapter Nine, in January 2016, the FBI initiated a money
    laundering and tax evasion investigation of Manafort predicated on his activities as a political
    consultant to members of the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian politicians.
    66
    when Strzok texted Page: “And damn this feels momentous. Because this matters.
    The other one did, too, but that was to ensure we didn’t F something up. This
    matters because this MATTERS. So super glad to be on this voyage with you.”
    (Emphasis in original).
    The following week, in an exchange on August 6, 2016, Lisa Page forwarded
    to Strzok a ·news article relating to Trump’s criticism of a Gold Star family who
    appeared at the Democratic National Convention. The text message stated, in part,
    “And Trump should go f himself.” Strzok responded favorably to the article and
    added, “And F Trump.” Page replied, “So. This is not to take away from the
    unfairness of it all, but we are both deeply fortunate people.” She then forwarded
    another news article and texted, “And maybe you’re meant to stay where you are
    because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.” Strzok
    responded, “Thanks. It’s absolutely true that we’re both very fortunate. And of
    course I’ll try and approach it that way. I just know it will be tough at times. I can
    protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps …. “
    Two days later, on August 8, 2016, Lisa Page texted Strzok, “[Trump’s] not
    ever going to become president, right? Right?!” and Strzok replied, “No. No he’s
    not. We’ll stop it.” In Chapter Twelve of the OIG’s June 2018 Review of Various
    Actions in Advance of the 2016 Election, we detail additional text messages by
    Strzok and Page and the explanations that they provided to the OIG for these and
    the other text messages and our findings regarding them. See
    https://www .justice.gov/file/1071991/download.
    In that review, we found that Strzok led the Midyear investigation shortly
    after its opening through its conclusion, and that he was deeply and actively
    involved in investigative decision making throughout the course of that
    investigation. We further found that Lisa Page served as a liaison between the
    investigative team and McCabe, and that she also regularly participated in team
    meetings and in investigative decision making.
    As part of this review, in order to determine whether there was any bias in
    the investigative activities for Crossfire Hurricane that we reviewed, we asked
    agents and analysts assigned to the case about the roles Strzok and Page played in
    the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and their level of involvement in decision
    making. With respect to Strzok, these witnesses told us that while he approved the
    team’s investigative decisions during the time he was in the supervisory chain of
    command for the investigation, he did. not unilaterally make any decisions or
    override any proposed investigative steps. Priestap, in addition to telling us that it
    was his (Priestap’s) decision to initiate the investigation, told us that to his
    knowledge, Strzok was not the primary or sole decision maker on any investigative
    step in Crossfire Hurricane. Further, as described above, in January 2017, the
    Crossfire Hurricane cases were divided between two operational branches within
    CD, and Strzok no longer supervised the Carter Page investigation, which was
    transferred to Operations Branch II, CD-1, under the supervision of then DAD
    Boone. In this report, we describe those occasions when Strzok was involved in
    investigative decisions.
    67
    With respect to Lisa Page, witnesses told us that she did not work with the
    team on a regular basis or make any decisions that impacted the investigation.
    Priestap told us that Lisa Page was “not in charge of anything” and that he never
    witnessed her attempt to steer the investigation or dictate investigative actions.
    Baker said that Lisa Page attended high-level meetings and knew the facts of the
    case, but was not in a “decision making position” and had no “decision making
    authority.” Lisa Page told us that she did not have a formal role in the Crossfire
    Hurricane investigation but may have participated in team meetings to keep
    McCabe aware of the status of the investigation. McCabe also told us that she was
    the “facilitation point” between CD and his office during the investigation. As with
    Strzok, when we learned in this review of Lisa Page’s presence at meetings or
    involvement in any investigative activity, we include that information in this report.
    B. The Role of Senior FBI and Department Leadership in the
    Crossfire Hurricane Investigation
    As part of our review, we examined the role that senior FBI and Department
    leaders played in Crossfire Hurricane, as well as their knowledge of critical events in
    the case, including its opening, the use of CHSs to gather information, and the
    decision to seek authority to conduct electronic surveillance. Throughout the
    chapters of this report, we highlight and describe this involvement and knowledge,
    where relevant. In this section, we summarize the role of FBI leadership and
    Department officials in the early stages of the investigation until May 2017 when
    the Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Manafort, and Flynn cases were transferred to the
    Special Counsel’s Office.
  66. FBI Leadership
    We learned that CD officials briefed the Crossfire Hurricane investigation to
    FBI senior leadership throughout the investigation. Corney told the OIG that the
    FBI had “hundreds of thousands” of counterintelligence cases opened while he was
    Director, and he would not be involved in a counterintelligence case unless the
    chain of command made a judgment call about whether the nature of the case
    required the Director’s involvement. He said the decision to brief the Director was
    based on several things, including whether the case required engagement with
    Department leadership or whether it was of interest to Congress. Corney said his
    level of involvement in Crossfire Hurricane was similar to some cases and dissimilar
    to others. He said:
    I would put [cases in] three buckets. One, cases they’d never tell me
    about because of a judgment by the leadership chain that it wasn’t for
    the Director to know. Cases that I would be told about, simply to be
    aware of. And then cases, the third category would be cases that I
    was told about and, in some detail, and kept informed of as the
    investigation went on. Crossfire Hurricane was in that third bucket.
    According to records reviewed by the OIG, Corney received his first, formal
    briefing on August 15, 2016, though, as described previously, McCabe’s
    contemporaneous notes suggest Corney may have been told about the FFG
    68
    information on July 29. Camey told us that he was updated on the status of the
    investigation every 2 to 4 weeks. These status updates were provided at the end of
    his regularly scheduled morning national security briefings conducted by, among
    others, McCabe, Steinbach, Priestap, and Strzok. According to Camey, these
    briefings did not typically include discussions about investigative strategy, but he
    was often briefed on specific investigative actions the Crossfire Hurricane team had
    taken or planned to take. Camey said that he did not recall playing a role in
    making any significant investigative decisions and did not have any concerns or
    disagreements with the investigative actions described by senior CD officials during
    briefings.
    Camey told us that he recalled a discussion with the briefers about taking
    precautions to keep the case close-hold. Camey said he was mindful that the
    investigation involved a political campaign, and he advised the team to keep in
    mind that, “[although] it’s smoke that we see, we don’t know whether there’s fire
    there.” McCabe also told us the FBI wanted “to keep our inquiry as quiet as we
    could.” He said that it was important to keep the investigation covert to avoid
    · alerting the subjects of the investigation or others, and, specifically in this case, it
    was important due to the pending election.
    McCabe told us he received regular briefings on the progress of Crossfire
    Hurricane and discussed the investigation with Camey at regular briefings. Strzok
    told us the team briefed McCabe approximately 5-10 times during the investigation,
    and the OGC Unit Chief told us McCabe was briefed every few weeks until the
    election in November and less frequently thereafter. According to both Strzok and
    the OGC Unit Chief, these briefings provided updates on the team’s investigative
    activities and typically were not discussions about what steps to take. The OGC
    Unit Chief also said that McCabe directed the team to “get to the bottom of this as
    quickly as possible, but with a light footprint.”
    Priestap told us that Strzok, the Intel Section Chief, and the OGC Unit Chief
    frequently briefed him on the investigation and kept him apprised of significant
    developments. In addition to approving the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane
    cases, Priestap told us that he was involved in discussions as to whether to seek
    authority under FISA to conduct electronic surveillance
    targeting Carter Page, a subject we describe in detail in Chapter Five. Priestap said
    he briefed Steinbach nearly every day on the case and provided Camey or McCabe
    with updates on an as-needed basis.
  67. Department of Justice
    a. National Security Division
    The Department was first notified about the opening of Crossfire Hurricane
    on August 2, 2016, when Priestap and the Intel Section Chief briefed several
    representatives from NSD, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General (Deputy
    AAG) George Toscas, Deputy AAG Adam Hickey, and David Laufman, who as
    69
    described previously was the CES Section Chief .186 According to Lautman and his
    contemporaneous notes of the briefing, FBI officials described the FFG information
    and the four individuals the FBI had identified through its initial investigative work
    who were members of the campaign and had ties to Russia. Lautman told us that
    his impression was that the information from the FFG had “raised obvious alarm
    bells in the FBI” and he said the information “resonated” with him. He also said
    that the information the FBI provided at the briefing presented the question of
    whether someone in the Russian government was working with the campaign of a
    major party candidate to influence the U.S. elections. Lautman told us that “we
    certainly understood the significance of the matter and the need for further
    investigation” and that it would have been “a dereliction of duty and responsibility
    of the highest order not to commit the appropriate resources as urgently as
    possible to run these facts to the ground, and find out what was going on.”
    After this initial briefing, Toscas contacted Deputy AAG Stuart Evans who
    oversaw NSD’s Office of Intelligence {01), which prepares and files FISA
    applications. Evans told us that he met with Toscas, Hickey, and FBI
    representatives on or about August 11, 2016, concerning the opening of Crossfire
    Hurricane. Evans said he believed the FBI described the information from the FFG
    that led to the opening of the case and the FBI’s preliminary assessment that led
    the team to focus Ofl the four individuals associated with the Trump campaign. He
    said the basis for the investigation did not strike him as “thin” at the time of this
    briefing or in retrospect, and the steps the FBI had taken up to that point were not
    dissimilar to how he had seen the FBI handle other counterintelligence cases
    involving insider threat information reported by a credible source. Evans told the
    OIG that he did not recall anyone raising the issue of seeking FISA authority
    targeting Carter Page at this August briefing.
    Following these initial briefings, the FBI invited NSD to attend weekly
    meetings with the Crossfire Hurricane team. According to Evans, he and Toscas
    attended some of the meetings, as did representatives from CES, including
    Lautman, and 01. Laufman’s notes reflect that Hickey attended some of the
    meetings as well. According to Evans, CES and 01 maintained “loose involvement
    and knowledge” of the status of the investigation in case the FBI requested
    assistance from CES on criminal legal process or from 01 on a FISA application.
    However, Evans told us that his reaction to these meetings was that the
    investigation seemed “pretty slow moving,” with not much changing week-to-week
    in terms of the updates the FBI was providing to NSD.
    According to Lautman and his deputy, the FBI did not ask CES to assist with
    criminal legal process at any time before the 2016 U.S. elections. In December
    2016, the FBI briefed NSD officials on the status of the Crossfire Hurricane cases,
    and, according to Laufman’s notes, advised NSD of CD’s reorganization of the
    investigation. According to his notes, the FBI decided that it would be establishing
    a new unit or team to focus on Russian influence activities and that none of the
    186 Lisa Page was the other FBI representative who attended this briefing. As described
    earlier, Strzok was meeting with the FFG officials about their conversations with Papadopoulos on this
    date.
    70
    Crossfire cases had been closed “so far.” Laufman told us that he advised the FBI
    that CES wanted to be in a position to provide input should the FBI decide to close
    any of the Crossfire Hurricane cases, just to be sure the FBI had exhausted all
    investigative steps, but he did not recall this ever arising.
    Mary McCord was NSD’s Principal Deputy AAG when Crossfire Hurricane was
    opened. She told us that she received a comprehensive briefing from the FBI on
    the investigation in January 2017, by which time she was the Acting AAG of NSD.187
    She said that prior to that time, she was involved in certain aspects of the
    investigation through OI’s assistance with the first Carter Page FISA ·application in
    September and October 2016, as well as through meetings she attended in
    November and December 2016 about aspects of the Manafort and Flynn cases. She
    said that she neither attended nor received long debriefs about the weekly Crossfire
    Hurricane meetings attended by other NSD officials before the election. According
    to McCord, as a general matter, it was typical for Department attorneys not to
    become directly involved in a counterintelligence investigation until the case
    required legal guidance or legal process.
    According to McCord, by January 2017, developments in some of the cases,
    particularly the Flynn and Manafort cases, led to the need for a comprehensive
    briefing for Department officials on the different cases the FBI was pursuing, as well
    as for the greater involvement of prosecutors moving forward. In late February
    2017, Laufman assigned a CES trial attorney (CES Trial Attorney) to assist the FBI’s
    Crossfire Hurricane team by providing legal guidance as needed on any of the
    cases. Laufman told us, and his notes reflect, that CES did not receive regular
    briefings on the investigation from the FBI between December 2016 and March
    2017 .188 As we described earlier in this chapter, during this period of time, the
    Crossfire Hurricane investigation was decentralized, with the individual cases being
    handled by three different FBI field offices. Witnesses from NYFO who worked on
    the Carter Page investigation told us that as a result of this, there were no regular
    team meetings with officials at FBI Headquarters.
    b. Office of the Deputy Attorney General
    Sally Yates was the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) when Crossfire Hurricane
    was opened on July 31, 2016. Yates told the OIG that she did not specifically recall
    receiving a formal briefing from the FBI in the summer of 2016 about the case, or
    at any time before she left the Department on January 30, 2017, though she left
    open the possibility that such a briefing could have occurred. According to Yates,
    her office was typically less involved in counterintelligence investigations than
    criminal investigations.189 Yates said that although she and others in the Office of
    187 McCord became the acting AAG in mid-October 2016 and continued in both roles until
    Dana Boente became the Acting AAG for ~SD in April 2017.
    188 Laufman did not attend the meetings in January, February, and March 2017 that were
    attended by Boente, McCord, and other senior Department officials.
    189 Matthew Axelrod, then Principal Assistant Deputy Attorney General, told us that ODAG had
    less involvement in counterintelligence investigations than criminal investigations because most
    71
    the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) attended Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
    morning threat intelligence briefings with the FBI Director on national security
    issues, typically those briefings focused on matters involving imminent national
    security threats and criminal cases. According to Yates, the primary
    counterintelligence issue for ODAG in the summer of 2016 was the broader issue of
    Russian interference in the elections and the possible infiltration of voting
    machines.
    Yates told us that she did recall that following one of the morning threat
    intelligence briefings, Corney pulled her aside to discuss the FFG information the
    FBI had received regarding Papadopoulos. Yates did not recall specifically when
    this conversation took place, except that it was some time before she received the
    first Carter Page FISA application for approval. 190 Yates told us that she did not
    recall the specific details Corney provided, but did recall that they discussed why
    the FFG had not notified U.S. officials sooner. She said she recalled learning during
    that conversation that the FFG did not determine the significance of the information
    about Papadopoulos until the WikiLeaks release of DNC emails in July 2016. She
    also said that she did not recall whether Corney told her the FBI had opened an
    investigation in response to the FFG information. However, she said that an
    investigation “would be the natural consequence of that,” and “[i]t would be
    strange not to” open an investigation given that what Papadopoulos said in May
    2016 would happen, i.e., the release of information damaging to then candidate
    Clinton, did, in fact, happen in July 2016.
    We asked Corney and McCabe about any discussions they had with Yates
    about the FFG information. Corney told us that he did not recall providing any
    briefing to Yates, but that the topic was likely discussed at one of the threat
    intelligence briefings. Corney also told us that the FBI generally tried to keep
    Department leadership informed about all significant activities to include important
    public corruption or espionage cases concerning Russian efforts to interfere with the
    2016 U.S. elections. McCabe told us that he did not recall briefing Crossfire
    Hurricane to Yates; however, his contemporaneous notes of a regularly scheduled
    meeting with the DAG on August 10 reflect that Yates was briefed on the FFG
    information at that time. According to McCabe, the FBI did not provide regular
    briefings to Yates on Crossfire Hurricane after this meeting, but the FBI provided
    updates on developments in the investigation to ODAG following the Attorney
    General’s morning briefings, which Yates typically attended.
    Yates told us that she did not recall specific discussions about any of the
    Crossfire Hurricane cases after her initial conversation with Corney, though she said
    she was confident that such discussions took place and thought that Tashina
    Gauhar, the Associate Deputy Attorney General responsible for ODAG’s national
    security portfolio, likely had such discussions with NSD or the FBI. Yates did recall
    counterintelligence investigations do not lead to prosecution and can last for years while agents gather
    intelligence.
    190 As described in Chapter Five, ODAG received the first FISA application on or about October
    14, 2016.
    72
    having a conversation with McCabe regarding the ongoing money laundering
    investigation of Manafort (described in more detail in Chapter Nine) and about not
    taking any overt investigative steps before the election. She told us that even
    though Manafort was no longer chair of the Trump campaign at the time of this
    conversation, she and McCabe agreed that they did not want to do anything that
    could potentially impact candidate Trump. She said she did not recall having a
    similar conversation with McCabe or Corney about the Crossfire Hurricane cases and
    thought that this was because, to her knowledge, the FBI was not contemplating
    any overt steps in those cases before the election.
    Gauhar told the OIG that she was sure she attended discussions about the
    Crossfire Hurricane cases, likely during regularly scheduled meetings ODAG held
    with NSD officials, or possibly during the regularly scheduled morning threat
    intelligence briefings, but she did not recall any discussions specifically. According
    to Gauhar, discussions she attended before the election about Russia tended to
    focus on the broader topic of what Russia was trying to do to influence the
    upcoming election. She said she did not recall the Crossfire Hurricane cases being
    an ongoing topic of conversation from her vantage point, until issues came up in
    the Flynn case in early January 2017. Gauhar also told us that she learned more
    about the individual Crossfire Hurricane cases and the investigation after Boente
    requested regular briefings in February 2017.
    On January 30, 2017, Boente became the Acting Attorney General after Yates
    was removed, and ten days later became the Acting DAG after Jefferson Sessions
    was confirmed and sworn in as Attorney General. Boente simultaneously served as
    the Acting Attorney General on the FBI’s Russia related investigations after
    Sessions recused himself from overseeing matters “arising from the campaigns for
    President of the United States.” Boente told the OIG that after reading the January
    2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) report on Russia’s election
    influence efforts (described in Chapter Six), he requested a briefing on Crossfire
    Hurricane. That briefing took place on February 16, and Boente said that he sought
    regular briefings on the case thereafter because he believed that it was
    extraordinarily important to the Department and its reputation that the allegations
    of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections were investigated. Boente told
    us that he also was concerned that the investigation lacked cohesion because the
    individual Crossfire Hurricane cases had been assigned to multiple field offices. In
    addition, he said that he had the impression that the investigation had not been
    moving with a sense of urgency-an impression that was based, at least in pa·rt, on
    “not a lot” of criminal legal process being used. To gain more visibility into
    Crossfire Hurricane, improve coordination, and speed up the investigation, Boente
    directed ODAG staff to attend weekly or bi-weekly meetings with NSD for Crossfire
    Hurricane case updates.
    Boente’s calendar entries and handwritten notes reflect multiple briefings in
    March and April 2017. Boente’s handwritten notes of the March meetings reflect
    that he was briefed on the predication for opening Crossfire Hurricane, the four
    individual cases, and the status of certain aspects of the Flynn case. Boente told us
    that when he was briefed on the predication for the investigation, he did not
    question it and did not have any concerns about the decision to open Crossfire
    73
    Hurricane. Boente’s handwritten notes of the meetings focused on the Flynn
    investigation and potential criminal violations of the Logan Act, the FBI’s efforts to
    corroborate information contained in the source reporting that we describe in
    Chapters Four and Six, and the FBI’s investigative efforts in the Carter Page and
    Manafort cases. 191 According to Boente’s handwritten notes, he was last briefed on
    Crossfire Hurricane the day after Rod Rosenstein was sworn in as DAG on April 26,
    2017.
    Rosenstein told us that he recalled being briefed three times during his initial
    two weeks as DAG on aspects of the investigation and Russian efforts to influence
    the 2016 U.S. elections. The first briefing occurred within a day or two of being
    sworn in and was provided by Boente and then Principal Associate Deputy Attorney
    General James Crowell. That briefing was followed by a meeting with Corney,
    McCord, and several others from the FBI and NSD. Rosenstein said he also
    received a briefing from representatives of the USIC that included an overview of
    Russian interference with the U.S. elections.
    Rosenstein told us that during the initial Department briefings he was most
    focused on information that had developed into criminal investigations, which he
    believed were going to be more immediately relevant to his work as DAG.
    Rosenstein said he did not recall the details provided during the briefings regarding
    Carter Page other than Page was suspected of being a foreign agent. Rosenstein
    said he also did not recall the details of what was explained to him about the
    predication for opening the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. 192 He said he would
    have been focused on the status and direction of the cases at the time of the ·
    briefings, and not as much on any historical information concerning their initiation.
    In Chapters Five and Seven, we describe ODAG’s role in the four Carter Page
    FISA applications. As described in Chapter Seven, Yates approved the first Carter
    Page FISA application on October •, 2016 and FISA Renewal Application No. 1 on
    January a 2017, Boente approved FISA Renewal Application No. 2 on April I
    2017, and Rosenstein approved the FISA Renewal Application No. 3 on June ,
    2017.
    c. Office of the Attorney General
    Loretta Lynch was sworn in as Attorney General on April 27, 2015. Lynch
    told the OIG that she did not recall receiving a briefing on the Crossfire Hurricane
    investigation. Lynch’s National Security Counselor told us that she did not receive
    any briefing on the case and did not know if Lynch received a briefing. Lynch said
    191 The Logan Act, Title 18 U.S.C. § 953, makes it a crime for a citizen to confer with foreign
    governments against the interest of the United States. Specifically, it prohibits citizens from
    negotiating with other nations on behalf of the United States without authorization.
    192 Rosenstein told us that at some later point-most likely in 2018-FBI officials represented
    to him that the basis for opening Crossfire Hurricane was the FFG information concerning
    Papadopoulos, and nothing else. He told us that he did not receive any information from the FBI
    indicating otherwise. He also told us that he did not have an opinion about whether the FFG
    information provided a sufficient basis to open the case.
    74
    she did not recall providing any guidance or direction to the FBI on the
    investigation, or having any awareness of the Carter Page FISA applications before
    she left the Department on January 20, 2017. She told us that her office generally
    did not oversee counterintelligence investigations, but that sometimes
    counterintelligence issues were raised during morning threat intelligence briefings.
    She said that she remembered knowing that Papadopoulos was a concern for the
    FBI, but she did not recall learning the specific information that came from the FFG
    relating to him.
    Office of the Attorney General (OAG) officials told us that they did not read
    the Carter Page FISA applications or provide any feedback to 01, but email
    communications reflect that they were aware the FBI was seeking FISA authority
    targeting Carter Page before the first application was filed. These officials included
    Lynch’s Chief of Staff and her National Security Counselor. The Chief of Staff told
    us she had no recollection of the email that referenced the FISA application. The
    National Security Counselor told us that she believed she would have advised the
    Attorney General of the application, but she did not have any specific recollection of
    having done so.
    Lynch told the OIG that after one of her weekly security meetings at FBI
    Headquarters in the spring of 2016, Corney and McCabe pulled her aside and
    provided information about Carter Page, which Lynch believed they learned from
    another member of the Intelligence Community. According to Lynch, Corney and
    McCabe provided her with information indicating that Russian intelligence
    reportedly planned to use Page for information and to develop other contacts in the
    United States, and that they were interested in his affiliation with the campaign.
    Lynch told us that her understanding was that this information from Corney and
    McCabe was “preliminary” in that they did not state that any decisions or actions
    needed to be taken that day. She said that they discussed the possibility of
    providing a defensive briefing to the Trump campaign, but she believed it was
    “preliminary” and “something that might happen down the road.” According to
    Lynch, she did not recall receiving any further updates on this issue following this
    conversation. Lynch’s recollection of what Corney and McCabe told her is consistent
    with information referenced in connection with the 2015 SDNY indictment and
    subsequent conviction of a Russian intelligence officer referenced earlier in this
    chapter.
    Corney told the oiG that he did not recall having such a conversation with
    Lynch, and that he did not think it was possible for such conversation to have
    occurred in the spring of 2016 because the FBI did not receive the FFG information
    concerning Papadopoulos until late July (as we described earlier in this chapter).
    He also said that he did not recall himself having any knowledge_ of Carter Page’s
    existence until the middle of 2016. 193 Similarly, McCabe told us that he did not
    193 The OIG was unable to question Corney further using classified details Lynch described to
    us because, as noted in Chapter One, Corney chose not to have his security clearances reinstated for
    our interview. Internal email communications reflect that in April 2016 NYFO prepared summaries of
    the information that ultimately led NYFO to open a counterintelligence investigation on Carter Page on
    75
    recall having any knowledge of Carter Page at this time. He told us he had no
    recollection of briefing Lynch in the spring of 2016 about Carter Page and did not
    know Carter Page was the subject of an open investigation in NYFO.
  68. White House Briefings
    Lynch told us that in her interactions with the White House in 2016, she did
    not recall substantive discussions about the Crossfire Hurricane investigations but
    did recall discussions about the broader topic of Russian interference in the 2016
    U.S. elections. Lynch said that the FBI, and not the Attorney General, would brief
    the White House on the investigation if the FBI was able to share information it
    received, but she did not recall that occurring. Yates also told us she did not attend
    any White House briefings where Crossfire Hurricane or the Carter Page FISA
    application was briefed or discussed, and she had no knowledge of whether any
    such meetings occurred.
    Priestap told the OIG that the FBI does not routinely brief ongoing cases to
    the White House with the exception of mass shootings, major terrorist attacks, or
    intelligence that suggests an imminent attack on the United States. Priestap said
    that due to certain national security considerations, information from ongoing
    investigations may also need to be briefed to the White House by the Director.
    Corney told us that he received no requests from the White House to
    investigate members of the Trump campaign or inquiries about whether the
    campaign was involved with the efforts by the Russians to interfere in the 2016
    U.S. elections. Corney said that he recalled generally the administration’s interest
    in what the FBI was doing as a member of the USIC to understand and defeat
    Russia’s efforts to interfere with the elections. In fact, according to Strzok, the
    White House requested a briefing from the USIC in the fall of 2016 about actions
    the Russians were taking to interfere in the elections. On September 2, 2016, Lisa
    Page and Strzok exchanged the following text:
    9:41 a.m., Strzok to Lisa Page: “Checkout my 9:30 mtg on the 7th”
    9:42 a.m., Lisa Page to Strzok: “I can tell you why you’re having that
    meeting.”
    9:42 a.m., Lisa Page to Strzok: “It’s not what you think.”
    9:49 a.m., Strzok to Lisa Page: “TPs [Talking Points] for D
    [Director]?”
    9:50 a.m., Lisa Page to Strzok: “Yes be POTUS wants to know
    everything we are doing.”
    Strzok told us that these texts referred to the request by the White House to
    know everything the USIC knew about what Russia was doing to interfere in the
    2016 U.S. elections and did not refer to the Crossfire Hurricane cases investigating
    April 6, 2016 (described previously), and provided them to CD officials at Headquarters to be used for
    a “Director’s note” and a separate “Director’s Brief” to be held on April 27, 2016.
    76
    U.S. subjects. Strzok told us that he never attended any White House briefings
    about Crossfire Hurricane.
    McCabe’s notes from a morning meeting with Corney and others in late July
    2016 reflect that McCabe learned from Corney during the meeting that another U.S.
    government agency had briefed President Obama on intelligence that agency had
    suggesting that a RIS was engaged in covert actions to influence the U.S.
    presidential election in favor of Trump. McCabe told us he did not attend this White
    House briefing; however, based on his notes, he said he did not believe the FFG
    information would have been discussed during this meeting, and our review of his
    notes did not indicate otherwise. According to McCabe’s notes of what he had been
    told by Corney, President Obama stated that the FBI should think about doing
    “defensive briefs.” The notes do not provide any further details about what Obama
    said regarding defensive briefings, and McCabe told us he did not recall that any
    further details were provided to him. However, McCabe said he surmised from his
    notes that the briefings under discussion were to be given to the Trump campaign.
    As more fully described in Chapter Ten, the FBI participated in ODNI strategic
    intelligence briefings that were provided to members of both the Trump campaign
    and the Clinton campaign, including the candidates, in August and September
  69. However, those were not defensive briefings and did not address the
    allegations contained in the FFG information.
    When we asked Corney about meetings with the White House concerning
    Crossfire Hurricane, he said that although he did not brief the White House about
    the investigation, he did mention to President Obama and others at a meeting in
    the Situation ·Room that the FBI was trying to determine whether any U.S. person
    had worked with the Russians in their efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S.
    election. 194 Corney said he thought it was important that the President know the
    nature of the FBI’s efforts without providing any specifics. Corney said although he
    did not recall exactly what he said, he may have said there were four individuals
    with “some association or connection to the Trump campaign.” Corney stated that
    after he provided this information, no one at the meeting responded or followed up
    with any questions. Corney did not recall specifically when this meeting took place,
    but believed it may have been in August 2016. We were unable to determine
    whether this meeting was part of the same meeting reflected in McCabe’s notes
    discussed above.
    IV. Investigative Steps in Crossfire Hurricane Prior to Receipt of
    Christopher Steele Reporting on September 19
    According to FBI officials, the early investigative steps taken in Crossfire
    Hurricane were structured to maintain a close-hold on the investigation and avoid
    any impact on the 2016 U.S. elections. FBI officials told us that n_o steps were
    194 Corney told us that this meeting was attended by then Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough,
    then National Security Advisor Susan Rice, then Director of National Intelligence (DNI} James Clapper,
    then CIA Director John Brennan, and then Director of the National Security Agency Michael Rogers.
    77
    taken to investigate anyone associated with the Trump campaign prior to the
    opening of Crossfire Hurricane on July 31. 195 Department officials including
    Rosenstein, Evans, Laufman, and Gauhar said they did not learn anything at any
    time sugg·esting otherwise. We reviewed emails of senior CD officials from the 2
    months prior to the opening of Crossfire Hurricane and did not find any
    communications suggesting any investigative actions relating to Trump campaign
    personnel were taken prior to July 31, 2016, with the exception of the pre-existing
    Page and Mana fort cases discussed previously.
    Anderson told us that the investigation began on July 31 with covert
    investigative techniques to be “very quiet” prior to the election. We were told that
    the team’s concern was that if the information about the investigation became
    public, it would disrupt the investigative efforts and could potentially impact the
    2016 U.S. elections. Anderson also told us that counterintelligence investigations
    are typically “conducted in the dark” because any public confirmation of the
    existence of the investigation “might alert the hostile foreign power … that we were
    onto them.” She also said that early on in the investigation, FBI managers
    overseeing the Crossfire Hurricane team “took off the table any idea of legal
    process” in conducting the investigation, because the FBI was “trying to move very
    quietly.” The FBI did not use national security letters or compulsory process prior
    to obtaining the first FISA orders.
    At the outset of the investigation, as described earlier in this chapter, Strzok
    and SSA 1 traveled to verify the FFG information while analysts conducted open
    source and database research on the Crossfire Hurricane subjects and monitored
    their travel. Analysts also developed profiles on each of the four subjects and
    reviewed FBI files for information and to identify potential FBI CHSs with useful
    contacts for the investigation .196 Additionally, almost immediately after opening the
    Page, Papadopoulos, and Manafort investigations on August 10, the case agent
    assigned to the Carter Page investigation, Case Agent 1, contacted OGC about the
    possibility of seeking FISA authority for Carter Page. As we discuss in Chapter Five,
    FBI documents indicate that by late August, Case Agent 1 had been told that he
    had not yet presented enough information to support a FISA application targeting
    Carter Page.
    The FBI also sent names of individuals associated with the Trump campaign
    to other U.S. government agencies and a foreign intelligence agency and requested
    any information about those individuals. McCabe said that requesting a name trace
    from other U.S government agencies is a standard step in counterterrorism and
    counterintelligence cases that assists investigators by providing information on the
    195 As referenced in Chapter Nine, prior to his involvement with the Trump campaign,
    Manafort was the subject of a federal criminal investigation by the Department for alleged white collar
    offenses. Further, as referenced earlier in this chapter, prior to his involvement with the Trump
    campaign, Carter Page was the subject of a NYFO counterintelligence investigation for his contacts
    with Russian intelligence officers.
    196 As described in Chapter Ten, early in the investigation, the Crossfire Hurricane team
    discovered that they had an existing FBI CHS who had previously interacted with three of the named
    subjects of the investigation.
    78
    kind of network surrounding a person in whom the FBI is interested. He told us
    that the FBI requests a name check on an individual who is the subject of an
    investigation, or who the FBI is considering as a subject, but is not certain that an
    investigation is warranted. McCabe said that the FBI also uses the information
    received from such name checks to eliminate individuals as subjects. The FBI
    received information from the name trace requests and serialized that information
    to the Crossfire Hurricane case file.
    As we describe in Chapter Five, on or about August 17, 2016, the Crossfire
    Hurricane team received information from another U.S. government agency
    advising the team that Carter Page had been approved as an operational contact for
    the other agency from 2008 to 2013 and detailing information that Page had
    provided to the other agency regarding Page’s past contacts with c·ertain Russian
    intelligence officers. However, this information was not provided to NSD attorneys
    and was not included in any of the FISA applications. We also found no evidence
    that the Crossfire Hurricane team requested additional information from the other
    agency prior to submission of the first FISA application in order to deconflict on
    issues that were relevant to the FISA application.
    FBI officials told us that the early steps in the investigation focused on
    developing information about the four subjects and conducting CHS operations to
    obtain relevant subject specific information. According to McCabe, using sources is
    a logical first step in an investigation to learn what information the FBI may have
    access to that could be of value in the investigation. Agents told us that CHS
    operations can be an effective tool for quickly obtaining information, including, for
    example, the telephone numbers and email addresses of the named subjects. In
    determining how to use CHSs in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, SSA 1 and
    the case agents told the OIG that they focused their CHS operations on the
    predicating information and the four named subjects. Case Agent 1 told the OIG
    that the team “had a very narrow mandate” and that was “a mandate to look at
    these four individuals … and see if there’s any potential cooperation between
    themselves and the Russian government…that was our goal in that investigation.”
    He added that they were focused on the information provided by the FFG and “we
    wanted to prove or disprove it, [as] best we could” but also “wanted to make sure
    that it didn’t get broadcast out and we didn’t harm the electoral process.” Case
    Agent 2 stated that the core of the investigation was “literally looking at the
    predication and saying, okay, who reasonably coulc;j have had been in a position to
    receive suggestions from the Russians?”
    As summarized in Chapter Ten, the Crossfire Hurricane team conducted three
    CHS operations prior to the team’s initial receipt of Steele’s reporting on September
    19, 2016. All three CHS operations were with individuals who were still with the
    Trump campaign. The first was a consensually recorded meeting in August 2016
    between Carter Page and an FBI CHS. During the meeting, Page discussed his
    recent trip to Moscow, a pending “October Surprise” discussed further in Chapters
    Five, Seven, and Ten, and his involvement with the Russian energy company
    Gazprom. Page also told the CHS that he had “literally never met” Paul Manafort,
    had “never said one word to him,” and that Manafort had not responded to any of
    79
    Carter Page’s emails. 197 SSA 1 and Case Agent 1 told the OIG that this meeting
    was important for the investigation as it helped the team determine where Page
    lived and what he was currently working on as well as developing a successful
    contact between an established FBI source and one of the Crossfire Hurricane
    targets.
    The second CHS operation took place in September 2016, between an FBI
    CHS and a high-level official in the Trump campaign who was not a subject of the
    investigation. Case Agent 1 told the OIG that the plan for this operation was for
    the CHS to ask the high-level official about Papadopoulos and Carter Page “because
    they were … unknowns” and the Crossfire Hurricane team was trying to find out how
    “these two individuals who are not known in political circles … [got] introduced to the
    campaign,” including whether the person responsible for those introductions had
    ties to RIS. During the consensually recorded meeting, the CHS ·raised a number of
    issues that were pertinent to the investigation, but received little information from
    the high-level official in response. 198
    The third CHS operation took place in September 2016, and involved
    Papadopoulos. The Crossfire Hurricane case agents told the OIG that, during this
    CHS operation, they were trying to recreate the conditions that resulted in
    Papadopoulos’s comments to the FFG official about the suggestion from Russia that
    it could assist the Trump campaign by anonymously releasing derogatory
    information about then candidate Clinton, which we described earlier in this
    chapter. Among other things, when the CHS asked Papadopoulos whether help
    “from a third party like Wikileaks for example or some other third party like the
    Russians, could be incredibly helpful” in securing a campaign victory, Papadopoulos
    responded that the “campaign, of course, [does not] advocate for this type of
    activity because at the end of the day it’s … illegal.” Papadopoulos also stated that
    the campaign is not “reaching out to Wikileaks or to whoever it is to tell them
    please work with us, collaborate because we don’t, no one does that. … “199
    Thereafter, on September 19, 2016, the Crossfire Hurricane team received
    information from an FBI source (Christopher Steele) on election matters that
    became an important part of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and the FBI
    seeking FISA authority targeting one of the Crossfire Hurricane subjects, Carter
    Page. The information the Crossfire Hurricane team received from Steele and the
    team’s use of the information is described in the next chapter.
    197 As we discuss later in this report, Carter Page’s comment about his lack of a relationship
    with Manafort was relevant to one of the allegations in the Steele reporting that was relied upon in the
    Carter Page FISA applications, but information about the August 2016 CHS meeting was not shared
    with the OI attorneys handling the FISA applications until June 2017.
    198 We found no evidence that the information learned at this meeting was put to use by the
    Crossfire Hurricane team or disclosed to the OI attorneys handling the Carter Page FISA applications.
    199 The Crossfire Hurricane team did not provide information about this meeting to OI
    attorneys handling the Carter Page FISA applications. As described in Chapter Eight, OI learned of the
    information from ODAG in May 2018.
    80
    Figure 3.1
    FBI Chain of Command and Legal Support
    for the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation
    July 31, 2016 to December 2016
    Special
    Lisa
    Counsel ~
    Page r’
    EAD
    National Security
    Branch
    Michael Steinbach
    J~
    AD
    Counterintelligence
    Division (CD)
    E.W. “Bill” Priestap
    — t – – – I
    Operations Branch I, CD-4
    Section Chief
    Peter Strzok
    (Deputy Assistant Director,
    September 2016)
    SSA 1
    Case Agent 1
    Case Agent 2
    Case Agent 3
    Case Agent 4
    Staff Operations Specialist
    FBI Director
    James Corney
    i
    Deputy Director
    Andrew McCabe
    f
    I
    I
    General Counsel
    James Baker
    : t
    NSCLB
    Deputy General
    Counsel
    Trisha Anderson
    I
    OGC Unit Chief
    l
    OGC Attorney
    Intel
    Section Chief
    81
    Supervisory
    Intel Analyst
    Analyst
    :
    Figure 3.2
    FBI Chain of Command and Legal Support
    for the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation
    January 2017 to April 2017
    FBI Director
    James Corney
    Special Counsel
    Lisa Page
    Deputy Director
    Andrew McCabe
    EAD
    National Security Branch
    Michael Steinbach
    (February 2016-February 2017)
    Carl Ghattas
    (February 2017)
    AD
    Counterintelligence
    Division (CD}
    E.W. “Bill” Priestap
    Operations Branch I,
    CD-4
    Intel
    Section Chief
    Deputy Assistant Director
    Peter Strzok f
    Supervisory
    Intel Analyst
    SSA 2 t
    Analyst
    Washington
    Field Office
    Case Agent 4
    Michael Flynn
    Investigation
    Chicago
    Field Office
    Case Agent 3
    George Papadopoulos
    Investigation
    Washington Field Office
    White Collar Criminal Squad

Paul Manafort Investigation


82
General Counsel
James Baker
t
NSCLB
Principal Deputy
General Counsel
Trisha Anderson
t
OGC Unit Chief
t
OGC Attorney
Operations Branch II,
CD-1
Deputy Assistant Director
Jennifer Boone
SSA3
New York
Field Office
SSAS
Carter Page
Investigation
f
Case Agent 1
(Jan. 2017-Mar. 2017) .
Case Agent 6
(March 2017)
Case Agent 7
(March 2017)
Figure 3.3
FBI Chain of Command and Legal Support
for the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation
April 2017 to May 17, 2017
FBI Director
James Corney
Special Counsel
Lisa Page
Deputy Director
Andrew McCabe
Intel
. Section Chief
Supervisory
Intel Analyst
Analyst
EAD
National Security Branch
Michael Steinbach
(February 2016-February 2017)
Carl Ghattas
(February 2017)
AD
Counterintelligence
Division (CD)
E.W. “Bill” Priestap
Operations Branch I,
CD-4
Deputy Assistant Director
Peter Strzok
SSA2
Unit
Chief 1
Washington
Field Office
Case Agent 4
Chicago
Field Office
Case Agent 3
Michael Flynn
Investigation
,,,,.–·
George Papadopoulos
Investigation
C Washington Field Office
White Collar Criminal Squad
Paul Manafort Investigation
——·-·—-
83
General Counsel
James Baker
f
NSCLB
Principal Deputy
General Counsel
Trisha Anderson
f
OGC Unit Chief
t
[ OGC Attorney :
Operations Branch II,
CD-1
Deputy Assistant Director
Jennifer Boone
SSA3
New York
Field Office
SSAS
Carter Page
Investigation
Case Agent 6
Case Agent 7
-[PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK]
CHAPTER FOUR
THE FBl’S RECEIPT AND EVALUATION OF INFORMATION FROM
CHRISTOPHER STEELE PRIOR TO THE FIRST FISA APPLICATION
In this chapter, we describe the FBI’s relationship with Christopher Steele,
who furnished information that was used in the Carter Page FISA applications
(Steele is referred to in those a lications as “Source #1” . Steele is a former
intelligence officer
who, following his retirement, opened a consulting firm and furnished information
to the FBI beginning in 2010, primarily on matters concerning organized crime and
corruption in Russia and Eastern Europe. In 2013, the FBI prepared paperwork to
enable it to open Steele as an FBI CHS. 200 We examine the considerations that led
the FBI to conclude that Steele was a reliable CHS before submitting the first FISA
application. According to FBI personnel we interviewed, these considerations
included Steele’s past record of furnishing information to the FBI; recommendations
from persons familiar with his work; Steele’s extensive experience with matters
involving Russia; and the assessment by Steele’s FBI handling agent. We also
examine Steele’s development of reporting concerning the 2016 U.S. elections, his
initial production of that information to the FBI, the FBl’s early efforts to assess the
reporting, and Steele’s contacts with the media prior to the first FISA application.
I. Steele and His Assistance to the FBI Prior to lune 2016
A. Introduction to Handling Agent 1 and Early Assistance
Steele is a former intelligence officer of
who, following his retirement, was enrolled by the FBI as a
CHS furnishing information to the FBI primarily on matters concerning organized
crime and corruption in Russia and Eastern Euro e. Steele told the OIG that during
his service as an intelligence officer , he developed a
particular expertise on Russia and Moscow. Steele
stated that, after he stopped , he formed a
consulting firm specializing in corporate intelligence and investigative services.
Steele’s introduction in 2010 to the FBI agent who later became Steele’s
primary handling agent (Handling Agent 1) was facilitated by Department attorney
Bruce Ohr, who was then Chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section in
the Department’s Criminal Division in Washington, D.C. Ohr told the OIG that he
first met Steele in 2007 when he attended a meeting hosted by a foreign
government during which Steele addressed the threat posed by Russian organized
crime. Ohr said that, after this first meeting with Steele, he probably met with him
less than once a year, and after Steele opened his consulting firm, Orbis Business
Intelligence, he furnished Ohr with reports produced by Orbis for its commercial
clients that he thought may be of interest to the U.S. government. Ohr said that he
200 As we describe below, Steele contends that he was never a CHS for the FBI but rather that
his consulting firm had a contractual relationship with the FBI.
84
eventually put Steele in contact with Handling Agent 1, with whom Ohr had
previously worked.
Handling Agent 1 told the OIG that he first met Steele in the spring of 2010
during a trip abroad with Ohr. 201 He recalled that prior to the meeting, Ohr
described Steele’s background, including his work as an intelligence officer,
assignment to Moscow, and Russia expertise. Based on his past experiences
working with Ohr, Handling Agent 1 said he respected Ohr’s judgment and had no
reason to doubt his representations about Steele. Handling Agent 1 told us that
Steele had relationships with reputable clients, and this fact bolstered Handling
Agent 1 ‘s view of Steele’s credibility. He also said that he had met with some of
Steele’s clients and knew of others, and that a representative of one of Steele’s
clients informed him that Steele “was solid and that his reporting was very
interesting and good.” Handling Agent 1 stated, however, that with the exception
of Steele’s work for Fusion GPS, a Washington, D.C. investigative firm, he did not
request information from Steele about his firm’s clients. 202
Handling Agent 1 said he came away from his first meeting with Steele
favorably impressed. Handling Agent 1 told the OIG that Steele was very
professional and knowledgeable and “clearly an expert on Russia,” including the
activities of Russian oligarchs and Russian criminal networks. Handling Agent 1 told
the OIG that although he was interested in the information from Steele, as of 2010
he was not yet prepared to enter into. a formal CHS relationship with Steele.
Handling Agent 1 explained that it is administratively burdensome to open a CHS
who resides overseas and that prior to 2013 he was not receiving a “steady stream”
of information from Steele. Handling Agent 1 said that following their initial
meeting, Steele would provide information only every couple of months and that he
met with him only infrequently, such as when Steele visited the United States.
Steele was not compensated by the FBI during this period. Steele told us that this
information originated from work performed for Orbis’s private clients.
Handling Agent 1 stated that in the summer of 2010 Steele introduced him to
a contact who had allegedly obtained information about corruption in the
International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). According to Handling
Agent 1, but for Steele’s assistance in arranging this meeting, the FBI would not
have had the impetus to open the FIFA investigation in 2010. The lead FBI agent
assigned to the FIFA matter told us that after Russia won the right to host the 2018
World Cup in September 2012, he approached Handling Agent 1 to request
permission to examine possible corruption in the bidding process. According to the
agent, Handling Agent 1 recalled his earlier interview with the contact that he met
through Steele, retrieved a copy of the FBI FD-302 form memorializing the
interview, and instructed the agent to open a case. The agent said that Steele’s
201 Steele told us that he believed he met Handling Agent 1 and Ohr together at a conference
in Europe before he left government service. Handling Agent 1 stated that his first meeting with
Steele did not occur at a conference.
202 Handling Agent 1 said he expected Steele to alert him if any of the clients were “bad
actors,” such as organized crime figures or others that would be of concern to the FBI. Handling
Agent 1 stated that Steele never provided any such notification to him.
85
role in the FIFA investigation was limited to recommending to Handling Agent 1 that
the FBI talk to the contact, whose information eventually proved valuable and
helped predicate the opening of the investigation. The agent said he did not recall
having any communication with Steele after the investigation’s opening.
Additionally, Handling Agent 1 told us that Steele provided two other
investigative leads to the FBI in connection with the FIFA investigation. First, in
July 2011, Steele provided a report that summarized an alleged conversation
between then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and then Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin in which, according to the report, Putin acknowledged that a Russian oligarch
had bribed the President of FIFA so that Russia could win the right to host the
World Cup tournament in 2018. Second, in 2012, Steele introduced the FBI to two
British officials with information concerning Russia’s alleged efforts to bribe FIFA
executives. Our review of Steele’s Delta file also revealed that Steele furnished the
FBI with a report dated June 2015 that quoted a Kremlin official as having admitted
that the Kremlin bribed FIFA executives in order to secure rights to host the 2018
World Cup. 203
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York,
as of December 2019, the FIFA investigation has resulted in 26 individual guilty
pleas, 2 trial convictions, 4 corporate guilty pleas, and one corporate deferred
prosecution agreement. Total forfeitures in the matter exceed $120 million. The
OIG interviewed a prosecutor on the FIFA case who told us that Steele did not
provide testimony in any court proceeding. Handling Agent 1 also told the OIG that
Steele’s information was not used to obtain any compulsory legal process in the
FIFA case.
In addition to leads provided for the FIFA investigation, we were advised by
the FBI that Steele furnished information about Russian oligarchs, some of whom
were under investigation by the FBI. For example, we learned that, in October
2013, Steele provided lengthy and detailed reports to the FBI on three Russian
oligarchs, one of whom was among the FBI’s most wanted fugitives. According to
an FBI document, an analyst who reviewed Steele’s reporting on this fugitive found
the reporting “extremely valuable and informative” and determined it was
corroborated by other information that the FBI had obtained.
B. The FBI Opens Steele as a CHS in October 2013
Handling Agent 1 told the OIG that in late October 2013, he concluded that
the FBI needed to enroll Steele as a CHS. By that time, Steele had been providing
information to the FBI intermittently for 3 years without compensation. According
to Handling Agent 1, the volume of Steele’s reporting had increased and involved
persons of interest to the FBI, such as the oligarchs noted above, and Handling
Agent 1 wanted to task Steele to collect additional information. Handling Agent 1
203 As described in Chapter Two, the FBI maintains an automated case management system
for all CHS records, which the FBI refers to as “Delta.” The Delta file for each CHS contains all of the
personal and administrative information about the CHS, as well as sub-files for unclassified reporting,
classified reporting, validation documentation, and payment records.
86
said that he also wanted to compensate Steele for his fruitful lead in the FIFA
investigation. Another consideration for Handling Agent 1 was Handling Agent 1 ‘s
pending transfer in late spring 2014 to an FBI office in a European city to serve as
the Legal Attache {Legat). Handling Agent 1 said that the logistics of obtaining and
using information from Steele while Handling Agent 1 was stationed abroad would
be easier if Steele was formally opened as a CHS.
Steele told us that after Handling Agent 1 indicated he wanted to begin
tasking Steele to collect information and rovide com ensation~e~ed to
~Agentlthat —

  • and that any relationship would need to be between the FBI and Steele’s
    consultin firm. Steele said that Handling Agent 1 contacted •
    and obtained a “green light” to proceed. Prior to opening
    Steele as a CHS, Handling Agent 1 contributed information to a memorandum from
    the FBl’s Legal Attache (Legat) in Steele’s home country notifying
    of Steele’s ro osed relationship with the FBI. The memorandum to
    included the following:
    Our New York Office is current! workin with Christo her Steele, –
    . Mr.
    Steele is providing the FBI with information to support several ongoing
    criminal investigations involving transnational organized crime
    organizations. This information, provided primarily through Mr.
    Steele’s privately owned company, Orbis Business Intelligence, is
    necessary to support our efforts to fully identify subjects with ties to
    European, Eurasian and Asian organized crime organizations and
    whose activities directly impact the United States.
    In order to properly protect this information and Mr. Steele’s
    relationship with the FBI, our New York Office will treat any material
    provided as information obtained through a Confidential Human
    Source.
    Handling Agent 1 told us that he did not recall seeing a draft of the memorandum
    before it was sent by the Legat. The author of the memorandum, an FBI Assistant
    Legal Attache (ALAT 1), told us that Handling Agent 1 probably provided him with
    the text of the memorandum because he was not familiar with the FBI’s use of
    Steele.
    In addition, Steele made available for our review a letter on his consulting
    firm’s letterhead from Steele dated a roximately around
    the same time as the FBI’s memorandum . The letter
    explained that Steele’s consulting firm is expected to enter into “a proposed
    commercial relationship” with the FBI. A substantial portion of the letter described
    the consulting firm and its work, and the letter stated that information furnished to
    the U.S. government would come from the firm.
    On October 30, 2013, Handling Agent 1 and another agent completed the
    paperwork to open Steele as an FBI CHS. As required by FBI policy, Handling
    Agent 1 provided the FBI’s standard “admonishments” to Steele at the outset of
    87
    Steele’s enrollment as a CHS and on an annual basis thereafter. The
    admonishments advised Steele, for example, that he was not authorized to commit
    illegal acts, that he must provide truthful information to the FBI, and that he must
    follow the instructions of the FBI. According to FBI records, Steele signed
    paperwork captioned “CHS admonishments” acknowledging his receipt of the
    admonishments for the period covering Crossfire Hurricane, and signed CHS
    payment receipts usin·g an FBI assigned payment codename. 204
    Handling Agent 1 told the OIG that he instructed Steele not to divulge his
    relationship with the FBI to others, although the FBI’s standard written CHS
    admonishments do not include such an instruction. According to Handling Agent 1,
    he told Steele not to share the information he was providing to the FBI with others,
    with one caveat. Handling Agent 1 explained that Steele would sometimes share
    with the FBI reports he had generated for his consulting firm’s clients, and in that
    circumstance the clients would also be privy to the information that the FBI had
    obtained. Handling Agent 1 said he did not provide a specific instruction to Steele
    that he was not to disclose information that he was sharing with the FBI to the
    media. According to Handling Agent 1, he did not need to give that specific
    instruction because that prohibition was addressed by instructing Steele not to
    share the information he was providing to the FBI with others except for clients.
    Steele told us, however, that he was never a CHS for the FBI, and that he
    advised Handling Agent 1 that he could not be a “clandestine source” due to his
    prior service as an intelligence officer of another country. Steele made available for
    the OIG’s review documentation referring to such a prohibition. Steele stated that
    he never recalled being told that he was a CHS and that he never would have
    accepted such an arrangement, despite the fact that he signed FBI admonishment
    and payment paperwork indicating that he was an FBI CHS. 205 He also said that his
    relationship with the FBI was not that of a “confidential human source” because he
    would meet with Handling Agent 1 at Steele’s office as well as in the presence of
    third parties, which included at times his Orbis business partner. Instead, he
    explained that the relationship with the FBI was “contractual” with his firm and that
    he was paid by the FBI “on a results basis” for information his firm furnished in
    response to taskings. 206 Steele said that he was told by Handling Agent 1 that such
    a relationship with the FBI was “unorthodox and groundbreaking,” and that
    Handling Agent 1 was interested in similar relationships with others. Steele told us
    that he discussed with Handling Agent 1 how the FBI could be a client of his firm.
    204 The FBI-1057 memorializing Steele’s receipt of admonishments in 2016 states that
    Handling Agent 1 “verbally admonished the CHS with CHS admonishments, which the CHS fully
    acknowledged, signed and dated.” The FBI could not locate the signed admonishment form, however.
    205 During his time as an FBI CHS, Steele received a total of $95,000 from the FBI. We
    reviewed the FBI paperwork for those payments, each of which required Steele’s signed
    acknowledgment. On each document, of which there were eight, was the caption “CHS’s Payment”
    and “CHS’s •••••,, A signature page was missing for one of the payments.
    206 FBI records that we reviewed included an invoice dated January 25, 2016, from Steele’s
    consulting firm requesting payment “[f]or consultancy services, including 7 meetings with contact,
    briefing, and reports” as well as for travel and accommodations. The FBI paid Steele (not the
    consulting firm) $15,000 in May 2016 for services rendered from July 2015 through February 2016.
    88
    According to Steele, the issue of the nature of his relationship with the FBI “was
    never really resolved and both sides turned a blind eye to it. It was not really
    ideal.” However, he said that because the FBI “was keen to stay in touch and draw
    upon our work” the relationship continued without fully resolving the question of his
    status.
    Among the material that Steele made available to the OIG for review prior to
    · and after his OIG interview were three memoranda written by Steele, that Steele
    said he maintained in his firm’s files, which summarized meetings in 2010 involving
    Steele, Handling Agent 1, and Ohr. The memoranda reflect that Steele indicated
    during those meetings that he was not amenable to becoming a CHS and that he
    wanted the FBI to enter into a consulting agreement with his firm. However, also
    included in the materials was an undated draft letter from Steele to Handling Agent
    1 describing events that post-dated the three earlier memoranda, and stating that
    although Steele preferred that the FBI enter into a contract with his firm, he was
    prepared to sign a contract with the FBI as an individual. According to Steele, he
    did not recall sending the letter but the letter reflected his willingness to
    accommodate the FBI’s administrative requirements. He stated that his firm would
    not handle the FBI’s work as anything other than as an account with the firm. We
    did not find a copy of these memoranda or the letter in Steele’s Delta file. Handling
    Agent 1 told us that Steele never presented him with copies of these materials.
    In light of Steele’s assertions, we asked Handling Agent 1 whether Steele
    ever advised him that he was prohibited from working for the FBI as a CHS and
    whether the FBI ever had a contract with Steele’s firm. Handling Agent 1
    responded “no” to both questions. We also asked Handling Agent 1 about the
    memorandum described above that was sent by ALAT 1 in 2013 to
    _, especially its description that information from Steele would be “provided
    primarily through [Steele’s] privately owned company,” and that the FBI would
    “treat any material provided as information obtained through a Confidential Human
    Source.” We wanted to know the rationale for~ements if in fact
    the purpose of the memorandum was to alert – that Steele was
    going to be working as a CHS for the FBI. Handling Agent 1 told us that he
    believed the FBI was trying to be as inclusive as possible in its description of Steele
    and therefore referenced information about Steele’s firm, even though the FBI
    never had a relationship with the firm. Handling Agent 1 said that he did not know
    why the memorandum stated that material obtained from Steele would be “treated
    as information from a CHS” if in fact Steele was an FBI CHS. According to Handling
    Agent 1, there was no ambiguity in Steele’s status as a CHS by late 2013. Handling
    Agent 1 said that he expressly informed Steele that he was a CHS, he provided
    Steele with CHS admonishments each year, and that Steele signed CHS payment
    paperwork using his CHS codename on multiple occasions. In the view of Handling
    Agent 1, Steele’s contention that he was not a CHS is not credible.
    We also asked ALAT 1 about the memorandum from the FBI to –
    . He said that the purpose of the memorandum was to notify
    that Steele would be a CHS for the FBI, and that the
    memorandum’s reference to the FBI’s “working with [Steele]” and explanation that
    material from him would be handled as information from a CHS were sufficient to
    89
    notify of Steele’s status as a CHS. He further stated,
    however, that the memorandum alerted that the FBI was
    going to have “some interaction with [Steele’s]’ firm as well as [Steele]” given that
    the memorandum states that information from Steele would be furnished primarily
    through his firm. ALAT 1 said that this language was included in the memorandum
    to make clear that the information obtained from the firm would be treated as
    information from a CHS. ALAT 1 did not believe that he received any response to
    the memorandum from , and we did not find any such
    response in Steele’s Delta file.
    C. Steele’s Work for the FBI During 2014-2015
    Handling Agent 1 said that during 2014 and 2015 he communicated with
    Steele more regularly and met with him several times in Steele’s home country and
    in a city in Europe. Steele furnished intelligence information that the FBI
    disseminated, including in four Intelligence Information Reports (IIRs) sent
    throughout the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) concerning the activities of
    Russian oligarchs. 207 Handling Agent 1 recalled receiving positive feedback from
    the USIC in response to some of the IIRs containing Steele’s information before
    Steele began delivering election related information in 2016. Handling Agent 1 said
    that the response to the IIRs was that the information was “really good” and there
    were requests for additional reporting from Steele. By the time Steele was closed
    by the FBI as a CHS in November 2016, the FBI had disseminated 10 IIRs based on
    Steele’s reporting.
    Ohr told us that, during this time period, he and Handling Agent 1 asked
    Steele to inquire whether Russian oligarchs would be interested in entering into
    discussions with them. Handling Agent 1 stated that he did not recall taskin
    Steele to contact Russian oligarchs though he
    . According to Handling Agent 1, Steele originally
    proposed the idea of having him approach Russian oligarchs for the purpose of
    arranging meetings between the oligarchs and representatives of the U.S.
    government. In our review of Steele’s CHS file, other pertinent documents, and
    interviews with Handling Agent 1, Ohr, and Steele, we observed that Steele had
    multiple contacts with representatives of Russian oligarchs with connections to
    Russian Intelligence Services (RIS) and senior Kremlin officials.208 For example, in
    207 Each of the IIRs noted the limitations on the reporting and included the following standard
    warning: “WARNING: This is a raw information report, not finally evaluated intelligence. It is being
    shared for informational purposes, but has not been fully evaluated, integrated with other information,
    interpreted or analyzed.”
    recommended that
    a validation review be completed on Steele . The FBI’s Validation Management
    Unit did not perform such an assessment on Steele until early 2017 after, as described in Chapter Six,
    the Crossfire Hurricane team requested an assessment in the context of Steele’s election reporting.
    Handling Agent 1 told us he had seen the TOCIU report and was not concerned about its findings
    concerning Steele because he was aware of Steele’s…………. We found
    90
    late November 2014, Handling Agent 1 met with Steele who advised Handling
    Agent 1 that he had received overtures from “interlocutors” for several Russian
    oligarchs seeking to arrange FBI interviews of the oligarchs.
    Handling Agent 1 told the OIG that Steele facilitated meetings in a European
    city that included Handling Agent 1, Ohr, an attorney of Russian Oligarch 1, and a
    representative of another Russian oligarch. 209 Russian Oligarch 1 subsequently met
    with Ohr as well as other representatives of the U.S. government at a different
    location. Ohr told the OIG that, based on information that Steele told him about
    Russian Oligarch 1, such as when Russian Oligarch 1 would be visiting the United
    States or applying for a visa, and based on Steele at times seeming to be speaking
    on Russian Oligarch 1 ‘s behalf, Ohr said he had the impression that Russian
    Oligarch 1 was a client of Steele. 210
    We asked Steele about whether he had a relationship with Russian Oligarch
  1. Steele stated that he did not have a relationship and indicated that he had met
    Russian Oligarch 1 one time. He explained that he worked for Russian Oligarch l’s
    attorney on litigation matters that involved Russian Oligarch 1 but that he could not
    provide “specifics” about them for confidentiality reasons. Steele stated that
    Russian Oligarch 1 had no influence on the substance of his election reporting and
    no contact with any of his sources. He also stated that he was not aware of any
    information indicating that Russian Oligarch 1 knew of his investigation relating to
    the 2016 U.S. elections. 211
    Steele’s prior reporting to the FBI addressed issues other than Russian
    oligarchs. For example, we reviewed FBI records reflecting that he provided
    information on the hack of computer systems of an international corporation, and
    corruption involving former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. In addition,
    Steele told us he introduced Handling Agent 1 to sources with knowledge of Russian
    athletic doping and obtained samples of material for the FBI to analyze. Handling
    Agent 1 could not recall meeting with these sources or obtaining samples for
    analysis, though he did remember obtaining information from Steele concerning
    Russian athletic doping. Handling Agent 1 said he forwarded the information to the
    FBI New York Field Office (NYFO) which had an open investigation concerning
    doping.
    Handling Agent 1 also recounted for us a situation involving Steele that
    reinforced his view that Steele was “very professional” and primarily motivated by a
    that the TOCIU report was not included in Steele’s Delta file. Handling Agent 1 said that he found
    aaration of the TOCIU report “curious” because he believed that TOCIU was aware of Steele’s
  • and fully supported them.
    209 Handling Agent 1 told us that he was aware that Steele had a relationship with Russian
    Oligarch l’s attorney and assumed it may have been a business relationship.
    210 As we discuss in Chapter Six, members of the Crossfire Hurricane team were unaware of
    Steele’s connections to Russian Oli arch 1.
    211
    91
    desire to counter threats posed by Russia. According to Handling Agent 1, on two
    occasions Steele made arrangements for a meeting between the FBI and a –
    individual who had potentially important information. In both instances the
    meetings did not occur due to the FBI’s failure to attend. According to Handling
    Agent 1, the FBI’s failure to meet with the individual was the FBI’s fault, cost Steele
    financially in the short term, and likely caused a loss of reputation with the
    intermediaries who arranged the individual’s attendance at the meeting. Handling
    Agent 1 told the OIG that Steele’s professionalism in seeking to arrange the
    meeting and then not seeking-to “nickel and dime” the FBI in the process impressed
    him. Steele was eventually reimbursed by the FBI for his expenses, but it was over
    a year later.
    We asked Handling Agent 1 about what information the FBI had corroborated
    from Steele’s reporting prior to spring 2016 and whether Steele had been proven to
    be a reliable source. Handling Agent 1 said that Steele provided reliable
    information to the FBI in the past, but that not all of the information Steele
    furnished had been corroborated and verified. Handling Agent 1 cited several
    examples of information from Steele that the FBI had been able to corroborate prior
    to the spring of 2016, such as corruption in FIFA’s bid selection process,
    information regarding – Russian oligarchs, and corruption involving
    Yanukovych, but could not recall more. He also told the OIG that he was not aware
    of any information Steele provided prior to 2016 that had been shown to be false,
    inaccurate, or problematic. Handling Agent 1 said that the FBI found Steele’s
    information to be valuable and that it warranted compensation. As a result, in
    2014 and 2015, the FBI made five payments to Steele totaling $64,000. By the
    time the FBI closed Steele in November 2016, his cumulative compensation totaled
    $95,000, including reimbursement for expenses. Steele was not compensated by
    the FBI for the election reporting we discuss below.
    We asked Steele how he would characterize his relationship with the FBI
    prior to furnishing reports on the 2016 election. He told us it was “good” except for
    the tardiness of the FBl’s payments to him. He stated that he had confidence in
    Handling Agent 1.
    We also inquired whether Steele’s work for the FBI intruded on his work for
    his private clients. Steele told us that overall his work could be categorized in one
    of two ways. The first was work he performed for other clients of his consulting
    firm. He called this work “Pipeline 1.” Steele stated however that he sometimes
    provided his work product from these engagements to the FBI at no cost, which he
    said he did because he believed the information possibly could be helpful to the
    U.S. government. The second category was work Steele performed for the FBI in
    response to taskings and for which the FBI provided compensation. Steele referred
    to this work as “Pipeline 2.” According to Steele, Pipeline 1 and Pipeline 2 were
    mutually exclusive and did not overlap. Steele explained that his Pipeline 1 work
    for his clients was not affected by his Pipeline 2 work for the FBI, and he therefore
    was at liberty to discuss his work for his clients with his clients and with third
    parties, as necessary, without gaining permission from the FBI. He stated that any
    promises or commitments he made to the FBI did not affect the work of his
    92
    consulting firm for its clients and that his FBI commitments only applied to work
    where the FBI was the client (i.e., Pipeline 2).
    II. Steele Provides the FBI with Election Reporting in 2016
    A. Steele’s Engagement by Fusion GPS in lune 2016
    Steele said that in approximately June 2016, he was hired for a short-term
    assignment by Fusion GPS, a Washington, D.C., investigative firm founded by
    former journalist Glenn Simpson and a partner. 212 Steele told us that he first met
    Simpson in 2010 and had completed a number of projects for him, some of which
    related to Russia. In May 2016, Simpson met Steele at a European airport and
    inquired whether Steele could assist in determining Russia’s actions related to the
    2016 U.S. elections, whether Russia was trying to achieve a particular election
    outcome, whether ca·ndidate Donald Trump had any personal and business ties in
    Russia, and whether there were any ties between the Russian government and
    Trump and his campaign. 213 Steele stated that he began work for Fusion GPS on
    the 2016 election assignment after Fusion GPS had completed a similar Trump
    related assignment for an entity connected to the Republican Party.
    Steele told us he had a source network in place with a proven “track record”
    that could deliver on Fusion GPS’s requirements. Steele added that this source
    network previously had furnished intelligence on Russian interference in European
    affairs. 214 Steele said he understood from Simpson that his assignment would end
    with the election in November 2016. He also stated that, prior to this request, he
    had not conducted any research on Trump.
    We asked Steele when he learned who had retained Fusion GPS to obtain
    information concerning Trump and the Trump campaign. He told us he could not
    recall when he first learned that it was the law firm Perkins Coie and the
    Democratic National Committee (DNC), though he was certain that it was not at the
    outset of the engagement with Fusion GPS. Steele further stated that, by late July
    2016, Steele had met with Simpson and an attorney from Perkins Coie, which
    212 Simpson declined the OIG’s request to be interviewed. According to testimony that
    Simpson provided to Congress, the Washington Free Beacon retained Fusion GPS from approximately
    September or October 2015 to April/May 2016 to take “an open-ended look at Donald Trump’s
    business career and his litigation history and his relationships with questionable people, how much he
    was really worth, how he ran his casinos, [and] what kind of performance he had in other lines of
    work.” See Testimony of Glenn Simpson before the House Permanent Select Committee on
    Intelligence, U.S. House of Representatives (November 8, 2017) (hereinafter Simpson House
    Testimony) at 7, 12.
    213 According to interrogatory responses Steele provided in foreign litigation, Fusion GPS
    retained Steele “to investigate and report, by way of preparing confidential Intelligence Memorandum,
    on Russian efforts to influence the U.S. Presidential election process in 2016 and on links between
    Russia and the then Republican candidate and now President Donald Trump.”
    214 Steele told us that this source network did not involve sources from his time as a –
    and was developed entirely in the period after he retired from
    government service.
    93
    represented the DNC, and Steele said that by that time he was aware of the DNC’s
    role. He stated that he could not remember whether he provided Perkins Coie’s
    name to the FBI but believed it was probable that he did so, but not in July 2016.
    Steele stated that he finalized arrangements with Simpson over the terms of
    his engagement a few weeks after their meeting at the European airport and that
    he started to collect information in June 2016. According to FBI records, Steele
    thereafter produced• reports related to the 2016 U.S. elections,• of which he
    provided to the FBI and I others that were provided to the FBI by third parties, as
    described in Chapter Six. 215 The FBI obtained reports directly from Steele during
    the time period of July through October 2016.
    Steele told us that the reports he generated were not designed to be
    “finished products” and instead were “to be briefed off of orally versus consumed as
    a written product.” He said that the reports were “mostly single source reporting”
    and were uncorroborated intelligence “up to a point,” but were informed by
    background research and his judgment as an intelligence professional. Steele
    explained that it was his firm’s practice to faithfully report everything a reliable
    source provided and not to withhold information because it was controversial. He
    denied “tailoring” his reporting to meet the needs of his clients and explained that
    doing so ultimately was not a good business practice because it would result in loss
    of reputation. We also asked Steele whether his research was “opposition
    research” and biased. He provided a similar response and explained that his firm
    would not be in business if it provided biased information.216 Steele called the
    allegation that he was biased against Trump from the start “ridiculous.”217 He
    stated that if anything he was “favorably disposed” toward the Trump family before
    he began his research because he had visited a Trump family member at Trump
    Tower and “been friendly” with [the family member] for some years. He described
    their relationship as “personal” and said that he once gifted a family tartan from
    Scotland to the family member.
    215 One report that was not provided to the FBI directly or via third parties was published by
    BuzzFeed. One of the reports provided to the FBI by third parties was a near duplicate of a report
    that Steele previously had furnished to the FBI. Steele also provided the FBI, from July through
    October 2016, with several reports that addressed Russian activities but were not election related.
    216 We also asked about obvious errors in the reporting, such a misspellings and the reference
    to a Russian consulate in Miami which did not exist. Steele told us that such errors are typical in
    intelligence work and were a function, in part, of the fast turnaround between his receipt of
    information from his sources and the dissemination of the reporting. He explained that he was
    accountable for any errors as the election reporting was “his baby.”
    217 As we describe in Chapter Six, however, according to an FBI FD-302, when the FBI
    interviewed Steele in September 2017, he and a colleague from his firm described Trump as their
    “main opponent.” Ohr also advised SSA 1 that Steele was “desperate that Donald Trump not get
    elected and was passionate about him not being the U.S. President.” As we describe in Chapter Nine,
    SSA 1 met with Ohr on November 21, 2016, and memorialized Ohr’s statements in a FBI FD-302
    report. When we interviewed Steele, he told us that he did not state that he was “desperate” that
    Trump not be elected and thought Ohr might have been paraphrasing his sentiments. Steele told us
    that he was concerned that Trump was a national security risk, and he had no particular animus
    against Trump otherwise.
    94
    The first election report that Steele provided to the FBI, which, as described
    in Chapters Five and Seven, was one of four of Steele’s reports that the FBI relied
    upon to support probable cause in the Carter Page FISA applications, is captioned
    “Company Intelligence Report 2016/080-U.S. Presidential Election: Republican
    Candidate Donald Trump’s Activities in Russia and Compromising Relationship with
    the Kremlin,” and is dated June 20, 2016 (Report 80). It was provided to Handling
    Agent 1 on July 5, 2016, and contains numerous allegations about the presidential
    candidates, including that: (1) the “Russian regime has been cultivating,
    supporting, and assisting [Trump] for at least 5 years;” (2) “[Trump] and his inner
    circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his
    Democratic and other political rivals;” (3) Trump’s activities in Moscow, including
    “perverted sexual acts,” make him vulnerable to blackmail; ( 4) Russian Intelligence
    Services have collected “compromising material” on Hillary Clinton; and (5) the
    Kremlin has been “feeding” information to Trump’s campaign for an extended
    period of time. Steele said that he debated with his business colleague whether to
    include the sexual material in Report 80 but refused to omit it because he felt that
    as a matter of professional practice, when reporting information from a source, “we
    have to be faithful to all of the information the source provided” and not avoid
    material because it is controversial. Then Director James Corney later described
    this aspect of Steele’s reporting as “salacious and unverified. “218
    Steele explained that shortly after drafting Report 80 he had discussions with
    his business partner and Simpson about what to do with the information. He said
    that he and his partner considered the contents of the report to have national
    security implications and that the report therefore needed to be shared with the
    FBI. He said that Simpson agreed to Steele’s proposal, and thereafter, Steele
    contacted the FBI. 219
    B. Steele Informs Handling Agent 1 in July 2016 about his Election
    Reporting Work
    Shortly before the Fourth of July 2016, Handling Agent 1 told the OIG that he
    received a call from Steele requesting an in-person meeting as soon as possible.
    Handling Agent 1 said he departed his duty station in Europe on July 5 and met
    with Steele in Steele’s office that day. During their meeting, Steele provided
    Handling Agent 1 with a copy of Report 80 and explained that he had been hired by
    Fusion GPS to collect information on the relationship between candidate Trump’s
    businesses and Russia. Handling Agent 1 said Steele had become concerned about
    the possibility of the Russians compromising Trump in the event Trump became
    218 We further discuss Corney’s views of this information in Chapter Six.
    219 Simpson has testified before Congress that he assented to Steele’s request to provide the
    information to the FBI, and that he viewed the situation as “potentially a crime in progress” that
    needed to be reported. Simpson House Testimony at 61; Testimony of Glenn Simpson before the
    Senate Judiciary Committee, United States Senate (August 22, 2017) (hereinafter Simpson Senate
    Testimony) at 160.
    95
    President. 220 According to Handling Agent 1, Steele informed him that Fusion GPS
    had been hired by a law firm to conduct research, though Steele stated that he did
    not know the law firm’s name or its political affiliation. 221 Handling Agent 1 told the
    OIG, however, that he did not have to ask Steele to know that the request for the
    research was politically motivated as the connection to politics was obvious to
    Handling Agent 1 from the circumstances. Handling Agent 1 also told us that he
    asked Steele to try to identify the law firm. However, Handling Agent 1 said that
    he did not “continually ask” Steele about the firm’s identity as his work with Steele
    progressed. When asked by the OIG about an October 2016 email from a member
    of the Crossfire Hurricane team stating that Handling Agent 1 had avoided tasking
    Steele to obtain the name of the law firm, Handling Agent 1 told us that information
    was incorrect and that he would never avoid asking a material question. When we
    asked the email’s author about the email, he stated that it accurately represented
    what Handling Agent 1 had told him during a telephone call in October 2016.
    We reviewed what Steele represented were his contemporaneous notes of his
    July 5 meeting with Handling Agent 1. Steele told us these notes were written
    within a day or two of the meeting. The notes reflect that Steele told Handling
    Agent 1 that Steele was aware that “Democratic Party associates” were paying for
    Fusion GPS’s research, the “ultimate client” was the leadership of the Clinton
    presidential campaign, and “the candidate” was aware of Steele’s reporting. Steele
    told us that he was “pretty candid” with Handling Agent 1. He also said it was clear
    that Fusion GPS was backed by Clinton supporters and senior Democrats who were
    supporting her. When we asked Handling Agent 1 about the information contained
    in Steele’s notes, Handling Agent 1 told us that he did not recall Steele mentioning
    these facts to him during their meeting.
    After being provided with a copy of Report 80 at the July 5 meeting, Handling
    Agent 1 said he asked Steele whether he was still collecting information for Fusion
    GPS. Handling Agent 1 said Steele responded that he was working on another
    report for Simpson. Handling Agent 1 said that, at that point, he advised Steele
    that Steele was not working on behalf of the FBI to collect the information Fusion
    GPS was seeking: “I said we are not asking you to do it and I’m not tasking you to
    do it.” Steele provided the OIG with a similar interpretation of these events. He
    told us that Report 80, as well as all his other election reports, was “Pipeline 1”
    information and not subject to FBI controls. Handling Agent 1 said that he also
    advised Steele that because a law firm was involved there could be privilege issues
    that Handling Agent 1 would need to evaluate. Handling Agent 1 told the OIG that
    he returned to his duty station the same day with a copy of the reports Steele
    provided him, only one of which was election related.
    220 Handling Agent 1 ‘s records indicate that, during this meeting, Steele also provided
    Handling Agent 1 with reporting on Russian doping in athletics, Russian cyber activities, and Russian
    interference in European political affairs.
    221 As described earlier, Steele told us that by late July 2016, he had met with Simpson and
    an attorney from Perkins Coie, which represented the DNC, and by that time he was aware of the
    DNC’s role.
    96
    Steele told us that Handling Agent 1 was “taken aback” by the contents of
    Report 80, and that Handling Agent 1 said he needed to send the Report back to
    the U.S. and would contact Steele at a later time after Handling Agent 1 had
    conferred with others about how to handle it. Steele said that he waited
    approximately one week and then contacted Handling Agent 1 to inquire whether
    he wanted to receive additional reports. According to Steele, Handling Agent 1
    responded, “[N]ot yet. I’m still dealing with this. I’ll get back to you.” Steele said
    it was not until mid-August that he heard back from Handling Agent 1 and that
    Handling Agent 1 told him at that time that he wanted to receive additional reports.
    Handling Agent 1 said he discussed Steele’s reporting with his supervisor, the
    Legat, and both agreed that Handling Agent 1 should try to determine where to
    send the information in FBI Headquarters. However, due to the sensitivity of the
    reporting, Handling Agent 1 said that he wanted to be discrete and avoid a situation
    where he was “broadcasting” the information. Handling Agent 1 said that he
    informed his supervisor that he wanted to consult with NYFO (where Handling
    Agent 1 previously had worked) before taking further action, and that his goal was
    to put the information directly in the hands of people who needed to see it.
    According to Handling Agent 1, his supervisor approved, stating “Good idea. Call
    whoever you have to call. Do whatever you have to do. “222
    The Legat told us that he recalled Handling Agent 1 ‘s proposal to contact
    NYFO, which he concurred with, but that his expectation was that Handling Agent 1
    would provide Steele’s reporting to the Counterintelligence Division (CD) at FBI
    Headquarters within a matter of days. The Legat stated that he recalled inquiring
    about the handling of the reporting when Handling Agent 1 obtained another report
    from Steele, Report 94 described below, on July 19, 2016, as well as prior to a
    meeting members of the Crossfire Hurricane team had with Steele in October 2016.
    The Legat said that during this time, “I just assumed [Handling Agent 1] was
    handling it…[and] had sent it off.”
    Approximately 1 week after his July 5 meeting with Steele, Handling Agent 1
    contacted an Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC 1) in NYFO, whom Handling
    Agent 1 had known for many years and described as having experience with
    “sensitive matters.” Handling Agent 1 said that he described the “gist” of the
    situation to ASAC 1, who responded that he would assess what to do and contact
    Handling Agent 1 later. ASAC 1 told us that the information that Handling Agent 1
    explained to him “[c]learly [was] something that needs to be handled immediately”
    and “definitely of interest to the Counterintelligence folks.” ASAC 1 said that after
    hearing from Handling Agent 1, he spoke with his Special Agent in Charge (SAC 1)
    the same day. ASAC l’s notes from his July 13 call with Handling Agent 1 closely
    track the contents of Report 80, identify Simpson as a client of a law firm, and
    include the following: “law firm works for the Republican party or Hillary and will
    222 Handling Agent 1 said that he did not contact the International Operations Division (IOD)
    . at FBI Headquarters, which supports the Legats, about the reporting.
    97
    use [the information described in Report 80] at some point. “223 ASAC 1 told us that
    he would not have made this notation if Handling Agent 1 had not stated it to him.
    On July 19, 2016, Steele sent an email to Handling Agent 1 that included
    another report, Report 94, which was captioned “Company Intelligence Report
    2016/94-Russia: Secret Kremlin Meetings Attended by Trump Advisor Carter Page
    in Moscow (July 2016).” Report 94, which as described in Chapters Five and Seven
    was one of 4 reports the FBI relied upon to support the probable cause in the
    Carter Page FISA applications, alleged that during a visit to Moscow in July 2016,
    Page met with: (1) Igor Sechin, Chairman of Russian energy conglomerate
    Rosneft, and discussed the “lifting of western sanctions against Russia over
    Ukraine;” and (2) Igor Divyekin, a staff member in the Russian Presidential
    Administration, who informed Page of compromising information the Kremlin
    possessed on Hillary Clinton and its possible release to the Republican campaign.
    Report 94 further alleged that Divyekin advised Page that the Russians had
    derogatory information on Trump, which the candidate should bear in mind in
    future dealings with Russian leadership. Report 94 described conversations
    involving a limited number of persons (e.g., Sechin confided the details of a secret
    meeting with Page; Sergei Ivanov confided in a compatriot that Divyekin had met
    secretly with Page).
    Handling Agent 1 said that when he read Report 94 for the first time he
    recognized Sechin’s name from intelligence reporting but did not recognize the
    other names, including Carter Page. He told the OIG that he was in no position to
    assess the reliability of the reporting and for that reason he was eager to forward
    the reporting to persons who could evaluate it. Steele’s reporting, however, did not
    reach investigators at FBI Headquarters until 2 months later, a circumstance we
    describe further below.
    C. The Crossfire Hurricane Team Receives Steele’s Reports on
    September 19
    On July 28, 2016, three days prior to the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane
    investigation, Handling Agent 1 sent Reports 80 and 94 to ASAC 1 in NYFO, who
    forwarded them to SAC 1. 224 Handling Agent 1 ‘s sharing of the reports with ASAC 1
    resulted in a meeting in NYFO on August 3 among ASAC 1, the Chief Division
    Counsel (CDC), an Associate Division Counsel (ADC), and a Supervisory Special
    Agent (SSA). Notes taken by the ADC show that the meeting participants discussed
    223 As we summarize in Chapter Ten, at approximately the same time that Handling Agent 1
    was reporting information about Simpson to ASAC 1, an FBI agent from another FBI field office sent
    an email to his supervisor stating that he had been contacted by a former CHS who “was contacted
    recently by a colleague who runs an investigative firm. The firm had been hired by two entities (the
    Democratic National Committee as well as another individual…not name[d]) to explore Donald J.
    Trump’s longstanding ties to Russian entities.” On or about August 2, 2016, this information was
    shared by a CD supervisor with the Section Chief of CD’s Counterintelligence Analysis Section I (Intel
    Section Chief), who provided it that day to members of the Crossfire Hurricane team (then Section
    Chief Peter Strzok, SSA 1, and the Supervisory Intel Analyst).
    224 ASAC 1 told us that he was not sure why nothing happened with the reports between July
    13, the date he first spoke with Handling Agent 1, and July 28.
    98
    in general terms the information contained in Reports 80 and 94 and the
    relationship between Steele, Simpson, and a “law firm.”
    The ADC told the OIG that he was assigned the responsibility of reading
    Steele’s reports and determining whether they were pertinent to any crimes
    involving public corruption. The ADC said he spoke with Handling Agent 1 on
    August 4, and Handling Agent 1 emailed Reports 80 and 94 to him the next day.
    Handling Agent 1 stated that, prior to sending the reports, ASAC 1 had contacted
    him to explain that the reports would be placed in a sub-file in NYFO and thereby
    “walled off” from agents in NYFO, and that the Assistant Director in Charge of NYFO
    and the “Executive Assistant Director (EAD) level” at FBI Headquarters were aware
    of the reports’ existence. Handling Agent 1 stated that the ADC informed him in
    August that he was conferring with management in NYFO about how to handle the
    reports and would notify him after a determination had been made. Handling Agent
    1 also stated that the engagement of an EAD was significant to him because he
    believed that “appropriate people were communicating” about the reports as a
    result and that he therefore should wait for further guidance about how to handle
    the reports.
    As we discuss in detail in Chapter Nine, Handling Agent 1 also told us that, in
    mid to late August, he heard from Ohr “out of the blue,” who inquired whether
    Handling Agent 1 had seen Steele’s reports. According to Handling Agent 1, Ohr
    contacted him to confirm that the FBI was aware of the reports and was “handling”
    them. Handling Agent 1 told the OIG that he advised Ohr that news of the reports
    had reached the “EAD level” at FBI Headquarters and that executive management
    at NYFO was aware of the reports and trying to determine where to forward them.
    Ohr stated that he recalled Handling Agent 1 telling him this, but that at some later
    date Ohr said he became concerned that the right people at FBI Headquarters did
    not know about the reporting.
    On August 25, 2016, according to a Supervisory Special Agent 1 (SSA 1) who
    was assigned to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, during a briefing for then
    Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on the investigation, McCabe asked SSA 1 to
    contact NYFO about information that potentially could assist the Crossfire Hurricane
    investigation. 225 SSA 1 said he reached out to counterintelligence agents and
    analysts in NYFO within approximately 24 hours following the meeting. Instant
    messages show that on September 1, SSA 1 spoke with a NYFO counterintelligence
    supervisor, and that the counterintelligence supervisor was attempting to set up a
    call between SSA 1 and the ADC.
    On September 2, 2016, Handling Agent 1, who had been waiting for NYFO to
    inform him where to forward Steele’s reports, sent the following email to the ADC
    and counterintelligence supervisor: “Do we have a name yet? The stuff is burning a
    hole.” The ADC responded the same day explaining that SSA 1 had created an
    electronic sub-file for Handling Agent 1 in the Crossfire Hurricane case and that he
    225 During his interview with the OIG, McCabe told us that he did not remember asking SSA 1
    to contact NYFO, and he said he did not remember knowing in August 2016 that NYFO had information
    relevant to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
    99
    should forward the Steele reports to it. However, SSA 1 told us that there was a
    problem with his attempt to send an email to Handling Agent 1 in early September.
    SSA 1 said he did not recognize the problem until September 13 and emailed
    Handling Agent 1 that day with the case information necessary to upload the
    reports.
    On September 19, 2016, the Crossfire Hurricane team received the Steele
    reporting for the first time when Handling Agent 1 emailed SSA 1 six reports for
    SSA 1 to upload himself to the sub-file: Reports 80 and 94, and four additional
    reports (Reports 95, 100, 101, and 102) that Handling Agent 1 had since received
    from Steele. 226 FBI officials we interviewed told us that the length of time it took
    for Steele’s election reporting to reach FBI Headquarters was excessive and that the
    reports should have been sent promptly after their receipt by the Legat. Members
    of the Crossfire Hurricane team told us that their assessment of the Steele election
    reporting could have started much earlier if the reporting had been made available
    to them.
    As described in Chapters Five and Seven, the FBI relied upon Report 95 to
    s~pport probable cause in the Carter Page FISA applications. Report 95 was.
    entitled “Russia/US Presidential Election: Further Indications of Extensive
    Conspiracy Between Trump’s Campaign Team and the Kremlin” and cited
    repeatedly to information provided by “Source E.” Report 95 alleged the existence
    of “a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation” between the Trump campaign and
    Russian leadership, and claimed that the campaign’s manager, Manafort, used
    Carter Page and others as “intermediaries” to further the conspiracy. According to
    Source E, the “Russian regime” was behind the leak of DNC emails to Wikileaks
    with the “full knowledge and support” of Trump and his campaign team, and the
    Wikileaks platform was used by Russia to afford it “plausible deniability” of its
    involvement in the leak. Also, as we describe in Chapter Eight, Report 95 included
    an allegation that Page and possibly others agreed to sideline Russian intervention
    in Ukraine as a campaign issue in exchange for Russia’s disclosure of hacked DNC
    emails to Wikileaks. The FBI used this information in all of the Carter Page FISA
    applications to support its assessment that Page helped influence the Republican
    Party to change its platform to be more sympathetic to Russia’s interests by
    eliminating language from the Republican platform about providing weapons to ·
    Ukraine.
    Report 102, as described in Chapters Five and Seven, was also one of the 4
    reports relied upon to support probable cause in the Carter Page FISA applications.
    The Report was titled, “Russia/US Presidential Election: Reaction in Trump Camp to
    Recent Negative Publicity About Russian Interference and Likely Resulting Tactics
    Going Forward.” Report 102 alleged that the purpose of the recent DNC email leaks
    was to shift votes from Bernie Sanders to Trump following Clinton’s nomination.
    226 Additional reports included the following information: Report 100 (Premier Medvedev’s
    office was furious over DNC hacking and associated anti-Russian publicity) and Report 101 (The
    Kremlin is supporting various U.S. political figures and indirectly funding their travel to Moscow).
    Reports 95 and 102 are described below.
    100
    Report 102 also alleged that Carter Page conceived of and promoted the idea that
    the release of the DNC emails would shift voter support to Trump.
    D. The Crossfire Hurricane Team’s Initial Handling of the Steele
    Reporting in September 2016
    As described in Chapter Three, by the date the Crossfire Hurricane team
    received the six Steele reports on September 19, the investigation had been
    underway for approximately 6 weeks and the team had opened investigations on
    four individuals: Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, and Michael
    Flynn. In addition, during the prior 6 weeks, the team had used CHSs to conduct
    operations against Page, Papadopoulos, and a high-level Trump campaign official,
    although those operations had not resulted in the collection of any inculpatory
    information. Further, as described in Chapter Five, the team had discussions about
    the possibility of obtaining FISAs targeting Page and Papadopoulos, but it was
    determined that there was insufficient information at the time to proceed with an
    application to the court.
    As also described in Chapter Three, the FBI had an ongoing cyber
    counterintelligence investigation into the Russian hacking of the DNC and was
    aware of other Russian efforts to interfere with the upcoming 2016 U.S. elections.
    We were told by several FBI witnesses that certain broad themes of the Steele
    reporting were consistent with information already known by the FBI and other U.S.
    government intelligence agencies. These themes included that the Russian
    government was seeking to sow discord and disunity within the United States and
    Trans-Atlantic alliance, that the Russian government was working to support
    Trump’s election as President, and that Russian state-sponsored cyber operations
    were responsible for hacking activity focused on the Clinton campaign. Corney told
    the OIG that, in his view, the “heart of the [Steele] reporting was that there’s a
    massive Russian effort to influence the American election and weaponize stolen
    information.” Corney said he believed those themes from the Steele reporting were
    “entirely consistent with information developed by the [USIC] wholly separate and
    apart from the [Steele] reporting,” as well as consistent with what “our eyes and
    ears could also see.”
    After obtaining the six Steele reports on September 19, analysts on the
    Crossfire Hurricane team immediately began to evaluate the information in the
    reports. By the next day, they had completed a draft Intelligence Memorandum
    that summarized key points from the reports and identified actions that needed to
    be taken to assess the information. For example, Report 95 stated that Russian
    diplomatic staff in the United States were rewarding assets ( cooperators) using the
    emigre pension distribution s stem as cover and the Intelli ence Memorandum
    described
    The FBI’s analytical efforts also included developing various diagrams, charts,
    and timelines to document relationships and events pertinent to the Crossfire
    Hurricane investigation. In order to analyze the Steele election reports, the FBI
    developed a spreadsheet of excerpts from the reports with analyst notes indicating

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the source of the excerpt and verification information, such as whether information
contained in the excerpt had been corroborated. 227 We discuss in Chapter Six these
efforts by the FBI over time to assess the Steele election reporting.
Assistant Director (AD) E.W. “Bill” Priestap and then Deputy Assistant
Director (DAD) Peter Strzok told the OIG that the FBI’s assessment of Steele’s
information was not different from the approach the FBI typically uses in evaluating
CHS information. They explained that the assessment involved determining the
credibility of Steele, including understanding his record of furnishing reliable
information, motivation, and possible biases; and verifying the information he
provided through independent sources. Priestap described the FBI’s approach to
the reporting in the following terms:
[W]e did not ever take the information he provided at face value ….
We went to great lengths to try to independently verify the source’s
credibility and to prove or disprove every single assertion in the
dossier…. We absolutely understood that the information in the socalled
dossier could be inaccurate. We also understood that some
parts could be true and other parts false. We understood that
information could be embellished or exaggerated. We also understood
that the information could have been provided by the Russians as part
of a disinformation campaign.
The Supervisory Intelligence Analyst (Supervisory Intel Analyst) assigned to
Crossfire Hurricane told the OIG that an early focus of the FBI’s analytical effort to
assess Steele’s reporting was trying to identify Steele’s sources. According to the
Supervisory Intel Analyst, it was important to determine whether the reporting of
those individuals matched their access to informat_ion. The Supervisory Intel
Analyst said that, in order to evaluate that issue and fully assess the reporting, the
FBI sought assistance from other USIC agencies by, for example, vetting Russian
names identified in the reports.
We asked the Supervisory Intel Analyst whether the FBI sought to determine
who was financing Steele’s election related research. He said that the focus of the
analysts was on Russian interference in the campaign and on any connections
between Russia and the Trump campaign. He stated that he was aware of the
potential for political influences on the reporting. He said that, because of that
awareness, whether the reporting was “opposition research” that was politically
motivated was not an issue that occupied his or his analysts’ attention and that
further research on the issue was nearly “immaterial.” He explained that because
“opposition research can be true, it can be false,” his focus was on vetting the
reporting to determine whether its contents were accurate.
227 The OIG was advised that the spreadsheet does not include highly classified material, and
therefore its presentation of information known to the FBI about corroboration of the Steele election
reporting is partial.
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On September 23, 2016, Case Agent 1, the lead case agent for the Carter
Page investigation, emailed Handling Agent 1 to inquire about Steele. Handling
Agent 1 responded: “[CHS] has been signed up for 3 years and is reliable. [CHS]
responds to taskings and obtains info from a network of sub sources. Some of the
[CHS’] info has been corroborated when possible. “228 This outreach was followed
shortly thereafte·r by a request to Handling Agent 1 from one of the Crossfire
Hurricane investigation supervisors, SSA 1, to participate in a video conference call
with members of the Crossfire Hurricane team on September 27. According to
participants on the call, the purpose of the call was to set a meeting with Steele to
discuss his reports, learn about his source network, and gain his cooperation to
collect additional information in support of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.229
We asked Strzok who made the decision to use Steele as a source in the
Crossfire Hurricane investigation. He said that McCabe and Corney were briefed on
Steele’s reporting and “okayed” the Crossfire Hurricane team’s approach to use
Steele in the investigation. Corney told us that he recalled being briefed about
Steele but did not have a specific recollection beyond obtaining copies of Steele’s
reports and learning about Steele’s background; his prior record of furnishing
information to the FBI, including FIFA; and his work for political entities (first
Republican, then Democratic). 230 McCabe told us that although he was sometimes
present during discussions about the use of CHSs in Crossfire Hurricane, he left
decisions about which sources to use and how to use them to the team.
As we describe below, in early October 2016 a meeting was held between
members of the Crossfire Hurricane team and Steele in a European city. Unknown
to the FBI at the time, Steele was working with his client, Fusion GPS, to alert
select media outlets about his reporting concerning Russian interference with the
2016 U.S elections and allegations regarding the Trump campaign and candidate
Trump. Additionally, the FBI was unaware at the time that Steele had not made
available to the FBI all of the reports he prepared as of mid-September concerning
Russia.231 As described in Chapter Six, these and other reports were provided to
228 We did not find this communication in Steele’s Delta file.
229 We found that the first time the Crossfire Hurricane team accessed Steele’s Delta file was
in November 2016. The Supervisory Intel Analyst told us that the team was in contact with Handling
Agent 1 beginning in September and relied on him for information about Steele. Handling Agent 1
expressed surprise that the Crossfire Hurricane team did not access Steele’s Delta file earlier. He said
that the team should have “turned the file upside down” looking for information 2 months earlier and
that he assumed that some members of the team had thoroughly reviewed the file.
230 As noted earlier, Steele told us that he began work for Fusion GPS on the 2016 election
assignment after Fusion GPS had completed a similar Trump related assignment for a Republican Party
connected entity.
231 The following are reports with select highlights that Steele did not furnish to the FBI,
which range in date from July 30 to September 14, 2016:
• Report 97 (the Kremlin is concerned that political fallout from the DNC hacking
operation is spiraling out of control; a source close to the Trump campaign confirms
that the regular exchange of intelligence between the Trump team and the Kremlin
had existed for at least 8 years; the Kremlin had determined not to use compromising
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the FBI in November and December 2016 by a journalist, Senator John McCain, and
Ohr. When we asked Steele why he failed to provide all of his then-existing reports
to the FBI, he could not provide us with an explanation and said that he should
have given them to the FBI at the time.
E. Steele Discusses His Reporting with Third Parties in Late
September 2016 and the Yahoo News Article
During late September 2016, with Fusion GPS’s authorization, Steele met
with numerous persons outside the FBI to discuss the intelligence he had obtained,
as part of his paid work for Fusion GPS, concerning Russian interference with the
2016 U.S. elections and allegations regarding the Trump campaign and candidate
Trump. 232 For example, as we discuss in Chapter Nine, emails exchanged between
Steele and Ohr show that Steele visited Washington, D.C., beginning around
September 21, 2016, and met with Ohr on September 23, at which time the two
discussed multiple issues involving election related intelligence that Steele had
collected. Steele told us that during this visit he also met with an attorney from
Perkins Coie, who was general counsel to the Clinton campaign.233
Steele also met with journalists during his September trip to Washington,
D.C. According to a filing that Steele made in 2017 in foreign litigation, at Fusion
GPS’s instruction, he briefed reporters from The New York Times, The Washington
information against Trump given how cooperative his team had been over several
years and of late);
• Report 105 (during a secret meeting between Putin and ex-Ukrainian President
Yanukovych, Yanukovych confided to Putin that he did authorize and order substantial
kick-back payments to Manafort but reassured Putin that no documentary trail was left
behind; Putin and Russian leadership were skeptical of the ex-President’s assurances
that there were no traces of the payments; Manafort’s departure from the Trump
campaign was attributable to Ukrainian corruption revelations as well as infighting with
campaign advisors);
• Report 112 (the leading figures of the Alpha group of businesses led by three Russian
oligarchs are on very good terms with Putin; Alpha held compromising information on
Putin and his corrupt business activities from the 1990s); and
• Report 113 (sources based in St. Petersburg reported that Trump has paid bribes and
engaged in sexual activities in St. Petersburg, including participating in sex parties,
but that witnesses had been “silenced,” i.e., bribed or coerced to disappear).
232 This was not the first time that information included in Steele’s reports concerning the
Trump campaign was known to individuals outside the FBI. For example, Handling Agent 1 emailed an
FBI supervisor on July 28, 2016, explaining that Steele had advised him that information from Reports
80 and 94 “may already be circulating at a ‘high level’ in Washington, D.C.” Two days earlier,
according to a text between Carter Page and a Wall Street Journal reporter (that Page has since made
public), the reporter contacted Page inquiring whether Page had met with Sechin and Divyekin. The
FBI also received correspondence from Members of Congress in August 2016 that described
information included in the Steele reports. Additionally, then Assistant Secretary of State for
European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland publicly stated during an interview in 2018 that Steele’s
election reporting was first provided to the State Department in July 2016.
233 Steele told us that he had a second meeting with this attorney in October 2016, and that
he had met with another attorney from Perkins Coie in July 2016.
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Post, Yahoo News, The New Yorker, and CNN. The filing states that the briefings
were verbal, occurred at the end of September, and “involved the disclosure of
limited intelligence regarding indications of Russian interference with the U.S.
election process and the possible coordination of members of Trump’s campaign
team and Russian government officials.”
Steele told us that the press briefings were taskings from his client, Fusion·
GPS, that his firm had to honor, and Simpson has testified that Simpson attended
the briefings. 234 Steele said that they were “off-the-record” and, while he made
mention of the reports, Steele did not distribute them to the journalists. Steele
explained that he discussed “general themes” from his reporting that lacked
sufficient specificity to identify his sources, and that he avoided answering
questions about whether he had reported his findings to authorities. 235
We asked Steele whether he believed his participation in the press briefings
was contrary to any admonishments that he had received previously from Handling
Agent 1. He said that he did not recall the FBI telling him he could not talk to
journalists about work that he performed on behalf of his firm’s clients. According
to Steele, the election reporting was a “Pipeline 1” assignment and therefore the
FBI did not have a role in setting terms for his interactions with third parties, such
as news organizations. He said that if the FBI had tried to interfere in his
assignment for Fusion GPS, he would have objected and that such an attempt
would have been a “showstopper.” Steele stated that Orbis’ client for the election
reporting was Fusion GPS, which controlled and directed the terms for interactions
with third parties.
Handling Agent 1 told us that he understood why Steele would believe in
September 2016 that he did not have an obligation to discuss his press contacts
with him given that: (1) Steele’s work resulted from a private client engagement;
and (2) Handling Agent 1 told Steele on July 5 that he was not collecting his
election reporting on behalf of the FBI. However, Handling Agent l’s view was that
while it was obvious that Fusion GPS would want to publicize Steele’s election
information, it was not apparent that Steele would be conducting press briefings
and otherwise interjecting himself into the media spotlight. Handling Agent 1 told
us that he would have recommended that Steele be closed in September 2016 if he
had known about the attention that Steele was attracting to himself. According to
Handling Agent 1, Steele should have had the foresight to recognize this fact and
the professionalism to afford Handling Agent 1 an opportunity to assess the
situation. However, we are unaware of any FBI admonishments that Steele
violated by speaking to third parties, including the press, about work that he had
234 Simpson Senate Testimony, at 207.
235 According to a book co-authored by a Yahoo News reporter who was present for a Steele
September 2016 press briefing, Steele told him at the meeting that he had provided his election
reporting to the FBI and that there were “people in the [FBI] taking this very seriously.” See Russian
Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump (New York:
Grand Central Publishing, 2018), 226.
105
done solely for his firm’s clients and where- he made no mention of his relationship
with the FBI.
On September 23, 2016, Yahoo News published an article entitled, “U.S.
Intel Officials Probe Ties Between Trump Advisor and Kremlin.” The September 23
article described efforts by U.S. government intelligence agencies to determine
whether Carter Page had opened communication channels with Kremlin officials.
Steele told us that because his briefing with Yahoo News was “off-the-record,” he
did not believe that he was the source for the article. He stated that it was his
understanding based on discussions with Simpson that the sourcing for the article
came from within the U.S. government.236 However, portions of the article align
with information contained in Steele’s Report 94. For example, the article stated
that U .5. officials had received intelligence reporting that Page had met with Igor
Sechin, Chairman of Rosneft, and Igor Divyekin, Deputy Chief in the Russian
Presidential Administration. The article cited “a well-placed Western intelligence
source” for this information, and the article’s author has confirmed that Steele
contributed information for the article and that Steele was the “Western intelligence
source. “237
We asked FBI agents and analysts assigned to the Crossfire Hurricane
investigation whether, following publication of the Yahoo News article, they had
concerns that Steele was briefing the press about the· reports that he had provided
to the FBI, and they expressed varying points of view. The Supervisory Intel
Analyst told us that it was unclear to him in September 2016 whether Steele was
briefing the press. He stated that because Steele was providing his reporting to
Fusion GPS, the Supervisory Intel Analyst’s view at the time was that it could have
been Fusion GPS or its clients who were discussing the reporting with news outlets.
The supervisory attorney from the FBI Office of the General Counsel assigned to the
Crossfire Hurricane investigation (the OGC Unit Chief) stated that she and others
assumed that Steele’s clients, or others with whom the clients had shared the
information, were responsible for the press stories, but that the Crossfire Hurricane
team would not have been surprised if Steele’s reporting was the basis for the
Yahoo News article. In contrast, Case Agent 1 sent instant messages indicating his
belief that Steele was the “Western intelligence source” mentioned in the Yahoo
News art_icle and Steele “was selling his stuff to others.” Case Agent 1 told us that
the Crossfire Hurricane team later assessed that Simpson or someone else who had
the Steele information, rather than Steele himself, was responsible for furnishing
the information to Yahoo News. However, as we describe below, the team had no
factual basis to support this assessment.
SSA 1 told us that his first concern was that someone from inside the FBI
had disclosed information to the media. He stated that there was a “paranoia with
leaks” inside the FBI in light of recent problems with leaks, and that it seemed
236 Yahoo News has reported that the author of the September 23 article relied on a “senior
U.S. law enforcement official” for information. See “Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff Describes Crucial
Meeting Cited in Nunes Memo,” Yahoo News (February 2, 2018).
237 Russian Roulette, at 227.
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“foreign” that Steele-as -would be involved in such a
breach. However, SSA 1 ‘s notes from a meeting on September 30 contain the
following notation: “control issues-reports acknowledged in Yahoo News.” We
asked SSA 1 whether he was concerned at the time that there were control issues
with Steele. He stated that he was concerned but that he was not sure that Steele
was responsible for providing information to Yahoo News. In addition, he said he
was focused on Steele’s discussions with the State Department about his work with
the FBI. 238 SSA 1 stated that an important objective of the planned meeting with
Steele in early October was to obtain “exclusivity” in Steele’s reporting relationship,
meaning that Steele would provide his intelligence related to the election
exclusively to the FBI.
As we describe in Chapter Five, drafts of the Carter Page FISA application
stated, until October 14, 2016, that Steele was responsible for the leak that led to
the September 23 Yahoo News article. One of the drafts specifically stated that
Steele “was acting on his/her own volition and has since been admonished by the
FBI.” In contrast, the final version of the first FISA application stated:
Given that the information contained in the September 23rd News
Article generally matches the information about Page that Source # 1
discovered during his/her research, the FBI assesses that Source # 1 ‘s
business associate or the law firm that hired the business associate
likely provided this information to the press. The FBI also assesses
that whoever gave the information to the press stated that the
information was provided by a ‘well-placed Western intelligence
source.’ The FBI does not believe that Source # 1 directly provided this
information to the Press.
The 01 Attorney told us that at some point during the drafting process, the
FBI assured him that Steele had not spoken with Yahoo News because the source
was “a professional.” As we discuss in greater detail in Chapter Five, no one at the
FBI or the National Security Division (NSD) was able to explain to us the source of
the information that resulted in, or supported, either the draft language that
existed until October 14 or the final language regarding the Yahoo News article.
Steele told us that he did not recall the FBI ever asking him whether he was
the source for the Yahoo News story, no one from the FBI recalled having asked
Steele if he was the source 9f the Yahoo News story, and we found no documentary
evidence to suggest that Steele had ever been asked this question by the FBI. As
described in Chapters Seven and Eight, even after receiving additional information
about Steele’s media contacts, the Crossfire Hurricane team did not change the
language in any of the three renewal applications regarding the FBI’s assessment of
Steele’s role in the September 23 article.
238 SSA 1 had been forwarded an email on September 30 from the State Department’s Bureau
of European and Eurasian Affairs indicating that senior staff there, including Assistant Secretary
Nuland, were aware of a planned meeting between Steele and the FBI in early October in a European
city, and that FBI officials from Headquarters were flying to Europe to participate in the meeting.
107
F. The FBI’s Early October Meeting with Steele
Handling Agent 1 told us that he took the lead in organizing the logistics for a
meeting in early October between Steele and members of the Crossfire Hurricane
team in a European city. An Acting Section- Chief from CD (Acting Section Chief 1),
Case Agent 2, and the Supervisory Intel Analyst, attended the meeting for the
Crossfire Hurricane team. Case Agent 2 had extensive experience in
counterintelligence and managing CHSs, including previously holding a supervisory
training position where he provided instruction on those topics. The Supervisory
Intel Analyst was one of the FBl’s leading experts on Russia.
Case Agent 2 and SSA 1 told the OIG that the FBI had several objectives for
the meeting, the most important of which were learning about Steele’s source
network; persuading Steele to work collaboratively with the Crossfire Hurricane
team in the future; and, as noted above, obtaining assurances from Steele that he
would provide the intelligence that the FBI was seeking exclusively to the FBI.
According to Case Agent 2, the task for him was a difficult one because he was
asking Steele-an experienced intelligence professional-to reveal how he gathered
intelligence. Case Agent 2 stated that he needed to be careful to avoid use of
heavy-handed tactics that would cause Steele to walk out. We also were told by
Case Agent 2 that the team’s primary objectives for the meeting came from
discussions he had with Strzok and SSA 1. Strzok said that he discussed the goals
of the early October meeting with the team and recalled attending meetings where
taskings for Steele were discussed in anticipation of the meeting. However, Strzok
said he was not involved in developing the taskings and left that effort to the
Crossfire Hurricane team. He also stated that he was not asked to authorize the
team’s taskings for Steele. SSA 1 said that the team had specific objectives for the
early October meeting with Steele and that he provided guidance to the team
before they left, but he did not recall his specific instructions. SSA 1 stated that he
trusted Case Agent 2, Acting Section Chief 1, and the Supervisory Intel Analyst to
do their job when meeting with Steele.
The meeting was set for early October. According to Handling Agent 1,
Steele contacted him three days prior to the meeting and advised Handling Agent 1
that Steele had previously shared the reports he had given to the FBI with then
State Department official Jonathan Winer. Handling Agent 1 said that Steele also
informed him that Winer was aware of the upcoming FBI meeting in October.
Handling Agent 1 stated that the Crossfire Hurricane team arrived in the
European city the day before· the meeting and that he conferred with them about
Steele. 239 Handling Agent 1 said he recalled providing advice to the team to ask
Steele “anything and everything…. Don’t hold back.” Handling Agent 1 also
remembered that at least one member of the team asked Handling Agent 1 if
Steele had said anything about the Yahoo News article. Handling Agent 1 said that
he responded “no” and that he was not familiar with the article in question.
239 After reviewing this report, the Supervisory Intel Analyst told us that he believed that the
Crossfire Hurricane team arrived in the European city the morning of the meeting with Steele.
108
Handling Agent 1 also recalled the team discussing that the State Department was
aware of the Steele reporting and that the team would need to discuss that with
Steele. 240 Handling Agent 1 told us that he advised the team that Steele had
contacted Jonathan Winer at the State Department. Case Agent 2 said that
Handling Agent 1 did not mention to him that Steele had possible connections to
Russian Oligarch 1 and that he would have wanted to know that information
because it could have indicated that Steele was being used in a Russian “controlled
operation” to influence perceptions (i.e., a disinformation campaign). Handling
Agent 1 did not recall if he told the Crossfire Hurricane team about Steele’s
connection to Russian Oligarch 1; however, he said he did inform the team that
Steele collected intelligence on Russian oligarchs and had tried to arrange meetings
between the FBI and Russian oligarchs.
The day of the meeting, Handling Agent 1 met with Steele prior to
introducing him to the Crossfire Hurricane team and explained to Steele that he
would be asked questions about his source network. Handling Agent 1 said that he
encouraged Steele to be forthcoming with the Crossfire Hurricane team. Handling
Agent 1 told the OIG that he attended the meeting but that Case Agent 2 did the
majority of the talking for the FBI with the Supervisory Intel Analyst asking
questions primarily about the source network.
The meeting lasted approximately 2.5 to 3 hours, according to the
Supervisory Intel Analyst. According to Case Agent 2’s written summary of the
meeting, Case Agent 2 provided Steele with a “general overview” of the Crossfire
Hurricane investigation, which included a description of events involving
Papadopoulos and the Friendly Foreign Government (FFG) information that
furnished the predication for the investigation. Case Agent 2’s written summary
also states that Case Agent 2 informed Steele that Papadopoulos’s actions had
resulted in a “small analytical effort” that had expanded to include Manafort, Flynn,
and Carter Page.
Case Agent 2 told the OIG that he informed Steele that the FBI was
interested in obtaining information in “3 buckets.” According to Case Agent 2’s
written summary of the meeting, as well as the Supervisory Intel Analyst’s notes,
these 3 buckets were:
(1) Additional intelligence/reporting on specific, named individuals
(such as [Page] or [Flynn]) involved in facilitating the Trump
campaign-Russian relationship; 241 (2) Physical evidence of specific
individuals involved in facilitating the Trump campaign-Russian
relationship (such as emails, photos, ledgers, memorandums etc);
and Any individuals or sub sources who [Steele] could identify
240 According to Case Agent 2’s written summary of the meeting with Steele in early October,
Steele disclosed to the participants that he was furnishing information to the State Department “to
ensure that the information was reaching the proper elements of the [U.S. government].”
241 The written summary used codenames to identify Page and Flynn.
109
who could serve as cooperating witnesses to assist in identifying
persons involved in the Trump campaign-Russian relationship. 242
Case Agent 2’s written summary of the meeting also indicates that Case Agent 2
explained that the FBI was willing to compensate Steele “significantly” for
information concerning the “3 buckets” and that Steele would be paid $15,000 for
his trip to the European city for the early October meeting. 243
Case Agent 2 told the OIG that Steele sat throughout the meeting with his
arms folded and he could tell from Steele’s body language that he was “going to be
difficult to handle.” According to Case Agent 2, Steele was not “excited” to hear
what information the FBI was hoping to obtain, and Case Agent 2’s notes indicate
that Steele was “caught off guard” with the tasking request. Case Agent 2 stated
that Steele was focused instead during the meeting on candidate Trump and
recalled that Steele responded to the “3 buckets” by stating “maybe I can go back
to the hotel [in Russia] and get the manager for you to meet to talk about the
prostitutes being there.”
Notes taken by Case Agent 2 and th~ Supervisory Intel Analyst show that
Steele provided some information during the meeting about his source network and
furnished several other names that could be of interest to the FBI. For example,
Steele identified a sub-source (Person 1) who Steele said was in direct contact with
Steele’s primary source (Primary Sub-source). 244 The notes further reflect that
Steele described some of Person 1 ‘s reporting but caveated this information by
explaining that Person 1 is a “boaster” and “egotist” and “may engage in some
embellishment.” As described in Chapters Five and Eight, the FBI did not provide
this description of Person 1 to NSD’s Office of Intelligence (01) for inclusion in the
Carter Page FISA applications despite relying on Person 1 ‘s information to establish
probable cause in the applications.
The Supervisory Intel Analyst’s notes also indicate that Steele explained that
the·information he obtained about Carter Page resulted from research he had been
retained to conduct related to a litigation matter concerning debts allegedly owed
by Paul Manafort. 245
242 The FBI advised the OIG that the Crossfire Hurricane inve~gation was a national security
_, and these activities therefore involved. national security • CHS operationsl
243 As we discuss below, after the FBI learned in November that Steele had disclosed
information to Mother Jones in late October 2016, the FBI declined to make this payment.
244 Person 1
245 At the time, according to FBI records that we reviewed, Manafort was involved in litigation
with Russian Oligarch 1, and Steele had a relationship with one or more of the attorneys representing
Russian Oligarch 1. In his interview with the OIG, Steele denied that his reporting on Carter Page
resulted from work he performed on Russian Oligarch l’s behalf. Steele described as “ridiculous” any
claim that Russian Oligarch 1 was involved in his reporting or influenced it.
110
Lastly, Steele provided the name of a Russian national, who he said may
have connections with a Russian energy company, and who Steele claimed may be
acting as Carter Page’s possible “handler” for Russian intelligence. As noted in
Chapter Three, Carter Page previously had a relationship with another U.S.
government agency; Page had provided that agency with information on the same
Russian national that Steele reported was Page’s possible handler. According to an
Assistant Legal Attache ALAT 2 Steele’s alle ations about the Russian national
were investigated , but no
information was uncovered to substantiate the allegations. 246
We were told by the Crossfire Hurricane team members that Steele refrained
from providing the level of detail about his source network that the FBI had hoped
to obtain. Steele told the team members that he did not want to identify his
sources because he was concerned about their safet and security. He explained
that he was Primary Sub-source,
and that due to leaks, his source network was “drying up.” According to Case
Agent 2, Steele complained to the FBI during the meeting about these leaks.
We were also told by Case Agent 2 that Steele did not disclose information
about the identity of Fusion GPS’s client, a law firm which was funding Steele’s
work due to a confidentiality agreement that prevented him from sharing that
information.247 We asked Steele what he told the FBI during the meeting about his
client. He said that his notes from the meeting, which he told us he prepared two
days after the meeting, and are dated that day, were the best source for that
information. We reviewed Steele’s notes, which show that Steele stated during the
meeting that Simpson was an “intermediary” and that Simpson had been retained
by “people seeking to prevent Trump becoming President.” The notes did not
reflect that any additional information had been provided by Steele during the
meeting regarding the identity of Fusion GPS’s client. Steele told us that the FBI
did not press him to identify Fusion GPS’s client.
During the meeting, Case Agent 2 said he advised Steele of the need to
establish an exclusive reporting relationship with the FBI concerning the information
that he was being tasked to collect. Case Agent 2 drafted an Electronic
246 Steele also reiterated some of the information in his election reporting identified other U.S.
persons that he believed may be involved in or have knowledge of Russia and Trump connections.
Additionally, he told the FBI that he was personal friends with a Trump family member and that the
FBI may become aware of email communications concerning their friendship. Steele stated that he
could not see the Trump family member being involved in any nefarious activities concerning the
Trump-Russia matter.
247 On October 14, 2016, Case Agent 2 wrote in an email to SSA 1, Case Agent 1, the Intel
Section Chief, and Strzok, among others stating that Handling Agent 1 did not believe Steele knew the
identity of the Fusion GPS client which was responsible for funding Steele’s work. As we described in
Section 11.B. above, Steele told Handling Agent 1 in July that he did not know the precise identity of
the client; however, it is unclear whether Handling Agent 1 subsequently asked Steele whether he had
acquired that information. Handling Agent 1 told us that he did not “continually ask” Steele about the
firm’s identity after his meeting with Steele on July 5, 2016.
111
Communication (EC) following the early October meeting that was serialized into
the Crossfire Hurricane case file and described the FBI request for exclusivity:
[T]he CHS was admonished that if the CHS and FBI were going to
have a reporting relationship regarding specific items of interest to the
CROSSFIRE HURRICANE team (i.e., [Manafort] and [Page]), that the
CHS must have an exclusive reporting relationship with the FBI, rather
than providing that information to the clients that hired the CHS’s firm
to provide reporting on Trump and [Manafort].
Recollections of the Crossfire Hurricane team members who attended the
meeting varied about Steele’s response to this request, except all agreed that
Steele did not affirmatively disagree with it. Handling Agent 1 told us that Steele
was told at the meeting “you do not talk to anybody else including anybody else in
the United States government” about information Steele collected for the three
buckets and that Steele agreed. Handling Agent 1 said that Steele left him with the
impression that he would assist the FBI following the meeting and would abide by
the FBI’s instruction on exclusivity, and that he “did not buy for one second” the
notion that Steele was not a CHS at this time with an obligation to follow FBI
instructions. The Supervisory Intel Analyst said he could not recall Steele’s
response, but said that by the end of the meeting he was left with the impression
that Steele would abide by the FBI’s request. He further stated that, if Steele had
rejected the FBI’s request, it would have been documented. Case Agent 2 said that
Steele never committed to share information regarding the “3 buckets” exclusively
with the FBI. According to Case Agent 2, Steele’s response instead was that he
would consider ways to help the FBI.
Steele told us that the FBI indicated at the meeting in early October that the
FBI wanted to take over the “election project” and control it, alternatively
describing the FBI’s actions as an attempt to get Steele to convert a “Pipeline 1”
project into a “Pipeline 2” project. Steele recalled that, in response, he made it
clear that was not going to happen because he was obligated to his client and was
“not dumping the client” in favor of the FBI. He stated, however, that he wanted to
be as helpful to the FBI as he could. According to Steele, the FBI accepted his
position though they requested that he not share his election intelligence with other
U.S. government agencies or with third-party clients (other than the client that
retained him initially). Steele said he did not know whether he agreed to this
request and pointed out that his notes from the meeting do not reflect his
response. 248 We asked whether he would have recorded a response in the notes if
he had rejected the request. He responded “yes,” and said the lack of a response
in his notes suggested he did not agree or disagree.
We asked Handling Agent 1 and members of the Crossfire Hurricane team
whether it was realistic for the FBI to expect that Steele would abide by the FBI’s
request given that his consulting firm had been retained by a paying client to
perform this work. Handling Agent 1 told us that he thought it was realistic
248 The notes that Steele made available to the OIG to review, which Steele told us he
prepared two days after the meeting, were consistent with his testimony to the OIG.
112
because Steele “was now being offered compensation to go forward from the United
States government.”· Acting Section Chief 1 said he was not sure at the time how
realistic the request was because he did not know how many clients Steele had,
though he “rationalized” that given Steele’s intelligence background his business
probably “was wide to a lot of audiences” and he could afford to have an exclusive
reporting relationship with the FBI on certain issues.
We also asked the FBI team members who attended whether there was any
discussion during the meeting about the September 23 Yahoo News article. Case
Agent 2 told the OIG that he could not remember asking Steele about the Yahoo
News article during the meeting, and that he was more focused on getting Steele to
“play ball.” The Supervisory Intel Analyst also said he did not recall Steele being
asked whether he was a source of the Yahoo News article. Handling Agent 1 stated
that he could not recall if the article was raised during the meeting with Steele.
According to Steele, he did not recall any discussion of the media during the early
October meeting, and none was reflected in his notes. Steele further told us that if
the issue of the media had been raised he would have recorded it in his notes given
that he already had met with media groups in September.
According to the Crossfire Hurricane team members, the outcome of the
early October meeting was less than desired. Case Agent 2 said he could not recall
Steele agreeing to anything during the meeting. Both Case Agent 2 and the
Supervisory Intel Analyst told the OIG that, although Steele continued to provide
written reports to Handling Agent 1 after the meeting, Steele did not provide
information specifically addressing the “3 buckets.”249 Case Agent 2 also expressed
skepticism after the meeting as to whether Steele would abide by the FBI’s request
for exclusivity in his reporting. In response to an inquiry in mid-October from the
01 Attorney who was drafting the first Carter Page FISA application, about whether
Steele was refraining from providing information to Simpson that was relevant to
the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, Case Agent 2 responded in an email that “we
need to be realistic about that.” Case Agent 2 wrote:
We made a good faith effort and admonished the CHS [at the early
October meeting] that any further information that s/he developed in
regard to our subjects, Page[,] Manafort, Papadopoulos, Flynn should
be exclusively provided to the FBI for further evaluation. Whether or
not that happens remains to be seen.
Handling Agent 1 told us that after the early October meeting Steele failed to
abide by the FBI’s instructions when he continued to meet with the media and the
State Department about issues over which the FBI had sought to establish an
exclusive reporting relationship at the early October meeting. According to
Handling Agent 1, while Steele appeared to follow the directions of Fusion GPS, he
did not treat his other client – the FBI – fairly. According to Handling Agent 1, if
Steele “had been straight with the FBI,” he would not have been closed as a CHS.
Handling Agent 1 added that it “blew his mind” that, given Steele’s intelligence
249 As we describe below, Steele did provide some limited information in mid-October 2016
concerning Carter Page.
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background, Steele was meeting with the press and taking actions that endangered
the safety of those in his source network. Case Agent 2 told the OIG that he
thought it was “terrible” for Steele to complain to the FBI about leaks during the
early October meeting given that he had been meeting with media outlets in
September and had provided information that was used in the Yahoo News article.
According to Case Agent 2, in hindsight, “[c]learly he wasn’t truthful with us.
Clearly.”
We asked Steele whether during the early October meeting he lied or
otherwise misled the FBI. He responded “no” and that he did not believe he ever
lied to the FBI.
G. FBI Disclosures to Steele during the Early October Meeting
In addition to inquiring about Steele’s conduct at the early October meeting,
we also asked whether the Crossfire Hurricane team members provided too much
information to Steele during the meeting, including classified information.
According to Case Agent 2’s written summary of the meeting, Case Agent 2
provided Steele with a “general overview” of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation,
which included a description of events involving Papadopoulos and the FFG, which
furnished the predication for the investigation. Case Agent 2’s written summary
also states that Case Agent 2 informed Steele that Papadopoulos’s actions had
resulted in a “small analytical effort” that had expanded to include Manafort, Flynn,
and Page. 25° FBI attendees at the meeting confirmed that Case Agent 2 led the
discussion on these points, though Case Agent 2 told us that his written summary
does not present the actual words he used in his explanations to Steele. The
contents of both the “analytical effort” and the FFG’s notice to the U.S. government
are classified.
Handling Agent 1 told the OIG that he agreed it was peculiar that Case Agent
2 gave Steele an overview of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, including
providing names of persons related to the investigation. As an example, Handling
Agent 1 explained that during the FIFA investigation he never informed Steele that
the FBI was investigating FIFA. The Supervisory Intel Analyst told the OIG that he
was concerned that Case Agent 2 had divulged too much information to Steele and
that he notified his supervisor about his concern upon returning to Washington D.C.
250 The relevant text from Case Agent 2’s summary reads:
The CHS was then given a general overview of the FBI’s CROSSFIRE HURRICANE
investigation and told that it was a small cell that was exploring a small piece of the
overall problem of Russian interference in the U.S. Electoral process. CHS was
advised that the CH team was made aware of [Papadopoulos’s] May 2016 comments
in the U.K in late July by a friendly foreign service and that [Papadopoulos] had
predicated a small analytical effort that eventually expanded to include [Manafort,
Flynn, and Page]. CHS advised that he was not aware of [Papadopoulos].
114
The Supervisory Intel Analyst stated that he was concerned that Case Agent 2 had
shared names as well as information related to the FFG information.251
Case Agent 2 said that he believed he had authority from CD to discuss
classified information with Steele, though he agreed that in the “heat of the
moment” he made a mistake and provided more information than he should have
provided about the role of the FFG. He explained that his disclosure resulted from
“trying in good faith to accomplish the mission.” He stated that he remembered
telling Steele that the FBI was investigating possible Russian penetrations of the
Trump campaign but did not recall telling Steele that Papadopoulos, Manafort,
Flynn, and Page were being investigated by the FBI. Rather, he recalled asking for
information about those persons in light of press coverage that they had received.
Steele told us that he did not believe the Crossfire Hurricane team members told
him whether there was an open investigation on those persons. Case Agent 2
further stated that there was no effort on his part to conceal what he had said to
Steele from his supervisors. After the meeting concluded, Case Agent 2 circulated
a written summary of the meeting that included a description of the information he
provided to Steele. Acting Section Chief 1 also attended the meeting in the
European city and did not object at the time or afterwards to Case Agent 2’s
conduct.
We asked Case Agent 2’s supervisors-Strzok and Priestap-about the
information that the Crossfire Hurricane team communicated to Steele and whether
Case Agent 2 had been authorized to disclose classified information during the early
October meeting.252 Priestap said that he did not recall being briefed beforehand
about what information the team intended to convey to Steele. He explained,
however, that given Steele’s background in intelligence work, it was necessary to
provide him with sufficient contextual information to understand the taskings.
Priestap also said that there is an “art” to deciding how much information to convey
to a CHS so that the CHS can be effective without divulging the sensitive details of
an investigation. Strzok stated that he did not recall authorizing Case Agent 2 to
disclose the specific information presented in Case Agent 2’s written summary
though Strzok said he recalled general discussions with the Crossfire Hurricane
team members who were meeting with Steele about how much information to
share with Steele. Strzok explained that “[y]ou provide as much information as
needed to give effective direction, and as little as possible to compartment and
protect what we’re doing.” After reading Case Agent 2’s written summary of the
information he presented to Steele, both Priestap and Strzok said that it appeared
that Case Agent 2 provided more information than was necessary to Steele.
251 Steele informed Simpson about the content of the discussions during the early October
meeting, including that the FBI had information from “an internal Trump campaign source” that
corroborated Steele’s reporting, according to Simpson’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Simpson Senate Testimony, at 175.
252 FBI Security staff told us that the Assistant Director for CD can authorize the disclosure of
classified information. We found that the CHS Policy Guide (CHSPG) does not address the disclosure
of sensitive or classified information to CHSs and that the FBI has not otherwise developed guidance
on the issue.
115
H. Steele’s Reporting to the FBI Following the Early October
Meeting and Continuing Media Contacts
Steele continued to furnish the FBI with written reports following the early
October meeting. Handling Agent 1 told us that he became a “middleman” between
Steele and the Crossfire Hurricane team and forwarded Steele’s reports to the
team. According to Handling Agent l’s records, during October 2016, Steele
communicated with him four times and provided seven written reports, one of
which concerned Carter Page and thus was responsive to the FBI’s request for
information concerning Page’s activities. 253
On October 19, 2016, Steele also forwarded to Handling Agent 1 a report
that Steele said he had obtained from State Department official Jonathan Winer.
Steele included a notation on the report explaining that Winer had been given the
report by a friend of a well-known Clinton supporter, and that the friend had
obtained the report from a Turkish businessman with strong links to Russia,
including the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB). 254 The
report included numerous allegations attributed to an FSB source, including that (1)
a “‘pervasive’ and ‘sophisticated’ intelligence operation’~ was focused in part on
253 These seven reports, with selected highlights, were:
• Report 130 (Putin and his colleagues were surprised and disappointed that leaks of
Clinton’s emails had not had a greater impact on the campaign; a stream of hacked
Clinton material had been injected by the Kremlin into compliant western media
outlets like Wikileaks and the stream would continue until the election);

• Report 134 (a close associate of Rosneft President Sechin confirmed a secret meeting
with Carter Page in July; Sechin was keen to have sanctions on the company lifted and
offered up to a 19 percent stake in return);
• Report 135 {Trump attorney Michael Cohen was heavily engaged in a cover up and
damage control in an attempt to prevent the full details of Trump’s relationship with
Russia being exposed; Cohen had met secretly with several Russian Presidential
Administration Legal Department officials; immediate issues were efforts to contain
further scandals involving Manafort’s commercial and political role in Russia/Ukraine
and to limit damage from the exposure of Carter Page’s secret meetings with Russian
leadership figures in Moscow the previous month);
• Report 136 (Kremlin insider reports that Cohen’s secret meeting/s with Kremlin
officials in August 2016 was/were held in Prague);

and

254 According to open source reporting, the FSB serves as Russia’s domestic intelligence and
security service that retains a broad mission of counterintelligence, counterterrorism, cyber defense,
border security, and economic security, in addition to overseeing Russia’s vast technical monitoring
system known as SORM.
116
Trump and was an “open secret” in Putin’s government; (2) sex videos existed of
Trump; and (3) the FSB funneled payments to Trump through an Azerbaijani
family. According to Steele’s notation to the report, Steele did not have a way to
verify the source(s) or the information but noted that, even though the reporting
originated from a different source network, some of it was “remarkably similar” to
Steele’s reporting, especially with regard to the alleged 2013 Ritz Carlton incident
involving Trump and prostitutes, Trump’s compromise by the FSB, and the
Kremlin’s funding of the Trump campaign by way of the Azerbaijani family. The
Supervisory Intel Analyst ·characterized the report as “yet another report that would
need to be evaluated.”
In addition to continuing to provide reporting to the FBI, Steele also was,
unbeknownst to the FBI at the time, continuing his outreach to the media
concerning alleged contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian
government. According to information from the foreign litigation noted above,
Steele returned to Washington, D.C., in mid-October and provided additional
briefings to The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Yahoo News. We
asked Steele why he did not advise the FBI of his engagements with the media. He
stated that he did not alert the FBI because the media briefings were part of his
contract with Fusion GPS and were set up and attended by Simpson. As noted
above, Steele did not believe that the FBI had raised the issue of media contacts
with him at the early October meeting, and his contemporaneous notes from that
meeting do not mention the issue.
Further, Steele met on October 11 at the State Department with Winer and
Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Kavalec, who was a deputy to then Assistant
Secretary Victoria Nuland. Steele told us that Winer had originally contacted him to
request that he meet with Nuland, who ultimately did not attend. 255 Notes of the
meeting taken by State Department staff reflect that Steele addressed a wide array
of topics during the meeting, including:
• Derogatory information on Trump;
• Manafort’s role as a “go-between” with the campaign and Kremlin;
• The role of Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s largest privately owned banks,
as a conduit for secret communications between Manafort and the
Kremlin;
• Manafort’s debts to the Russians;
• Carter Page’s meeting with Sechin;
• The Russian Embassy’s management of a network of Russian emigres
in the United States who carry out hacking and recruiting operations;
and
255 Steele told us that he was delayed from the airport and arrived late for the meeting, by
which time Nuland had departed.
117
• The Russian cyber penetration of the DNC. 256
The notes also indicate that Steele explained that the information his firm collected
on the connection between Trum and Russia came from
We asked Kavalec about the meeting with Steele. She stated that Nuland did
not ask to meet with Steele and that Nuland requested she attend the meeting
because Nuland did not want to devote time to it. It was Kavalec’s understanding
that Steele sought the meeting with Nuland as part of a wider effort to disseminate
his election report findings to persons in Washington, D.C. She stated that during
the meeting Steele expressed frustration that the FBI had not acted on his
reporting and explained that when he first offered information to the FBI he found a
lack of interest.
Kavalec told us that shortly after the meeting with Steele, she encountered
the FBI’s liaison to the State Department and mentioned the meeting to him.
According to Kavalec, she explained to the liaison that she was willing to be
interviewed by the FBI regarding her meeting with Steele, though Steele had
informed her that he had already been in contact with the FBI to share his
reporting. The FBI liaison told us that Kavalec also informed him that a particular
piece of information in Steele’s reporting appeared to be incorrect. She explained
to the FBI liaison that Russia did not have a consulate in Miami as indicated by
Steele’s reporting, which claimed that a cyber-hacking operation was being run, in
part, out of the Russian consulate in Miami. 257 The FBI liaison informed SSA 1 and
Case Agent 1 via email on November 18 that Kavalec had met with Steele, she had
taken notes of their meeting, the liaison could obtain information from Kavalec
about the meeting, and, according to Kavalec, the information from Steele’s
reporting about a Russian consulate being located in Miami was inaccurate. 258 The
256 Much of the information presented by Steele at the State Department briefing can be
found in Reports 130 and 132, both. of which Steele provided to the FBI in October.
257 Kavalec’s typed notes from Steele’s October 11, 2016 briefing stated that Steele told her
that a Russian cyber hacking operation targeting the 2016 U.S. elections was making payments to
involved persons from “the Russian [c]onsulate in Miami.” Steele’s election Report 95 contained
similar, but not fully consistent, information. Report 95 did not explicitly state that there was a
Russian consulate in Miami. Instead, Report 95 stated that Russian consular officials and diplomatic
staff in Miami were making payments in order to facilitate a secret exchange of intelligenc~ between
persons affiliated with Trump and the Russian government.
258 After reviewing a portion of our draft report and his November 18, 2016 email to SSA 1
and Case Agent 1, the FBI liaison told us that he believes that he first learned about Kavalec’s meeting
with Steele on or about November 18, 2016.
118
FBI liaison told us that he received no directives from the Crossfire Hurricane team·
to gather information from Kavalec regarding her contact with Steele.
In anticipation of an FBI interview, Kavalec said she prepared a typewritten
summary of the meeting within 1 to 2 weeks after talking with the liaison. The
typed summary began by noting that Steele said at the meeting that he had
undertaken the investigation “at the behest of an institution he declined to identify
that had been hacked.” The summary also noted that Steele told the attendees
that the “institution .. .is keen to see this information come to light prior to November
8.” However, the FBI did not interview Kavalec nor did they seek her notes.
Two days after the meeting with Steele, Kavalec emailed an FBI CD Section
Chief a document that Kavalec received from Winer discussing allegations about a
linkage between Alfa Bank and the Trump campaign, a topic that was discussed at
the October 11 meeting.259 Kavalec advised the FBI Section Chief in the email that
the information related to an investigation that Steele’s firm had been conducting.
The Section Chief forwarded the document to SSA 1 the same day.
We asked Steele why he did not inform the FBI of the meeting at the State
Department and why he did not abide by the FBI’s request for exclusivity. He said
he did not think it was appropriate to turn down a meeting request from an
Assistant Secretary of State, which he said he received on short notice. He also
stated that, at the time he received the meeting request, the meeting agenda was
unclear, and he was uncertain what topics he would be asked to discuss. He said it
was his understanding that the FBI did not object to his discussing general themes
with other agencies as opposed to “details” about his intelligence and source
network. ·
Handling Agent 1 told us that he believed Steele should have alerted him to
both his media contacts in September and October and his meeting with State
Department staff in October. As noted above, the Crossfire Hurricane team first
learned of Steele’s October meeting with the State Department from the FBI liaison
on November 18, by which date the FBI had already closed Steele as a CHS
because of his Mother Jones disclosure, which we discuss in Chapter Six. Handling
Agent 1 explained that Steele should have recognized the need to provide this
notice to the FBI, especially given the discussions that took place with the Crossfire
Hurricane team in early October.
259 Steele separately wrote in Report 112, dated September 14, 2016, that Alfa Bank
allegedly had close ties to Putin. The Crossfire Hurricane team received Report 112 on or about
November 6, 2016, from a Mother Jones journalist through then FBI General Counsel James Baker.
Additionally, Ohr advised the FBI on November 21, 2016, according to an FBI FD-302, that Steele had
told Ohr that the Alfa Bank server was a link to the Trump campaign and that Person 1 ‘s
Russia/American organization in the U.S. had used the Alfa Bank server two weeks prior. Steele told
us that the information about Alfa Bank was not generated by Orbis. The FBI investigated whether
there were cyber links between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, but had concluded by early
February 2017 that there were no such links. The Supervisory Intel Analyst told us that he factored
the Alfa Bank/Trump server allegations into his assessment of Steele’s reporting.
119
In the next chapter we describe the first Carter Page FISA application, filed
on October •, 2016, whic~ relied significantly on Steele’s reporting.
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CHAPTER FIVE
THE FIRST APPLICATION FOR FISA AUTHORITY ON CARTER
PAGE
At the request of the FBI, the Department filed four applications with the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court FISC seeking FISA authority to conduct
electronic surveillance argeting Carter Page: the first
application on October , 2016, and three renewal applications on January •,
April I, and June •, 2017. A different FISC judge considered each application and
issued the requested orders, collectively resulting in approximately 11 months of
FISA coverage targeting Carter Page from October •, 2016, to September •,
2017.
In this chapter, we describe the first of the four FISA applications, beginning
with the early consideration of a potential FISA targeting Carter Page in August
2016, shortly after the FBI opened the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, and the
FBI’s eventual submission of a FISA request to the Office of Intelligence (01) in the
National Security Division (NSD) in September 2016, a few days after the Crossfire
Hurricane team received Christopher Steele’s reporting. We discuss the significance
of the Steele reporting to the decision of FBI attorneys to proceed with the FISA
request. We also describe the development of the first FISA application and the
attention it received during the review and approval process from the FBI, 01, NSD
management, and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG). We further
describe the filing of the read copy with the FISC, the feedback 01 received from
the court, revisions made to the application to address that feedback, and the last
steps taken before the final application was filed and the orders were issued. These
last steps included the completion of the Woods Procedures described in Chapter
Two, then FBI Director James Corney’s certification of the application, and the oral
briefing provided to, and final approval given by, then Deputy Attorney General
(DAG) Sally Yates. Finally, we describe the most significant instances in which
information in the FISA application was inaccurately stated, incomplete at the time
the application was filed, or unsupported by documentation in the Woods File.
I. Decision to Seek FISA Authority
A. Early Consideration of a Potential FISA
As described in Chapter Three, on August 10, 2016, under the umbrella of
Crossfire Hurricane, FBI Headquarters opened a new full counterintelligence
investigation on Carter Page. The pre-existing counterintelligence case on Page –
was then transferred from the FBI’s New York Field Office (NYFO) to FBI
Headquarters and merged into the new case. At about the same time, the Crossfire
Hurricane team began planning for Confidential Human Source (CHS) operations
(discussed later in this chapter and in Chapter Ten) targeting Carter Page and
George Papadopoulos. Also at about the same time, the case agent assigned to the
Carter Page investigation, Case Agent 1, contacted FBI’s Office of the General
Counsel (OGC) about the possibility of seeking FISA authority targeting Carter Page
121
to conduct electronic surveillance . This was the first
potential use of FISA authority considered by the Crossfire Hurricane team.
The Crossfire Hurricane team told us that the proposal for FISA coverage
targeting Carter Page originated from the team, not an instruction from
management. The team also told us that its interest in obtaining a FISA was based
upon Page’s prior contacts with known Russian intelligence officers, which the team
believed made him most receptive to receiving the offer of assistance from the
Russians reported in the FFG information (described in Chapter Three) provided to
the FBI in late July 2016. Case Agent 1 said that he had hoped that emails and
other communications obtained through FISA electronic surveillance would help
provide valuable information about what Page did while in Moscow in July 2016 and
the Russian officials with whom he may have spoken.
For these reasons, on August 15, 2016, Case Agent 1 emailed a written
summary on Carter Page to the OGC Unit Chief, stating that he thought the
information provided “a pretty solid basis” for requesting FISA authority. This
summary, which a Staff Operations Specialist (SOS) prepared, briefly described
Page’s Russian business and financial ties, his prior contacts with Russian
intelligence officers, and his recent travel to Russia. According to Case Agent 1,
both he and the SOS believed that they had enough information to establish the
probable cause necessary to request FISA authority on Carter Page. Case Agent 1
told us that Page’s contacts with known Russian intelligence officers ( described in
Chapter Three) provided a “pretty good’link” for a FISA.
Later the same day, the OGC Unit Chief responded to Case Agent 1 with
requests for additional information about what Page had previously told the FBI
regarding his relationship with Russian intelligence officers in order to compare it
with information the FBI had from other reporting sources. She said that this
information would be helpful to determine whether Page had a clandestine
relationship with Russia. The OGC Unit Chief added that she would reach out to her
01 counterparts to get their thoughts, “but I think we’ll need more for PC,” meaning
probable cause.
The next day, on August 16, the OGC Unit Chief contacted Stuart Evans, then
NSD’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General with oversight responsibility over 01,
stating:
We have some facts which may lead to a FISA on one of our subjectsmostly
past contacts and connections to [Russian Intelligence
Services] and a financial interest in [a] Russian-government controlled
gas business. I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but given the
sensitivity and urgency of this matter, I would like to get 01 involved
as early as possible.
The OGC Unit Chief told Evans he had permission to brief a small group of 01
attorneys into Crossfire Hurricane, including the Operations Section Chief, Gabriel
122
Sanz-Rexach; the Deputy Section Chief; the Counterintelligence Unit Chief (01 Unit
Chief); and one line attorney. 260
The OGC Unit Chief and OGC Attorney assigned to assist the Crossfire
Hurricane team met with the 01 Unit Chief the same day to brief him on Crossfire
Hurricane and the four individual subjects. During his OIG interview, the 01 Unit
Chief recalled that the OGC attorneys mentioned the possibility of seeking FISA
authority targeting Carter Page, but he did not recall a decision being made at the
meeting about whether to do so. 261 The 01 Unit Chief said that, at the request of
Evans, he advised OGC that the FBI would need to submit a formal FISA request
before 01 would begin the back-and-forth process with the FBI on a potential
application. He told us that it was over a month later when OGC told him for the
first time that the FBI was ready to move forward with the request.
While FISA discussions were ongoing, on or about August 17, 2016, the
Crossfire Hurricane team received information from another U.S. government
agency relating to Page’s prior relationship with that agency and prior contacts with
Russian intelligence officers about which the agency was aware. We found that,
although this information was highly relevant to the potential FISA application, the
Crossfire Hurricane team did not engage with the other agency regarding this
information until June 2017, just prior to the final Carter Page FISA renewal
application. 262 As we discuss later in this chapter, when Case Agent 1 was explicitly
asked in late September 2016 by the 01 Attorney assisting on the FISA application
about Page’s prior relationship with this other agency, Case Agent 1 did not
accurately describe the nature and extent of the information the FBI received from
the other agency.
Also in August, while FISA discussions were ongoing, the Crossfire Hurricane
team conducted a consensually monitored meeting between an FBI CHS and Carter
Page in an attempt to obtain information from Page about links between the Donald
J. Trump for President Campaign and Russia. During the operation, which we
describe in greater detail below, Page made statements to the CHS that would
have, if true, contradicted the notion that Page was conspiring with Russia. Page
260 OI’s Operations Section is divided into three units: Counterintelligence, Counterterrorism,
and Special Operations. Among other responsibilities, all three units prepare and file FISA applications
with the FISC. Because the Carter Page investigation was a counterintelligence matter, the
Counterintelligence Unit handled the Carter Page FISA applications.
261 The OI Unit Chief did not recall providing specific feedback concerning a potential Carter
Page FISA application during or in response to this meeting. He said they did not discuss at that time
the specific information the Crossfire Hurricane team had to support a FISA application. He recalled
only a general discussion about the case that included a heads up that they believed that at some
later point they would want to move forward on a FISA request targeting Carter Page. The OGC Unit
Chief and OGC Attorney told us they also did not recall the feedback from OI, if any, at this time. The
OGC Attorney did not recall attending the meeting at all, even though the OI Unit Chief’s meeting
notes indicate he was present.
262 We describe in Chapter Eight the circumstances surrounding the FBI’s engagement with
the other agency in June 2017 and the FBl’s failure to include the information in the final FISA renewal
application.
123
also made statements that contradicted the Steele reporting received by the team
in September, in particular the assertion that Manafort was using Page as an
intermediary with Russia. However, as we detail later•in this chapter, we found no
evidence the FBI made Page’s statements from this CHS meeting available to 01 or
NSD until mid-June 2017.
FBI documents reviewed by the OIG indicate that by late August 2016, Case
Agent 1 had been told that he had not yet presented enough information to support
a FISA application targeting Carter Page. Case Agent 1 ‘s handwritten notes dated
August 22, 2016 state: “Not there yet: 01” below a reference to a FISA request
targeting Carter Page. 263 Case Agent 1 told us that he remembered being told that
he had not yet presented enough information to support probable cause, but he
could not recall whether OGC or 01, or both, had made that assessment.
Handwritten notes taken by David Laufman, then Chief of NSD’s
Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES), indicate that on August 25,
2016, FBI and NSD officials discussed the status of FISA coverage targeting Carter
Page during a weekly Crossfire Hurricane meeting and that someone at the meeting
conveyed that there was “[n]o FISA up on Page; currently no PC.” Laufman told us
that he did not remember who conveyed this information, but he thought it was
probably one of the FBI officials in attendance, which included the OGC Unit Chief,
the Section Chief of CD’s Counterintelligence Analysis Section I (Intel Section
Chief), and Assistant Director E.W. “Bill” Priestap.
As discussed below, the FBI OGC Unit Chief contacted the NSD 01 Unit Chief
on September 21, 2016, two days after the Crossfire Hurricane team received six of
Steele’s reports, to advise that the FBI believed it was ready to submit a formal
FISA request to 01. As the OGC Unit Chief stated in an October 19, 2016 email to
members of the Crossfire Hurricane team, “we first raised the issue of [a] potential
FISA [targeting Carter Page] early on-maybe the 2nd or 3rd week of the case. But
we didn’t have serious discussions until we got the actual [Steele] reports (maybe
the day after?).”
B. The FBI’s Submission of a FISA Request Following Receipt of
the Steele Reporting
As described in Chapter Four, the Crossfire Hurricane team received the first
set of Steele’s reports on September 19, 2016. Upon receipt of these reports, the
team immediately began the process of evaluating Steele and the information he
provided. For example, that same day, SSA 1 sent an email to Handling Agent 1
and others, stating, “Our team is very interested in obtaining a source symbol
number/source characterization statement and specifics on veracity of past
reporting, motivations, last validation, how long on the books, how much paid to
263 It is unclear whether Case Agent 1 took this note during a meeting or at some other time.
Case Agent 1 told us that the team had regular discussions during this time period, but did not
specifically recall this particular discussion.
124
date, etc.” SSA 1 told us that he did not receive a response from Handling Agent 1
to this email, and we did not find one during the course of our review.
Also on September 19, the team began discussions with OGC to consider
Steele’s reporting as part of a FISA application targeting Carter Page. In an email
to the OGC Unit Chief and OGC Attorney, the Supervisory Intelligence Analyst
(Supervisory Intel Analyst) forwarded an excerpt from Steele’s Report 94
(described in more detail below) concerning Page’s alleged secret meeting with Igor
Divyekin in July 2016 and asked, “Does this put us at least that much closer to a
full FISA on [Carter Page]?” (Emphasis in original). The Supervisory Intel Analyst
told us that, earlier that day, he had researched information on Divyekin that
“elevated” the significance of this particular allegation. He said that he wondered
whether OGC would find that this information, along with the totality of the other
information on Carter Page, brought them closer to probable cause on Page.
Similarly, Case Agent 1 told us that the team’s receipt of the reporting from Steele
supplied missing information in terms of what Page may have been doing during his
July 2016 visit to Moscow and provided enough information on Page’s recent
activities that Case Agent 1 thought would satisfy 01.
Two days later, on September 21, the OGC Attorney and OGC Unit Chief
requested a meeting with the 01 Unit Chief to discuss, among other things, a
potential FISA application targeting Carter Page. The OGC Unit Chief told the OIG
that the receipt of the Steele reporting changed her mind on whether they could
establish probable cause. She said that although there could be differing opinions,
she thought it was a “close call” when they first discussed a FISA targeting Page in
August, and that the Steele reporting in September “pushed it over” the line in
terms of establishing probable cause. She explained that the Steele reporting
presented information that Page had recent contact with the Russians and that this
contact was consistent with the information received from the FFG that someone on
the campaign had received an offer or suggestion of assistance from the Russians.
She said that before the Steele reporting, the FBI did not have information
concerning what Page’s current activities with the Russians might have been or
information suggesting a connection between Page and the FFG information.
Similarly, the OGC Attorney told us that he thought probable cause was “probably
50/50″ before the Steele reporting; however, in his view, it was a combination of
the Steele reporting, Carter Page’s historical contacts with Russian intelligence
officers, and statements Page made in October 2016 during a consensually
monitored meeting with an FBI CHS (described later in this chapter and in Chapter
Ten) just before the FISA application was filed with the court, that made the OGC
Attorney comfortable about establishing probable cause. 264
264 We asked then Deputy Director Andrew McCabe about the testimony attributed to him in
the January 18, 2018 House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Memorandum from Majority
Staff on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and the Federal
Bureau of Investigation (HPSCI Majority Memorandum) that “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.” See HPSci Majority Memorandum at 3, declassified on
February 2, 2018, and available at https://republicans-
125
On September 21, the OGC attorneys met with the 01 Unit Chief and
described the reporting from Steele concerning Carter Page that the team had
recently received. According to notes of the meeting, the OGC Attorney and OGC
Unit Chief told the 01 Unit Chief about the allegations contained in the Steele
reporting that Page had a secret meeting with a high-level Russian official in July
2016, that Page may have received a Russian dossier on Hillary Clinton, and that
there was a “well-developed conspiracy” between associates of the Trump
campaign and Russian leadership being managed, in part, by Carter Page. The 01
Unit Chief told us that he recalled that the Steele reporting was “what kind of
pushed it over the line” in terms of the FBI being ready to pursue FISA authority
targeting Page. He recalled thinking that if the information bears out during the
drafting process, there would probably be sufficient information to support a FISA
application targeting Page. Conversely, he said that without the Steele reporting
concerning Page, he would not have thought they could establish probable cause
based on the other information the FBI presented at that time (Page’s historical
contacts with Russia).
On September 22, the 01 Unit Chief assigned a line attorney (01 Attorney) to
work on the Carter Page FISA, and he and the 01 Attorney met with the OGC Unit
Chief to brief the 01 Attorney into the case and discuss the essentia I points for the
FISA. The same day, OGC submitted a FISA request form to 01 providing, among
other things, a description of the factual information to establish probable cause to
believe that Carter Page was an agent of a foreign power, the “facilities” to be
targeted under the proposed FISA coverage, and the FBI’s investigative plan.265
Case Agent 1 said he prepared the FISA request form, and the OGC Attorney said
he may have provided a “very quick review” before sending it to 01. The OGC
Attorney told us that the FISA request form was not as “robust” as it could have
been because the FBI wanted to submit it to 01 as soon as possible.
The FISA request form drew almost entirely from Steele’s reporting in
describing the factual basis to establish probable cause to believe that Page was an
agent of a foreign power, including the secret meeting between Carter Page and
Divyekin alleged in Steele’s Report 94 and the role of Page as an intermediary
between Russia and the Trump campaign’s then manager, Paul Manafort, in the
“well-developed conspiracy” alleged in Steele’s Report 95. The only additional
information cited in the FISA request form to support a probable cause finding as to
Page was (1) a statement that Page was a senior foreign policy advisor for the
intelligence.house.gov/uploadedfiles/memo_and_white_house_letter.pdf (last accessed December 2,
2019). McCabe told us that he did not recall his exact testimony, but that his view was that the FBI
would have “absolutely” sought FISA authority on Carter Page, even without the Steele reporting,
based upon Page’s historical interactions with known Russian intelligence officers and the fact that
Page told known Russian intelligence officers about the FBI’s knowledge of those interactions.
However, McCabe also told us that he was not privy to the discussions that took place between
attorneys in FBI OGC and Case Agent 1 on the sufficiency of the evidence to establish probable cause
before the Crossfire Hurricane team received Steele’s election reports. McCabe said he could not
speculate as to whether the FBI would have been successful in obtaining FISA authority from the FISC
without the inclusion of the Steele reporting.
265 “Facilities” are
126
Trump campaign and had extensive ties to various state-owned or affiliated entities
of the Russian Federation, (2) Papadopoulos’s statement to the FFG in May 2016,
and (3) open source articles discussing Trump campaign policy positions
sympathetic to Russia, including that the campaign’s tone changed after it began to
receive advice from, among others, Manafort and Page.
The FISA request form submitted to 01 did not include information that the
FBI obtained as a result of CHS meetings in August and September referenced in
Chapter Three and summarized in Chapter Ten. These meetings were an attempt
by the FBI to better understand what Papadopoulos meant when he advised the
FFG about the alleged offer of assistance from the Russians, to probe Page and
Papadopoulos about links between the campaign and Russia and to determine
whatever Page and Papadopoulos may have known about Russia’s use of emails to
benefit the Trump campaign. The first meeting involved a consensually monitored
conversation between an FBI CHS and Page in August 2016, and the second
involved consensual! monitored conversations between an FBI CHSand
Papadopoulos in September 2016.
During the meeting in August, Carter Page stated, among other things, that
he had “literally never met” or “said one word to” Paul Manafort, and that Manafort
had not responded to any of Page’s emails. Page made other statements that did
not add support to the notion that Page was conspiring with Russia. During the
meetings in September, Papadopoulos stated, among other things, that to his
knowledge no one associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with
Russia or with outside groups like WikiLeaks in the release of emails. As described
in Chapter Eight, the 01 Attorney told us that he did not think the FBI told him
about these meetings before the FISA application was filed with the court. We
found no information suggesting otherwise.
The FISA request form also did not include information the Crossfire
Hurricane team received from another U .5. government agency on August 17,
2016, relating to Page’s prior relationship with that agency and prior contacts with
Russian intelligence officers.
Finally, the FISA request form referred to Steele as a “reliable source, whose
previous reporting to the FBI has been corroborated and used in criminal
proceedings.” As noted later in this chapter, whil~ Steele had previously provided
information to the FBI that helped the FBI further criminal investigations, his
reporting had never been used in a criminal proceeding.
After receiving clarifying questions from 01 in response to the FISA request
form, the FBI submitted a revised, formal request for an expedited FISA application
on September 30. As described in Chapter Two, an expedited FISA application
seeks to have the FISC waive the requirement in its Rules of Procedure that the
government submit a proposed application no later than 7 days before it seeks to
have the matter considered by the FISC. Requests by the FBI that 01 seek an
expedited FISA application require the approval of a Deputy Assistant Director
(DAD) or higher. In this instance, the expedited request was approved by DAD
Strzok. Strzok told the OIG that he approved the request to expedite the FISA
127·
because there was a sense of urgency to complete the investigation as quickly and
thoroughly as possible. According to Strzok, the team was not given an explicit
instruction to finish the investigation before Election Day or Inauguration Day, but
everyone involved understood the importance of moving quickly.
At the same time the Crossfire Hurricane team moved forward with a FISA
request targeting Carter Page, FBI documents reflect that the team was also
interested in a FISA request targeting George Papadopoulos to further the
investigation. However, FBI OGC was not supportive. Instant messages between
the OGC Attorney and the OGC Unit Chief indicate that they, the Intel Section Chief
and Strzok, agreed that there was not a sufficient basis for FISA surveillance
targeting Papadopoulos. The instant messages also show that the Intel Section
Chief and Strzok were much more interested in pursuing the request for FISA
coverage targeting Page.
The OGC Unit Chief told the OIG that she recalled that the difference
between these two subjects with respect to a potential FISA application was that
Carter Page had previous connections with Russian intelligence officers as well as
the recent allegations in the Steele reporting that Page was an intermediary
between Russia and the Trump campaign. With respect to Papadopoulos, the
Crossfire Hurricane team had the information from the FFG that mentioned him, but
no specific information that Papadopoulos was a person being directed by the
Russians. Ultimately, the Crossfire Hurricane team did not seek FISA authority
targeting Papadopoulos.
II. Preparation and Approval of the First FISA Application
Following receipt of the FISA request form on September 22, the 01 Attorney
immediately began work on the FISA application, preparing the initial drafts with
information provided by the FBI. The preparation and approval process for the
application took four weeks to complete. We were told that the application received
more attention and scrutiny than the typical FISA application in terms of additional
layers of review and the number of high-level officials who read the application. We
describe this process in detail below.
A. Initial Drafts
On or about September 23, the 01 Attorney began work on the initial draft
FISA application. At this early stage of the drafting process, Evans told us that he
instructed the 01 Attorney and 01 Unit Chief to handle the Carter Page FISA
application as they would any other FISA application-to make sure the work was
as thorough as possible so that NSD could answer the legal question of whether the
facts meet the probable cause standard-and leave any policy questions to the
decision makers down the road.
As described in Chapter Two, the read copy of a FISA application is prepared
by an 01 attorney using information provided by the FBI, primarily the case agent.
The 01 attorney relies heavily on the case agent to supply the necessary
128
information and identify significant issues. NSD officials told us that the nature of
FISA practice requires that 01 rely on the FBI agents who are familiar with the
investigation to provide accurate and complete information. Unlike federal
prosecutors, 01 attorneys are usually not involved in an investigation, or even
aware of a case’s existence, unless and until 01 receives a request to initiate a FISA
application. Once they receive a request, 01 attorneys generally interact with field
offices remotely and do not have broad access to FBI case files or sensitive source
files. According to NSD officials, even if 01 received broader access to FBI case
files, the number of FISA requests that 01 attorneys are responsible for handling
makes it impracticable for an 01 attorney to become intimately familiar with an FBI
case file, particular one about which they have had little to no prior awareness. 266
In addition, NSD told us that 01 attorneys are not in the best position to sift
through a voluminous FBI case file because they do not have the background
knowledge and context to meaningfully assess all the information.
In this case, based upon the information the FBI initially provided in the
September 22 draft FISA request, the 01 Attorney sent his first questions to the
OGC Attorney on September 23. Case Agent 1 sent back responses the same day.
Over the course of the next two weeks, the 01 Attorney exchanged. various emails
and telephone calls with the FBI and prepared initial drafts using information
principally provided by Case Agent 1 and, in a few instances, by the OGC Attorney
or other Crossfire Hurricane team members. The culmination of this process led to
the first drafts of the FISA application being shared with 01 and NSD management
on October 5 and 6, 2016. ·
In these initial drafts, the statement of facts in support of probable cause
asserted that the Russians were attempting to undermine and influence the
upcoming U.S. presidential election, and that the FBI believed Carter Page was
acting in conjunction with the Russians in those efforts. The statement of facts
supporting probable cause was broken down into four main elements:
(1) The efforts. of Russian Intelligence Services (RIS) to influence the
upcoming 2016 U.S. presidential election;
(2) The Russian government’s attempted coordination with members
of the Trump campaign, which was based on the FFG information
concerning the alleged offer or suggestion of assistance from the
Russians to someone associated with the Trump campaign;
(3) Page’s historical connections to Russia and RIS, which included his
business dealings with the Russian energy company Gazprom, his
professional relationships with known Russian intelligence officers, and
his disclosure to the FBI and a Russian Minister that he was Male-1 in
an indictment against Russian intelligence officers; and
266 NSD officials cautioned further that it is not unusual for OI to receive requests for
emergency authorizations with only a few hours to evaluate the request.
129
( 4) Page’s alleged coordination with the Russian government on 2016
U.S. presidential election activities, based on some of the reporting
from Steele.
In addition, the statement of facts described Page’s denials of coordination
with the Russian government as reported in two news articles and as asserted by
Page in a September 25 letter to the FBI Director. Except for the addition of new
information from an October 2016 CHS operation discussed later, the read copy and
final application submitted to the FISC were organized in the same way.,
In support of the fourth element concerning Carter Page’s alleged
coordination with the Russian government on 2016 U.S. presidential election
activities, the drafts of the application-and later the read copy and final
application-relied entirely on information from Steele that Steele said was provided
to him by his Primary Sub-source. Specifically, the following aspects of Steele’s
Reports 80, 94, 95, and 102 were used to support the application:
• Compromising information about Hillary Clinton had been compiled for
many years, was controlled by the Kremlin, and the Kremlin had been
feeding information to the Trump campaign for an extended period of
time (Report 80);
• During his July 2016 trip to Mosco~, Carter Page attended a secret
meeting with Igor Sechin, Chairman of Rosneft and close associate of
Putin, to discuss future cooperation and the lifting of Ukraine-related
sanctions against Russia; and a secret meeting with Igor Divyekin,
another highly placed Russian official, to discuss sharing compromising
information about Clinton with the Trump campaign (Report 94);
• Page was an intermediary between Russia and the Trump campaign’s
then manager (Manafort) in a “well-developed conspiracy” of
cooperation, which led, with at least Page’s knowledge and agreement,
to Russia’s disclosure of hacked DNC emails to Wikileaks in exchange
for the Trump campaign’s agreement to sideline Russian intervention
in Ukraine as a campaign issue (Report 95);267 and
• Russia released the DNC emails to Wikileaks in an attempt to swing
voters to Trump, an objective conceived and promoted by Carter Page
and others (Report 102).
The development of the statement of facts concerning Steele’s reporting
resulted from the back-and-forth exchange described above between the 01
Attorney and the FBI, during which the 01 Attorney asked many questions about
267 In further support of this allegation from Report 95, the FISA application described two
news articles from July and August 2016 reporting that the Trump campaign had worked behind the
scenes to change the Republican Party’s platform on providing weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian
and rebel forces and that candidate Trump appeared to have adopted a “milder” tone on Russia’s
annexation of Crimea.
130
Page, as well as about Steele’s reporting and the structure and access of his source
network.
Among the questions regarding Carter Page, on September 29, the 01
Attorney asked the Crossfire Hurricane team, “do we know if there is any truth to
Page’s claim that he has provided information to [another U.S. government
agency]-was he considered a source/asset/whatever?” According to the 01
Attorney, it would have been a significant fact to disclose to 01 if Page had
interactions with the other U.S. government agency that overlapped in time with
his interactions with known Russian intelligence officers described in the FISA
applications because it would raise the issue of whether Page interacted with the
Russian intelligence officers at the behest of the other U.S. government agency or
with the intent to assist the U.S. government. In response to the 01 Attorney’s
question, Case Agent 1 advised him that Page did meet with the other U.S.
government agency, but that the interactions took place while Page was in Moscow
(which was between 2004 and 2007) and were “outside scope.” Based upon this
response, the 01 Attorney did not include information about Page’s prior
interactions with the other U.S. government agency in the application. However, as
fully described later in this chapter, the information Case Agent 1 provided to the
01 Attorney was incomplete, inaccurate, and in certain respects contrary to the
information the other agency provided to the Crossfire Hurricane team on August
17, 2016 and that Carter Page had provided to the FBI in 2009 and 2013. This
information indicated that Page had a prior relationship with the other U.S.
government agency and that his interactions with the other agency occurred more
recently than the 2004-2007 time period and actually overlapped with information
alleged in the FISA application concerning his alleged ties to Russian intelligence
officers.
With respect to Steele, when the drafting process began, the Crossfire
Hurricane team had only just begun the process of conducting the evaluation
process ( described in Chapters Four and Six) to assess Steele, his source network,
and the information provided in his reports. That source evaluation process and the
FISA drafting process were taking place simultaneously, and the FBI had not
corroborated the Steele information being considered for the FISA application.
Evans and other witnesses told us that the fact that the source information in the
FISA application had not yet been corroborated was not unusual in the FISA
context. 268 Officials told us that a significant fact in their consideration of the Steele
information for the FISA application was that the Steele reporting on Carter Page
appeared to be consistent with the information from the FFG that came from an
independent reporting stream. 269
268 As described in Chapter Two, corroboration of source information is not required by the
FBI’s Woods Procedures. Although the Woods Procedures require that every fact in a FISA application
be “verified,” when a particular fact is attributed to a source, an agent must only verify that the fact
came from the source and the application accurately states what the source said. The Woods
Procedures do not require that the FBI have a second source for the same information.
269 The Crossfire Hurricane team had information available to it by early October 2016 that
the two reporting streams could have connectivity because they had learned that Person 1, an
131
Ev~ns and other witnesses also emphasized that in the absence of
corroboration, it was particularly important for the FISA application to articulate to
the court the reliability of the source as assessed by the FBI. As the OGC Unit Chief
advised Case Agent 1 on September 22 during the drafting of the FISA r~
form “One last thin -we robably need a little bit more on the source-Since
this is essentially a single source FISA, we
have to give a fulsome description of the source.” Therefore, on September 29,
during the early drafting phase, Case Agent 1 provided 01 with the following
characterization of Steele for inclusion in the FISA application:
This information comes from a sensitive FBI source whose reporting
has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings, and who
obtains information from a number of ostensibly well-positioned subsources.
The scope of the source’s reporting is from 20 June 2016
through 20 August 2016.
The 01 Attorney incorporated this information with other information the case agent
. provided to draft the following in the application:
[Steele] has been an FBI source since in or about October 2013.
[Steele’s] reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal
proceedings and the FBI assesses [Steele] to be reliable. [Steele] has
been compensated approximately $95,000 and the FBI is unaware of
any derogatory information pertaining to [Steele].
The final Carter Page application included this source characterization statement:
~ a former

  • and has been an FBI source since in or about October 2013.
    [Steele’s] reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal
    proceedings and the FBI assesses [Steele] to be reliable. [Steele] has
    been compensated approximately $95,000 by the FBI and the FBI is
    unaware of any derogatory information pertaining to [Steele].
    The 01 Attorney told us that he does not have access to the CHS files of FBI
    sources and, therefore, tries to adhere closely to what a case agent sends him
    when he drafts a source characterization statement for a FISA application. He
    stated that he also relies on the fact that the Woods Procedures require that the
    source handling agent approve the language. However, as described later in this
    chapter, the source characterization statement in the application overstated the
    significance of Steele’s past reporting and was not approved by the FBI agent who
    served as Steele’s handling agent.
    To further address reliability, the 01 Attorney sought information from the
    FBI to describe the source network in the FISA application. On multiple occasions,
    the 01 Attorney asked the FBI questions about the sub-sources, including in a
    September 30, 2016 email in which he asked Case Agent 1 and the Crossfire
    important Steele election reporting sub-source, had been engaging in “sustained” contact with
    Papadopoulos since at least August 2016.
    132
    Hurricane team: “If the reporting is being made by a primary source, but based on
    sub-sources, why is it reliable-even though second/third hand?” The OIG did not
    find a written response to this specific question, and the 01 Attorney did not recall a
    response. However, the 01 Attorney told us that the Crossfire Hurricane team
    eventually briefed him on the sub-source information they learned from Steele after
    their early October meeting with him (described in Chapter Four). He also received
    a written summary of this information that the Supervisory Intel Analyst prepared
    shortly after the October meeting. The 01 Attorney told us that based on the
    information the FBI provided, he thought at the time that some of the sub-sources
    were “definitely” in a position to have had access to the information Steele was
    reporting.
    Ultimately, the initial drafts provided to 01 management, the read copy, and
    the final application submitted to the FISC contained a description of the source
    network that included the fact that Steele relied upon a Primary Sub-source who
    used a network of sub-sources, and that neither Steele nor the Primary Sub-source
    had direct access to the information being reported. The drafts, read copy, and
    final application also contained a separate footnote on each sub-source with a brief
    description of his/her position or access to the information he/she was reporting.
    The Supervisory Intel Analyst assisted the case agent in providing information on
    the sub-sources and reviewed the footnotes for accuracy. According to the 01
    Attorney, the application contained more information about the sources than is
    typically provided to the court in FISA applications. According to Evans, the idea
    was to present the source network to the court so that the court would have as
    much information as possible.
    B. Review and Approval Process
    As described in Chapter Two, once an FBI case agent affirms the accuracy of
    the information in the read copy of an application, an 01 Unit Chief or Deputy Unit
    Chief is usually the final and only approver before a read copy is submitted to the
    FISC. The Unit Chief or Deputy is also usually the final approver that “signs out”
    the final application ( cert copy) to the FBI for completion of the Woods Procedures
    and Director’s certification before presentation to either the Assistant Attorney
    General (AAG) of NSD, the DAG, or Attorney General for final signature. The final
    signatory receives an oral briefing, the cert copy, and a cover memorandum (cert
    memo) describing each application. In most cases, the start of the oral briefing, or
    shortly beforehand, is the first time the application is presented to the final
    signatory. According to NSD, most FISA applications do not get singled out for
    additional review and, to place that in perspective, there are approximately 1,300
    applications submitted to the FISC each year and roughly 25-40 final applications
    go to the AAG, DAG, or the Attorney General for signature ·in any given week.
    However, in some cases, according to NSD, a FISA application will .receive
    additional review and scrutiny, particularly if it presents a novel or complicated
    issue or otherwise has been flagged for further review. In this case, as described
    immediately below, documents and witness testimony reflect that the first Carter
    Page FISA application underwent a lengthy review and editing process within NSD,
    the FBI, and ODAG. According to Evans and other witnesses, this application had
    133
    heightened sensitivity and therefore received additional attention because of the
    apparent effort by a foreign power to influence the upcoming 2016 U.S. elections
    and the prior connection of the FISA target (Carter Page) to one of the presidential
    campaigns.
  1. Initial Feedback and NSD Concerns over Steele’s
    Potential Motivation and Bias
    Sanz-Rexach, Chief of OI’s Operations Section, and his Deputy Section Chief
    were the first layers above the 01 Unit Chief to receive a draft of the Carter Page
    application. After they provided feedback, the 01 Attorney provided the draft on
    October 6, 2016 to Evans and, at the request of FBI OGC, to FBI General Counsel
    James Baker for concurrent review.
    Baker told us that a review by the General Counsel was not a necessary step
    in the FBI’s FISA approval process, but said that he would sometimes review an
    application when he thought it was warranted. Baker said that in this case, he
    asked to read the application because he recognized its sensitivities, including that
    the target had been associated with a presidential campaign and that the whole
    case was about Russian efforts to influence the presidential election and whether
    those efforts included any interactions with the Trump campaign. He said that he
    expected that the FBI would be called upon after-the-fact to justify its actions, and
    he wanted to ensure that his significant FISA experience was “brought to oear” on
    the application. 270
    For these reasons, Baker said he asked his Deputy General Counsel, Trisha
    Anderson, to give him the draft application before it was “too gelled” so that he
    could have influence over the drafting without disrupting the process. FBI
    documents indicate that Baker reviewed the draft on October 6 or 7. Baker told us
    that he read the probable cause section of the application, as well as the description
    in the Director’s certification section of the foreign intelligence purpose of the
    requested FISA authority. He said that he thought it was important that the foreign
    intelligence purpose of the FISA authority was made clear in the application by
    focusing on the FBI’s objective of learning the capabilities and tradecraft of Russia.
    He stated that he remembered being satisfied that the foreign intelligence purpose
    was properly articulated in the draft he reviewed.
    Baker told us that he also remembered being satisfied at the time that there
    was probable cause articulated in the draft application to believe that Carter Page
    was an agent of a foreign power. He said that it was difficult for him to fully explain
    to us the basis for his assessment without reviewing the entire application again,
    but that he recalled Page’s continuing relationships with Russian intelligence
    officers, even after the FBI made Page aware that they were Russian intelligence
    270 In addition to serving as the FBI’s General Counsel from 2014 to 2018, Baker had held
    positions in OI’s predecessor office, the Department’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, from
    1996 to 2007, and later as an Associate Deputy Attorney General in ODAG responsible for national
    security matters from 2009 to 2011.
    134
    officers, being “key” facts in his mind. 271 Further, he said that, in retrospect, he
    thought that Page’s knowing interactions with Russian intelligence officers could
    have established probable cause even without reliance on the reporting from
    Steele. However, Baker did not recall being involved in the FISA discussions the
    team was having before the Steele reporting came in, and because of the
    redactions in the public version of the FISA application, he was unable to speak to
    how recent Page’s interactions with Russian intelligence officers had been at the
    time the application was filed.
    Baker said that he did not recall his specific line edits to the draft, but that
    another theme of his comments was to ensure that the court was fully apprised of
    all material factual information regarding Steele and his reliability as well as any
    derogatory information about Steele, so that the court could make its own
    assessment of the Steele reporting. Questions attributed to Baker in an October 7
    draft reflect that he, among other things, asked the FBI to provide more
    information about Steele’s prior employment to help establish his credibility and
    explain why he would have a source network. He also asked questions regarding
    Carter Page in an apparent attempt to clarify some of the facts regarding Page’s
    travel history and past relationships with Russian intelligence officers. According to
    Baker, he did not read the application a second time before it was submitted to the
    court, but Anderson told him that his comments were adequately addressed.
    Anderson also reviewed a draft of the application; however, we could not
    determine the timing of her review. Documents indicate that Anderson requested
    the draft on October 5 and received it the next day, but Anderson told us she
    recalled reading the draft after Baker, and closer in time to ODAG’s review of the
    draft, which was almost 2 weeks later. Anderson said that she did not recall
    providing feedback on the draft and explained that Baker and the OGC Unit Chief
    were directly involved in the review process. Anderson did recall that she made
    sure the draft incorporated Baker’s previous edits in some fashion, but she did not
    recall what those edits were. 272
    Review or approval of the FISA application by senior Counterintelligence
    Division (CD) officials was not a required step in the FBI’s FISA procedures.
    Priestap, Strzok, and the Intel Section Chief told us that they did not play roles in
    the preparation or approval of the Carter Page FISA application. These officials told
    us that they were aware that FISA authority was being sought and, as described
    previously, Strzok provided DAD approval of the team’s request for an expedited
    FISA application, as required by FBI procedures. Further, as described later in this
    chapter, Strzok had conversations with Evans about the status of the application.
    271 Because Baker requested not to have his security clearance reinstated for his OIG
    interview, Baker was unable to review the entire FISA application before or during the interview, and
    we were unable to ask questions that would reveal classified information.
    272 Similar to Baker, Anderson did not typically review FISA applications. The OGC U11it Chief
    said that she worked with the OGC Attorney and OI during the FISA process and was more involved in
    this FISA application than she was in some others. She told us that she did not recall providing or
    suggesting specific edits for this application.
    135
    However, we found no information suggesting that senior CD officials contributed to
    the substance of the application.
    Evans shared his own feedback with the 01 Unit Chief and 01 Attorney, which
    included, among other issues, asking the Crossfire Hurricane team whether Steele
    “is affiliated with either campaign and/or has contributed to either campaign.” On
    October 7, the 01 Unit Chief emailed Evans’s question to the team, and on October
    10, Case Agent 1 addressed the second part of Evans’s question, stating that Steele
    was most likely a foreign national and therefore unable to contribute to either
    campaign. Because Case Agent 1 did not fully address Evans’s question, the 01
    Unit Chief asked the agent again, on October 11, whether Steele was affiliated with
    and/or had contributed to either presidential campaign. Again the case agent
    answered only the second part of the question, confirming that Steele had not
    contributed to any campaign and was not a U.S. person. Evans told us that he
    remembered being somewhat frustrated and annoyed by this answer and asked the
    question a third time to be sure that nothing was missed in terms of any potential
    political bias on the part of the source.
    According to Evans, later in the day on October 11, after 01 circulated a new
    draft application and, in response to his questions, he and 01 learned for the first
    time from the FBI that Steele had been paid to develop political opposition
    research. He told us that he recalled that he, the 01 Unit Chief, and the 01
    Attorney were all quite surprised by this new information and that it was frustrating
    that they had not been informed sooner. Evans said that the new information,
    coupled with the sensitive nature of the case, made him concerned that the source
    might have a bias that needed to be disclosed to the court. Consequently, Evans
    placed a temporary hold on the application so that 01 could further explore and
    evaluate with the FBI the information 01 had just learned.
    Evans told the OIG, and emails and instant and text messages reflect, that
    over the next three days, he and 01 asked additional questions about Steele to
    better understand his potential motivations, bias, and overall reliability. Before
    being asked these questions, the Crossfire Hurricane team had expected that the
    October 11 draft would be the final version submitted to the court as the read copy.
    However, on the evening of October 11, Evans had a telephone conversation with
    his counterpart at the FBI, DAD Strzok, to discuss Evans’s concerns and let him
    know that 01 needed more time to understand and evaluate the information it had
    just learned concerning Steele. 273 According to Evans, there was frustration
    expressed on both sides, with Strzok frustrated that the FISA process was not
    moving at the desired pace and Evans responding to the effect that “it doesn’t help
    that just now, at the eleventh hour, I have for the first time learned that
    information about Steele.” As detailed below, text messages between Strzok and
    the OGC Attorney reflect that Strzok believed the FBI had previously informed 01
    273 Evans said he also contacted Baker to let him know that QI needed time to explore the
    new information. Baker told us that he did not specifically recall whether Evans told him that QI
    needed more time to explore the FBI’s information regarding Steele. However, Baker said that he
    remembered having a telephone conversation with Evans about this particular application, the
    substance of which we describe in the next section.
    136
    about Steele’s source of payment. The conversation ended with Strzok agreeing to
    allow the Crossfire Hurricane team to answer whatever questions about the source
    01 needed to ask. Similarly, during her OIG interview, then NSD Principal Deputy
    Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord recalled that she had a telephone
    conversation with then Deputy Director Andrew McCabe during which she advised
    him that she believed the FISA application needed to include more information
    about who hired Steele, and that McCabe did not push back. 274 McCabe told us that
    he did not recall any specific conversations with McCord about this FISA application.
    Internal FBI emails, as well as instant messages and text messages, reflect
    the FBI’s discussions with Evans and reactions to his concerns. For example,
    following his telephone call with Evans on the evening of October 11, Strzok
    reached out to Lisa Page and advised her that support from McCabe might be
    necessary to move the FISA application forward:
    6:21 p.m., Strzok to Lisa Page: “Currently fighting with Stu [Evans]
    for this fisa.”
    6:50 p.m., Strzok to Page: “Hey-The FISA will probably not go
    forward without a call from the [Deputy Director]. Even as is, the
    court may not hear it this week.”
    At the same time, Strzok also had communications with the OGC Attorney:
    6:56 p.m., Strzok to OGC Attorney: “Stu is nervous. Didn’t help that
    he just found out today about [Steele’s] source of payment/direction
    for this particular reporting. I thought we had told 01 earlier?”
    6:56 p.m., OGC Attorney to Strzok: “Yes, we absolutely informed [01
    Unit Chief] and [01 Attorney] about the source.” “Multiple meetings,
    actually, with [Case Agent 1] and [the SOS].”
    6:57 p.m., Strzok to OGC Attorney: “Ok-including the named
    intermediary, with the unnamed client (presumed to be connected to
    the campaign in some way)? Well, they didn’t tell Stu … “
    6:59 p.m., OGC Attorney to Strzok: “Yes, we provided source
    descriptions for all of the sub-sources, sources, etc. That is confusing
    because that seemed to be what put [01 Unit Chief] and [01 Attorney]
    at ease.”
    6:59 p.m., OGC Attorney to Strzok: “Is he going to hold the FISA?”
    7:06 p.m., Strzok to OGC Attorney: “no, but I’m concerned about how
    they preload the Court/court advisor”
    7:06 p.m., Strzok to OGC Attorney: “I think he wants more words in
    there about it. … “
    214 McCord became the Acting AAG for NSD upon the departure of AAG John Carlin, which
    occurred in this timeframe.
    137
    7:07 p.m., OGC Attorney to Strzok: “Roger. I’ll reach out to [01 Unit
    Chief] to see if he is in the office by chance.
    Later the same evening, Strzok communicated with the OGC Unit Chief:
    7:34 p.m., OGC Unit Chief to Strzok: “So Stu called you about his
    concerns about the [Page] FISA? Not sure why he didn’t reach out to
    the [FBI General Counsel/Deputy General Counsel] or the [Deputy
    Director]/Director, as they’ve all approved moving forward with this.
    What was the point of his [sic]? Was he trying to get you to pull it?”
    7:53 p.m., OGC Unit Chief to Strzok: “I got further clarification from
    [01 Unit Chief]. I think it’s all good. We should have more from DOJ
    tomorrow.”
    7:53 p.m., Strzok to OGC Unit Chief: “Ok. Stu is very nervous.”
    7:54 p.m., Strzok to OGC Unit Chief: “He said he wasn’t aware of the
    fact until a few hours ago that [Steele] was employed to find this
    information by a named client, in turn hired by an unnamed client
    presumably affiliated with the Clinton campaign in some manner.”
    Between 7:54 p.m. and 7:59 p.m., [Strzok and the OGC Unit Chief exchanged
    messages on an unrelated topic.]
    7:59 p.m., Strzok to OGC Unit Chief: “Is 01 still sending copy to FISC
    tomorrow?”
    7:59 p.m., Strzok to OGC Unit Chief: “I’m worried about what Stu
    whispers in Court Advisors ear.”
    7:59 p.m., OGC Unit Chief to Strzok: “Yeah. I think so. Stu’s going
    to think about it overnight. Not for attribution, but apparently he’s the
    only one over there worried about it.”
    7:59 p.m., OGC Unit Chief to Strzok: “Yeah, me too.”
    8:00 p.m., Strzok to OGC Unit Chief: “Jim [Baker] or [Deputy
    Director] or someone may need to weigh in with [NSD Assistant
    Attorney General John] Carlin.”
    8:00 p.m., Strzok to OGC Unit Chief: “I’ll bring it up at the prep SVTC
    tomorrow.”
    8:00 p.m., OGC Unit Chief to Strzok: “If it goes beyond noon, I would
    tend to agree.”
    The next morning, at 7:44 a.m., the OGC Attorney sent the following text
    message to Strzok:
    Pete, I talked to [01 Unit Chief] last night. It doesn’t sound like Stu is
    concerned about the FISA itself, but more of fleshing out the details of
    [Steele] (e.g., how he began his reporting). All of that information
    was obtained from [Case Agent 1]. We should be in good shape once
    01 bats it around a little more internally this AM.
    138
    Although the OGC Attorney stated in these text messages that the 01 Unit
    Chief and the 01 Attorney had been briefed before October 11 on who had
    commissioned Steele’s reporting, the 01 Unit Chief told the OIG that he believed
    they did not learn about the potential political connections to Steele’s reporting until
    after Evans raised his questions. The 01 Attorney told us that he did not recall
    exactly when he learned about them, but that it was later in the drafting process,
    and that Evans’s inquiries led to a better understanding of the nature of Steele’s
    research. The 01 Attorney told us that he did not recall asking the agent any
    specific questions about who Steele’s clients were. Case Agent 1 told us that he did
    not recall any conversations with the 01 Attorney about the source reporting’s
    connection to political opposition research before 01 asked questions about it. He
    explained that the Crossfire Hurricane team only suspected, but did not know in
    mid-October 2016, that Steele’s reporting was generated through political
    opposition research.
    The OIG did not find any written communications indicating that anyone on
    the Crossfire Hurricane team advised 01 about the potential or suspected political
    connections to Steele’s reporting before Evans raised his questions on October 11,
    and nothing to that effect appeared in the October 11 draft FISA application.
    Further, the emails described above containing Evans’s questions about Steele’s
    campaign affiliation or contributions suggest that 01 did not have prior knowledge.
  2. FBI Leadership Supports Moving Forward with the FISA
    Application and OI Drafts Additional Disclosures
    Concerning Steele
    On October 12, 2016, Evans’s concerns about Steele were briefed to Corney
    and McCabe in a meeting attended by at least Priestap, Strzok, Lisa Page, and the
    OGC Unit Chief. According to notes of the meeting, the group discussed that Evans
    was concerned Steele may have been hired by someone associated with Hillary
    Clinton or the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and that the read copy of the
    FISA application would not be filed with the court that day so that Evans could
    further assess the potential bias. The notes reflect that the group discussed that
    Evans was also concerned that the foreign intelligence to be collected through the
    FISA would not be “worth [the] risk.” Following the meeting, the OGC Unit Chief
    emailed Anderson and the OGC Attorney on October 12 and advised them that the
    concerns Evans had raised were discussed with Corney and McCabe and that both
    were “supportive” of moving forward despite those concerns.
    During his OIG interview, Evans told us that he thought he did not raise the
    concern about the potential value of the collection outweighing the risk until
    sometime after 01 worked through the bias issue with the FBI. According to Evans,
    he raised on multiple occasions with the FBI, including with Strzok, Lisa Page, and
    later McCabe, whether seeking FISA authority targeting Carter Page was a good
    idea, even if the legal standard was met. He explained that he did not see a
    compelling “upside” to the FISA because Carter Page knew he was under FBI
    investigation (according to news reports) and was therefore not likely to say
    anything incri~inating over the telephone or in email. On the other hand, Evans
    saw significant “downside” because the target of the FISA was politically sensitive
    139
    and the Department would be criticized later if this FISA was ever disclosed
    publicly. He told the OIG that he thought there was no right or wrong answer to
    this question, which he characterized as a prudential question of risk vs. reward,
    but he wanted to make sure he raised the issue for the decision makers to consider.
    According to Evans, the reactions he received from the FBI to this prudential
    question were some variations of-we understand your concerns, those are valid
    points, but if you are telling us it’s legal, we cannot pull any punches just because
    there could be criticism afterward.
    Baker told us that he recalled having a telephone conversation with Evans
    after learning about Evans’s prudential concerns from Anderson and the OGC Unit
    Chief. According to Baker, he told Evans that he understood the matter was
    sensitive but that he (Baker) thought there was probable cause and that the FBI
    was seeking the FISA for a legitimate purpose and thought the application should
    go forward. Baker told us that he did not think he had persuaded Evans, and Baker
    said he was left with the impression that Evans planned to raise the issue with
    others in the Department.
    Evans told us that he discussed this prudential question with Tashina Gauhar,
    the Associate Deputy Attorney General responsible for ODAG’s national security
    portfolio, and McCord. According to Evans, Gauhar seemed to share his concern,
    but Gauhar said that she did not think anyone was going to tell the FBI not to
    pursue the FISA if the legal standard was met. Gauhar told us that ODAG’s position
    was first to ensure that the legal standard for the FISA application was met, and
    that everyone, including NSD, thought that it was. She said that there was a
    separate question about the “policy decision to go forward,” and on that question
    she understood that FBI leadership believed strongly that the application should go
    forward. She said that although it was possible, she did not remember stating
    ODAG’s position in terms of deferring to the FBI or not being inclined to overrule
    the FBI if the FBI wanted to move forward.
    According to Evans, McCord said that she would discuss the prudential issue
    with McCabe, but the discussion did not happen before Evans raised the issue
    directly with McCabe after a regularly scheduled meeting on October 19.275
    According to Evans, McCabe told Evans on October 19 something to the effect of, “I
    hear you. I understand. [B]ut we can’t pull any punches and we’ve got to do it,
    and … let the chips fall where they may.” McCabe told us that he did not recall the
    specific words he used with Evans, but he believed he conveyed to Evans that the
    FBI “felt strongly” that the FISA application should move forward. McCabe said that
    he understood at the time that the FBI would likely be criticized no matter what the
    275 McCord told us that she spoke to McCabe almost every day on various matters and had
    more than one conversation with him about the Carter Page FISA application, but she did not
    specifically recall whether she had a conversation with McCabe on or about October 17, and if she did,
    what specific issue would have prompted a conversation at that time. She said that she believed her
    most significant conversation with McCabe about the first FISA occurred in October. She said it was
    the telephone call described earlier, before or during the drafting of the Steele footnote, in which she
    and McCabe discussed Steele and the need to include more information about the source in the
    application. McCabe told us that he did not specifically recall any conversations with McCord about
    this application.
    140
    team did or did not do, but he believed that the team had to get to the bottom of
    this potentially serious threat to national security. He said that if the FBI had not
    sought FISA authority under the circumstances presented here simply because the
    team was afraid of the “political nature” of the information, the FBI would have
    failed to do its job.
    The email on October 12, referenced above, from the OGC Unit Chief to
    Anderson and the OGC Attorney following the meeting with Corney and McCabe,
    said that Lisa Page would inform Evans of the FBI’s decision to move forward with
    the FISA application. Text messages from Lisa Page to McCabe indicate that Page
    communicated with Evans later that same day:
    3: 11 p.m., Lisa Page to McCabe: “01 now has a robust explanation re
    any possible bias of the chs in the package. Don’t know what the
    holdup is now, other than Stu’s continued concerns. Strong
    operational need to have in place before Monday if at all possible,
    which means ct tomorrow. 276 I communicated you and boss’s green
    light to Stu earlier, and just sent an email to Stu asking where things
    stood. This might take a high-level push. Will keep you posted.
    3:13 p.m., Page to McCabe: “If I have not heard back from Stu in an
    hour, I will invoke your name to say you want to know where things
    are, so long as okay with you.”
    Later the same day, Page sent a text message to McCabe stating that she
    “[s]poke to Stu. Let’s talk in the morning.” Available text message records are
    unclear as to whether McCabe responded directly to this text or to the previous text
    message at 3:13 p.m., but to one or the other, McCabe responded, “Ok.”277
    Shortly before Lisa Page’s first text to McCabe above, the Crossfire Hurricane
    team provided to 01 additional information regarding Steele that the 01 Attorney
    had requested. In an email on October 12, 01 asked the FBI team what Steele had
    been specifically hired to do, what the FBI knew about the motivation of the
    individual who hired Steele, including whether that individual was a supporter of
    Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party, and if the FBI could “articulate why it
    deems [Steele’s] reporting to be credible notwithstanding [Steele] did the
    investigation based on [a] private citizen’s motivation to help [Hillary
    Clinton/Democratic Party].” Through SSA 1, the team advised 01 that based on
    information from Steele, Steele was specifically hired by an individual to provide
    information on candidate Trump’s business affairs and contacts in Russia, Steele
    was never advised of the motivation of the individual who hired him, the individual
    who hired him was hired by an unidentified law firm in Washington, D.C., and
    276 As described below, it appears the desire to have FISA authorig in place before~
    was due at least in art to the fact that
    and the Crossfire Hurricane team wanted FISA coverage
    277 We did not find evidence of any further involvement by Lisa Page in the FBI’s efforts to file
    the FISA application, other than receiving a telephone call on October 18 from ODAG, described later
    in this chapter, to advise FBI leadership regarding the status of ODAG’s review of the application.
    141
    “anything further would be speculation.” In response to OI’s final question about
    Steele’s credibility, SSA 1 responded that: (1) the FBI has had an established
    relationship with the source since 2013; (2) the source was generating reporting
    well before the opening of Crossfire Hurricane and the leaks concerning the DNC
    emails, and therefore this was not a situation where a source was attempting to
    steer an ongoing investigation; and (3) Steele was not a U.S. citizen and therefore
    had no vested interest in the outcome of the election. The 01 Attorney forwarded
    this information to the 01 Unit Chief, noting that, “This creates more questions for
    me now …. “
    During further back and forth over a 3-day period, the Crossfire Hurricane
    team advised 01 that Steele was hired by Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, they did
    not know Simpson’s motivations, and they did not know the name of the law firm
    that retained Fusion GPS or its connections to Hillary Clinton or the Democratic
    Party because Steele did not believe asking Simpson about his client was
    appropriate. However, we found no evidence that Steele advised the FBI that he
    believed asking Simpson about the name of his client would be inappropriate.
    Rather, as described in Chapter Four, we obtained conflicting testimony as to
    whether Steele was even requested by the FBI to ask Simpson for the name of the
    law firm. Steele’s FBI handler (Handling Agent 1) told us that he informed Steele
    during their July 5 meeting that the FBI would be interested in finding out the name
    of the law firm. SSA 2 told us that he understood Handling Agent 1 “stayed away
    from tasking [Steele] about the identity of the U.S. law firm.” During his OIG
    interview, Steele told us that he did not know the identity of the law firm when he
    met with Handling Agent 1 on July 5. Steele said that he learned of it later in July
    and probably told the FBI the law firm’s name at some later date, but he did not
    specifically recall.
    The Crossfire Hurricane team further advised 01 that Steele~b~
    provided unrelated information that was found by –
  • to be consistent with other reporting on the same topic. 01 asked
    the team what the FBI knew about the September 23, 2016 Yahoo News article that
    quoted a “well-placed Western intelligence source” for information ostensibly
    coming from Steele’s reporting about Carter Page’s alleged meetings with Sechin
    and Divye’kin. The team responded that they did not have any additional details
    regarding the leak.
    On October 14, the 01 Attorney consolidated in writing for Evans and 01
    management the additional details concerning Steele, described above, that the FBI
    provided over the previous 3 days. According to Evans, at this point, he and the
    others in 01 believed that they had received all the information the FBI had on
    Steele. 278 The 01 Attorney and the 01 Unit Chief then revised the footnote in the
    draft application on Steele to address the potential that Steele, or those who hired
    278 This is consistent with an instant message from Strzok to Lisa Page on October 14, 2016,
    11:45 a.m.: “I’m going to email Stu and let him know we’ve gotten all the info we’re going to get re
    [Steele] and sourcing questions.”
    142
    him, had a bias. Specifically, they added the following paragraph, which became
    part of Footnote 8 in the read copy and final application:
    [Steele], who now owns a foreign business/financial intelligence firm,
    was approached by an identified U.S. person, who indicated to [Steele]
    that a U.S.-based law firm had hired the identified U.S. person to
    conduct research regarding Candidate #l’s ties to Russia (the
    identified U.S. person and [Steele] have a long-standing business
    relationship). The identified U.S. person hired [Steele] to conduct this
    research. The identified U.S. person never advised [Steele] as to the
    motivation behind the research into Candidate #l’s ties to Russia. The
    FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for
    information that could be used to discredit Candidate # 1 ‘s
    campaign.279
    According to Evans, the use of the term “speculates” in the footnote was
    intended to convey that even though the FBI did not know at the time who
    Simpson’s and the U.S. law firm’s ultimate client was, the FBI believed it was likely
    that it was someone who was seeking political opposition research against
    candidate Trump. The FBI represented to Evans and 01 that the Crossfire
    Hurricane team assumed, but did not know, that someone associated with the
    Hillary Clinton campaign or the Democratic Party paid for the research.280
    According to Evans, the use of “speculates” in a FISA application was unusual, but,
    in this context, he believed it was necessary to fully advise the court of the
    potential for bias. Evans told us that this additional information made him
    comfortable with the way that Steele was described in the application, specifically
    by making clear to the court that Steele had conducted opposition research on
    behalf of someone who appeared to have the intention of discrediting the Trump
    campaign. 281
    279 The Carter Page FISA application did not identify by name Steele’s clients or the
    presidential candidates, which is consistent with the Department’s general practice of not disclosing
    the true identities of U.S. persons who are not the surveillance targets in FISA applications.
    280 McCabe told us that he thought he had heard by the time of the first FISA application that
    Simpson had been working first for a Republican client and then later for a Democratic client.
    However, McCabe also told us that his memory on the timing of events is not always reliable, and
    other FBI officials told us that the team did not know who hired Simpson until after the first FISA
    application. As described in Chapter Nine, documentation we reviewed indicates that FBI officials
    obtained greater clarity on who Glenn Simpson was working for through interviews with Bruce Ohr in
    November and December 2016. Documentation indicates that by February and March 2017 it was
    broadly known among FBI officials that Simpson was hired first by a candidate during the Republican
    primaries and then later by someone related to the Democratic Party. Further, at least some team
    members knew by early 2017 that Simpson was hired by the DNC and another unidentified entity to
    research candidate Trump’s ties to Russia.
    281 As described in Chapter Ten, in early August 2016, before the Crossfire Hurricane team
    became aware of Steele’s election reports, information from a former FBI CHS was shared with
    members of the Crossfire Hurricane team indicating that the former CHS was recently contacted “by a
    colleague who runs an investigative firm. The firm had been hired by two entities (the Democratic
    National Committee [DNC] as well as another individual he did not name) to explore Donald Trump’s
    143
    Evans told us that sources often have “baggage” and can have a bias, but
    that does not necessarily make their information unreliable, especially if the FBI has
    a long history of assessing the source’s reporting as reliable. In his experience, the
    important thing is to make sure that enough information is presented to the court
    so that the judge understands the issue. His general approach with this particular
    footnote was to exceed “what was even legally required and just mak[e] sure there
    was nothing .. .left on the table about this source that we could be open to criticism
    on afterwards, based on what the FBI was giving us.”
    . After 01 made this revision to the footnote, 01 submitted an updated draft
    application to McCord for her review on October 14. 282 McCord remembered
    reading an early draft of the probable cause section and believed she probably read
    an updated probable cause section at least one more time before the read copy was
    filed focused on the questions 01 asked the FBI and the revisions that were made to
    address those questions. Based upon our review of relevant emails, it appears that
    McCord provided comments on the October 14 draft. She said her strongest
    memory was asking about Steele’s fee arrangement with Fusion GPS, which is also
    reflected in an October 18 email from the 01 Unit Chief to his supervisors. McCord
    also remembered discussions within NSD and with ODAG about the prudential
    question described earlier as to whether to file the application even if it was legally
    supportable. She said the collective thinking was that filing the application was a
    legitimate investigative step even though it may later be criticized unfairly.
  1. Other Substantive Changes to the Application before
    ODAG Review
    In addition to the revisions made to the Steele footnote, the October 14 draft
    application contained another substantive change from earlier drafts, concerning
    the FBI’s assessment of whether Steele was the source for the September 23 Yahoo
    News article described earlier in this chapter. ·
    The draft FISA applications, and later the read copy and final application,
    advised the court that the Yahoo News article reported that U.S. intelligence
    officials were investigating Carter Page’s involvement in suspected efforts by the
    Russian government to influence the U.S. presidential election and that a “wellplaced
    Western intelligence source” told Yahoo News about Carter Page’s alleged
    secret meetings with Sechin and Divyekin. The applications stated that, based on
    statements made in the Yahoo News article and in other news articles, individuals
    affiliated with the Trump campaign made statements distancing the campaign from
    longstanding ties to Russian entities.” The Supervisory Intel Analyst told us that he did not recall
    making a connection when the Steele reporting came in between this investigative firm hired by the
    DNC and the firm that hired Steele to conduct his election-related research. FBI emails reflect that he
    and SSA 1 made that connection by January 11, 2017, at the latest. We found no evidence that this
    information was shared with 01.
    282 As noted previously, on or about October 17, 2016, McCord became the Acting AAG for
    NSD. She replaced AAG John Carlin who left the Department on October 14, 2016. Evans told us that
    Carlin had very limited involvement in the Carter Page FISA prior to his departure and did not review a
    draft of the application. We found no information suggesting otherwise and therefore did not seek to
    interview Carlin.
    144
    Carter Page. Further, the applications noted that Page himself denied the
    accusations in the Yahoo News article and reiterated that denial in a September 25
    letter to the FBI Director and in a September 26 media interview.
    Evans told the OIG that 01 included the reference to the September 23
    Yahoo News article in the FISA application solely because it was favorable to Carter
    Page and not as corroboration for the Steele reporting in the application. According
    to Evans, the application’s treatment of the article was favorable to Page in three
    respects: (1) the application described statements in the article that the campaign
    distanced itself from Page and minimized his role as an advisor; (2) the application
    stated that Page denied the allegations in the news article in a letter to the
    Director; and (3) as described below, the application made clear that the people
    who financed Steele’s reporting were likely the same source for the information in
    the article.
    The drafts of the FISA application that preceded the October 14 draftincluding
    the October 11 draft that the FBI expected would be submitted to the
    FISC as the final read copy-stated that the FBI “believes that the ‘well-placed
    Western intelligence source’ is Steele.” After reviewing the initial drafts, Evans
    asked 01 to “drill down” on why Steele disclosed information to the media. For
    example, in an October 11 email to 01 staff, Evans asked “does the FBI know why
    the source provided this info to the press…. Is there anything about his decision to
    speak to the press that suggests he’s got a bias?”
    The result of this effort culminated in new language in the October 14 draft
    stating that the FBI believed it was Glenn Simpson or the law firm who hired
    Simpson, and not Steele, who provided Steele’s reporting to the media. With
    respect to the basis for the FBI’s assessment, the language that appeared in
    Footnote 18 of the read copy and final application stated the following:
    As discussed above, [Steele] was hired by a business associate to
    conduct research into Candidate #l’s ties to Russia. [Steele] provided
    the results of his research to the business associate, and the FBI
    assesses that the business associate likely provided this information to
    the law firm that hired the business associate in the first place.
    [Steele] told the FBI that he/she only provided this information to the
    business associate and the FBI. Given that the information contained
    in the September 23rd News Article generally matches the information
    about Page that [Steele] discovered during his/her research, the FBI
    assesses that [Steele’s] business associate or the law firm that hired
    the business associate likely provided this information to the press.
    The FBI also assesses that whoever gave the information to the press
    stated that the information was provided by a “well-placed Western
    intelligence source.” The FBI does not believe that [Steele] directly
    provided this information to the press.
    Case Agent 1 told the OIG that he did not recall why the October 11 draft
    stated that Steele was the “well-placed Western intelligence source” or the reason
    the language was changed in the updated draft to state that the FBI did not believe
    145
    Steele directly provided the information in the article. He said he did not recall the
    details regarding what he was told, or what he told 01, about whether Steele was
    the source for the Yahoo News article leak. The OGC Attorney told us that he was
    not familiar with how the change between drafts occurred.
    The 01 Attorney said he could not recall the circumstances that led to the
    change in the drafts, including whether the Crossfire Hurricane team originally told
    him that Steele had disclosed the information to Yahoo News. The 01 Attorney said
    that it was possible he had assumed that that was the case and wrote the initial
    drafts in that manner for the FBI’s consideration. The 01 Attorney told us that at
    some point during the drafting process, the FBI assured him that Steele had not
    spoken with Yahoo News because the source was “a professional.”
    We did not find any evidence that the FBI asked Steele whether he was a
    source for the information in the September 23 Yahoo News article. As described
    later in this chapter, the basis the FBI asserted in the application for its assessment
    that Steele was not a source was inaccurate and the documentation in the Woods
    File did not support it.
    Another change from the early drafts of the first FISA application was the
    addition of particularized minimization procedures (PMPs) at the request of Evans.
    The final PMPs restricted access to the information collected through FISA authority
    to the individuals assigned to the Crossfire Hurricane team and required the
    approval of a DAD or higher before any FISA-derived information could be
    disseminated outside the FBI. In normal circumstances, the FBI is given more
    latitude to disseminate i=ISA-derived information that appears to be foreign
    intelligence information or evidence of a crime. Evans told us that he believed
    these added restrictions were warranted here because of the possibility that the
    FISA collection would include sensitive political campaign related information.
  2. October Meeting between Page and an FBI CHS
    As we summarize in Chapter Ten, in October 2016, before the FBI obtained
    the initial FISA authority targeting Carter Page, an FBI CHS had a consensually
    monitored meeting with Page. During the meeting, among other things, Page said
    that he wanted to develop a research institute and, in talking about how he would
    fund the institute, Page said, “I don’t want to say there’d be an open checkbook,
    but the Russians would definitely …. ” According to the partial transcript, the
    sentence trailed off as Carter Page laughed. The CHS then stated “they would fund
    it-yeah you could do alright there” and Page responded “Yeah, but that has its
    pros and cons, right?” At another point in the conversation, Page noted that he had
    “a longstanding constructive relationship with the Russians going back throughout”
    his life. When asked about the link between the Russians and Wikileaks, Page said
    that, “[as he has] made clear in a lot of … subsequent discussions/interviews .. .! know
    nothing about that-on a personal level, you know no one’s ever said a word to
    me.” With regard to the platform committee during the Republican National
    Convention, Page said that he “stayed clear of that-there was a lot of conspiracy
    . theories that I was one of them … [but] totally off the record … members of our team
    146
    were working on that, and .. .in retrospect it’s way better off that !…remained at
    arms length.”
    Carter Page also told the CHS during the meeting that the “core lie” against
    him in the media “is that [Page] met with these sanctioned Russian officials, several
    of which I’ve never met in my entire life.” Page said that the “core lie” concerned
    “Sechin [who] is the main guy, the head of Rosneft … [and] there’s another guy I
    had never even heard of, you know he’s like, in the inner circle.” When asked
    about that person’s name, Page said “I can’t even remember, it’s just so
    outrageous.”
    The Crossfire Hurricane team provided to 01 some, but not all, of the
    information obtained during this meeting for inclusion in the first FISA application.
    According to the description in the FISA application, Page met with the FBI CHS on
    a particular date in October and made statements that led the FBI to believe that
    Page continued to be closely tied to Russian officials, including the suggestion that
    “the Russians” would be giving him an “open checkbook” to fund a foreign policy
    think tank project. The description also stated that Page told the CHS that he may
    be appearing in a televised interview to discuss the potential for change in U.S.
    foreign policy toward Russia and Syria in the event Trump wins the presidential
    election. However, as discussed later in this chapter, the application filed with the
    court did not fully or accurately describe the information obtained by the FBI as a
    result of this meeting because the FBI did not advise 01 that Page denied meeting
    with Sechin and Divyekin, as alleged in Report 94, or that Page denied knowing
    anything about the disclosure by WikiLeaks of hacked DNC emails, as alleged in
    Report 95.
    In addition, the FBI did not advise 01 that Carter Page denied having been
    involved with the Republican Platform Committee. Page’s statements to the FBI
    CHS, if true, would have been inconsistent with the FBI’s assessment in the FISA
    application that Page helped influence the Republican Party to change its platform
    to be more sympathetic to Russia’s interests by eliminating language in the
    Republican platform about providing weapons to Ukraine. The FBl’s assessment
    was based in part on Report 95’s allegation that Page and possibly others agreed to
    sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue in exchange for
    Russia’s disclosure of hacked DNC emails to WikiLeaks. The assessment also drew
    upon news articles in July and August 2016 reporting that the Trump campaign ·
    influenced the Republican Party to change its platform to not call for giving Ukraine
    weapons to fight Russian and rebel forces.
  3. Feedback from ODAG and Submission of the Read Copy
    At the time 01 submitted the October 14 draft application to McCord, 01
    simultaneously sent the draft to ODAG for review. Over the next few days, the
    application was reviewed by Gauhar, an 01 attorney on detail in ODAG, Principal
    Associate Deputy Attorney General Matthew Axelrod, and later Yates, who
    ultimately approved and signed the final application.
    147
    As noted previously, in instances where the DAG approves and signs FISA
    applications, 01 typically submits the application package to ODAG as a finished
    product after the read copy has been filed with the court and shortly before or
    during the oral briefing on the final application. However, in cases with heightened
    sensitivity, which can occur for a variety of reasons, 01 may proactively flag the
    application for ODAG earlier in the process for special attention, which 01 did in this
    case. Further, although sometimes NSD will ask ODAG whether it wants to read a
    flagged application in advance, Evans told us that in this case NSD decided that it
    would not submit the read copy to the FISC until Yates had personally read it and
    said she was comfortable moving forward.
    Gauhar and the 01 attorney on detail, both of whom had prior FISA
    experience in 01 before joining ODAG, were the first to review the draft Carter Page
    application.283 On October 18, the two met with 01 to discuss specific suggestions
    they had for the probable cause section, and later in the day, 01 circulated an
    updated draft incorporating new edits to address ODAG’s suggestions. According to
    Gauhar, and as reflected in the October 18 updated draft, her office had suggested
    edits to add more emphasis and focus on Carter Page in the probable cause section,
    while at the same time making changes in tone to characterize the Trump campaign
    in a more neutral manner.284 She explained that ODAG wanted to make sure that
    the court was not left with the misimpression that the FBI had information
    indicating that there were current members of the Trump campaign who were
    wittingly conspiring with Russia. Gauhar said she did not think that 01 intentionally
    drafted the application in that direction, and she thought that some additional
    changes would help ensure that there was no misimpression.
    Axelrod said he read the October 18-draft the next morning and had some
    suggested edits to further address the theme of the edits from the day before.
    ODAG sent NSD the additional suggested changes, and NSD and the FBI accepted
    the changes and incorporated them into the read copy.
    ODAG’s edits did not suggest significant changes to the Steele information in
    the application. Gauhar said that she was in communication with Evans when he
    283 Immediately before Gauhar joined ODAG, from 2009 to 2014, she was the Deputy
    Assistant Attorney General in NSD with responsibility over OI (the position Evans held at the time of
    the Page FISA applications). Gauhar joined the Department in 2001 as an attorney in OIPR, which, as
    described previously, was OI’s predecessor office. In OIPR, she was responsible for preparing FISA
    applications and later oversaw the FISA process as a supervisor and Deputy Chief of OI’s Operations
    Section. The OI attorney on detail had served as an attorney in OIPR starting in late 2006 where she
    prepared FISA applications and then later oversaw the FISA process when she became the Deputy
    Chief and then Chief of the Counterterrorism Unit in OI’s Operations Section.
    284 Examples of the edits addressing tone included describing Carter Page as an individual
    associated with the Trump campaign, rather than as a member of the Trump campaign, and
    describing the conspiracy alleged in Steele’s Report 95 as between Russia and individuals involved in
    the Trump campaign, rather than the campaign itself.
    148
    was asking his questions about Steele and by the time that she reviewed the draft,
    she knew that Evans and others had drilled down on the source. 285
    On October 18, Gauhar reached out to Lisa Page, her contact in the Deputy
    Director’s office, to advise her that the Carter Page FISA application was under
    review in ODAG. According to Gauhar, she was aware at the time that the FBI had
    been pushing 01 to complete the process on the application, and she wanted
    McCabe to know that the application was now with ODAG and they were working on
    it.286 Page advised Gauhar that it was possible that McCabe might ask Yates about
    the status of application during a regularly scheduled meeting the following
    morning on October 19. We did not find any evidence reflecting that McCabe asked
    Yates during that morning meeting on October 19 about the status of the
    application, and McCabe told us that he did not have a specific recollection of
    having done so.
    As noted earlier, Evans told the OIG that he discussed the issue of whether
    this FISA application was a good idea with McCabe after a regularly scheduled
    meeting on October 19. Gauhar told us that sometime around this date, she
    believes that Yates may have had a similar discussion with McCabe. According to
    Gauhar, she advised Axelrod that Evans had raised his prudential question with the
    FBI, and she said she had a general recollection that Yates may have had direct
    conversations with McCabe to discuss FBI leadership’s position on moving forward
    with the application. Gauhar said she was not present during any such
    conversations between Yates and FBI leadership and did not recall the details, but
    she believed Yates was told that FBI leadership felt strongly that the FISA was an
    important investigative step.
    Yates told the OIG that she did not specifically recall any conversations with
    either McCabe or Corney about the Carter Page FISA application, but that such
    conversations could have happened. Yates said she had a general recollection that
    the FBI believed that they really needed to take this investigative step, but whether
    that understanding was the result of a specific conversation or just by virtue of the
    fact that Corney was prepared to sign off on the FISA application, she did not recall.
    Corney and McCabe told us that they did not recall a discussion with Yates about
    the FISA application.
    On October 19, after incorporating Axelrod’s edits, 01 finalized the read copy
    of the Carter Page FISA application and sent it to the Crossfire Hurricane team for
    final review. Late in the evening, Strzok notified Evans that the FBI was
    285 Emails indicate that on October 17, Gauhar asked a question about Steele, specifically how
    the FBI reconciled its belief that Steele did not disclose information in the September 23 Yahoo News
    article given the article’s reference to a “well-placed Western intelligence source.” OI advised that
    Steele told the FBI that he only provided information to his business associate and the FBI, and that
    the FBI believed that the business associate or the law firm disclosed the information to the media.
    286 For example, on October 17, Strzok had emailed Evans to advise him of upcoming
    operations in the investigation of Carter Page that would be assisted by the requested FISA coverage.
    Case Agent 1 told us that he became frustrated with the pace of the FISA application process and
    asked Strzok to do whatever he could to help move it along.
    149
    comfortable with its accuracy and content. Separately, Evans received notice from
    ODAG that, as he requested, Yates had read the application and had cleared NSD to
    file the read copy with the court. 01 filed the read copy with the FISC the next day.
    The OIG found no indication that then Attorney General Loretta Lynch or
    anyone in the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) was involved in the preparation,
    review, or approval of the Carter Page FISA application. Gauhar told us that she
    had brief conversations with Lynch’s National Security Counselor and Chief of Staff
    to advise them for their situational awareness that a FISA application targeting
    Carter Page was expected to be filed. Neither the National Security Counselor nor
    the Chief of Staff read the application prior to its filing with the court. Lynch also
    said she did not read the application and did not recall any conversations about it.
    III. Feedback from the FISC on the Read Copy, Completion of the Woods
    Procedures, and Final Briefing and Signatures
    A. Feedback from the FISC and Revisions to the Application
    On October 20, 2016, the FISC legal advisor assigned to the Carter Page
    application provided 01 with four comments and questions regarding the read copy.
    Two related to information in the footnote about Steele, and two related to certain
    facilities believed to be used by Carter Page:
    • The FISC legal advisor inquired about a sentence in the footnote that
    stated, “In addition to the specific information pertaining to Page
    reported in this application, [Steele] has provided other information,
    which the FBI is currently investigating.” To clarify, the final
    application was revised to state, “In addition to the specific
    information pertaining to Page reported in this application, [Steele]
    has provided other information relating to the Russian Government’s
    efforts to influence the election that do not directly pertain to Page,
    including the possibility of the Russian’s [sic] also possessing a dossier
    on Candidate #1, which the FBI is currently investigating.”
    • The legal advisor asked how it was that Steele had a network of subsources,
    and the 01 Attorney provided additional information to him
    regarding Steele’s past employment history. At the request of the
    legal advisor, 01 included the additional information in the final
    application, including the identity of
    • The legal advisor asked 01 for clarification regarding the information
    used to establish Carter Page’s use of a particular email account, and
    01 corrected an error in the description of the supporting
    documentation.
    • ~al advisor requested additional information to establish the
  • of Carter Page’s . The FBI provided the 01
    Attorney with some additional information; however, the information
    was somewhat stale, and the FBI elected instead to remove •
    150
    rather than hold up the final application
    further.
    According to the 01 Attorney, the FISC legal advisor raised no other issues
    and did not further question the application’s reliance on Steele’s reporting.
    B. The FBl’s Completion of the Factual Accuracy Review (“Woods
    Procedures”)
    On October 19, the 01 Unit Chief “signed out” the cert copy of the application
    and cert memo, so that the FBI could complete the FISA verification process known
    as the Woods Procedures, described in Chapter Two. Case Agent 1 was the agent
    responsible for compiling the supporting documentation into a Woods File,
    performing the field office database checks on Carter Page, and completing the
    accuracy review of each fact asserted in the FISA application. His supervisor for
    the Carter Page investigation, SSA 1, was responsible for confirming that the
    Woods File was complete and for double checking the factual accuracy review to
    confirm that the file contained appropriate documentation for each of the factual
    assertions in the FISA application.
    With respect to the factual accuracy review, Case Agent 1 told us that he
    personally compiled the supporting documentation in the Woods File and then went
    through the factual statements in the cert copy one-by-one and made sure that
    each factual assertion was verified by a corresponding document in the Woods File.
    After he completed his review of all the factual information, he said he turned the
    Woods File over to SSA 1, and SSA 1 and Case Agent 1 then performed a second
    factual accuracy review of the same information together. SSA 1 said he found that
    each factual assertion was supported by documentation in the Woods File, and he
    had no concerns with how the Woods Procedures were completed. SSA 1 told us
    that he relied on Case Agent 1 to highlight each relevant fact in the supporting
    document in the Woods File, and that once he verified that each highlighted fact
    corresponded to a factual assertion in the application, he would move on to the
    next fact, without necessarily reviewing the entire document. 287 On the evening of
    October 20, Case Agent 1 and SSA 1 signed the “FISA Verification Form” or “Woods
    Form” affirming the verification and documentation of each factual assertion in the
    application. 288
    287 We do not believe that this process, even when faithfully executed, is sufficient to ensure
    that all factual assertions in the application had adequate supporting documentation.
    288 As discussed in detail in Section IV below, we examined the completeness of the Woods
    File by comparing the facts asserted in the first FISA application to the documents maintained in the
    Woods File. Our comparison identified instances in which facts asserted in the application were not
    supported by documentation in the Woods File. Specifically, we found facts asserted in the FISA
    application that have no supporting documentation in the Woods File, facts that have purported
    supporting documentation in the Woods File but the documentation does not state the fact asserted in
    the FISA application, or facts that have purported supporting documentation in the Woods File but the
    documentation shows the fact asserted is inaccurate. The three most significant Woods errors, which
    are among the five problematic issues we describe later in Section IV, were: (1) the failure to seek
    and document Handling Agent l’s approval of the source characterization statement for Steele; (2)
    151
    After Case Agent 1 and SSA 1 signed the Woods Form, they passed the
    Woods Form, cert copy, and cert memo ( collectively referred to as the FISA or
    application “package”) to a Headquarters Program Manager assigned the
    responsibility of signing the final application under oath attesting that the factual
    information was true and correct. The Headquarters Program Manager was an SSA
    in the CD’s Counterespionage Section. His official duties at the time did not include
    supervising the Carter Page investigation, contrary to what was stated in boilerplate
    language in the FISA application. Instead, he was briefed into the Crossfire
    Hurricane investigation on or about September 23 for the purpose of swearing out
    the Carter Page FISA. 289 The Headquarters Program Manager told us that after he
    was briefed, he attended some of the team meetings and had multiple
    conversations with Case Agent 1, SSA 1, and the OGC attorneys for updates on the
    status of and changes to the application. He said he read the entire application
    before it was final and, as changes were made to the application, he reviewed the
    changes. He said he had no specific memory of reviewing the Woods Form or
    Woods File (as described in Chapter Two, the Woods Procedures do not require the
    affiant to review the Woods File), but he believes that he would have done both
    since the Woods File was compiled at Headquarters, and thus he would have had
    access to it. However, he said he trusted that the case agent verified the accuracy
    of the factual assertions, as the case agent was required to do as part of the Woods
    Procedures. Further, the Headquarters Program Manager said that he was not
    independently aware of any information suggesting that the information in the
    application was inaccurate. After the Headquarters Program Manager signed the
    affidavit in the application declaring under penalty of perjury that the information in
    the application was true and correct, he submitted the application package to the
    OGC Attorney.
    The OGC Attorney and Deputy General Counsel Anderson reviewed the
    application package on behalf of OGC’s National Security and Cyber Law Branch.
    However, as discussed in Chapter Two, FBI procedures do not specify what steps
    must be taken during the final OGC legal review. 290 The OGC Attorney, who had
    participated in the drafting process and was familiar with the content of the
    application, told us that he reviewed the Woods Form with the Headquarters
    Program Manager. After the OGC Attorney confirmed that all of the Woods
    Procedures had been completed, he signed the cert memo below the 01 Unit Chief’s
    signature and submitted the package to Anderson.
    the fact that documentation in the Woods File used to support the FBI’s statement that Steele only
    shared his election related information with Glenn Simpson actually stated that Steele also shared the
    information with the State Department; ·and (3) the fact that documentation in the Woods File used to
    support the FBI’s assertion that Carter Page did not refute his alleged contacts with Sechin and
    Divyekin to an FBI CHS in actuality stated that Page specifically denied meeting with Sechin and
    Divyekin to the CHS. We provide examples of other Woods related errors in Appendix One.
    289 According to the Headquarters Program Manager, because the investigation was closelyheld
    and being run out of Headquarters, it was initially not assigned to a specific unit in the
    Counterintelligence Division and therefore did not have an assigned program manager.
    290 We make a recommendation in Chapter Eleven that addresses this issue.
    152
    Anderson told us that she reviewed the cert memo and Woods Form and
    determined that the application package was complete, all the steps of the Woods
    Procedures were represented to have been taken, the probable cause standard was
    met, and there were no outstanding issues. She then signed the cert memo below
    the other signatures, signifying that the application was ready for certification, and
    she gave the application package to the OGC Unit Chief for submission to the FBI
    Director. 291
    c. FBI Director’s Certification
    Corney certified the Carter Page application on behalf of the FBI. In Chapter
    Two, we described the elements of the certification required by the FBI Director or
    Deputy Director, including that the information sought through the requested FISA
    authority is foreign intelligence information that cannot reasonably be obtained by
    normal investigative techniques and is necessary to protect the United States
    against clandestine intelligence activities. In this regard, the Director’s certification
    is different from the approval of the NSD AAG, DAG, or the Attorney General, which
    requires that the signatory find that the application satisfies the FISA’s statutory
    requirements.
    Corney told the OIG that when he was Director his practice varied in terms of
    whether he would read a FISA application itself before certifying an application, or
    whether he would rely solely on the description of the application in the cert memo.
    He said that he would read applications if they required special attention, but that
    from time to time he would also select others to read for quality control purposes.
    In this instance, Corney said he read the application because of its sensitivity. He
    further stated that he read the application once, after Baker presented the final
    package to him. He said he did not recall any conversations with Baker or with
    others about the application.
    Baker told us that he presented the final package to Corney because he
    wanted to discuss the foreign intelligence purpose with Corney before Corney signed
    the certification. Baker said that in addition to explaining the foreign intelligence
    purpose to Corney, he wanted to make sure that Corney knew that he (Baker) had
    read the FISA and was satisfied that the probable cause standard was met.
    According to Baker, Corney told him that he understood, was satisfied with the
    foreign intelligence purpose, and was glad Baker read the application.
    Corney told us that the application seemed factually and legally sufficient
    when he read it, and he had no questions or concerns before he signed. When we
    291 Anderson told us that she did not read the FISA application at this stage in the process,
    which she said was not unusual. She said that her general practice was to rely upon the cert memo’s
    description of the probable cause, unless there was a reason to dig deeper into the application based
    on her review of the cert memo or if she was familiar with the case from an earlier stage. As
    described previously, in this case, Anderson had read the Carter Page FISA application once before
    during the review process and she believed that both Baker and the OGC Unit Chief had also read and
    provided feedback on the application. As described previously, Baker provided comments on a draft of
    the application. The OGC Unit Chief told us that she read the application and was involved in
    discussions about it, but she said she did not recall requesting edits.
    153
    asked him why the FBI moved forward with an application on a target who was
    formerly connected to a presidential campaign, based in part on source reporting
    that may have been funded by the opposing political party and had not yet been
    corroborated, Corney said that the reason was because there was probable cause to
    believe that Page was an agent of a foreign power. He said that simply because the
    information regarding Page was uncorroborated at the time of the application did
    not mean that it was unreliable. He stated that in this case, he understood that the
    FBI assessed that Steele was a credible source, with a network of sub-sources in
    positions to receive information, and the core of the Steele reporting was consistent
    with other information the FBI had at the time.
    Corney signed the application on October 20, and the application package
    was presented to Yates on October 21.
    D. DAG Oral Briefing and Approval
    Yates told the OIG that she did not recall the discussion that took place at
    the October 21 oral briefing when NSD presented the final application package to
    her. Evans said that he recalled that because Yates had already read the FISA
    application and was familiar with its contents, the 01 Attorney used the oral briefing
    to advise her of the FISC legal advisor’s questions and the changes made in the
    final application to address those questions. Evans said that he recalled little
    discussion during the oral briefing on this application before Yates signed the
    application.
    The OIG asked Yates about her views on the application. Yates told us that,
    in her view, the application did not present a close call from a legal sufficiency
    standpoint, and she was comfortable that it was an appropriate investigative step
    to take. In terms of the specific reasons she approved the application, Yates
    stated:
    Well, several things here. First, the context of the issue that we’re
    talking about here, which is the Russian attempt to interfere in the
    2016 presidential election, and the potential involvement of U.S.
    persons in that, is obviously a critically important topic. This is not
    some tangential run-of-the-mill crime. This is, to state the obvious
    here, critically important to the country. So we start sort of with the
    premise of, this is a topic that we need to get to the bottom of.
    Secondly, Carter Page is not someone who just popped up out of the
    blue on the FBI’s radar, with respect to his relationship with the
    Russian government. He is someone who had been on the radar for
    quite some time, both in terms of, and I think it’s laid out in the FISA,
    the attempts to recruit him that had been laid out in a prior criminal
    case, and the FBI’s knowledge of interaction that he had had in the
    past, and was continuing to have, with high-level people in the Russian
    government. So, it’s not as if, just some guy who had never had any
    relationship with Russia has been alleged to be involved in the
    Russians’ interference in the election.
    154
    [T]hat’s also against the backdrop of the information that
    Papadopoulos had provided, and that then was corroborated to the
    extent that then Wikileaks did do the email dump, as predicted there,
    and identified that a person in the campaign that was coordinating
    that.
    Combined with [Steele], who had been someone with whom the FBI
    had worked for many years, both in an official capacity at [
    -], and then afterwards, whom they had found to be credible.
    I believe criminal cases had been made, or he had participated in
    criminal cases[.] So again, not just somebody out of the blue. And he
    was also very knowledgeable of Russia, which is not an easy place to
    break into, in terms of getting information .
    … [I]t may have been, the information that [Steele] had acquired, may
    have been at the behest of the Clinton campaign or the DNC. I guess
    I would emphasize the word “may” there. That again, my
    understanding was that the FBI did not know who he was working for.
    In fact, and this is one of these things I have a hard time teasing out,
    what I knew then versus what I may know now, or have learned since,
    is that [Steele], my understanding is at one point, was actually
    working for someone connected with the Republican Party. I don’t
    know, again, whether I knew that at the time, or not. I’m not at all
    sure about that. So, while certainly there was [an] implication that he
    was doing opposition research, it’s gotta be for somebody. I mean,
    he’s been hired by someone. My understanding was that the FBI
    didn’t know who. And that is a factor to consider in this. 292
    But that was not the determinative factor, when you’re talking about
    gathering foreign intelligence, not when it’s against the backdrop of all
    of the other information there. And the FBI, who are experts in this,
    who have people who do this all day, every day, and the folks in DOJ
    who work with them on that, all believed that this was an important
    FISA to get, and to get now. So it’s against the back-drop of that, of
    believing that it met the legal standards for a FISA, which appear to be
    borne out, given that it’s been signed and reauthorized a number of
    times through the FISA court. It, I believed then and I believe now, it
    was the appropriate step to take. They’re not all easy decisions that
    you make when you’re DAG.
    292 FBI officials told us that the Crossfire Hurricane team did not know who hired Fusion GPS
    (which hired Steele} until after the first FISA application was filed, though, as described previously,
    the Crossfire Hurricane team and Steele’s handling agent suspected Steele had been hired to conduct
    political opposition research. Documents indicate that by February and March 2017 it was broadly
    known among FBI officials involved with the investigation, and shared with senior NSD and ODAG
    officials, that Fusion GPS was hired first by a candidate during the Republican primaries and then later
    by someone related to the Democratic Party. Yates was removed as Acting Attorney General on
    January 30, 2017.
    155
    Following OI’s presentation, Yates signed the application, and 01 submitted
    the application to the FISC the same day. By her signature, and as stated in the
    application, Yates found that the application satisfied the criteria and requirements
    of the FISA statute and approved its filing with the court. 293
    E. Final Orders
    The final FISA application included proposed orders, which were signed by
    then Chief Judge of the FISC, Rosemary Collyer, on October •, 2016. According to
    NSD, the Chief Judge signed the final orders as proposed by the government in
    their entirety, without holding a hearing.
    The primary order and warrant stated that the court found, based upon the
    facts submitted in the verified application, that there was probable cause to believe
    that Russia is a foreign power and that Carter Page was an a ent of Russia under
    50 U.S.C. 1801 b 2 . The court also found that the
    IV. Inaccurate, Incomplete, or Undocumented Information in the First
    FISA Application
    Our review revealed instances in which factual assertions relied upon in the
    first FISA application targeting Carter Page were inaccurate, incomplete, or
    unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in
    its possession at the time the application was filed. We describe the most
    significant instances below and provide additional examples in a chart in Appendix
    One. We found no evidence that the 01 Attorney, NSD supervisors, ODAG officials,
    or Yates were made aware of these issues by the FBI before the first FISA
    application was submitted to the court. Although we also found no evidence that
    Corney had been made aware of these issues at the time he certified the
    application, as more fully discussed in our analysis in Chapter Eleven, multiple
    factors made it difficult for us to precisely determine the extent of Corney’s or
    156
    McCabe’s knowledge as to each fact that was not shared with 01 and not included,
    or inaccurately stated, in the FISA applications. These factors included, among
    other things, limited recollections, the inability to question Camey about classified
    material because of his lack of a security clearance, and the absence of meeting
    minutes that would show the specific details shared with Camey and McCabe during
    briefings they received, beyond the more general investigative updates that we
    know they were provided.
    A. Information about Page’s Prior Relationship with Another U.S.
    Government Agency and Information Page Provided to the
    Other Agency that Overlapped with Facts Asserted in the FISA
    Application
    The 01 Attorney told us that it is relevant to know if the target of a FISA is or
    had been working on behalf of another U.S. government agency to “make sure that
    the left hand knows what the right hand is doing” when seeking FISA authority. As
    noted previously, according to the 01 Attorney, it would have been a significant fact
    if Page had a relationship with the other U.S. government agency that overlapped
    in time with his interactions with known Russian intelligence officers described in
    the FISA applications because it would raise the issue of whether Page interacted
    with the Russian intelligence officers at the behest of the other agency or with the
    intent to assist the U.S. government. Evans told us that information about a FISA
    target’s relationship with another U.S. government agency is typically included in a
    FISA application. Evans also stated that 01 would work with the FBI to fully
    understand any such relationship and describe it accurately in the relevant
    application.
    Toward that end, on September 28, 2016, the 01 Attorney emailed Case
    Agent 1 a draft of the FISA application, copying other members of the Crossfire
    Hurricane team. In a comment in the draft application, the 01 Attorney asked “do
    we know if there is any truth to Page’s claim that he has provided information to
    [another U.S. government agency]-was he considered a source/asset/whatever?”
    In response to the 01 Attorney’s question, on September 29, Case Agent 1 inserted
    the following comment in the draft:
    “He did meet with [the other U.S. government agency], however, it’s
    dated and I would argue it was/is outside scope, I don’t think we need
    it in. It was years ago, when he was in Moscow. If you want to keep
    it, I can get the language from the [August 17 Memorandum] we were
    provided [by the other U.S. government agency].”294
    Based upon this response, the 01 Attorney did not include information about Page’s
    prior relationship with the other agency in the FISA application.
    However, the information Case Agent 1 provided to the 01 Attorney was
    inaccurate. As described in the August 17 Memorandum from the other U.S.
    294 As noted previously, on or about August 17, 2016, the Crossfire Hurricane team received
    information from another U.S. government agency detailing Carter Page’s relationship with that other
    agency.
    157
    government agency to the FBI, Page first met with the other agency in April 2008,
    after he left Moscow (Page had lived in Moscow from 2004 to 2007), and he had
    been approved as an operational contact for the other agency from 2008 to 2013.
    Additionally, rather than being outside the scope of the FISA application, the FISA
    application included allegations about meetings that Page had with Russian
    intelligence officers that Page had disclosed to the other agency. Specifically,
    according to the August 17 Memorandum, Page provided information to the other
    agency in October 2010 about contacts he had with a Russian intelligence officer
    (Intelligence Officer 1), which the other agency assessed likely began in 2008.
    Page’s contacts with Intelligence Officer 1 in 2007 and 2008 were among the
    historical connections to Russian intelligence officers that the FBI relied upon in the
    first FISA application (and subsequent renewal applications) to help support
    probable cause. 295 The August 17 Memorandum stated that Page told the other
    agency that he met with Intelligence Officer 1 four times, characterized him as a
    “compelling, nice guy,” and described Intelligence Officer l’s alleged interest in
    contacting an identified U.S. person. According to the August 17 Memorandum, the
    employee of the other U.S. government agency who met with Page assessed that
    Page “candidly described his contact with” Intelligence Officer 1. Page’s
    relationship with the other agency was not mentioned in any of the four FISA
    applications.
    Further, the FBI had information in its own files indicating that Page had told
    the FBI about meeting with the other U.S. government agency after the period he
    lived in Moscow and during the period alleged in the FISA application. For example,
    according to the FBI Electronic Communication (EC) .documenting a June 18, 2009
    FBI interview of Page, Page had informed the FBI agents that “due to his work and
    overseas experiences, he has been questioned by and provides information to
    representatives of the [other U.S. government agency] on an ongoing basis,” and
    that the “interviewing agents acknowledged this fact, and stated to Page that no
    questions would be asked about Page’s dealings with the other U.S. government
    agency during the interview.” According to another FBI EC, Page told the FBI
    during a June 2013 interview that, although he had not spoken to the other U.S.
    government agency for “about a year or so” Page had spoken to them “since his
    last interview with the FBI.”
    The Woods File for the first FISA application, which was prepared by Case
    Agent 1, included the EC documenting the 2009 FBI interview of Page.
    Additionally, Case Agent 1 received an email on August 10, 2016, containing an
    attachment titled “Carter Page-Profile,” which had been prepared by a Crossfire
    Hurricane Staff Operations Specialist (SOS). The profile, dated August 1, 2016,
    quoted the 2009 EC regarding Page’s statements to the FBI about his contact with
    the other U.S. government agency. We did not·find any electronic communications
    indicating that the FBI provided 01 with this Carter Page profile.
    295 The other agency did not provide the FBI with information indicating it had knowledge of
    Page’s reported contacts with another particular intelligence officer. The FBI also relied on Page’s
    contacts with this intelligence officer in the FISA application.
    158
    We asked Case Agent 1 about his knowledge in 2016 of Page’s historical
    contacts with the other U.S. government agency and Case Agent l’s response to
    the 01 Attorney’s question on September 29, 2016, about any such contacts. Case
    Agent 1 told us that he did not recall his state of knowledge in 2016 regarding
    Page’s history with the other U .5. government agency, but said he believed that he
    likely would have reviewed the August 17 Memorandum about Page sent to the
    Crossfire Hurricane team by the other U .5. government agency. He said he
    recalled believing that Page’s involvement with the other U.S. government agency
    was “dated.” After reviewing a synopsis of the information contained in the August
    17 Memorandum during his 0IG interview, Case Agent 1 reiterated to the 0IG that
    he believed the information was dated, but also said that he “probably saw it.”
    According to Case Agent 1, “I think I would have reviewed it with the team. I think
    that it would have been, you know, as we looked at it. It wasn’t just me. But, we,
    you know, there was a determination made that it was dated.” Case Agent 1 also
    said it was possible that he never reviewed the August 17 Memorandum from the
    other U.S. government agency.
    The 01 Attorney told us that he could not recall much about the issue of
    Page’s historical contacts with the other U.S. government agency. After being
    shown his exchange with Case Agent 1 on September 29, 2016, the 01 Attorney
    stated that if Case Agent 1 told him that Page’s contacts with the other U .5.
    government agency were “out of scope” and dated, then he would have deferred to
    Case Agent 1 ‘s assessment on this issue. The 01 Attorney also told us, after being
    informed about information in the August 17 Memorandum from the other U .5.
    government agency, that if 01 had been aware of this information at the time the
    application was being prepared, 01 would have discussed it internally and likely
    would have disclosed the information to the FISC to “err on the side of disclosure.”
    When we discussed the information in the August 17 Memorandum with Evans, he
    responded similarly and told us “I think it would go in the application somewhere,
    be it in a footnote or elsewhere, if for no other reason than it also goes to the
    question of where the person’s loyalties lie.”
    As described later in Chapters Seven and Eight, none of the three renewal
    applications described Page’s prior historical contacts and relationship with the
    other U.S. government agency, even after the FBI received additional information
    from the other agency in June 2017. In April and May 2017, following news reports
    that the FBI had obtained a FISA targeting Carter Page, Page gave interviews to
    news outlets denying that he had collected intelligence for the Russian government
    and asserting instead that he had previously shared information that he had
    learned with the U.S. intelligence community. In mid-June 2017, in response to
    concerns expressed by members of the Crossfire Hurricane team, the 0GC Attorney
    contacted the other U.S. government agency by email to seek clarification about
    Page’s past status with that agency. The other U.S. government agency responded
    by email to the FBI 0GC attorney by directing the attorney to memoranda
    previously sent to the FBI by the other U .5. government agency that informed the
    FBI that Page did previously have a relationship with that other agency and that the
    last contact occurred in July 2011. The email also stated, using the other agency’s
    terminology, that Page had a relationship with that other agency. However, when
    159
    asked about Page’s prior status with that other agency by a Crossfire Hurricane
    supervisor, SSA 2, who was going to be the affiant on the final FISA renewal
    application, the OGC Attorney told SSA 2 that Page had never had a relationship
    with the other U.S. government agency. In addition, the OGC Attorney altered the
    email that the other U.S. government agency had sent to the OGC Attorney so that
    the email stated that Page had not been a source for the other agency; the OGC
    Attorney then forwarded the altered email to SSA 2, who told us he relied on the
    email. Shortly thereafter, SSA 2 served as the affiant on the final renewal
    application, which was again sflent on Page’s prior relationship with the other U.S.
    government agency.
    B. Source Characterization Statement
    As described earlier, because the FBI did not have information corroborating
    the Steele reporting relied upon in the Carter Page FISA application, it was
    particularly important for the application to articulate to the court the FBI’s
    assessment of the reliability of the source. Toward that end, the final application
    included in a footnote the following source characterization statement regarding
    Steele:
    ~a former
  • and has been an FBI source since in or about October 2013.
    [Steele’s] reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal
    proceedings and the FBI assesses [Steele] to be reliable. 296 [Steele]
    has been compensated approximately $95,000 by the FBI and the FBI
    is unaware of any derogatory information pertaining to [Steele]. 297
    The OIG found no documentation in the Woods File indicating that Steele’s
    handling agent, Handling Agent 1, approved this language, as required by Foreign
    Intelligence Surveillance Act and Standard Minimization Procedures Policy Guide
    (FISA SMP PG) discussed in Chapter Two. Case Agent 1, who as described earlier
    compiled the Woods File and completed the Woods Procedures, told us that he was
    not aware of this requirement. 298 Handling Agent 1 told the OIG that he did not
    approve this language, and that his OIG interview was the first time he ever saw it.
    Further, Handling Agent 1 said that although he found Steele to be reliable in the
    past, only “some” of Steele’s past reporting had been corroborated and most of it
    296 Although Case Agent 2’s summary of the early October meeting with Steele states that
    Steele described his in a manner consistent with the footnote in the FISA application,
    other documentation (discussed in Chapter Eight) indicates that Steele’s told the FBI
    in November 2016, after the first allication was filed,-~ Steele had
    297 As described later in Chapter Seven, after Steele admitted to a disclosure of information to
    Mother Jones in late October 2016, the renewal applications removed the reference to no derogatory
    information concerning Steele and stated that the FBI continued to assess that Steele was reliable “as
    previous reporting from Steele has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings.”
    298 Case Agent 1 told us that his experience with previous FISA applications had always
    involved CHSs for whom he (Case Agent 1) was the handling agent, and that, therefore, he never had
    the need to seek approval from a separate handling agent.
    160
    had not. He also stated that Steele’s reporting had never been used in a criminal
    proceeding.
    Handling Agent 1 also told us, and FBI emails and instant messages reflect,
    that he had provided language on September 23 to Case Agent 1 for the source
    characterization statement that was substantively different from the final language
    used in the FISA application:
    CHS has been signed up for 3 years and is reliable. CHS responds to
    taskings and obtains info from a network of sub sources. Some of the
    chs’ info has been corroborated when possible.
    Case Agent 1 provided this language from Handling Agent 1 to the OGC Unit
    Chief, who had requested that he reach out to the handling agent for a description
    of Steele’s reliability and corroboration. However, the language Case Agent 1
    provided to the 01 Attorney on September 29, which was later used to draft the
    reliability footnote 8, differed from the language provided by Handling Agent 1 and
    instead stated the following:
    This information comes from a sensitive FBI source whose reporting
    has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings, and who
    obtains information from a number of ostensibly well-positioned subsources.
    The scope of the source’s reporting is from 20 June 2016
    through 20 August 2016.
    Case Agent 1, the OGC Unit Chief, and the OGC Attorney told us that they
    did not recall or know the specific circumstances that led to the use of
    “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings” in the final application instead of
    language that more closely tracked what Handling Agent 1 had provided. Emails
    and other FBI documents reflect that Case Agent 1 borrowed the exact language
    used in the final application from an Intelligence Memorandum on the Steele
    reporting, which the Supervisory Intel Analyst and Staff Operations Specialist (SOS)
    had prepared in late September 2016. 299 Case Agent 1 told us that he most likely
    wanted to make sure that the language in the FISA application was consistent with
    how Steele was described in that document, which he believed had been vetted by
    analysts.
    The Supervisory Intel Analyst told us that the phrase “corroborated and used
    in criminal proceedings” was a reference to Steele’s reporting in the FIFA
    investigation. He said that neither he nor anyone else on the team reviewed any of
    the documents or court filings in the FIFA case file, and he did not “dig into” exactly
    how Steele’s reporting was used in the FIFA case. He said that his entire
    knowledge about Steele’s role in and significance to the FIFA investigation came
    from Handling Agent 1, though he said he did not recall what he specifically learned
    from Handling Agent 1 regarding how Steele’s information was used in the FIFA
    299 The Supervisory Intel Analyst told us that he did not specifically recall developing this
    specific language for the Intelligence Memorandum, but he said that metadata on the document itself
    reflected that he personally added the information.
    161
    investigation. Handwritten notes qocumenting conversations with Handling Agent 1
    indicate that the Crossfire Hurricane team was left with the understanding that
    Steele was the original source for the FIFA investigation. SSA 1 told the OIG that
    the team “speculated” that Steele’s information was corroborated and used in
    criminal proceedings because they knew Steele had been “a part of, if not
    predicated, the FIFA investigation” and was known to have an extensive source
    network into Russian organized crime. SSA 1 told us that the email he sent to
    Handling Agent 1 and others on September 19, requesting a “source
    characterization statement,” among other information on Steele, reflected his
    “intent” as the case supervisor to provide accurate information in the FISA
    application about Steele’s history with the FBI. As noted in Chapter Four, in
    connection with the FIFA matter, Steele had provided leads to the FBI, namely that
    the FBI should talk to a contact who had information on corruption in the FIFA
    organization. It was the contact’s information, in part, that led to the opening of
    the FIFA investigation. However, the FIFA case agent and a prosecutor on the case
    told us that, to their knowledge, Steele did not have any role in the investigation
    itself, he did not provide court testimony, and his information did not appear in any
    indictments, search warrants, or other court filings. According to Handling Agent 1,
    he was clear with the Crossfire Hurricane team concerning Steele’s role and that
    Steele had provided leads and not evidence in the FIFA case.
    Witnesses gave us different understandings as to the meaning and scope of
    the phrase, “used in criminal proceedings.” Handling Agent 1 told us that he never
    told the Crossfire Hurricane team that Steele’s past reporting was “used in criminal
    proceedings,” and he was bothered that the team· used that phrase. Other
    witnesses said that the phrase could include providing a lead that helped bring
    about a criminal investigation, such as Evans who told us that a tip that leads to
    evidence of criminal wrongdoing could meet the “spirit” of “used in criminal
    proceedings.” However, some witnesses, including attorneys who served in FBI
    OGC, NSD, and ODAG, interpreted the phrase to mean that the source information
    was used in some sort of formal court proceeding or legal process. In particular,
    Baker told us that, in his view, the phrase implies that the information “wasn’t just
    a tip,” but that it was used as evidence in a trial, in an affidavit, or in some other
    court filing or legal process.
    Given the importance of a source’s bona fides to a court’s determination of
    credibility-particularly in cases where, as here, the source information supporting
    probable cause is uncorroborated-we believe the failure to comply with FBI policy
    requiring that Steele’s handling agent review and approve the language in the
    source characterization statement was an important one. This failure may have
    resulted in the court being left with the misimpression that Steele’s past reporting
    ( or at least some of it) had been deemed worthy by prosecutors of being relied
    upon in court or that more of his information had been corroborated than was
    actually the case. Further, as we describe in Chapters Six and Eight, additional
    documentation became available to the Crossfire Hurricane team subsequent to the
    first FISA application that provided information contrary to the characterization of
    Steele in the first FISA application, including the finding of a formal FBI source
    validation review in March 2017 that Steele’s past reporting on criminal matters,
    162
    which included the FIFA case, was “minimally corroborated.” Despite this
    information, the description of Steele in the FISA renewal applications did not
    change.
    C. Information about a Steele Sub-Source Relied Upon in the FISA
    Application ( Person 1)
    As described earlier in this chapter, the information in the FISA application
    relied upon to establish probable cause to believe that Carter Page was coordinating
    with the Russian government on 2016 U.S. presidential election activities was
    based upon certain aspects of Steele’s reporting. This reporting included the
    alleged secret meetings between Page and Russian officials in July 2016 described
    in Steele’s Report 94. We found that the most descriptive information in the FISA
    application of alleged coordination between Page and Russia came from Steele’s
    Report 95, which attributed the information to “Source E.”
    The FISA application stated that, according to this sub-source, Carter Page
    was an intermediary between Russian leadership and an individual associated with
    the Trump campaign (Manafort) in a “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation”
    that led to the disclosure of hacked DNC emails by Wikileaks in exchange for the
    Trump campaign team’s agreement, which the FBI assessed included at least Carter
    Page, to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue. The
    application also stated that this same sub-source provided information contained in
    Steele’s Report 80 that the Kremlin had been feeding information to Trump’s
    campaign for an extended period of time and that the information had reportedly
    been “very helpful,” as well as information contained in Report 102 that the DNC
    email leak had been done, at least in part, to swing supporters from Hillary Clinton
    to Donald Trump. 300 Because the FBI had no independent corroboration for this
    information, as witnesses have mentioned, the reliability of Steele and his source
    network was important to the inclusion of these allegations in the FISA application.
    Before the initial FISA application was filed, FBI documents and witness
    testimony indicate that the Crossfire Hurricane team had assessed, particularly
    following the information Steele provided in early October, that Source E was most
    likely a person previously known to the FBI, referred to hereinafter as Person 1. 301
    The Supervisory Intel Analyst’s written summary of the early October meeting with
    Steele specifically attributed the information in Report 95 to Person 1 and also
    described information that Steele provided to the FBI team about Person 1,
    including that Person 1 “is a ‘boaster’ and an ‘egoist’ and may engage in some
    embellishment.” The day after the early October meeting, the Supervisory Intel
    Analyst emailed this written summary to the Crossfire Hurricane team, as well as
    Strzok and the Intel Section Chief. The OIG found no documents or written
    communications in which the Crossfire Hurricane team evaluated Steele’s statement
    characterizing Person 1 as a boaster or embellisher. SSA 1, who received the
    300 In Report 80, this sub-source was referred to as “Source D” and in Report 102 as an
    “associate” of candidate Donald Trump.
    301 As discussed in Chapter Four, Person 1
    163
    written summary from the Supervisory Intel Analyst, told us that he did not recall
    any such conversations.
    The footnote describing this sub-source in the FISA application did not
    include any information about how Steele had described Person 1 as a boaster or
    embellisher. Documents reflect that, on or about October 12, the 01 Attorney
    received the Supervisory Intel Analyst’s written summary of the early October
    meeting that attributed the information in Report 95 to Person 1 and stated that
    Steele had described Person 1 as a boaster and embellisher. The 01 Attorney made
    handwritten notes on the written summary when he met with members of the
    Crossfire Hurricane team to learn more about the source network. The 01 Attorney
    told us that he did not recall the team flagging this issue for him or that he
    independently made the connection between the sub-source in the FISA application
    and Steele’s characterization of Person 1. Case Agent 1 and the 01 Attorney told
    the OIG that they did not recall any conversations about Steele’s statement about
    Person 1 at the time of the FISA application. We found no evidence that Steele’s
    characterization of Person 1 was shared with Evans or the 01 managers involved in
    the FISA application, and they told us that they did not recall being made aware of
    it. Evans and the 01 Attorney told us that they would have wanted to discuss the
    issue internally in NSD and with the FBI and likely would have, at a minimum,
    disclosed the information to the court.
    In addition we learned that Person 1
    • 302 We also were concerned that the FISA
    urt the FBI’s belief that this sub-source was, at
    the time of the application, . We were told that
    ~ will usually share with the FISC the fact that
    -· The 01 Attorney told us he did not recall knowing this information
    at the time of the first application, even though NYFO opened the case after
    consulting with and notifying Case Agent 1 and SSA 1 prior to October 12, 2016,
    nine days before the FISA application was filed. Case Agent 1 said that he may
    have mentioned the case to the 01 Attorney “in passing,” but he did not specifically
    recall doing so. 303
    We believe the FBI should have specifically and explicitly advised 01 about
    the FBI’s assessment that this particular sub-source relied upon in the FISA
    application was Person 1, that Steele had provided derogatory information
    302 According to a document circulated amon Crossfire Hurricane team members and
    su ervisors in earl October 2016, Person 1 had
    . The document described eporting
    In addition, in late December 2016, Department
    Attorney Bruce Ohr told SSA 1 that he had met with Glenn Simpson and that Simpson had assessed
    that Person 1 was •••• who was central in connecting Trump to Russia.
    ~mail indicates that the OI Attorney learned in March 2017 that
  • the subsequent renewal applications did not include this fact. According to
    the OI Attorney, and as reflected in Renewal Application Nos. 2 and 3, the FBI expressed uncertainty
    about whether this sub-source was Person 1. However, other FBI documents in the same time period
    reflect that the ongoing assumption by the Crossfire Hurricane team was that this sub-source was
    Person 1.
    164
    ~erson 1, and that
    -· Those facts were relevant to Ol’s assessment of the strength of the
    information in the FISA application and, based on what we were told was the
    Department’s practice, likely would have been included by 01 in the application so
    that the FISC could consider the information in deciding whether to grant the
    requested FISA authority.
    D. September 23 Media Disclosure
    As described earlier, the final FISA application included the FBI’s assessment
    in Footnote 18 that the FBI “does not believe that [Steele] directly provided … to the
    press” the information in the September 23 Yahoo News article concerning the
    investigation of Carter Page and his alleged meetings with Sechin and Divyekin.
    The basis for this assessment, as asserted in the application, was that Steele told
    the FBI that he “only provided this information to the business associate and the
    FBI.” However, this assertion of what Steele said was inaccurate, and the
    documentation in the Woods File did not support it.
    The documentation in the Woods File relied upon for this assertion was a
    written summary of the meeting in early October with Steele. The summary was
    drafted by Case Agent 2 and, as noted above, was emailed to the Crossfire
    Hurricane team a day after the meeting. This Woods document, however, did not
    state or otherwise indicate that Steele only provided the information to his business
    associate and the FBI. Indeed, the Woods document noted that Steele told the
    team that he also had provided his election reports to his contacts at the State
    Department. Neither Case Agent 1 nor SSA 1, who performed the Woods
    Procedures on this application, noted this error, and it is not clear upon what basis
    they believed they had verified the factual assertion in the footnote about the FBI’s
    assessment of who provided information to the media for the September 23 news
    article. Both Case Agent 1 and SSA 1 told the OIG that they may have mistakenly
    been thinking the footnote said Steele gave the information to the “U.S.
    government” rather than “the FBI.”
    As described in Chapter Six, during his OIG interview, Steele told us that in
    September he and Simpson gave an “off-the-record” briefing to a small number of
    journalists about his reporting. Steele said he did not have permission to disclose
    to the OIG who attended this briefing but acknowledged that Yahoo News was
    identified in one of the court filings in the foreign litigation as having been
    present. 304 The author of the Yahoo News article reported publicly in February 2018
    that he received a briefing from Steele on the information discussed in the article
    304 Steele told us that he did not know if the “Western intelligence source” cited in the
    September 23 Yahoo News article was a reference to him. He said he had understood that the media
    briefing he gave was “off-the-record.” He said that he believed that Yahoo News had a source in the
    FBI or otherwise in the U.S. government who provided the information in the article. As we described
    in Chapter Four, the author of the Yahoo News article has written that Steele was the “Western
    intelligence source.” See Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the
    Election of Donald Trump (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2018), 227.
    165
    before the article was published, although the author also stated that he did not
    rely solely on Steele in his reporting. 305
    Neither of the FBI’s two written summaries of the meeting in early October
    2016 with Steele indicate that Steele was asked specifically about the article or
    generally about contacts with the media. During our interview with Steele, he told
    us that he was “fairly sure” the FBI team did not ask him at the meeting or at any
    other time, but that had they asked, he would have told them about his interactions
    with the media. The 01 Attorney surmised in an October 14 email to the 01 Unit
    Chief that the FBI team had not asked Steele those questions. The 01 Attorney told
    us that he did not recall whether he sought or received clarity on whether the FBI
    team had specifically asked Steele about the Yahoo News disclosure. He said that
    he probably would have included more information in the application if he had
    additional clarity on that point.
    As detailed in Chapter Four, we found no documentation demonstrating that
    Steele was asked by the FBI whether he was the source of the Yahoo News article
    disclosure or told the FBI he was not. Handling Agent 1 told us that he had no idea
    how the FBI made its assessment that Steele’s business associate or the law firm
    likely provided the information to the media. We found that the basis for that
    assessment was neither accurate nor supported by appropriate documentation,
    demonstrating a failure in the Woods process. Further, as we describe in Chapter
    Seven, as the FBI learned new information about Steele’s disclosures to the
    media-from the source himself, from Department attorney Bruce Ohr, ·and from
    media reports of the source’s admissions in court filings in the foreign litigationthe
    FBI did not make changes in any of the three later FISA renewal applications to
    reflect this new information.
    E. Papadopoulos’s Denials to an FBI CHS in September 2016 •
    As described earlier, one of the main elements relied upon by the FBI in
    support of its probable cause showing was the FFG information concerning George
    Papadopoulos and the reported offer or suggestion of assistance from the Russians
    to someone associated with the Trump campaign. Specifically, the government
    stated the following in the FISA application:
    In or about March 2016, George Papadopoulos [footnote omitted] and
    Carter Page (the target of this application) were publicly identified by
    Candidate #1 as part of his/her foreign policy team. Based on
    reporting from a friendly foreign government, which has provided
    reliable information in the past. .. the FBI believes that the Russian
    Government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps
    other individuals associated with Candidate #l’s campaign. In or
    about July 2016, the above-referenced friendly foreign government
    provided information to a senior official within the U.S. [government]
    305 See “Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff Describes Crucial Meeting Cited in Nunes Memo,” Yahoo
    News, February 2, 2018, www.yahoo.com/news/yahoo-news-michael-isikoff-describes-crucialmeeting-
    cited-nunes-memo-231005733.html (accessed Dec. 2, 2019).
    166
    regarding efforts made by the Russian Government to influence the
    2016 U.S. Presidential election. Specifically, according to this
    information, during a meeting in or about April 2016 between officials
    of the friendly foreign government and George
    Papadopoulos … Papadopoulos suggested that Candidate #l’s campaign
    had received some kind of suggestion from Russia that Russia could
    assist with the anonymous release of information during the campaign
    that would be damaging to another candidate for U.S. President
    (Candidate #2). It was unclear whether Papadopoulos or the Russians
    were referring to material acquired publicly or through other means.
    It was also unclear from this reporting how Candidate #l’s campaign
    reacted to the alleged Russian offer. Nevertheless, as discussed
    below, the FBI believes that election influence efforts are being
    coordinated between the RIS and Page, and possibly others. 306
    However, during a September 2016 CHS meeting conducted by the FBI,
    which was consensually monitored, Papadopoulos told an FBI CHS that, to his
    knowledge, no one associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with
    Russia or with outside groups like WikiLeaks in the release of emails. The FISA
    application did not include the statements Papadopoulos made to this CHS that
    were in conflict with information included in the FISA application.
    Case Agent 1 told us that he did not recall whether he advised the 01
    Attorney about Papadopoulos’s denial in September 2016 but that, if he did not, it
    may have been an oversight. He also said that the Crossfire Hurricane team’s
    assessment was that the Papadopoulos denial was a rehearsed response, and that
    he did not view the information as particularly germane to the investigation of
    Carter Page. 307 We were advised by NSD that it did not know about this denial by
    Papadopoulos until May 2018, after ODAG found the information while reviewing
    documents for possible production to Congressional committees. The 01 Attorney
    told us that he had no memory of being aware of this CHS meeting at any time
    before May 2018.
    As described in Chapter Eight, in July 2018, after learning this information,
    NSD submitted a letter to the FISC under Rule 13(a) of the Court’s Rules of
    Procedure, notifying the court of additional information relevant to the Carter Page
    FISA applications. The Rule 13(a) letter included Papadopoulos’s statements to the
    306 Although the application stated that the meeting between the FFG and Papadopoulos
    occurred in April 2016, FBI documents indicate the meeting occurred in May 2016.
    307 After reviewing a draft of this report, Case Agent 1 told the OIG that he and the team
    discounted Papadopoulos’s denials for several reasons, but that, in hindsight, he now realizes that
    those denials, and the team’s assessment of those denials, should have been shared with 01 “in order
    for [OI] to make the determination whether [those denials] should be in the application.”
    167
    FBI CHS in September 2016, as well as similar statements Papadopoulos made to a
    CHS in late October 2016, after the first application was filed. 308 The letter stated:
    The above-described additional background information concerning
    Papadopoulos’s September 2016 meeting with [an FBI CHS] and
    October 2016 discussion with a separate CHS would have been
    included in the applications had it been known to NSD at the time, as
    Papadopoulos’s statements relate to the question of whether
    Papadopoulos was aware of or involved in coordination of election
    influence efforts between the RIS and members of Candidate #l’s
    campaign. Even had this information been included, the totality of
    information submitted in these applications concerning Page’s activities
    was sufficient to support the Court’s finding of probable cause that
    Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power. [Footnote omitted].
    Evans told the OIG that a FISA target’s denial of facts asserted in a FISA
    application should be included in the application, even in instances where the FBI
    makes an assessment that the target making the denial is not being candid or
    truthful. According to Evans, there was no question in his mind that the
    Papadopoulos denial to the CHS in September 2016 was relevant to the court’s
    consideration of the first application. In fact, later renewal applications advised the
    court of denials made by Papadopoulos to the FBI over the course of several
    interviews in 2017, as well as the FBI’s belief that Papadopoulos provided
    misleading and incomplete information. 309
    F. Carter Page’s Denials to an FBI CHS in August and October
    2016
    As described earlier in this chapter, the FBI conducted CHS meetings
    involving Carter Page in August and October 2016. We found that statements
    made by Page during these meetings, which conflicted with information included in
    the first FISA application, were not provided by the FBI to 01, and were not
    disclosed in the first FISA application.
    In August 2016, as we describe in Chapter Ten, the FBI consensually
    monitored and recorded a meeting between Carter Page and an FBI CHS, during
    which Page said that he had “literally never met” or “said one word to” Paul
    Manafort, and that Manafort had not responded to any of Page’s emails. Page
    308 In a footnote, the letter also advised the court that Papadopoulos made similar statements
    to the FBI during an interview in late January 2017, after Renewal Application No. 1 was filed and
    before Renewal Application No. 2.
    309 As described later in Chapter Eight, in February 2017, the FBI interviewed Joseph Mifsud
    who the FBI believed communicated to Papadopoulos the alleged offer from the Russians. According
    to FBI documents, Mifsud denied having advance knowledge that Russia was in possession of DNC
    emails and denied passing any offers or proffers to Papadopoulos. As described in Chapter Eight~ this
    information was not included in the later renewal applications.
    168
    made similar statements during one of his interviews with the FBI in March 2017. 310
    Although the first Carter Page FISA application and subsequent renewal applications
    alleged that Page was acting as an intermediary between Manafort and the Russian
    government as part of a “well-developed conspiracy” (from Report 95), none of the
    applications included statements from Carter Page to the CHS that conflicted with
    the conspiracy allegation.
    The statements made by Page in August 2016 were not provided to 01 prior
    to the filing of the first FISA application. The 01 Attorney told us that, like the
    September 2016 CHS meeting involving Papadopoulos, he had no memory of being
    made aware of Page’s August 2016 statements regarding Manafort before the first
    FISA application was filed. Case Agent 1 told us that he did not discuss these
    statements with the 01 Attorney because he did not view them as contrary to the
    allegations in Report 95, in that it was possible that Manafort used Page as an
    intermediary without communicating directly with Page. 311
    We found that information about the August 2016 meeting was first shared
    with the 01 Attorney on or about June 20, 2017, when Case Agent 6 sent the 01
    Attorney a 163-page document containing the statements made by Page during the
    meeting. As described in Chapter Seven, Case Agent 6, to bolster probable cause,
    had added to the draft of FISA Renewal Application No. 3 statements that Page
    made during this meeting about an “October Surprise” involving an “email dump” of
    “33 thousand” emails. The 01 Attorney told us that he used the 163-page
    document to accurately quote in the final renewal application Page’s statements
    concerning the “October Surprise,” but that he did not read the other aspects of the
    document and that the case agent did not flag for him the statements Page made
    about Manafort. The 01 Attorney told us that these statements, which were
    available to the FBI before the first application, should have been flagged by the
    FBI for inclusion in all of the FISA applications because they were relevant to the
    court’s assessment of the allegations concerning Manafort’s use of Page as an
    intermediary with Russia. Case Agent 6 told us that he did not know that Page
    made the statement about Manafort because the August 2016 meeting took place
    before he was assigned to the investigation. He said that the reason he knew
    about the “October Surprise” statements in the document was that he had heard
    about them from Case Agent 1 and did a word search to find the specific discussion
    of that topic.
    Regarding the similar statement Page made during one of his March 2017
    interviews with the FBI, the 01 Attorney told us that Case Agent 6 also did not flag
    this statement for him, but added that he (01 Attorney) should have noticed the
    310 According to Evans, Page’s statement concerning Manafort in August 2016 “arguably
    carries more significance” than Page’s later statements because the August 2016 statements took
    place before Page would have learned from the media that he was under investigation by the FBI.
    311 After reviewing a draft of this report, Case Agent 1 told the OIG that, because the
    Crossfire Hurricane team did not receive Report 95 until several weeks after Page told the CHS that he
    had “literally never met” Manafort, Case Agent 1 “may have overlooked” this statement when the FISA
    application was being prepared. He acknowledged that he should have provided the information to
    the OI attorney.
    169
    statement himself in the interview summary Case Agent 6 forwarded to him on
    March 24, 2017, since it was only five pages, and the 01 Attorney had read the
    entire document.
    As described previously, the FISA application contained several statements
    Carter Page made to an FBI CHS during a consensually monitored and recorded
    meeting in October 2016, before the first FISA application was filed. In an email
    sent the same day as the CHS meeting to Case Agent 1 and other members of the
    Crossfire Hurricane team, the OGC Attorney asked the team to promptly send 01
    information about the meeting, including, among other things, any “exculpatory”
    statements made by Carter Page during this meeting, which was “probably the
    most important” information to provide to 01. Case Agent 1 thereafter provided to
    01, on the same day as the October 2016 meeting, some of the statements made
    by Page to the CHS.
    We determined, however, that the information Case Agent 1 provided to 01,
    which was incorporated into the first FISA application, did not fully or accurately
    describe the information obtained by the FBI as a result of the meeting. According
    to the first FISA application, Page told the CHS during the meeting that the
    Russians would be giving him an “open checkbook.” The application further stated
    that Page did not “provide [the CHS] any specific details to refute, dispel, or clarify
    the media reporting” regarding Page’s contacts with Russian officials Sechin and
    Divyekin, but that he made “vague statements that minimized his activities.”
    However, the application failed to include Page’s statement during the meeting in
    which Page specifically denied meeting with Sechin and Divyekin, and denied even
    knowing who Divyekin was. The application did not contain these denials even
    though the application relied upon the allegations in Report 94 that Page had secret
    meetings with both Sechin and Divyekin while in Moscow in July 2016. The
    application also failed to include the fact that Page denied to the CHS knowing
    anything about the disclosure by Wikileaks of hacked DNC emails, which was
    contrary to the information from Report 95 in the application. Further, the
    application alleged that “Page helped influence” the Republican Party “to alter [its]
    platform to be more sympathetic to the Russian cause.” However, it did not
    reference the fact that Page said to the CHS during their meeting that he “stayed
    clear of that-there was a lot of conspiracy theories that I was one of them … [but]
    totally off the record … members of our team were working on that, and .. .in
    retrospect it’s way better off that !…remained at arms length.”312
    When we asked Case Agent 1 why he failed to provide this information from
    the October CHS meeting to the 01 Attorney in advance of the first FISA
    application, he told us that he did not think that Page’s statements on these issues
    were specific. We noted, however, Case Agent 1 used the transcripts of the
    recording as the support in the Woods File for the statements in the FISA
    312 Page made other statements denying culpability to a FBI CHS during a consensually
    recorded meeting in January 2017, in which he generally criticized the Steele reports that had recently
    been published by BuzzFeed, calling them “complete lies,” and said that the FBI was provided “false”
    evidence against him. We found no evidence that the FBI provided this information to 01 for its
    consideration.
    170
    applications. We further noted that the documents in the Woods File specifically
    stated that Page “denied meeting with Sechin/Divyekin,” and said he “stayed clear”
    of the efforts of the Republican platform committee and knew “nothing about”
    Wikileaks. Neither Case Agent 1 nor SSA 1 noted the inconsistency during the
    Woods Procedures, even though instant messages show that SSA 1 also knew as of
    October 17 that Page denied ever knowing Divyekin. This inconsistency was also
    not noted during the Woods Procedures on the subsequent FISA renewal
    applications, and none of the three later FISA renewal applications included Page’s
    denials to the CHS.
    We found no information indicating that the FBI provided 01 with the
    documents containing Page’s denials before finalizing the first FISA application.
    Instead, Case Agent 1 provided a summary that did not contain those denials to the
    01 Attorney and that the 01 Attorney relied upon that summary in drafting the first
    application. Evans told us that had NSD known of Page’s denials regarding Sechin
    and Divyekin, it was the kind of information that would have been included in the
    application.
    Before FISA Renewal Application No. 1, was filed in January 2017, the 01
    Attorney did receive the documents containing the denials Page made to the CHS in
    October 2016. Yet, the information about the meeting remained unchanged in the
    renewal applications. The 01 Attorney told us that he did not recall the
    circumstances surrounding this, but he acknowledged that he should have updated
    the descriptions in the renewal applications to include Page’s denials.
    In the next chapter, we describe the FBI’s activities involving Steele after the
    first FISA application, including the FBl’s decision to close Steele as a CHS and the
    FBI’s efforts to assess Steele’s election reporting in 2016 and 2017.
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    CHAPTER SIX
    FBI ACTIVITIES INVOLVING CHRISTOPHER STEELE AFTER THE
    FIRST FISA AND FBI EFFORTS TO ASSESS STEELE’S ELECTION
    REPORTING
    As detailed in this chapter, shortly after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
    Court (FISC) issued orders under FISA authorizing surveillance of Carter Page by
    the FBI, the FBI closed Steele as a Confidential Human Source (CHS) because
    Steele disclosed his relationship with the FBI to a reporter. Following the FBI’s
    closure of Steele, which we describe below, several other individuals provided the
    FBI with reports prepared by Steele, some of which the FBI had not previously
    received. Among the individuals who provided Steele’s information to the FBI were
    Department attorney Bruce Ohr, who we discuss below and in more detail in
    Chapter Nine.
    Additionally, following Steele’s closure, the FBI disseminated the Steele
    election reporting to the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) and sought to have it
    included in the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) relating to
    Russian interference with the U.S. elections, in large part because the FBI believed
    the information in Steele’s reports to be credible, although the FBI made clear to
    the USIC that the information in the reports had not been fully corroborated. The
    FBI also made attempts in 2016 and 2017 to further assess the reliability of
    Steele’s reports. Through those efforts, as we discuss in this chapter, the FBI
    discovered discrepancies between Steele’s reporting and statements sub-sources
    made to the FBI, which raised doubts about the reliability of some of Steele’s
    reports. The FBI also assessed the possibility that Russia was funneling
    disinformation to Steele, and the possibility that disinformation was included in his
    election reports.
    As we describe in this chapter, the FBI concluded, among other things, that
    although consistent with known efforts by Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S.
    elections, much of the material in the Steele election reports, including allegations
    about Donald Trump and members of the Trump campaign relied upon in the Carter
    Page FISA applications, could not be corroborated; that certain allegations were
    inaccurate or inconsistent with information gathered by the Crossfire Hurricane
    team; and that the limited information that was corroborated related to time,
    location, and title information, much of which was publicly available.
    I. Steele’s Briefing to Mother .Jones and the FBl’s Closure of Steele as a
    CHS in November 2016
    At the end of October 2016, Steele provided a briefing to a Mother Jones
    reporter in which Steele disclosed that he had provided the FBI with information
    showing connections between candidate Trump and his campaign and the Russian
    government. On October 31, 2016, three days after then FBI Director James
    Corney’s public announcement that the FBI was reopening its investigation into
    then Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server based on the receipt of new
    172
    evidence, Mother Jones published an article titled “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI
    Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump.” The article
    described the work of a “well-placed Western intelligence source” with a
    background in Russian intelligence who was sharing information with the FBI. The
    article presented information contained in Report 80, and quoted the officer as
    stating that, based on his interactions with the FBI, “[i]t’s quite clear there was or
    is a pretty substantial inquiry going on.”
    Steele’s handling agent, Handling Agent 1, told the OIG that he first learned
    of the Mother Jones article on November 1 when SSA 1 emailed him a copy.
    Handling Agent 1 telephoned Steele that day and asked him if he had spoken with
    the author of the article. According to Handling Agent l’s records, Steele confirmed
    that he had spoken with the author. Handling Agent l’s notes state that Steele was
    “concerned about the behavior of [the FBI] and was troubled by the actions of [the
    FBI] last Friday” (i.e., Corney’s announcement concerning the discovery of
    additional Clinton emails). The notes also state that Handling Agent 1 advised
    Steele that he must cease collecting information for the FBI, and it was unlikely
    that the FBI would continue a relationship with him. Handling Agent 1 told us he
    had no further contact with Steele after the November 1 telephone call.
    Upon learning of Steele’s actions, then Assistant Director E.W. “Bill” Priestap
    decided that Steele had to be closed immediately. Senior leaders in the FBI’s
    International Operations Division concurred with this decision during a meeting on
    November 3 and advised the FBI’s Legal Attache {Legat) in the European city
    where, as described in Chapter Four, members of the Crossfire Hurricane team met
    with Steele in early October, that the decision to close Steele was “non-negotiable.”
    Handling Agent 1 finalized the necessary paperwork on November 17, 2016, which
    stated that Steele was closed on November 1 and was being closed for cause due to
    his disclosure of his confidential relationship with the FBI to a third party. 313 Strzok
    told the OIG that the FBI closed Steele “because he was a control problem. We did
    not close him because we thought he was [a] fabricator.” According to Strzok,
    Steele’s decisions to discuss his reporting with the media and to disclose his
    relationship with the FBI were “horrible and it hurt what we were doing, and no
    question, he shouldn’t have done it.”
    As a consequence of his closing, Handling Agent 1 halted payment of
    $15,000 to Steele. Handling Agent 1 told the OIG that the FBI never paid Steele
    for information related to the 2016 U.S. elections. FBI records show that Steele’s
    last payment occurred on August 12, 2016, and was for information furnished to
    the FBI’s Cyber and Counterintelligence Divisions (CD) that was unrelated to the
    2016 U.S. elections.
    Steele told us that by the time of the Mother Jones interview, he and Glenn
    Simpson of Fusion GPS had decided not to continue with the FBI because the FBI
    313 The Source Closing Communication document included the following: “Was the individual
    aware of his/her status as a CHS? Yes.” As we described in Chapter Four, Steele told us he was not a
    CHS for the FBI and was never advised by Handling Agent 1 that he was a CHS-a claim that Handling
    Agent 1 disputes.
    173
    “was being deceitful.” In particular, Steele stated that he had asked Ohr and
    possibly Handling Agent 1 prior to late October 2016 why the U.S. government had
    not announced that the FBI was investigating allegations concerning the Trump
    campaign. Steele said that he was told in response that the Hatch Act made it a
    criminal offense for a federal official to make a public statement within 90 days of
    an election to the detriment or benefit of a candidate. 314 Both Ohr and Handling
    Agent 1 told us that they had no recollection of discussing the Hatch Act with
    Steele. Steele explained that he became frustrated with the FBI at the end of
    October when Corney notified Congress close to the election that the FBI was
    reopening the Clinton email investigation and The New York Times quoted law
    enforcement officials as saying that they had found no direct link between Trump
    and the Russian government. 315 Steele said that he, his firm, and his clients
    believed it was not appropriate for the FBI to make announcements in violation of
    the Hatch Act while at the same time not disclosing its investigative activity
    concerning the Trump campaign. According to Steele, the FBI’s conduct compelled
    him to choose between his client and the FBI, and he chose his client because he
    believed that the FBI had misled him. Steele said that Simpson arranged for the
    video conference interview with Mother Jones and Simpson actively participated in
    the call along with Steele. Steele told us that he believed the interview was “off the
    record” and under the same rules as his other interviews arranged by Simpson. He
    does not know whether Simpson either before or after the interview may have
    changed the rules.
    According to FBI officials, knowledge of Steele’s disclosure to Mother Jones
    did not cause the team to reassess whether Steele was also the source of the
    disclosures to Yahoo News in September 2016. As described in Chapter Seven, the
    language in the Carter Page FISA Renewal Application No. 1 regarding the
    September 23 Yahoo News article remained unchanged, again stating that the FBI
    “does not believe that Source # 1 [Steele] directly provided this information to
    [Yahoo News].” The National Security Division’s (NSD) Office of Intelligence (01)
    Unit Chief’s notes from a November 29 meeting with the 01 Attorney drafting the
    Carter Page FISA renewal application and the FBI Office of the General Counsel
    (OGC) Attorney stated “[Steele] was not the leaker to Yahoo” and noted “DD
    [Deputy Director] has signed off on requesting the FISA renewal.”316 The 01 Unit
    Chief told us that the OGC Attorney made this statement, but that the OGC
    Attorney did not provide a basis for the assertion regarding the Yahoo News article.
    During his OIG interview, we asked the OGC Attorney if he knew the reason for the
    FBI’s belief that Steele was not the leaker to Yahoo News and he said he was under
    the impression that Simpson was sharing the information with other entities. SSA 1
    314 The Hatch Act is codified at 5 U.S.C. §§ 7321-7326. Section 7323(a)(l} provides that “an
    employee may not use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting
    the result of an election.”
    315 “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia,” The New York Times,
    October 31, 2016.
    316 As described in Chapter Seven, then Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told us that as
    Deputy Director he did not approve FISA requests before they were submitted to OI, but following the
    disclosures to Mother Jones, the FBI was comfortable seeking a FISA renewal targeting Carter Page.
    174
    and Case Agent 1 told us they did not recall any discussions about changing the
    FBI’s assessment in the FISA application concerning the Yahoo News disclosure
    after learning Steele was responsible for the disclosure to Mother Jones. On
    December 19, 2016, Case Agent 1 interviewed then FBI General Counsel James
    Baker regarding his interactions with a Mother Jones reporter and Baker told Case
    Agent 1 that the reporter advised Baker that a former intelligence official “was
    passing information ‘around town'” about Trump. Case Agent 1 said that by this
    time, the team had also heard rumors that Steele’s reporting had been “floated
    around,” so it was not clear to them who made the Yahoo News disclosure.
    Further, we were told that, after the FBI closed Steele as a CHS, the team was not
    going to have further communications with Steele.
    II. The FBI Receives Additional Steele Reporting Post-Election
    Following the November 2016 U.S. elections, several third parties provided
    the FBI with additional Steele election reporting, which the FBI included in its
    validation efforts. Baker told the OIG that a Mother Jones reporter contacted him
    and furnished him with nine reports from Steele, four of which Steele had not
    previously provided to the FBI.317 As described above, Baker was interviewed by
    Case Agent 1 and Baker’s discussion with the Mother Jones reporter was
    documented in an FBI FD-302 report. According to the FD-302, Baker received a
    collection of Steele’s reports from the Mother Jones reporter, which Baker
    forwarded to Priestap for analysis. 318
    Several weeks later, on December 9, 2016, Senator John McCain provided
    Corney with a collection of 16 Steele election reports, 5 of which Steele had not
    given the FBI. 319 McCain had obtained these reports from a staff member at the
    McCain Institute. The McCain Institute staff member had met with Steele and later
    acquired the reports from Simpson. Steele told the OIG that a former European
    Ambassador to Russia who generally was familiar with Steele’s election reporting
    informed Steele that the former Ambassador would be meeting with Senator
    McCain at a conference in Nova Scotia in November, and asked Steele whether he
    wanted the former Ambassador to talk with McCain about the election reporting.
    Steele said he replied that he did, which resulted in the McCain Institute staff
    member visiting Steele in Europe in late November. According to deposition
    testimony the McCain Institute staff member provided in foreign litigation, during
    317 The nine Steele reports were Reports 80, 94, 95, 97, 105, 111, 112, 134, and 136. The
    FBI had not previously obtained Reports 97, 105, and 112 from ·steele. According to an FBI FD-302,
    in a conversation later that month, the Mother Jones reporter advised Baker that the Steele reports
    also had been furnished to two Members of Congress, and that Steele was surprised that his reporting
    had not received more attention in the media.
    318 The Mother Jones reporter has stated publicly that he provided Steele reports to Baker.
    See “A New Right-Wing Smear Campaign Targets a Former FBI Official to Distract From Russia
    Scandal,” Mother Jones, www.motheriones.com/politics/2019/01/a-new- right-winq-smear-campaigntargets-
    a-former-fbi-official-to-d istract-from-russia-scandal/ (a ccessed November 22, 2019).
    319 These were Steele Reports 80, 86, 94, 95, 97, 100, 101, 102, 105, 111, 112, 113, 130,
    134, 135, and 136. FBI records show that the FBI had not previously received Reports 86, 97, 105,
    112 and 113 from Steele. ·
    175
    this visit Steele discussed his reporting with the staff member and showed the staff
    member a piece of paper on which Steele had written the true names of his subsources,
    although the staff member could not recall them. Steele told us that he
    shared some of the sub-source names with the staff member because the staff
    member was a “Russia expert” and had been tasked by Senator McCain to
    determine whether Steele’s reporting was serious. The staff member also testified
    that Steele explained to him that the information in the reports needed to be
    corroborated and verified and that Steele was not in a position “to vouch for
    everything that was produced …. “
    Additionally, as we detail in Chapter Nine, on December 10, Department
    attorney Bruce Ohr received a thumb drive from Simpson containing some of
    Steele’s election reports and provided the thumb drive to the FBI. 320 Included
    among the reports on the thumb drive was a document that the Crossfire Hurricane
    team had not previously seen, which recounted that a senior official in the Russian
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs had reported that a rumor was circulating that Presidentelect
    Trump’s delay in appointing a new Secretary of State was the result of an
    “intervention” by Putin and the Kremlin, and that they had requested Trump
    appoint a “Russia-friendly” figure who was prepared to lift sanctions against Russia.
    Finally, by early January 2017, BuzzFeed had obtained copies of some of the
    Steele election reports during a meeting with the McCain Institute staff member
    and published them as part of an article titled “These Reports Allege Trump Has
    Deep Ties to Russia.”321 Included in this collection was Report 166, another report
    that previously had not been shared with the FBI. It included allegations that
    Trump attorney Michael Cohen had held secret discussions in Prague in late
    summer 2016 with representatives of the Kremlin and “associated
    operators/hackers,” and that the “anti-Clinton hackers” had been paid by the
    “[Trump] team” and Kremlin. 322 The FBI eventually concluded that these
    allegations against Cohen and the “Trump team” were not true.
    320 These were the same Steele reports that Senator McCain gave to Corney on December 9,
    except that the thumb drive did not include Report 130.
    321 Steele testified in foreign litigation that he did not provide his reports to journalists or
    media organizations and did not authorize anyone to share them. According to the McCain Institute
    staff member’s testimony in the same litigation, Steele requested that the staff member meet with
    BuzzFeed, and that Steele neither requested nor prohibited the staff member from sharing the reports
    with BuzzFeed. Additionally, the staff member testified that Steele was aware that the staff member
    was furnishing Steele’s reports to The Washington Post. Steele told the OIG that he trusted the staff
    member to handle his reports discretely and that the staff member betrayed that trust. Steele
    explained that the staff member had spent his career handling sensitive intelligence. Steele also said
    he understood from a former Ambassador that Senator McCain requested that Steele trust the staff
    member. Steele said he was “absolutely flabbergasted” when BuzzFeed published his election reports.
    322 On January 10, 2017, following the media release of the Steele election reports, Strzok
    texted Lisa Page:
    6:09 p.m.: “Sitting with Bill watching CNN. A TON more out.”
    176
    III. The FBI Disseminates the Steele Reporting to the U.S. Intelligence
    Community and Seeks to Have It Included in the January 2017
    Intelligence Community Assessment
    According to the Supervisory Intelligence Analyst (Supervisory Intel Analyst),
    the FBI first shared Steele’s reporting with other U.S. government intelligence
    agencies in December 2016, when the FBI provided it to an interagency ICA
    drafting team that was set up in response to a request from President Obama to
    complete a comprehensive assessment of the Russian government’s intentions and
    actions concerning the 2016 elections. 323 Members of the interagency ICA drafting
    team from the FBI, National Security Agency (NSA), and Central Intelligence
    Agency (CIA), with oversight from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence
    (ODNI), worked jointly to prepare a report known as the Intelligence Community
    Assessment {ICA). As part of these efforts, both Priestap and the FBI’s Section
    Chief of CD’s Analysis Section 1 {Intel Section Chief) wrote to the CIA in separate
    correspondence and described Steele as “reliable.”
    Whether and how to present Steele’s reporting in the ICA was a topic of
    significant discussion within the FBI and with the other agencies participating in
    drafting the ICA. On December 16, 2016, the Intel Section Chief explained in an
    email to the FBI:
    DD [Deputy Director] wants the [Steele] reporting included in the
    submission with some level of detail, to include the newest stuff that
    [Supervisory Intel Analyst] can send you on the red side. Include
    details like the potential compromising material, etc. Can you please
    add a section ( characterizing [Steele] obviously) in coordination with
    [Supervisory Intel Analyst]?
    The Intel Section Chief told us that he asked then Deputy Director Andrew
    McCabe whether McCabe wanted to limit the FBI’s submission to information
    concerning Russian election interference or to also include allegations against
    candidate Trump. The Intel Section Chief said that McCabe understood President
    Obama’s request for the ICA to require the participating agencies to share all
    information relevant to Russia and the 2016 elections, and the Steele election
    reporting qualified at a minimum due to concerns over possible Russian attempts to
    blackmail Trump. That same day, the Intel Section Chief sent to Priestap, Strzok,
    and another senior official in CD an updated draft of the FBI’s submission for the
    6: 18 p.m.: “Hey let me know when you can talk. We’re discussing whether, now that this is
    out, we use it as a pretext to go interview some people.”
    Strzok told the OIG that he believed these texts were referencing the possibility of
    interviewing one of Trump’s attorneys, Michael Cohen, and Manafort using the release of the Steele
    reports as the stated reason for seeking the interview, without revealing the ongoing investigation.
    Strzok said the me~ia release of the reports would be a logical reason for the FBI to interview Cohen
    and Manafort without alerting them to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
    323 Strzok said that he believed that the FBI also may have furnished the Steele election
    reports to the intelligence service of a friendly foreign government but he did not have a specific
    recollection of it.
    177
    ICA with the following explanation: “Attached is the updated draft of [the] FBI’s
    submission to the POTUS-tasked election targeting study. It now incorporates the
    [Steele] reporting at the DD’s [Deputy Director’s] request. This has obviously
    increased the sensitivity of the attached document.” The Intel Section Chief said
    that the heightened sensitivity resulted from the reporting’s allegations of collusion:
    “The minute we put the [Steele election reporting] in there, it goes from what you’d
    expect the FBI to be collecting in a counterintelligence context to direct allegations
    about collusion with the Trump campaign.”
    The following day, December 17, Corney completed his review of the FBI’s
    draft submission for the ICA and emailed Priestap, McCabe, Strzok, the Intel
    Section Chief, the FBI Director’s Chief of Staff, and Baker describing a call he had
    with then Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper:
    Thanks. Looks okay to me. FYI: During a secure call last night on
    this general topic, I informed the DNI that we would be contributing
    the [Steele] reporting (although I didn’t use that name) to the IC
    [Intelligence Community] effort. I stressed that we were proceeding
    cautiously to understand and attempt to verify the reporting as best
    we can, but we thought it important to bring it forward to the IC effort.
    I told him the source of the material, which included salacious material
    about the President-Elect, was a former [
    ] who appears to be a credible person with a source and
    sub-source network in position to report on such things, but we could
    not vouch for the material. (I said nothing further about the source or
    our efforts to verify).
    I added that I believed that the material, in some form or fashion, had
    been widely circulated in Washington and that Senator McCain had
    delivered to me a copy of the reports and Senator Burr had mentioned
    to me the part about Russian knowledge of sexual activity by the
    President-Elect while in Russia. The DNI asked whether anyone in the
    White House was aware of this and I said “not to my knowledge.” He
    thanked me for letting him know and we didn’t discuss further.
    According to the Intel Section Chief and Supervisory Intel Analyst, as the
    interagency editing process for the ICA progressed, the CIA expressed concern
    about using the Steele election reporting in the text of the ICA. The Supervisory
    Intel Analyst explained that the CIA believed that the Steele election reporting was
    not completely vetted and did not merit inclusion in the body of the report. The
    Intel Section Chief stated that the CIA viewed it as “internet rumor.”
    On December 28, 2016, McCabe wrote to the then ODNI Principal Deputy
    Director objecting to the CIA’s proposal to present the Steele information in an
    appendix to the ICA. McCabe wrote:
    I would also like to speak with you tomorrow about my concerns about
    where the [Steele] references will appear in the joint report,
    notwithstanding the fact that it is officially part of the assessment. We
    178
    oppose CIA’s current plan to include it as an appendix; there are a
    number of reasons why I feel strongly that it needs to appear in some
    fashion in the main body of the reporting, and I would welcome the
    chance to talk to you about it tomorrow.
    McCabe told the OIG that he had three reasons for believing that the Steele
    election reporting needed to be included in the ICA: (1) President Obama had
    requested “everything you have relevant to this topic of Russian influence”; (2) the
    Steele election reporting was not completely vetted, but was consistent with
    information from other sources and came from a source with “a good track record”
    that the FBI had “confidence in”; and (3) McCabe believed the FBI, as an
    institution, needed to advise the President about the Steele election reporting
    because it had been widely circulated throughout government and media circles,
    and was likely to leak into the public realm. McCabe said he felt strongly that the
    Steele election reporting belonged in the body of the ICA, because he feared that
    placing it in an appendix was “tacking it on” in a way that would “minimiz[e]” the
    information and prevent it from being properly considered. ·
    McCabe’s view did not prevail. The final ICA report was completed early in
    the first week of January 2017, and included a short summary and assessment of
    the Steele election reporting, which was incorporated in an appendix. In the
    appendix, the intelligence agencies explained that there was “only limited
    corroboration of the source’s reporting” and that Steele’s election reports were not
    used “to reach analytic conclusions of the CIA/FBI/NSA assessment.” The Intel
    Section Chief told us that the reference to “limited corroboration” was addressed to
    the “whole body” of Steele’s reporting and not just those portions concerning
    Trump. He said that there was corroboration of certain facts as well as “the thrust”
    of the reporting regarding Russia’s actions to disrupt the election and cause discord
    in the western alliance.
    We asked Corney whether he recalled having any conversations with then
    CIA Director John Brennan or other members of the USIC about how the Steele
    election reports should be presented to the President. Corney stated:
    I remember being part of a conversation, maybe more than one
    conversation, where the topic was how the [Steele] reporting would be
    integrated, if at all, into the IC assessment. And I don’t remember
    participating in debates about that. I think I was just told, in, I think,
    in a meeting with Clapper and Brennan and Rogers [then NSA
    Director], that the IC analysts found it credible on its face and
    gravamen of it, and consistent with our other information, but not in a
    position where they would integrate it into the IC assessment. But
    they thought it was important enough and consistent enough that it
    ought to be part of the package in some way, and so they had come
    up with this idea to make an [appendix]. I remember, I don’t think I
    was part of a debate about that, as I said, but I remember a
    conversation where I was told that’s how it would be handled and my
    reaction was, okay, that’s reasonable.
    179
    According to Corney, the inclusion of the Steele election reporting as an
    appendix to the ICA was not a value judgment about the quality of the information.
    Instead, it reflected the relatively uncorroborated and incomplete status of the FBI’s
    assessment. Corney told the OIG that the Steele election reporting was “not ripe
    enough, mature enough, to be in a finished intelligence product.”
    On January 5, 2017, Clapper, then NSA Director Michael Rogers, Brennan,
    and Corney briefed the ICA report to President Obama and his national security
    team, followed by a briefing for Congressional leadership on the morning of January
    6, 2017, and finally a briefing for then President-elect Trump and his national
    security team on the afternoon of January 6, 2017. Corney told the OIG that the
    plan for the ICA briefing of President-elect Trump had two parts. The first part of
    the briefing, jointly conducted by Clapper, Brennan, Rogers, and Corney, involved
    advising Trump and his national security team of the overall conclusi<:>ns of the ICA.
    The second part of the briefing involved notifying the President-elect of information
    from Steele’s reporting that concerned Trump’s alleged sexual activities in Moscow
    several years earlier. Corney stated that the other USIC Directors agreed that
    Trump had to be briefed on this information, and Clapper decided the briefing
    should be done by Corney in a small group or alone with the President-elect.
    According to an email Corney sent to FBI officials on January 7, 2017, Corney
    mentioned during the initial portion of the briefing a piece of Steele’s reporting that
    indicated Russia had files of derogatory information on both Clinton and the ·
    President-elect. Corney’s email stated that a member of Trump’s national security
    team asked during the briefing whether the FBI was “trying to dig into the subso~
    rces” to gain a better understanding of the situation, and Corney responded in
    the affirmative.
    Corney’s email reflects that, after the first portion of the meeting ended,
    Corney stayed behind to speak with President-elect Trump alone about the part of
    the Steele election reporting that dealt with Trump’s alleged sexual activity.
    Corney’s email reflects that he -explained that according to Steele’s sub-sources, the
    Russians had a file on the President-elect’s alleged sexual activities while in Russia
    and possessed tapes of him with prostitutes at the Presidential Suite at the Ritz
    Carlton hotel in Moscow. The email further states that Corney explained that the
    material was “inflammatory stuff” and that a news organization “would get killed for
    reporting straight up from the source reports.” In testimony before Congress,
    Corney has described this part of his email as communicating that “it was salacious
    and unverified material that a responsible journalist wouldn’t report without
    corroborating in some way.” Corney told the OIG that he informed President-elect
    Trump that the FBI did not know whether the allegations were true or false and that
    the FBI was not investigating them. 324
    324 In the OIG’s Report of Investigation of Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director
    James Corney’s Disclosure of Sensitive Investigative Information and Handling of Certain Memoranda
    (August 2019), we described Corney’s creation of the January 7, 2017 email that memorialized his
    January 6, 2017 meeting with Trump. Prior to this meeting, Corney met with senior leaders of the FBI
    and the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and discussed a number of concerns about Corney meeting
    180
    After BuzzFeed published the Steele election reports on January 10, 2017,
    and news reports began describing the January 6 ICA briefing of President-elect
    Trump, Clapper informed Camey by email on January 11 that he had a telephone
    conversation with President-elect Trump that included discussion of the Steele
    “[election reporting].” Clapper included in the email to Camey a draft media
    statement by Clapper for public release, which stated that “[t]he IC [Intelligence
    Community] has not made any judgment that the information in [the Steele
    election reporting] is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our
    conclusions” in the ICA. Camey responded to the email with proposed revisions to
    Clapper’s text:
    I just had a chance to review the proposed talking points on this for
    today. Perhaps it is a nit, but I worry that it may not be best to say
    “The IC has not made any judgment that the information in the
    document is reliable.” I say that because we HAVE concluded that the
    source [Steele] is reliable and has a track record with us of reporting
    reliable information; we have some visibility into his source network,
    some of which we have determined to be sub-sources in a position to
    report on such things; and much of what he reports in the current
    document is consistent with and corroborative of other reporting
    included in the body of the main IC report. That said, we are not able
    to sufficiently corroborate the reporting to include in the body of the
    [ICA] report.
    That all rings in my ears as more complicated than “we have not made
    a judgment that the information in the document is reliable.” It might
    be better to say that “we have not be [sic] able to sufficiently
    corroborate the information to include it in the body of our Russia
    report but, for a variety of reasons, we thought it important to include
    it in our report to our senior-most audience.
    The ODNI released Clapper’s media statement on January 11, 2017, which
    was captioned “DNI Clapper Statement on Conversation with President-elect
    Trump. “325 The sentence that Camey had raised concerns about in his email to
    Clapper remained unchanged and thus Clapper’s statement included the following
    sentence regarding Steele’s election reporting: “The IC has not made any
    alone with Trump. One of the topics discussed was Trump’s potential responses to being told about
    the “salacious” information, including that Trump might make statements, or provide information of
    value, to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Witnesses recalled agreeing that Corney should
    memorialize his meeting with Trump immediately after it occurred. Corney told the OIG that, in his
    view, it was important for the FBI executive managers to be “able to share in [Corney’s] recall of
    the … salient details of those conversations” with Trump, and that if the meeting became “a source of
    controversy” it would be important to have a clear, contemporaneous record because Corney was
    concerned that Trump might “misrepresent what happened in the encounter.”
    325 The statement can be found at https://www.dni.gov/index.php/newsroom/pressreleases/
    item/ 17 36-d n i-clapper-statement-on-conversation-with-president-elect-tru mp ( accessed Dec.
    8, 2019).
    181
    judgment that the information in [the Steele election reporting] is reliable, and we
    did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions” in the ICA.
    IV. FBI Validation Efforts Following Steele’s Closure as a CHS
    As described in Chapter Four, the FBI closed Steele as a CHS in November
    2016 after he disclosed his relationship with the FBI to a news outlet. Although
    Steele was no longer a CHS, the FBI continued with its efforts to validate his
    reporting. This section describes those efforts.
    A. Information from Persons with Direct Knowledge of Steele’s
    Work-Related Performance in a Prior Position
    In mid-November and December 2016, FBI officials travelled abroad and met
    with persons who previously had professional contacts with Steele or had
    knowledge of his work. 326 According to Strzok, one of the purposes of the trips was
    to obtain information regarding Steele from persons with direct knowledge of
    Steele’s work-related performance in a prior position in order to help the FBI assess
    Steele’s reliability. Priestap said that it was not standard practice to take such a
    trip to assess a CHS, but in this case he believed it was important due to the nature
    of the information that the CHS provided and because the FBI was under a great
    deal of scrutiny. In his view, “[t]he bottom line is we had concerns about the
    reporting the day we got it…. [S]ome of it was so sensational, that we just, we did
    not take it at face value.”
    Priestap and Strzok took notes of the feedback that they received about
    Steele, some of which was positive and some of which was negative. 327 Their notes
    included positive comments such as “smart,” “person of integrity,” “no reason to
    doubt integrity” and “[i]f he reported it, he believed it.” Priestap told us that his
    impression was that Steele’s former colleagues considered Steele to be a “Russia
    expert” and very competent in his work. However, Priestap and Strzok also were
    provided with various negative comments concerning Steele’s judgment. Their
    notes stated: “[ d]emonstrates lack of self-awareness, poor judgment;” “[k]een to
    help” but “underpinned by poor judgment;” “Judgment: pursuing people with
    political risk but no intel value;” “[d]idn’t always exercise great judgmentsometimes
    [he] believes he knows best;” and “[r]eporting in good faith, but not
    clear what he would have done to validate.” Priestap told us that he understood
    the commentary on Steele’s judgment to mean that Steele strongly believed in his
    convictions, which did not always align with management’s convictions, leading to
    conflicts over priorities. Strzok described the feedback as follows:
    And many of them … almost without exception said, look, he is truthful.
    He has never been accused of, nor did anybody think he is an
    326 Strzok and Priestap traveled in November; Strzok, Lisa Page, the Supervisory Intel
    Analyst, SSA 1, and the OGC Unit Chief traveled in December.
    327 We discuss Priestap’s and Strzok’s impressions of this feedback in greater detail in Chapter
    Eight.
    182
    embellisher, let alone a fabricator. That, if anything, he, to the extent
    there were negatives, it was that he was the type of person who would
    sometimes follow the shiny object without, perhaps, a deep set of
    judgment about the risk that may or may not be there in terms of
    · following the shiny object. But in any event, he was not the type of
    person who would fabricate something or make something up or
    mischaracterize it, either intentionally or unintentionally.
    Priestap said he interpreted the comments about Steele’s judgment to mean
    that “if he latched on to something … he thought that was the most important thing
    on the face of this earth” and added that this personality trait doesn’t necessarily
    “jump out as a particularly bad or horrible [one]” because, as a manager, it can be
    helpful if the “people reporting to [you] think the stuff they’re working on is the
    most important thing going on” and use their best efforts to pursue it. Information
    from these meetings was shared with the Crossfire Hurricane team. However, we
    found that it was not memorialized in Steele.’s Delta file and therefore not
    considered in a validation review conducted by the FBI’s Validation Management
    Unit (VMU) in early 2017. 328 In addition, as described in Chapter Eight, some of the
    relevant details about Steele’s work-related performance in a prior position were
    not shared with 01 and were not included in any of the Carter Page FISA renewal
    applications, even though the applications relied upon Steele’s reporting.
    B. The FBI’s Human Source Validation Review of Steele in March
    2017
    Another method that the FBI utilized to evaluate Steele was the FBI’s
    standard validation rocess. As we described in Cha ter Two the validation
    rocess
    . Througho~n of
    Steele as a CHS, Handling Agent 1 regularly submitted – source
    reports that furnished information relevant to these factors. With the exception of
    Steele’s last annual report, which described his disclosure of information to the
    media and resulted in his closure for cause, the reports depict Steele positively with
    no derogatory information noted. For example, the 2015 annual report states that
    “[s]ource provided relevant and significant intel on activities of Eurasian criminals
    to include OC [ organized crime] members and associates, businessmen/oligarchs
    and politicians.” The annual reports also noted that some of Steele’s information
    had been corroborated.
    The FBI continued its validation efforts into 2017 after SSA 1 requested that
    VMU perform a Human Source Validation Review (HSVR) on Steele. 329 SSA 1
    told the OIG that he recalled that he ma have made a commitment to
    329 SSA 1 initially requested the HSVR in November 2016, which the Unit Chief of VMU
    confirmed. However, CD delayed the initiation of the HSVR due to the sensitivity of the subject matter
    and concerns over leaks. Strzok stated that another consideration was uncertainty about whether the
    assessment would add significant value. The HSVR was restarted in early February 2017.
    183
    explained that “I wanted to ensure that an independent asset validation was
    conducted by our Directorate of Intelligence, and not just the people that were
    working the Crossfire Hurricane case, to ensure the totality of his -information was
    being looked at.” SSA 3, who started work on the Crossfire Hurricane investigation
    in January 2017, and others recalled that there were multiple discussions about the
    need to complete an HSVR and that initiation of the review had been delayed for
    several weeks. VMU completed its report on March 23, 2017 after evaluating
    Steele’s Delta file, conducting various database searches, and engaging in a limited
    email exchange with Handling Agent 1 as well as an agent on the Crossfire
    Hurricane team. The VMU assessment did not independently corroborate
    information in the Steele election reporting, but it did include searching inside FBI
    and U .5. government holdings, including Delta, for such corroboration. 330
    The validation report made a number of findings. The VMU found no issues
    regarding Steele’s reliability or nothing to suggest that he had fabricated
    information, and determined that he was “suitable for continued operation” based
    on his authenticity and reliability. The report noted, however, that Steele was
    closed due to his disclosure of his FBI relationshi to an online ublication. The
    re ort also noted two com liance issues. First
    The “Summary” portion of the validation report included the following text:
    VMU assesses it is likely [Steele] has contributed to the FBI’s Criminal
    Program. VMU makes this assessment with medium confidence, based
    on the fact that [Steele’s] reporting has been minimally corroborated;
    his or her access and placement is commensurate with his or her
    reporting; and on the presence of one major control issue [the
    disclosure to the media] noted in [Steele’s] Delta file.
    Handling Agent 1 told us that the finding that Steele’s past criminal reporting
    was “minimally corroborated” was consistent with his understanding of the entire
    collection of Steele’s reporting to the FBI. However, Priestap, who previously
    oversaw the work of VMU in his capacity as Deputy Assistant Director in the
    Directorate of Intelligence, explained that when he reviewed the Steele validation
    report it “jump[ ed] out” to him that the report indicated that Steele’s reporting was
    “minimally corroborated.” He stated: “I had always understood that [Steele] had a
    long, successful track record of reporting, that had withstood, in effect, judicial or
    330 As noted above, Steele’s Delta file did not include the views of persons with direct
    knowledge of Steele’s work-related performance in a prior position, obtained by Strzok and Priestap in
    December 2016, or information generated by the Transnational Organized Crime Intelligence Unit, as
    described in Chapter Four, that raised questions about the extent of Steele’s apparent connections to
    Russian oligarchs.
    184
    court-of-law scrutiny, and so when I saw ‘minimally corroborated,’ that was
    different than I had understood it. “331
    The validation report summary did not appear to assess Steele’s
    counterintelligenc;e and election reporting. We asked the Unit Chief of VMU
    (Validation SSA), about this and he told us “[w]e did not find corroboration for the
    [Steele election reporting]” from the holdings that VMU examined. He explained
    that, within the validation context, the term “corroboration” means that the FBI has
    received the same information from a separate source, and added that
    “uncorroborated” does not mean the information is untrue or provide a basis for
    closing the source. We asked why that finding did not appear in the validation
    report. The Validation SSA explained that “it’s not common practice for us to go in
    and state the negative upfront,” and “what we do is we speak to what we positively
    find.”332 He added: “I think it is a logical way to stay within the bounds of staying
    with what we know. As opposed to telling you all the things we don’t know.”
    The VMU’s decision to not include in the validation report that it did not find
    corroboration for Steele’s election reporting came as a surprise to the FBI officials
    we interviewed. For example, Priestap told us that omitting that the “[Steele
    election reporting]” information was uncorroborated “defeats the whole purpose of
    us asking them to do the validation reporting.” Priestap continued:
    [T]hat makes no sense to me. The whole point of having a human
    source validation section outside of the operational divisions is to
    provide an absolutely independent, unbiased, completely unbiased,
    look at the human sources. They have to do a report at the end. It’s
    simply the way in which they document their findings. It is beyond me
    how somebody would undertake that effort and then not document
    their findings in that regard. That, to me, that goes against everytliing
    i stand for. It goes against what my organization stands for, it’s like
    you are burying the results.
    Strzok said that the validation report’s lack of clarity was consistent with his
    past experience with VMU, and that VMU’s work is “frequently ambiguous or
    perhaps not written with the level of precision and specificity and expertise that
    might be desired.” He also stated that validation reports are “rarely helpful.” Both
    the Intel Section Chief and Supervisory Intel Analyst said that they did not agree
    with the Validation SSA’s conclusion that the Steele [election reporting] was
    “uncorroborated.” They explained that there is a distinction between facts and
    331 We discuss in Chapters Five and Eight the FISA application’s source characterization
    statement that Steele’s reporting had been “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings.”
    332 The OIG’s Audit Division recently completed a review of the FBI’s CHS validation processes
    finding, among other things, that FBI validation personnel were discouraged from documenting
    conclusions from CHS validation reviews in their written reports. The OIG report made numerous
    recommendations to the FBI to revise and improve the validation process. See U.S. Department of
    Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Audit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s
    Management of its Confidential Human Source Validation Processes, Audit Report 20-009 (November
    2019), at 24-26.
    185
    allegations, and that it would not be appropriate to characterize all of the factual
    information in the Steele election reporting as “uncorroborated.”333
    the validation re ort included a recommendation that
    Source reporting must accurately describe the reliability of
    the information or its origin.
    C. The FBI Identifies and Interviews the Primary Sub-Source in
    Early 2017
    An important aspect of the FBI’s assessment of Steele’s election reporting
    involved evaluating Steele’s source network, especially whether the sub-sources
    had access to reliable information. As noted in the first FISA application, Steele
    relied on a primary sub-source (Primary Sub-source) for information, and this
    Primary Sub-source used a network of sub-sources to gather the information that
    was relayed to Steele; Steele himself was not the originating source of any of the
    factual information in his reporting. 334 The FBI employed multiple methods in an
    effort to ascertain the identities of the sub-sources within the network, including
    meeting with Steele in October 2016 (prior to him being closed for cause) and
    conducting various investigative inquiries. For example, the FBI determined it was
    plausible that at least some of the sub-sources had access to intelligence pertinent
    to events described in Steele’s election reporting. Additionally, the FBI’s evaluation
    of Steele’s sub-sources generated some corroboration for the election reporting
    (primarily routine facts about dates, locations, and occupational positions that was
    mostly public source information). Further, by January 2017 the FBI was able to
    identify and arrange a meeting with the Primary Sub-source. 335
    The FBI conducted interviews of the Primary Sub-source in January, March,
    and May 2017 that raised significant questions about the reliability of the Steele
    election reporting. In particular, the FBI’s interview with Steele’s Primary Subsource
    in January 2017, shortly after the FBI filed the Carter Page FISA Renewal
    333 We discuss the FBI’s conclusions about the reporting in Section V of this chapter.
    335 Steele did not disclose the identity of the Primary Sub-source to the FBI.
    186
    Application No. 1 and months prior to Renewal Application No. 2, raised doubts
    about the reliability of Steele’s descriptions of information in his election reports.
    During the FBI’s January interview, at which Case Agent 1, the Supervisory Intel
    Analyst, and representatives of NSD were present, the Primary Sub-source told the
    FBI that he/she had not seen Steele’s reports until they became public that month,
    and that he/she made statements indicating that Steele misstated or exaggerated
    the Primary Sub-source’s statements in multiple sections of the reporting. 336 For
    example, the Primary Sub-source told the FBI that, while Report 80 stated that
    Trump’s alleged sexual activities at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Moscow had been
    “confirmed” by a senior, western staff member at the hotel, the Primary Sub-source
    explained that he/she reported to Steele that Trump’s alleged unorthodox sexual
    activity at the Ritz Carlton hotel was “rumor and speculation” and that he/she had
    not been able to confirm the story. A second example provided by the Primary
    Sub-source was Report 134’s description of a meeting allegedly held between
    Carter Page and Igor Sechin, the President of Rosneft, a Russian energy
    conglomerate. 337 Report 134 stated t hat, according to a “close associate” of
    Sechin, Sechin offered “PAGE/TRUMP’s associates the brokerage of up to a 19
    percent (privatized) stake in Rosneft” in return for the lifting of sanctions against
    the company. 338 The Primary Sub-source told the FBI that one of his/ her subsources
    furnished information for that part of Report 134 through a text message,
    but said that the sub-source never stated that Sechin had offered a brokerage
    interest to Page. 339 We reviewed the texts and did not find any discussion of a
    bribe, whether as an interest in Rosneft itself or a “brokerage.”340
    336 David Laufman, then Chief of NSD’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES),
    covered the first portion of the January interview and his Deputy Section Chief covered the remaining
    portions of the January interview. Laufman told us that he negotiated with the Primary Sub-source’s
    counsel to facilitate the FBI’s interview and sought to “build a cooperative relationship that
    could . ..result in the Bureau’s being in a position to assess the validity of information in the [Steele
    election reporting] resulting from [the Primary Sub-source’s] activities or the collection of [ his/her]
    sub-subsources. So I saw my role as a broker to get that relationship consolidated.” Laufman said
    that the portion of the interview he attended established the line of communication with the Primary
    Sub-source and, as he recalled, generally covered the facts in a “superficial” way. He said that after
    the completion of the interview, he never saw the FBI’s written summary of the interview.
    337 According to the Supervisory Intel Analyst, the FBI was not able to prove or disprove
    Page’s meeting with Sechin. The Analyst explained that Page did meet with a Rosneft official-Andrey
    Baranov, during his July 2016 trip to Moscow and that Page told the FBI that Baranov might have
    mentioned the possible sale of a stake in Rosneft. The Analyst stated that Report 134’s mention of
    Sechin could be a “garble” for Baranov.
    338 Report 134 contained differing information on the alleged bribe offered by Sechin to Page.
    The Report first stated that Sechin offered Page a “large stake in Rosneft in return for lifting sanctions
    on Russia.” Later, the same report stated that Sechin had offered Page a much smaller sum of ·
    money, “the brokerage of up to a 19 per cent (privatized) stake in Rosneft.”
    339 The Primary Sub-source also told the FBI at these interviews that the sub-source who
    rovided the information about the Carter Pa e-Sechin meetin
    340 According to a press report prior to the date of Report 134, a 19-percent stake in Rosneft
    could have sold for more than $10 billion. See https://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/08/russias-oi l-qiant-
    187
    The Primary Sub-source was questioned again by the FBI beginning in March
    2017 about the election reporting and his/ her communications with Steele. The
    Washington Field Office agent {WFO Agent 1) who conducted that interview and
    others after it told the OIG that the Primary Sub-source felt that the tenor of
    Steele’s reports was far more “conclusive” than was justified. The Primary Subsource
    also stated that he/she never expected Steele to put the Primary Subsource’s
    statements in reports or present them as facts. According to WFO Agent
    1, the Primary Sub-source said he/ she made it clear to Steele that h’e/she had no
    proof to support the statements from his/her sub-sources and that “it was just
    talk.” WFO Agent 1 said that the Primary Sub-source explained that his/ her
    information came from “word of mouth and hearsay;” “conversation that [he/she]
    had with friends over beers; ” and that some of the information, such as allegations
    about Trump’s sexual activities, were statements he/she heard made in “jest.”341
    The Primary Sub-source also told WFO Agent 1 that he/she believed that the other
    sub-sources exaggerated their access to information and the relevance of that
    information to his/her requests. The Primary Sub-source told WFO Agent 1 that
    he/she “takes what [sub-sources] tell [him/ her] with ‘a grain of salt.”‘
    In addition, the FBI interviews with the Primary Sub-source revealed that
    Steele did not have good insight into how many degrees of separation existed
    between the Primary Sub-source’s sub-sources and the persons quoted in the
    reporting, and that it could have been multiple layers of hearsay upon hearsay. For
    example, the Primary Sub-source stated to WFO Agent 1 that, in contrast to the
    impression left from the election reports, his/her sub-sources did not have direct
    access to the persons they were reporting on. Instead, the Primary Sub-source told
    WFO Agent 1 that their information was “from someone else who may have had
    access.”
    The Primary Sub-source also informed WFO Agent 1 that Steele tasked
    him/her after the 2016 U.S. elections to find corroboration for the election reporting
    and that the Primary Sub-source could find none. According to WFO Agent 1,
    during an interview in May 2017, the Primary Sub-source said the corroboration
    was “zero.” The Primary Sub-source had reported the same conclusion to the
    Crossfire Hurricane team members who interviewed him/her in January 2017.
    Following the January interview with the Primary Sub-source, on February
    15, 2017, Strzok forwarded by email to Priestap and others a news article
    referencing the Steele election reporting; Strzok commented that “recent interviews
    and investigation, however, reveal [Steele] may not be in a position to judge the
    reliabi lity of his sub-source network.” According to the Supervisory Intel Analyst,
    the cause for the discrepancies between the election reporting and explanations
    iust-saw-its-profits-drop- 75.html (accessed Dec. 8, 2019). We discuss below the issue of Steele or
    the sub-sources presenting their analyses as statements of Kremlin officials or others.
    341 According to WFO Agent 1, the Primary Sub-source told him that he/she spoke with at
    least one staff member at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Moscow who said that there were stories
    concerning Trump’s alleged sexual activities, not that the activities themselves had been confirmed by
    the staff member as stated in Report 80.
    188
    later provided to the FBI by Steele’s Primary Sub-source and sub-sources about the
    reporting was difficult to discern and could be attributed to a number of factors.
    These included miscommunications between Steele and the Primary Sub-source,
    exaggerations or misrepresentations by Steele about the information he obtained,
    or misrepresentations by the Primary Sub-source and/or sub-sources when
    questioned by the FBI about the information they conveyed to Steele or the Primary
    Sub-source. 342
    Another factor complicating the FBI’s assessment of the Steele election
    reporting was the Primary Sub-source’s statement to the FBI that he/she believed
    that information presented as fact in the reporting included his/her and Steele’s
    “analytical conclusions” and “analytical judgments,” and not just reporting from
    sub-sources. For example, Report 80 provides that:
    Speaking separately in June 2016, Source B (the former top-level
    Russian intelligence officer) asserted that TRUMP’s unorthodox
    behavior in Russia over the years had provided the authorities there
    with enough embarrassing material on the now Republican presidential
    candidate to be able to blackmail him if they so wished.
    The Primary Sub-source told the FBI that “the ability to blackmail Trump was
    [the sub-source’s] ‘logical conclusion’ rather than reporting,” even though it is
    presented as a statement from a sub-source. The Primary Sub-source noted
    another example of this practice in Report 135, which states:
    Referring back to the (surprise) sacking of Sergei IVANOV as Head of
    PA [Presidential Administration] in August 2016, his replacement by
    Anton VAINO and the appointment of former Russian premier Sergei
    KIRIYENKO to another senior position in the PA, the Kremlin insider
    repeated that this had been directly connected to the TRUMP support
    operation and the need to cover up now that it was being exposed by
    the USG and in the western media.
    Report 111 also contains similar information to Report 135, namely that
    Ivanov was “sacked” due to his association with the Russian’s U.S. election
    operation. The Primary Sub-source explained to the FBI that the connection
    between Ivanov’s replacement and “fallout over Russia’s influence efforts against
    the U.S. election” was the Primary Sub-source’s “analytical conclusion.” The
    Primary Sub-source told the FBI that he/she was careful to identify his/her
    189
    analytical conclusions to Steele and to offer a confidence level in them (e.~
    ossible vs. likel . We took note of the fact that on December 1 2016, –
    The Supervisory Intel Analyst, as well as Steele, told us that blending
    judgments with assertions is not an appropriate way to report intelligence. Steele
    told us that he would hope that his reports were clear on what a source stated,
    what was assumed by the source, and what was analysis. However, Strzok told the
    OIG that the blending in Steele’s reporting of analysis with statements from the
    sub-sources “posed problems” for the FBI. Strzok explained that “to understand
    what the individual source said we can no longer assume this guy said all of this.
    It’s really [Steele] added on or [the Primary Sub-source] added on.”
    As discussed in Chapter Eight, Carter Page FISA Renewal Application Nos. 2
    and 3 advised the court that following the January interview with the Primary Subsource,
    “the FBI found the Russian-based sub-source to be truthful and
    cooperative.” Renewal Application Nos. 2 and 3 continued to rely on the Steele
    information, without any revisions or notice to the court that the Primary Subsource
    contradicted the Steele election reporting on key issues described in the
    renewal applications. We found no evidence that the Crossfire Hurricane team ever
    considered whether any of the inconsistencies warranted reconsideration of the
    FBl’s previous assessment of the reliability of the Steele election reports, or notice
    to 01 or the court for the subsequent renewal applications.
    D. The FBI Obtains Additional Information about the Reliability of
    Steele’s Reporting after FISA Renewal Application No. 3
    Crossfire Hurricane team members told us that in the spring 2017 they
    determined that they needed to interview Steele more extensively about his
    election reporting and ask questions to account for new information that the
    Primary Sub-source had provided during his/her interview. The Supervisory Intel
    Analyst explained that the team members believed that an interview With Steele
    “would be a good way of potentially looking to see whether or not [the Primary
    Sub-source] is giving us accurate information [or] did [the Primary Sub-source] tell
    [Steele] something different.” The FBI sought to obtain additional information
    about Steele’s sub-sources prior to the interview and encountered some logistical
    delays in arranging it. The interview ended up occurring during two days in
    September 2017, following the Carter Page FISA Renewal Application No. 3.
    The FBI’s interview with Steele in September 2017 further highlighted
    discrepancies between Steele’s presentation of information in the election reporting
    190
    and the views of his Primary Sub-source. 343 For example, Steele told the
    interviewing agent and analyst that Reports 80, 95, 97, and 102, which range in
    date from June 20 to August 10, 2016, included information from a sub-source who
    was “close” to Trump. 344 Steele further advised the FBI staff that this sub-source
    was the same person who originally provided the Primary Sub-source with the
    information concerning Trump’s alleged sexual activities at the Ritz Carlton hotel in
    Moscow, and that the Primary Sub-source met with this sub-source two or three
    times. However, we were told by WFO Agent 1 that the Primary Sub-source stated
    that he/she never met this sub-source and that other sub-sources were responsible
    for the Ritz Carlton reporting. The Primary Sub-source also told the FBI
    interviewers as well as WFO Agent 1 that he/she received a telephone call from an
    individual he/she believed was this sub-source but was not certain of the person’s
    identity and that the person never identified him/herself during the call. 345 The
    FBI’s written summary of the Primary Sub-source’s interview describes this call as
    follows:
    [The Primary Sub-source] recalls that this 10-15 minute conversation
    included a general discussion about Trump and the Kremlin, that there
    was “communication” between the parties, and that it was an ongoing
    relationship. [The Primary Sub-source] recalls that the individual
    believed to be [Source E in Report 95] said that there was “exchange
    of information” between Trump and the Kremlin, and that there was
    “nothing bad about it . .” [Source E] said that some of this information
    exchange could be good for Russia, and some could be damaging to
    Trump, but deniable. The individual said that the Kremlin might be of
    help to get Trump elected, but [the Primary Sub-source] did not recall
    any discussion or mention of Wiki[L]eaks.
    Report 95, however, attributes to this sub-source information concerning the
    release of DNC emails to WikiLeaks. Report 95 states: “Source E, acknowledged
    that the Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail
    messages, emanating from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), to the
    WikiLeaks platform.” Report 95 describes the relationship between the Trump
    campaign and “the Russian leadership” as a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation.”
    As described in Chapters Five, Seven, and Eight, all four Carter Page
    FISA applications relied on Report 95 to support probable cause. 346
    343 The September interview was conducted by an FBI agent and analyst on assignment to
    the Special Counsel’s Office.
    344 The reports describe this sub-source in varying ways: Report 80 (“Source D, a close
    associate of TRUMP …. “); Report 95 (“Source E, an ethnic Russian close associate of Republican US
    presidential candidate Donald TRUMP …. “); Report 97 (“a Russian emigre figure close to the Republican
    U.S. presidential candidate Donald TRUMP’s campaign team …. “); and Report 102 (“[A]n ethnic Russian
    associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP … “).
    345 The Primary Sub-source told WFO Agent 1 that he/she found a YouTube video of the subsource
    speaking and that it sounded like the person on the telephone call.
    346 The FISA applications also relied upon Reports 80, 94, and 102.
    191
    Report 97 contains four paragraphs of information with numerous allegations
    attributed to the sub-source (and hence is purportedly derived from the Primary
    Sub-source’s 10-15 minute call). The information attributed to the sub-source
    includes that (1) the Kremlin was concerned that “political fallout from the DNC
    email hacking operation is spiraling out of control,” (2) the Kremlin had intelligence
    on Clinton and her campaign but that the sub-source did not know when or if it
    would be released, and (3) that derogatory material possessed by the Russians
    would not be used against Trump “given how helpful and co-operative his team had
    been over several years, and particularly of late.” Report 102 likewise contains
    numerous insights about the Trump campaign and Russian tactics. It includes
    allegations that the “aim of leaking the DNC e-mails to Wikileaks during the
    Democratic Convention had been to swing supporters of Bernie SANDERS away
    from Hillary CLINTON and across to TRUMP,” and that Carter Page “conceived and
    promoted” this “objective” and had discussed it directly with the sub-source.
    The Supervisory Intel Analyst told the OIG that he found the Primary Subsource’s
    explanations about his/her contacts with this sub-source “peculiar” and
    that the Primary Sub-source could have been minimizing his/her relationship with
    the sub-source. The Supervisory Intel Analyst agreed that press reports discussing
    the sub-source’s alleged contacts with the Trump campaign may have motivated
    the Primary Sub-source to minimize the extent of his/her relationship with the subsource.
    We asked the Supervisory Intel _Analyst whether he thought the Primary
    Sub-source had been truthful during his/her interview with the FBI. He said that he
    believed that there were instances where the Primary Sub-source was “minimizing”
    certain facts but did not believe that he/she was “completely fabricating” events.
    The Supervisory Intel Analyst stated that he did not know whether he could support
    a “blanket statement” that the Primary Sub-source had been truthful.
    In Steele’s September 2017 interview with the FBI, Steele also made
    statements that conflicted with explanations from two of his sub-sources about
    their access to Russian officials. For example, Steele explained that the Primary
    Sub-source had direct access to a particular former senior Russian government
    official and that they had been “speaking for a while.” The Primary Sub-source told
    the FBI, however, that he/she had never met or s oken with the official. Steele
    also stated that one sub-source was
    one of a
    few persons in a “circle” close to a particular senior official. The FBI obtained
    information from the sub-source that contradicted Steele’s interpretation.
    FBI documents reflect that another of Steele’s sub-sources who reviewed the
    election reporting told the FBI in August 2017 that whatever information in the
    Steele reports that was attributable to him/her had been “exaggerated” and that
    he/she did not recognize anything as originating specifically from him/her. 347 The
    192
    Primary Sub-source told the FBI that he/she believed this sub-source was “one of
    the key sources for the ‘Trump dossier”‘ and the source for allegations concerning
    Michael Cohen and events in Prague contained in Reports 135, 136, and 166, as
    well as Report 94’s allegations concerning the alleged meeting between Carter Page
    and Igor Divyekin. The Supervisory Intel Analyst told us that he believed this
    Steele sub-source may have been attempting to minimize his/her role in the
    election reporting following its release to the public.
    Steele’s September 2017 interview with the FBI, which was conducted 2
    months after the final Carter Page FISA renewal application was submitted to the
    court, also revealed bias against Trump. According to the FBI FD-302 of the
    interview, Steele and his business colleague described Trump as their “main
    opponent” and said that they were “fearful” about the negative impact of the Trump
    presidency on the relationship between the United States and United Kingdom. The
    Supervisory Intel Analyst stated that he viewed Steele’s description of Trump as the
    “main opponent” as an expression of “clear bias.” Steele told us that he did not
    begin his investigation with any bias against Trump, but based on the information
    he learned during the investigation became very concerned about the consequences
    of a Trump presidency.
    E. Crossfire Hurricane Team’s Assessment of Potential Russian
    Influence on the Steele Election Reporting
    Although an investigation into whether Steele’s election reports, or aspects of
    them, were the product of a Russian disinformation campaign was not within the
    scope of this review, or within the scope of the OIG’s oversight role, we examined
    the extent to which the Crossfire Hurricane team considered this possibility in its
    assessment of Steele’s reporting. Priestap told us that he recognized that the
    Russians are “masters at disinformation” and that the Crossfire Hurricane team was
    aware of the potential for Russian disinformation to influence Steele’s reporting.
    According to Priestap:
    [W]e had a lot of concurrent efforts to try to understand, is [the
    reporting] true or not, and if it’s not, you know, why is it not? Is it the
    motivation of [Steele] or one of his sources, meaning [Steele’s]
    sources?… [Or were they] flipped, they’re actually working for the
    Russians, and providing disinformation? We considered all of that.. ..
    Steele told us that Russian intelligence is “sophisticated” and relies on
    disinformation. He said it can involve “planted information,” which he described as
    “controlled information,” and that often the information is true but with “bits
    missing and changed.” For his part, Steele told us that he had no evidence that his
    reporting was “polluted” with Russian disinformation.
    193
    The Intel Section Chief told the OIG that the FBI’s efforts to identify possible
    Russian disinformation in the Steele election reporting included trying to
    corroborate the reporting, learning as much as possible about Steele’s sub-sources,
    and fully assessing Steele. According to an FBI memorandum prepared in
    December 2017 for a Congressional briefing, by the time the Crossfire Hurricane
    investigation was transferred to the Special Counsel in May 2017, the FBI “did not
    assess it likely that the [Steele] [ election reporting] was generated in connection to
    a Russian disinformation campaign.” Priestap told _us that the FBI “didn’t have any
    indication whatsoever” by May 2017 that the Russians were running a
    disinformation campaign through the Steele election reporting. Priestap explained,
    however, that if the Russians,· in fact, were attempting to funnel disinformation
    through Steele to the FBI using Russian Oligarch 1, he did not understand the goal.
    Priestap told us that what he has
    tried to explain to anybody who will listen is if that’s the theory [that
    Russian Oligarch 1 ran a disinformation campaign through [Steele] to
    the FBI], then I’m struggling with what the goal was. So, because,
    obviously, what [Steele] reported was not helpful, you could argue, to
    then [candidate] Trump. And if you guys recall, nobody thought then
    candidate Trump was going to win the election. Why the Russians,
    and [Russian Oligarch 1] is supposed to be close, very close to the
    Kremlin, why the Russians would try to denigrate an opponent that the
    intel community later said they were in favor of who didn’t really have
    a chance at winning, I’m struggling, with, when you know the
    Russians, and this I know from my Intelligence Community work:·
    they favored Trump, they’re trying to denigrate Clinton, and they
    wanted to sow chaos. I don’t know why you’d run a disinformation
    campaign to denigrate Trump on the side.
    As discussed in Chapter Four, Steele performed work for Russian Oligarch 1 ‘s
    attorney on Russian Oligarch 1 ‘s litigation matters, and, as described later in
    Chapter Nine, passed information to Department attorney Bruce Ohr advocating on
    behalf of one of Russian Oligarch l’s companies regarding U.S. sanctions. 348
    Priestap, the Intel Section Chief, and other members of Crossfire Hurricane told us
    that they were u·naware of Steele’s connections to Russian Oligarch 1, who was the
    subject of a Crossfire Hurricane case, and that they would have wanted to know
    about them. 349 Priestap, for example, told us “I don’t recall knowing that there was
    348 An FBI FD-302 dated February 15, 2017, and written by an FBI agent assigned to the
    Crossfire Hurricane investigation, documented the FBI’s interview of Ohr on February 14, and
    specifically stated that Steele’s company was continuing to work for a particular attorney of Russian
    Oligarch 1.
    349 The Supervisory Intel Analyst and SSA 2 told us that they did not recall reviewing
    information in Steele’s Delta file documenting Steele’s frequent contacts with representatives for
    multiple Russian oligarchs in 2015. The Supervisory Intel Analyst explained that he did not recall
    doing a “deep dive” on Steele’s past history as a source and relied in part on Handling Agent 1 for
    information about Steele. The first access of Steele’s Delta file by a Crossfire Hurricane team member
    (the Supervisory Intel Analyst) occurred on November 18, 2016, after Steele had been closed as a
    CHS and a month after submission of the first Page FISA application. As described in Chapter Five,
    194
    any connectivity between [Steele] and [Russian Oligarch 1].” Priestap told us that
    he believed it was “completely fair” to say that the FBI should have assessed
    Steele’s relationship with Russian Oligarch 1.
    Stuart Evans, NSD’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General who oversaw 01,
    stated that if 01 had been aware of the information about Steele’s connections to
    Russian Oligarch 1, it would have been evaluated by 01. He told us:
    “Counterintelligence investigations are complex, and often involve as I said, you
    know, double dealing, and people playing all sides …. I think that [the connection
    between Steele and Russian Oligarch 1] would have been yet another thing we
    would have wanted to dive into.”350
    V. The FBI’s Efforts to Assess Steele’s Election Reporting in 2016 and
    2017
    The FBI’s assessment of the Steele election reporting began in midSeptember
    2016 and concluded approximately 1 year later, roughly 3 months after
    the submission of Carter Page FISA Renewal Application No. 3 to the Foreign
    Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). The FBI acquired the vast majority of its
    information about the Steele election reporting prior to the end of September 2017,
    when FISA surveillance of Carter Page expired.
    To evaluate Steele’s election reporting, intelligence analysts on the Crossfire
    Hurricane team created a spreadsheet identifying each statement that appeared in
    the Steele election reports in order to have a record of what the FBI learned during
    the FISA application relied in part on Steele’s reporting. In Chapter Four we noted that Steele’s
    frequent contacts with Russian oligarchs in 2015 had raised concerns in the FBI Transnational
    Organized Crime Intelligence Unit. SSA 1 told us that he was unaware of these concerns, but said he
    would have found this information useful and would have wanted to know about it while supervising
    the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Handling Agent 1 expressed surprise that the Crossfire
    Hurricane team did not access Steele’s Delta file earlier. He said that the team should have “turned
    the file upside down” looking for information 2 months earlier and that he assumed that some
    members of the team had thoroughly reviewed the file.
    195
    its assessment regarding those statements.351 The intelligence analysts also
    attempted to determine the true identities of the sub-source{s} responsible for each
    statement in Steele’s election reporting, and made assessments of each sub
    ·source’s likely access to the type of information described. FBI CD officials also
    travelled abroad and met with persons who previously had professional contacts
    with Steele to gather information about his reliability and the quality of his work.
    According to FBI officials, it was challenging to corroborate the information in
    the Steele election reporting because much of it was “singular source intelligence,”
    and thus could not be verified given the manner in which the events took place.
    For example, officials told us that a meeting or conversation between just a few
    people in Russia may only be known to the individuals involved. According to a
    Supervisory Special Agent who investigated the Steele election reporting, the
    Crossfire Hurricane team could not independently verify those es of alle ations
    ~aking to .. .folks that are high-level- in Russia …
  • Strzok told us that, for this kind of information, the “frustration of it
    was … [the FBI] couldn’t _necessarily prove it and couldn’t disprove it either.”
    Despite the FBI’s efforts to corroborate and evaluate the Steele election
    reporting, we were told by the Supervisory Intel Analyst that, as of September
    2017, the FBI had corroborated limited information in the Steele election reporting,
    and much of that information was publicly available. 352 Most relevant to the Carter
    Page FISA applications, the specific substantive allegations contained in Reports 80,
    94, 95, and 102, which were relied upon in all four FISA applications, remained
    uncorroborated and, in several instances, were inconsistent with information
    gathered by the Crossfire Hurricane team. For example, as detailed in Chapters
    Five and Seven, these allegations included, among other things, that Page had
    secret meetings with Igor Sechin and Igor D.ivyekin in July 2016 and served as an
    “intermediary” between Manafort and the Russian government. As we describe in
    Chapters Five and Eight, certain information the FBI had obtained did not support
    these allegations or the theory in Steele’s election reporting that Page was
    coordinating, or had coordinated, with Russian government officials on 2016 U.S.
    election activities. Additionally, the FBI determined that some of the allegations in
    the Steele reporting, including that Trump attorney Michael Cohen had traveled to
    Prague in late summer 2016 to meet with Kremlin representatives and that “antiClinton
    hackers” had been paid by the “[Trump] team” and Kremlin, were not true.
    In the next two chapters, we describe the FBI’s use of the Steele election
    reporting in the three Carter Page FISA renewal applications and the changes that
    were made, and not made, to the applications to reflect the additional information
    the FBI developed about Steele and his reporting.
    351 As we described in Chapter Four, the spreadsheet omitted certain highly classified
    information and therefore its scope was partial.
    352 Examples included that Carter Page was in Moscow as reported, that other individuals
    mentioned in the reporting existed, and that some individuals held the positions in the Russian
    government that were attributed to them in the reporting.
    196
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    CHAPTER SEVEN
    THE THREE RENEWAL APPLICATIONS FOR CONTINUED FISA
    AUTHORITYON CARTER PAGE
    In this~ the three FISA renewal applications to continue
    surveillance – targeting Carter Page between January a
    2017, when the FISA authority granted by the first FISA orders expired, and
    September •, 2017, when the last renewal’s authority expired. As described in
    Chapter Two, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) may approve FISA
    surveillance and physical searches targeting a U.S. person for a period of up to 90
    days, subject to renewal, if the government’s FISA application establishes probable
    cause to conclude that the targeted individual is an agent of a foreign power. A
    renewal permits the government to continue FISA authority targeting a U.S. person
    for an additional 90 days if the facts of the investigation continue to support a
    finding that there is probable cause to believe the targeted individual is an agent of
    a foreign power. 353
    The process to renew FISA authority, including who reviews and approves
    the renewal application, is the same process as with an initial application, which we
    described in Chapters Two and Five. When conducting the Woods Procedures for a
    renewal, the agent conducting the accuracy review must re-verify that factual
    assertions repeated from the prior FISA application remain true and must obtain
    supporting documentation for any new factual assertions. The National Security
    Division’s (NSD) Office of Intelligence (01) relies upon the FBI to accurately update
    the prior FISA application and conduct the accuracy review to determine whether
    factual information carried over from the prior FISA application remains true.
    We describe in this chapter the facts asserted in the three renewal
    applications submitted to the FISC to demonstrate probable cause that Carter Page
    was an agent of a foreign power, including new information the FBI intercepted and
    collected during surveillance of Page. We also describe other factual assertions
    added to or modified in the renewal applications for the court’s consideration.
    Finally, we discuss the completion of the Woods Procedures, including who
    reviewed, certified, and approved each of the three renewal applications, and the
    court’s final orders. As we describe in Chapter Eight, we found instances in which
    factual representations made in the three Carter Page renewal applications were
    inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon
    information in the FBI’s possession at the time the applications were filed.
    I. FISA Renewal Application No. 1 (January a 2017)
    On January •, 2017, a day before the initial FISA authority targeting Carter
    Page was set to expire, and at the request of the FBI, the Department filed an
    application with the FISC requesting an additional 90 days of FISA coverage
    353 The Office of Intelligence (OI) in the National Security Division (NSD) expects that the FBI
    will request a renewal on a targeted individual 45 days prior to the expiration of the existing FISA
    authority.
    197
    targeting Carter Page. A FISC judge reviewed a~d orders
    resulting in an additional 90 days of surveillance – targeting
    Carter Page from January •, 2017 to April I, 2017.
    A. Investigative Developments and Decision to Seek Renewal
    Emails and other communications reflect that in the first week of surveillance
    on Carter Page , following the granting ~lication
    in October 2016, the Crossfire Hurricane team collected –

    354 Based on our review of the Woods Files and communications between
    the FBI and 01, we identified a few emails between Page and members of the
    Donald J. Trump for President Campaign concerning campaign related matters.
    Emails between Supervisory Special Agent 1 (SSA 1) and Case Agent 1 show that
    durin the initial weeks of FISA surveillance, they discussed several
    the believed were si nificant includin references to
    who reviewed the FISA prepared a
    packet that they believed demonstrated Carter Page’s
    contacts with and references to Russia or Russian officials for 01 to consider for a
    renewal application.
    In addition to reviewing the FISA collection, the team continued its efforts
    ( described in Chapter Six) to assess the accuracy of the information in Steele’s
    election reports. According to the Supervisory Intelligence Analyst (Supervisory
    Intel Analyst), the team had not corroborated the reporting concerning Carter
    Page’s activities by the time of Renewal Application No. 1 (or subsequent renewal
    applications), other than confirming Carter Page’s travel to Russia in July 2016.
    As detailed in Chapter Six, in November 2016, the FBI closed Steele as a
    Confidential Human Source (CHS) for his disclosures to Mother Jones concerning his
    election reports and relationship with the FBI. FBI officials told us that after these
    disclosures, they continued to assess that Steele was reliable. They said that they
    viewed the Mother Jones disclosure as a “control” issue, based on their
    understanding that it was a reaction to the letter then FBI Director James Corney
    sent to Congress in late October about the Clinton email investigation. Then
    Deputy Director Andrew McCabe recalled that Steele’s disclosure to Mother Jones
    was viewed by the Crossfire Hurricane team as a control issue rather than a
    reliability issue, and the team was comfortable going forward with seeking a FISA
    renewal targeting Carter Page. SSA 1 told us that he believed the reason Steele
    provided for his disclosure to Mother Jones “politicized” Steele and identified an
    agenda. SSA 1 said that after Steele’s disclosure to Mother Jones, he thought the
    team needed to have an independent validation review completed, which we
    discussed in Chapter Six.
    354 We did not review the entirety of FISA obtained throur FISA surveillance –
    targeting Carter Page. We reviewed only those ••• –• under FISA
    authority that were relevant to our review. ·
    198
    However, to further assess Steele’s reliability, as described in Chapters Six
    and Eight, senior Counterintelligence Division (CD) officials met with persons with
    direct knowledge of Steele’s work-related performance in a prior position in midNovember
    2016, and told us that they were reassured by the fact that the former
    employer said that Steele had no history of fabricating, embellishing, or otherwise
    “spinning” information in his reporting. 355 In addition, FBI officials told us that they
    were reassured by statements from Department attorney Bruce Ohr ( described in
    Chapters Eight and Nine) that Ohr believed Steele was never untruthful in his
    reporting.
    Case Agent l’s handwritten notes from a December 2016 Crossfire Hurricane
    team meeting reflect that the team discussed the information about Steele’s prior
    work-related performance and Ohr and decided that they “can continue to rely on
    reporting for FISA.” Case Agent 1 told us he did not recall this discussion or who
    said that they could continue to rely on Steele’s reporting in the next FISA
    application.
    Before this team meeting, and around 45 days prior to the expiration of the
    first FISA authority, Case Agent 1 notified the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel
    (OGC) and 01 that the Crossfire Hurricane team was interested in an additional 90
    days of FISA authority targeting Carter Page. Case Agent 1 told us that the
    Crossfire Hurricane team sought a renewal to determine whether Carter Page had
    ongoing contact with Russia beyond the 90-day period covered by the first FISA
    orders. Case Agent 1 said that while it is not automatic to seek a renewal after a
    first application, there is an “understanding” that the FBI will typically seek a
    renewal because at the time they are required to notify 01, they have only had 45
    days of surveillance, which is usually not sufficient time to gather enough
    information, or review the information collected, to determine whether or not there
    is evidence to continue the investigation. Case Agent 1 told us that the team had
    not reviewed all of the emails the first FISA application yielded and believed there
    were additional emails not yet collected. The OGC Unit Chief told us that unless
    there is no evidence collected with an initial FISA application, the FBI will usually
    seek a renewal to obtain more information.
    B. Preparation and Approval of Renewal Application No. 1
  1. Draft Renewal Application
    Similar to the first Carter Page FISA application, Case Agent 1 and the OGC
    Attorney assisted the 01 Attorney with the preparation of Renewal Application No.
  2. However, the OGC Attorney told us that he was less involved in the preparation
    of this application as compared to the first application, which he said was typical of
    OGC involvement in renewal applications.
    355 We describe in Chapters Six and Eight the negative feedback received concerning Steele,
    including comments about his judgment. We found that the team did not share all relevant details
    about this feedback with 01.
    199
    Emails between 01, the OGC Attorney, and Case Agent 1 following the FISC’s
    approval of the first FISA application on October •, 2016, reflect that Case Agent 1
    provided updates to 01 on relevant FISA collections and case activities in the Carter
    Page investigation throughout the fall. The 01 Attorney reviewed this information
    for inclusion into a renewal application and began drafting Renewal Application No.
    1 in December. The 01 Attorney told the OIG that, when drafting a renewal
    application, he relies on the FBI to provide him information relevant to the ongoing
    investigation, including any new information that may contradict or may be
    different from information presented to the FISC in prior FISA applications.
    NSD officials told us that the drafting of Renewal Application No. 1 followed
    the same process and received the same level of scrutiny as the first FISA
    application signed in October, but because OI’s questions about Steele and his
    election reporting were addressed in the first application, there were fewer
    discussions about the renewal application, as compared to the first application, and
    Renewal Application No. 1 was completed in less time. By December 28, 2016, the
    01 Attorney had completed a draft of Renewal Application No. 1, described below,
    and selected relevant FISA intercepts and results of the ongoing investigation to
    incorporate in the draft.
    As in the first FISA application, the statement of facts in support of probable
    cause for the renewal stated that the Russians attempted to undermine and
    influence the 2016 presidential election, and that the FBI believed Carter Page was
    acting in conjunction with the Russians in those efforts. The statement of facts
    supported this assessment with the five main elements enumerated in the first
    application ( described in Chapter Five) and added recent investigative results.
    Specifically, the elements that carried over from the first FISA application were:
    (1) The efforts of Russian Intelligence Services (RIS) to influence the
    2016 presidential election-the renewal application stated that
    although the elections had concluded, the FBI believed that the
    Russian government would continue efforts to use U.S. persons, such
    as Carter Page, to covertly influence U.S. foreign policy and support
    Russia’s perception management efforts;
    (2) The Russian government’s attempted coordination with members
    of the Trump campaign, which was based on the Friendly Foreign
    Government (FFG) information concerning the offer or suggestion of
    assistance from the Russians to someone associated with the Trump
    campaign;
    (3) Carter Page’s historical connections to Russia and RIS, which
    included his business dealings with the Russian energy company
    Gazprom, his relationships with known Russian intelligence officers,
    and his disclosure to the FBI and a Russian Minister that he was Male-
    1 in an indictment against Russian intelligence officers;
    (4) Carter Page’s alleged coordination with the Russian government in
    2016 U.S. presidential election activities, based on some of the
    reporting from Steele; and
    200
    (5) Carter Page’s continued connections to Russian officials, based on
    the FBI’s assessment of a consensually monitored October 17, 2016
    conversation between Page and an FBI CHS. 356
    In addition, the recent investigative results section of the application included
    references to the following:




    2016;


    • In December 2016, Carter Page made statements to an FBI CHS
    (summarized in Chapter Ten), distancing himself from his October
    suggestion of establishing a Russian-funded think tank, citing funding
    issues as a reason, which the FBI assessed was an indication that Page
    356 The statement of facts in Renewal Application No. 1 also carried over from the first
    application the description of Carter Page’s denials of coordination with the Russian government, as
    reported in two news articles and asserted by Page in his September 25 letter to then FBI Director
    James Corney.
    201
    was likely trying to distance himself from Russia as a result of media
    reporting that continued to tie Page to Russia.
    The renewal application stated that the FBI believed the recent investigative results
    demonstrated that Carter Page continued to try to influence U.S. foreign policy on
    behalf of Russia. The renewal application, like the first FISA application, failed to
    include information provided to the FBI by another U.S. government agenc;y·in
    August 2016 that Carter Page had a prior relationship with that other agency and
    had provided information to the other agency.
    Renewal Application No. 1 included the same information from Steele’s
    reporting that appeared in the first FISA application. However, the renewal
    application advised the court of Steele’s disclosure to Mother Jones and that the FBI
    had “suspended” its relationship with Steele. Specifically, the source
    characterization statement for Steele in the renewal application stated the
    following:
    iiiiiai !nd has been an FBI source since in or about October 2013.
    [Steele] has been compensated approximately $95,000 by the FBI.
    As discussed below in footnote 19, in or about October 2016,
    the FBI suspended its relationship with [Steele] due to
    [Steele’s] unauthorized disclosure of information to the press.
    Notwithstanding the suspension of its relationship with
    [Steele], the FBI assesses [Steele] to be reliable as previous
    reporting from [Steele] has been corroborated and used in
    criminal proceedings. Moreover, the FBI notes that the
    incident that led to the FBI suspending its relationship with
    [Steele] occurred after [Steele] provided the reporting that is
    described herein.357 (Emphasis in original).
    Later in the renewal application, footnote 19 referenced both the Yahoo News
    article, with the unsupported language from the first FISA application unchanged,
    and the Mother Jones article, and stated:
    As discussed above, [Steele] was hired by a business associate to
    conduct research into Candidate #l’s ties to Russia. [Steele] provided
    the results of his research to the business associate, and the FBI
    assesses that the business associate likely provided this information to
    the law firm that hired the business associate in the first place.
    [Steele] told the FBI that he/she only provided this information to the
    business associate and the FBI. Given that the information contained
    in the September 23rd News Article generally matches the information
    about Page that [Steele] discovered during his/her research, the FBI
    assesses that [Steele’s] business associate or the law firm that hired
    357 OI often indicates new information in a renewal application to the FISC by using a bold
    font. The text from the applications cited in this chapter is cited as it appears in the renewal FISA
    applications.
    202
    the business associate likely provided this information to the press.
    The FBI also assesses that whoever gave the information to the press
    stated that the information was provided by a “well-placed Western
    intelligence source.” The FBI does not believe that [Steele] directly
    provided this information to the identified news organization that
    published the September 23rd News Article.
    In or about late.October 2016, however, after the Director of
    the FBI sent a letter to the U.S. Congress, which stated that the
    FBI had learned of new information that might be pertinent to
    an investigation that the FBI was conducting of Candidate #2,
    [Steele] told the FBI that he/ she was frustrated with this
    action and believed it would likely influence the 2016 U.S.
    Presidential election. In response to [Steele’s] concerns,
    [Steele] independently, and against the prior admonishment
    from the FBI to speak only with the FBI on this matter,
    released the reporting discussed herein to an identified news
    organization. Although the FBI continues to assess [that]
    [Steele’s] reporting is reliable, as noted above, the FBI has
    suspended its relationship with [Steele] because of this
    disclosure. (Emphasis in original).
    W_e found no evidence that the FBI “suspended” its relationship with Steele; rather,
    FBI paperwork reflects that Steele was closed for cause as an FBI CHS in November
  3. 358 However, as we describe in Chapters Six and Nine, as a practical matter,
    the FBI continued to collect information from Steele over a period of months
    through a conduit, Department attorney Bruce Ohr.
    Additionally, as discussed in Chapter Five, contrary to FBI policy, the
    characterization of Steele’s prior reporting had not been approved by his handling
    agent, who told us that the characterization was inaccurate-according to the
    handling agent, only some of Steele’s prior reporting had been corroborated, most
    of it had not, and Steele’s information had never been used in a criminal
    proceeding. This inaccuracy was not corrected in Renewal Application No. 1 or in
    the subsequent renewal applications, even after a formal FBI human source
    validation review of Steele in March 2017 found that his past contributions to the
    FBl’s criminal program had been “minimally corroborated.” Further, as described in
    Chapter Eight, the FBI did not reassess Steele’s reliability in the renewal
    applications, or advise 01, after the Crossfire Hurricane team obtained additional
    information that was highly relevant to the reliability of his election reporting. This
    included information received before Renewal Application No. 1 about Steele’s
    work-related performance in a prior position and before Renewal Application Nos. 2
    358 As described in Chapter Six, Handling Agent 1 told us that he informed Steele on
    November 1, 201~, that it was unlikely that the FBI would continue a relationship with him and that
    Steele must cease collecting information for the FBI. Handling Agent 1 completed a Source Closing
    Communication document on November 17, 2016, indicating that Steele had been closed for cause on
    November 1, 2016.
    The disclosures of Steele’s reports are further discussed in Chapters Four and Six.
    203
    and 3 from Steele’s Primary Sub-source that contradicted the source reporting in
    the FISA applications. In addition, as we also discuss in Chapter Eight, Renewal
    Application No. 1 and the subsequent renewal applications did not describe
    information that the FBI obtained from Department attorney Bruce Ohr regarding
    Steele’s possible motivations and bias.
    Finally, the information in Renewal Application No. 1 regarding early CHS
    meetings remained unchanged from the prior application. The renewal application
    also did not include information about the August 2016 meeting between Carter
    Page and an FBI CHS or the September 2016 meetings between Papadopoulos and
    an FBI CHS, discussed in Chapters Five and Ten. It also did not include an accurate
    description of the October 2016 meeting between Page and an FBI CHS, also
    discussed in Chapters Five and Ten. In addition, as described in Chapters Eight and
    Ten, Renewal Application No. 1 and the subsequent renewal applications did not
    include information about an October 2016 CHS meeting involving an FBI CHS and
    Papadopoulos during which Papadopoulos said that he knew “for a fact” that the
    Trump campaign was not involved in releasing emails from the DNC.
  4. Review and Approval Process
    As described previously, according to Department and FBI procedures, once
    an FBI case agent affirms the accuracy of the information in the proposed FISA
    application (read copy), an 01 Unit Chief or Deputy Unit Chief is usually the final
    and only approver before a read copy is submitted to the FISC. The Unit Chief or
    Deputy is also usually the final approver who “signs out” the final application ( cert
    copy) to the FBI for completion of the Woods Procedures and Director’s
    certification, before presentation to either the Assistant Attorney General (AAG) of
    NSD, the Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Attorney General for final
    signature. However, as reflected in Chapter Five, in some instances, FISA
    applications presenting novel issues or otherwise deemed to have heightened
    sensitivity will receive additional supervisory review within the FBI, the Department,
    or both. As described below, FISA Renewal Application No. 1 did not receive the
    same level of review in FBI OGC as the first Carter Page FISA application, but it did
    receive additional review within NSD and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General
    (ODAG).
    a. Supervisory Review and Finalization of Read Copy
    Unlike the first FISA application, then FBI General Counsel James Baker and
    then Deputy General Counsel, Trisha Anderson, did not review FISA Renewal
    Application No. 1 before the read copy was submitted to the court. Baker told us
    that he did not review any of the renewal applications. He said that, in general, if
    none of the relevant factual information had changed from the first application, and
    the foreign intelligence purpose for the FISA remained the same, he did not believe
    it was necessary to review renewal applications. In addition, he told us that in at
    least one instance, he did not know that the FBI was planning to seek a renewal on
    Carter Page until the application was already with the Director for certification.
    According to the OGC Unit Chief, OGC is usually less involved in renewal
    applications because they generally only require updates to the factual information
    204
    already asserted in an initial FISA application. She said that the interactions on
    renewal applications mostly take place at the 01 attorney and case agent levels.
    McCabe told us that, as the Deputy Director, he did not approve requests before
    they were submitted to 01 for FISA application renewals, but he would have been
    briefed on the collections from the ongoing FISA surveillance. McCabe said that he
    understood that the first Carter Page FISA was “very productive” and the team
    wanted to pursue a renewal.
    Within NSD, Renewal Application No. 1 received additional supervisory review
    above the 01 Unit Chief. On December 28, after reviewing the draft, the 01 Unit
    Chief emailed the 01 Attorney to approve of the new information and assessments
    included in the draft. On December 29, the 01 Attorney emailed a draft of Renewal
    Application No. 1 to Stuart Evans, NSD’s then Deputy AAG for Intelligence, Gabriel
    Sanz-Rexach, the Chief of OI’s Operations Section, and Ol’s Deputy Operations
    Section Chief for their review, advising them that the draft was “about 95%
    complete” and that an additional update would be added before the final draft was
    completed.
    Sanz-Rexach told the OIG that he reviewed Renewal Application No. 1, but
    did not recall any specific comments he made to the read co . He said that he
    recalled that rior to the renewal the FBI
    . He also said that the evidence collected during the first FISA
    application time period demonstrated that Carter Page had access to individuals in
    Russia and he was communicating with people in the Trump campaign, which
    created a concern that Russia could use their influence with Carter Page to effect
    policy. The Deputy Operations Section Chief told us that she reviewed the new
    factual information in the renewal application, but did not recall as many meetings
    or discussions about the renewals and did not recall making any comments on any
    of the renewal applications.
    Emails reflect that Evans reviewed the draft renewal application and provided
    two minor edits, one of which added more detail concerning Carter Page’s
    December 2016 meeting with an FBI CHS. Evans told us that he focused his
    attention primarily on the footnote describing Steele’s Mother Jones disclosure that
    led to a change in Steele’s relationship with the FBI, and did not edit the footnote
    following his review.
    On January 3, Evans emailed the read copy to NSD’s then Acting AAG Mary
    McCord for her review with a request to discuss a few points in the renewal.
    Although the emails did not specify the points for discussion, McCord told us she
    recalled a discussion with Evans about the information the FBI collected from the
    FISA coverage targeting Carter Page up to that point and whether it was sufficient
    to sustain a renewal. McCord told us she also wanted to make sure that the
    renewal application described the closure of Steele after his disclosures to the
    media, which was already included in the read copy she reviewed.
    205
    b. ODAG Review and Approval of Read Copy
    Although not a required step in the FISA procedures, ODAG officials reviewed
    the read copy for Renewal Application No. 1 before it was submitted to the court.
    Similar to the first application, the renewal application was reviewed by Tashina
    Gauhar, the Associate Deputy Attorney General responsible for ODAG’s national
    security portfolio, an 01 attorney on detail in ODAG, Principal Associate Deputy
    Attorney General {PADAG) Matthew Axelrod, and DAG Sally Yates, who ultimately
    approved and signed the final application.
    On December 30, 2016, the 01 Unit Chief emailed the read copy of Renewal
    Application No. 1 to Gauhar, and the 01 attorney on detail advising that it was
    “95% complete” with one question for ODAG to consider. Documents do not
    indicate that ODAG made any edits to the December 30 draft. The question for
    ODAG was whether to include an expansion to the particularized minimization
    procedures, or PMPs, restriction on who could access the FISA collections to include
    the agents and analysts investigating the ongoing perception management
    activities by Russia. 359 The final renewal application included the expanded PMPs,
    restricting access to the FISA collection to only those individuals assigned to
    investigate Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. elections and Russia’s
    attempts at perception management and influence activities against the U.S.
    On January 4, the 01 attorney on detail in ODAG advised 01 that the 01
    attorney had provided “a couple of suggestions … which we did not think (and
    hopefully are not) significant” and advised that Axelrod would want to review the
    read copy. We did not find documentation showing the suggestions ODAG
    recommended for the draft. According to Gauhar, ODAG did not make significant
    edits or have many questions after it reviewed Renewal Application No. 1. Gauhar
    also told us that she believed the first renewal was significant because it
    demonstrated that, despite the questions about whether to seek a Carter Page FISA
    prior to the first application, the surveillance yielded relevant and useful
    information. Gauhar said she recalled that the FISA collection included among
    other thin s
    As with the first FISA application, NSD decided that although it was not a
    required step, it would not submit the read copy to the FISC until Yates had
    personally read it and said she was comfortable moving forward. According to
    Gauhar, Yates and Axelrod reviewed Renewal Application No. 1, and following
    Yates’s review, 01 submitted the read copy to the FISC. Yates and Axelrod told us
    that they did not have a specific recollection of reviewing Renewal Application No. 1
    but said they may have done so.
    359 As described in Chapter Five, the PMPs in the first FISA application restricted access to the
    information collected through the FISA authority to the individuals assigned to the Crossfire Hurricane
    team and required the approval of a Deputy Assistant Director or higher before any FISA-derived
    information could be disseminated outside the FBI.
    206
  5. Feedback from the FISC, Completion of the Final Renewal
    Application and Woods Procedures, and Final Legal
    Review
    On January 10, 2017, the 01 Attorney advised Evans and 01 management
    that the FISC judge reviewed the renewal application, had “no issue” with the
    application, and would sign the application without an appearance.
    The day before, the 01 Unit Chief “signed out” the cert copy of the
    application and cert memo to the FBI, so that the FBI could complete the Woods
    Procedures (previously described in Chapters Two and Five). Case Agent 1 was the
    agent responsible for compiling the supporting documentation into the Woods File
    and performing the field office database checks on Carter Page and the accuracy
    review of each fact asserted in the FISA application. His new supervisor at FBI
    Headquarters for the Carter Page investigation, SSA 3, was responsible for
    confirming that the Woods File was complete and double checking the factual
    accuracy review to confirm that the file contained appropriate documentation for
    the factual assertions in the FISA application.
    As noted previously, in the case of renewal applications, the FISA Standard
    Minimization Procedures Policy Guide {FISA SMP PG) requires that a case agent reverify
    the accuracy of each factual assertion from an initial application that is
    repeated in a renewal application and verify and obtain supporting documentation
    for any new factual assertions that are added to a renewal application. Case Agent
    1 did not recall whether he reviewed every factual assertion or just the newly added
    information when he conducted the accuracy review for Renewal Application No. 1.
    Case Agent 1 told us that his general practice on a renewal application is not to
    necessarily review the factual information carried over from the prior application.
    He said that if the factual information does not materially change from the prior
    FISA application, he will review just the newly added information. According to
    Case Agent 6, Case Agent 1 told him that when he (Case Agent 1) performed the
    factual accuracy review on Renewal Application No. 1, he only reviewed the new
    factual assertions in the application, not the factual assertions that carried over
    from the prior application. At the time Case Agent 1 conducted the accuracy review
    of Renewal Application No. 1, he had been transferred back to the New York Field
    Office (NYFO) and was conducting the Carter Page investigation from that office.
    After he completed his review, he faxed the signed FISA Verification Form (Woods
    Form) to SSA 3 at FBI Headquarters.
    SSA 3 reviewed the Woods File at Headquarters, signed the Woods Form on
    January 10, affirming the verification and documentation of each factual assertion
    in the application, and then sent the FISA appHcation package containing the Woods
    Form, cert copy, and a cover memorandum (cert memo) to the Headquarters
    Program Manager assigned the responsibility, as the affiant, of signing the final
    application under oath that the factual information was true and correct. SSA 3
    told us that when he signed the Woods Form, he was verifying that every fact
    contained in Renewal Application No. 1 had a supporting document confirming the
    accuracy of the statement. However, like Case Agent 1, SSA 3 also told us that,
    when he performs a Woods review, he does not re-verify the factual assertions
    207
    carried over from previous applications, but only checks the new information, which
    is noted in bold font. 360
    The Headquarters Program Manager assigned as the affiant was SSA 2, who
    was assigned to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation in late December 2016. 361 He
    told us he received the renewal package from the 01 Attorney and reviewed the
    first FISA application and the newly added information to Renewal Application No.
  6. SSA 2 told us that he did not recall reviewing the Woods Form, but that it was
    his practice at the time to do so before signing a FISA application (as described in
    Chapter Two, the Woods Procedures do not require the affiant to review the Woods
    File, only the case agent and his or her supervisor). SSA 2 said that he believed
    everything in the application to be true and correct based on the Woods Verification
    completed by Case Agent 1 and SSA 3. SSA 2 told us that he identified no issues
    or questions after reviewing Renewal Application No. 1 and signed the affidavit
    affirming under penalty of perjury that the information in the package was true and
    correct. He then submitted the FISA application package to either the OGC
    Attorney or the OGC Unit Chief for final legal review.
    As described in Chapter Two, after the affiant signs the affidavit, the
    application package is submitted to the FBI’s National Security and Cyber Law
    Branch (NSCLB) for final legal review and approval by both a line attorney and
    Senior Executive Service-level supervisor. Once they approve the application, the
    line attorney and supervisor sign the cert memo. The OGC Attorney told the OIG
    that he did not recall reviewing any prior drafts of the application before he
    received the cert copy on January 10. He said that when he received the cert copy,
    he focused his legal review on the newly added material. We were advised that the
    FBI and NSD were unable to locate a fully signed copy of the cert memo that
    accompanied Renewal Application No. 1, and we were unable to independently
    determine who reviewed the FISA application package on behalf of OGC’s NSCLB.
    Instant messages suggest that the OGC Attorney performed the line attorney
    review for NSCLB and submitted the package to Anderson for her review and
    signature.
  7. FBI Director’s Certification
    Corney reviewed and certified the Carter Page FISA Renewal Application No.
    1 on behalf of the FBI on January 12. Chapter Two describes the elements of the
    360 The OIG examined the completeness of the Woods File by comparing the facts asserted in
    Renewal Application No. 1 to the documents maintained in the Woods File. Our comparison identified
    instances in which facts asserted in the application were not supported by documentation in the
    Woods File. Specifically, we found facts asserted in the FISA application that have no supporting
    documentation in the Woods File, facts that have purported supporting documentation in the Woods
    File but the documentation does not state the fact asserted in the FISA application, or facts that have
    purported supporting documentation in the Woods File but the documentation shows the fact asserted
    is inaccurate. We provide examples of specific errors in Appendix One.
    361 As described in Chapters Two and Five, the affiant for a FISA application is the
    Headquarters Program Manager in the relevant Operations Branch and Section. In the case of this
    renewal application, the investigation was conducted from Headquarters, and SSA 2 was one of the
    Supervisory Special Agents supervising aspects of the investigation.
    208
    certification required by the Director or Deputy Director, including that the
    information sought through the requested FISA authority is foreign intelligence
    information that cannot reasonably be obtained by normal investigative techniques
    and is necessary to protect the United States against clandestine intelligence
    activities. Corney told the OIG that he had no specific memory of reviewing or
    signing any of the Carter Page FISA renewal application packages. As we discussed
    in Chapter Five, Corney recalled reading the first Carter Page application before he
    certified it and being satisfied that the application seemed factually and legally
    sufficient when he read it, and he had no questions or concerns before he signed.
  8. DAG Oral Briefing and Approval
    Yates did not specifically recall the oral briefing on Renewal Application No. 1.
    Ol’s Deputy Operations Section Chief conducted the briefing and told the OIG that
    she did not recall anyone having any questions about Renewal Application No. 1.
    Yates told the OIG she did not recall if she read the entire renewal or just the
    additions and changes.
    Yates told us that ~he did not have any concerns with the FBI seeking
    renewal authorization for the Carter Page FISA, although she wanted to make sure
    that the representation to the FISC was that the focus remained on Carter Page.
    Yates also told us that she had been briefed by McCabe prior to reviewing Renewal
    Application No. 1 on Steele’s closure due to his disclosure to the media, and was
    aware that information would be included in the renewal. Yates said it was a brief
    discussion and she did not recall if McCabe told her whether there was an additional
    reason the FBI closed Steele or anything further about Steele. On January •,
    Yates signed the application, and the application was submitted to the FISC the
    same day. By her signature, and as stated in the application, Yates found that the
    application satisfied the criteria and requirements of the FISA statute and approved
    its filing with the court. 362
  9. Final Orders
    The final FISA application included pro,22sed orders, which were signed by
    FISC Judge Michael W. Mosman, on January., 2017. According to NSD, the judge
    signed the final orders, as proposed by the government in their entirety, without
    holding a hearing.
    The primary order and warrant stated that the court found, based upon the
    facts submitted in the verified application, that there was probable cause to believe
    that Russia is a foreign power and that Carter Page was an a ent of Russia under
    50 U.S.C. 1801 b 2 . The court also found that the
    court authorized the requested electronic surveillance
    209
    days and
    necessary to effectuate the electronic surveillance
    court authorized.
    II. FISA Renewal Application No. 2 (April I, 2017)
    On April I, 2017, the day FISA coverage targeting Carter Page was set to
    expire, and at the request of the FBI, the Department filed an application with the
    FISC requesting an additional 90 days of FISA coverage targeting Carter Page. A
    FISC judge reviewed and issue~s resulting in an additional 90
    days of electronic surveillance – targeting Carter Page from
    April I, 2017 to June •, 2017.
    A. Case Reorganization, Investigative Developments, and Decision
    to Seek Renewal
    As described in Chapter Three, in January 2017, CD reorganized the Crossfire
    Hurricane investigation and divided the cases among two of the three branches in
    CD. As a result of the reorganization, there were new supervisory special agents
    and case agents working on the Carter Page investigation. Deputy Assistant
    Director {DAD) Jennifer Boone and SSA 3 were the supervisors at Headquarters
    overseeing the Carter Page investigation, which was transferred to NYFO when the
    cases were reorganized. In March 2017, Case Agent 1 was promoted to a
    supervisory position, and Case Agent 6 became the new case agent han.dling the
    Carter Page investigation in NYFO, with assistance from Case Agent 1 and SSA 5.
    Email communications reflect that the Crossfire Hurricane team continued to
    review evidence from the FISA collections after the court reauthorized FISA
    authority in January 2017, targeting Carter Page. In January and February 2017,
    the FBI provided updates to the 01 Attorney, which were passed on to his
    supervisors and ODAG. These updates included:
  10. Page met with an FBI CHS regarding Page’s think tank idea and
    wanted help/insight from the CHS. Page revealed to the CHS that he
    wanted the think tank to focus on countering anti-Western views on
    Russia. He also revealed that a senior Russian government official
    pledged a million dollars toward the project. ·
    In addition, the team continued its efforts to corroborate the information in
    Steele’s reports, including identifying Steele’s sub-sources. As described in Chapter
    210
    Six, after the FBI identified Steele’s Primary Sub-source and in January 2017 (after
    Renewal Application No. 1 was signed), Case Agent 1 and the Supervisory Intel
    Analyst interviewed him/her. Following the January interview, the Supervisory Intel
    Analyst, with assistance from Case Agent 1, wrote a lengthy summary of the
    interview. As described in Chapter Six, the Primary Sub-source told the FBI that
    he/she provided Steele with some of the information in Steele’s reports. The
    Supervisory Intel Analyst said that the information from the interview with the
    Primary Sub-source provided details used to identify sub-sources referenced in
    Steele’s reports, which assisted the investigation. However, in some instances,
    statements the Primary Sub-source made about what his/her sources told
    him/her-and what he/she then provided to Steele-were inconsistent with
    information attributed to his/her sources in Steele’s reporting, as well as in the first
    Carter Page FISA application and Renewal Application No. 1. As described in
    Chapter Eight, most team members told us that they either were not aware of the
    inconsistences or, if they were aware, did not make the connection that the
    inconsistencies affected aspects of the FISA applications. Further, Case Agent 1
    and the Supervisory Intel Analyst told us that the Primary Sub-source may have
    been “minimizing” certain aspects of what he/she told Steele.
    Further, in.March 2017, Case Agent 1 and Case Agent 6 conducted five
    voluntary interviews with Carter Page. During those interviews, Carter Page
    provided the following: information about his July and December 2016 trips to
    Moscow; individuals he denied meeting to include Igor Sechin and Paul Manafort; a
    trip to Singapore in February 2017 for Gazprom Investor Day; and his lack of
    involvement in the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) platform change on
    assistance to Ukraine. Carter Page also discussed his contacts with Gazprom, his
    assumption that he was under FBI surveillance, and he denied that anyone from
    Russia asked him to relay any messages to anyone in the campaign. Carter Page
    told the agents that he knew he had previously communicated with Russian
    intelligence officers in New York but stated his interactions were not a “backchannel,”
    and he wanted nothing to do with espionage. He said that because of his
    interactions with these Russian intelligence officers, he knew he was “on the books”
    and understood that this meant RIS considered him a source, witting or unwitting.
    He also said that in mid-October 2016, while crossing a street in New York City, his
    cell phone fell out of his pocket and was smashed by a car, resulting in a loss of
    encrypted communications.
    Following the interviews with Carter Page and review of the FISA collections,
    agents working on the Carter Page investigation discussed and had differing
    opinions about seeking a second renewal. Case Agent 6 told us that although he –
    reviewed the FISA collections when he was assigned to the Carter Page
    investigation in February 2017, he had not reviewed enough information to make a
    determination as to whether seekin a renewal was necessary. He told us that h~
    reviewed in which Carter Pa
    Case Agent 6 told us that although this email and Page’s statement in
    an interview caused him to question whether it was worth seeking Renewal
    Application No. 2, he ultimately did not disagree with Case Agent 1 and SSA 5 who
    211
    told him they· wanted to continue the surveillance of Page. He also said that he
    discussed seeking the renewal with his NYFO Special Agent in Charge and did not
    recall any disagreement about seeking a second renewal from anyone working on
    the investigation.
    SSA 3 told the OIG that there were discussions at Headquarters among
    members of the Crossfire Hurricane team, including SSA 2 and Boone, about Carter
    Page and whether he was a significant target at that point in the investigation.
    According to SSA 3, he and SSA 2 believed at the time they approached the
    decision point on a second FISA renewal that, based upon the evidence already
    collected, Carter Page was a distraction in the investigation, not a key player in the
    Trump campaign, and was not critical to the overarching investigation. SSA 2 told
    us that he questioned whether seeking a second renewal was the best use of FBI .
    resources as Carter Page had “deviated from a consistent pattern of life” and was
    no longer communicating in the same way as he had in 2016. SSA 2 and SSA 3
    told us that they did not know or recall who at the FBI ultimately made the decision
    to seek the second renewal or the reasons why.
    Boone told us that the team discussed what further steps to take in the
    investigation of Carter Page and not solely whether or not to seek a second FISA
    renewal. Boone recalled a conversation with SSA 2 about whether a second
    renewal was necessary, but did not recall if she was directed from management to
    pursue a second renewal or if the team decided to seek a renewal after discussing
    whether it would add any value to the investigation. Boone did not recall who
    ultimately decided to move forward with Renewal Application No. 2, and available
    documents do not indicate.
    B. Preparation and Approval of Renewal Application No. 2
  11. Draft Renewal Application
    Case Agent 6 and the OGC Attorney assisted the 01 Attorney in the
    preparation of Renewal Application No. 2. On March 20, Case Agent 6 sent the 01
    Attorney an email with an attachment that included “my first round of additions so
    you can get started.” The additions that Case Agent 6 sent included information
    Carter Page provided in his FBI interviews in March 2017 about his involvement
    with a Russian business, Page’s discussion with Russian officials about a Southern
    District of New York (SDNY) indictment, Page’s denials about meeting a Russian
    government official, and his lack of involvement in the drafting of the RNC’s
    platform provision on Ukraine. 363 Emails reflect that on March 23 and March 29,
    Case Agent 6 sent a draft of Renewal Application No. 2 to Case Agent 1 for his
    review; however, we did not find a response from Case Agent 1 to Case Agent 6
    about the draft.
    363 As discussed in Chapter Eight, all of the Carter Page FISA applications alleged that Page
    participated in drafting the RNC’s platform change on providing lethal assistance to Ukraine. The FISA
    applications alleged that the platform change on Ukraine would not include a provision to provide
    weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces, controverting Republican Party policy.
    212
    On March 23, Case Agent 6 emailed the 01 Attorney additional information
    from recent FISA collections, recent Carter Page interviews, and other information
    derived from the ongoing investigation for inclusion in Renewal Application No. 2.
    Case Agent 6 did not provide the 01 Attorney with the written summary of the
    Primary Sub-source’s interview in January 2017, but instead included in his March
    20 write-up for the 01 Attorney two brief references to aspects of the January
    interview, neither of which identified the key inconsistencies between the Primary
    Sub-source and Steele that we address in Chapter Eight. The 01 Attorney
    completed an initial draft of Renewal Application No. 2 on March 23 and emails
    reflect that, over the next few days, Case Agent 6 and the 01 Attorney edited the
    initial draft. On March 29, the 01 Attorney sent the OGC Attorney a draft for his
    review and advised that, following the OGC Attorney’s review, the 01 Attorney
    would finalize the draft for an “up the chain review.”
    The statement of facts in the draft and final second renewal application
    contained the same information used to support probable cause as in Renewal
    Application No. 1. This included the assessment that post-election, the FBI believed
    that the Russian government would continue efforts to use U.S. persons, such as
    Carter Page, to covertly influence U.S. foreign policy and support Russia’s
    perception management efforts. In addition, Renewal Application No. 2 advised the
    court of recent investigative results, including:

    • The results of recent FBI interviews with Carter Page in which he
    revealed that during his December 2016 travel to Russia, he met the
    Russian Deputy Prime Minister who asked him how to connect for
    “future cooperation,” and in which Page also revealed that during
    travel to Singapore, he met a Vice President of Gazprombank, which
    the FBI assessed revealed Russia’s continued interest in Page; 364
    • Carter Page’s denial during a March 2017 FBI interview that he told
    Russian officials that he was “Male-1” in the indictment of three
    Russian intelligence officers, described in Chapter Three. When asked
    a second time about this statement, Page said he “forgot the exact
    statement,” which the FBI assessed showed that Page was not
    completely forthcoming during this interview;


    364 As with other denials made by Carter Page (described in Chapters Five and Ten), Renewal
    Application No. 2 did not include denials Carter Page made during a meeting with an FBI CHS in
    January 2017 concerning Steele’s election r~ports. During that recorded meeting, Carter Page
    characterized the Steele election reporting as “just so false” and “complete lies and spin.”
    213

    • A February 2017 letter Carter Page sent to the Department of Justice,
    Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section, urging the review of “severe
    election fraud in the form of disinformation, suppression of dissent,
    hate crimes and other extensive abuses” by members of the Clinton
    campaign, which the FBI assessed was self-serving and untrue.
    Renewal Application No. 2 also included a new footnote stating that the FBI
    conducted several interviews of Papadopoulos, during which Papadopoulos
    confirmed he met with officials from the FFG but denied discussing anything related
    to the Russian government, which the FBI assessed were misleading or incomplete
    statements. The footnote did not include that Papadopoulos made other
    statements during these interviews, including statements that minimized Carter
    Page’s role in the Trump campaign and a claim that Person 1 (whom the FBI
    assessed was the likely source for some of the Steele reporting relied upon in the
    applications, including the allegations against Page) told Papadopoulos that he/she
    (Person 1) had no knowledge of the information reported in “the recent Trump
    Dossier.” Renewal Application Nos. 2 and 3 did advise the court of a news article
    claiming that Person 1 was a source for some of the Steele reports and that Person
    1 denied having any compromising information regarding the President. 365
    The source characterization statement for Steele, reliance on Steele’s
    reporting, and the information concerning the positions and access of the subsources
    remained the same as in the first FISA application and Renewal Application
    No. 1, with the exception of changing Steele’s status with the FBI from “suspended”
    to “closed” as a result of the Mother Jones disclosure. The 01 Attorney told us that
    there had been prior instances in other investigations where the FBI has closed a
    source, and 01 disclosed it to the FISC as they did in the Carter Page Renewal
    Application No. 2. The 01 Attorney told us that 01 expects the FBI to assess the
    information provided by a closed source, and how closure of the source impacts the
    information from the source cited in an application. In this instance, he said the
    FBI told him that it continued to believe Steele was reliable.
    365 In Chapter Five, we describe how the FBI did not specifically and explicitly advise QI about
    the FBl’s assessment before the first FISA application that Person 1 was the sub-source who provided
    the information relied upon in the application from Steele Reports 80 95 and 102· that Steele had
    ~mation regarding Person 1; and that
    -· As noted previously, in the next chapter, we describe the information from
    the Primary Sub-source interview concerning Person 1 and the information that was not shared with
    QI about inconsistences between the Primary Sub-source and Steele concerning information provided
    by Person 1.
    214
    Finally, the draft and final FISA Renewal Application No. 2 advised the court
    in a footnote that the FBI interviewed Steele’s Prima Sub-source and found
    him/her to be “truthful and coo erative.”
    the application did not otherwise
    describe the information the Primary Sub-source provided to the FBI or identify any
    statements made by Primary Sub-source that contradicted or were inconsistent
    with information from Steele’s reports relied on in the application. Emails reflect
    that on March 31, the 01 Attorney drafted this footnote with feedback from the OGC
    Attorney. The OGC Attorney edited the footnote to reflect that the FBI was
    undertaking “additional investigative activity to further corroborate the information
    provide [sic] by [Steele].” The descriptor that the Primary Sub-source was “truthful
    and cooperative” was not edited by the OGC Attorney, who told us that although he
    did not receive a full briefing on the interview of the Primary Sub-source, he was
    present at meetings where the interview was discussed. The OGC Attorney said he
    recalled that he learned during these meetings that the information from the
    Primary Sub-source “echoed what the reporting was that [Steele] provided to us.”
    We asked why the application did not include the information the Primary Subsource
    provided during the interview and the OGC Attorney told us that he did not
    believe the 01 Attorney was “looking to provide that level of detail in the
    application.”
  12. Review and Approval Process
    As described below, FISA Renewal Application No. 2 received supervisory
    review similar to Renewal Application No. 1, including review by NSD supervisors
    and ODAG.
    a. Supervisory Review and Finalization of Read Copy
    As with Renewal Application No. 1, Baker told us that he did not review
    Renewal Application No. 2. Anderson was on leave during this time, and we found
    no evidence that anyone in OGC above the OGC Unit Chief level reviewed Renewal
    Application No. 2.
    On March 30, the 01 Attorney emailed a draft of Renewal Application No. 2 to
    Evans, Sanz-Rexach, OI’s Deputy Operations Section Chief, and the 01 Unit Chief
    for their review. Sanz-Rexach told us that he read Renewal Application No. 2 and
    did not have any concerns with the probable cause stated in the application. He
    said that with each renewal application, the FBI was obtaining “nuggets” of
    additional information that furthered the probable cause. The Deputy Operations
    Section Chief told us that she reviewed this renewal application and may have
    provided comments, but she did not recall any specific discussions about Renewal
    Application No. 2.
    On April 3, Evans emailed McCord the draft application for her review and
    advised her that the read copy would be filed with the FISC later that day. McCord
    told us that while she did not have a specific recollection of R~n No.
    2, she did recall that after the first FISA renewal, there ~ere –
    215
  • and more information developed in the investigation. Specifically, she
    recalled that the team had developed information confirming Carter Page’s July trip,
    behavior by Page that was “at least suspicious,” and that he made self-serving
    statements.
    b. ODAG Review and Approval of Read Copy
    On January 30, 2017, Dana Boente became the Acting Attorney General. On
    February 9, 2017, following the confirmation of Jefferson Sessions to be the
    Attorney General, Boente became the Acting DAG, a position in which he served
    until April 25, 2017. On March 31, 2017, Boente became the Acting Attorney
    General with respect to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation by virtue of then
    Attorney General Sessions’s recusal. Some of the personnel in ODAG also changed
    after January 30, and James Crowell became Acting PADAG. Gauhar remained in
    ODAG and continued in her position as the Associate Deputy Attorney General
    responsible for ODAG’s national security portfolio.
    On April 2, Gauhar gave the draft application to Boente and Crowell, along
    with a memorandum containing questions and notations to assist in their review of
    the renewal application. Gauhar said that because this was Boente’s first review of
    a FISA application targeting Carter Page, Boente wanted to ensure he had “good
    visibility” into the application. Boente told us that he did not specifically recall
    reading the Gauhar memorandum or reviewing the read copy, although
    contemporaneous documents and emails reflect that Boente did, in fact, review the
    read copy prior to it being filed with the court.
    Gauhar told us, and notes reflect, that after Boente reviewed the footnote in
    the renewal application concerning the closure of Steele as an FBI CHS, Boente
    asked whether there was concern about the potential bias of Steele. Gauhar told
    us that she did not recall the specific discussions they may have had on this issue,
    but she recalled that Boente was very engaged on the issue of Steele’s potential
    bias, and said they had multiple discussions on that specific issue. Boente told us
    that he did not recall what information he was provided about Steele or what
    Boente knew about Steele or his reporting when Boente considered the second
    renewal application.
    As with the previous two Carter Page FISA applications, 01 waited for
    approval from ODAG before submitting the read copy to the FISC. On April 3,
    Gauhar notified Evans that Boente approved sending the read copy to the FISC.
  1. Feedback from the FISC, Completion of the Final Renewal
    Application and Woods Procedures, and Final Legal
    Review
    On April 3, the read copy was filed with the FISC. On April 6, the 01
    Attorney advised Evans and the 01 supervisors that the FISC judge reviewed the
    renewal application, had one non-substantive edit to a signature page, and would
    sign the application without an appearance.
    216
    On April 3, the 01 Unit Chief “signed out” the cert copy of the application and
    cert memo to the FBI, so that the FBI could complete the Woods Procedures. Case
    Agent 6 asked Case Agent 1 to assist with the Woods Procedures because Case
    Agent 6 recently joined the investigation and was not familiar with all of the
    historical facts related to Carter Page. Case Agent 6 provided documents to Case
    Agent 1, who was the agent responsible for compiling the supporting
    documentation into the Woods File and performing the field office database checks
    on Carter Page and the accuracy review of each fact asserted in the FISA
    application. SSA 5 was responsible for confirming that the Woods File contained
    appropriate documentation for the factual assertions in the FISA application.
    As noted previously, Case Agent 1 told us that his general practice on a
    renewal application is not to necessarily review the factual assertions carried over
    from the prior application. He said that if the factual informa~ion does not
    materially change from the prior FISA application, he will just review the newly
    added information. However, in this case, Case Agent 1 told us that he was “pretty
    sure” he reviewed the factual assertions from the prior renewal application in
    addition to the new factual assertions to confirm the Woods File contained the
    appropriate documentation for Renewal Application No. 2. 366 After Case Agent 1
    completed the Woods process, he signed the Woods Form and gave the Woods
    Form and Woods File to SSA 5 who was his supervisor in NYFO. SSA .5 told us he
    made sure every fact in the application had a supporting document in the Woods
    File. SSA 5 then signed the Woods Form on April 4, affirming the verification and
    documentation of each factual assertion in the application, and sent the FISA
    application package containing the Woods Form, cert copy, and cert memo to the
    Headquarters Program Manager assigned the responsibility of signing the final
    application as the affiant under oath that the factual information was true and
    correct. 367
    As in the case of Renewal Application No. 1, SSA 2 served as the affiant for
    Renewal Application No. 2. SSA 2 told us that he reviewed the newly added
    information in Renewal Application No. 2 and identified no issues with any of the
    information in the application. SSA 2 told us that he believed everything in the
    application was true and correct. SSA 2 told us that he did not recall reviewing the
    Woods Form, but that it was his practice at the time to do so before signing a FISA
    application (as described in Chapter-Two, the Woods Procedures do not require the
    366 As we noted previously, according to Case Agent 6, Cas.e Agent 1 told him that when he
    (Case Agent 1) performed the factual accuracy review on Renewal Application No. 1, he only reviewed
    the new factual assertions in the application, not the factual assertions that carried over from the prior
    application. Case Agent 6 told us that they did not discuss how Case Agent 1 performed the factual
    accuracy review on Renewal Application No. 2.
    367 The OIG examined the completeness of the Woods File by comparing the facts asserted in
    Renewal Application No. 2 to the documents maintained in the Woods File. Our comparison identified
    instances in which facts asserted in the application were not supported by documentation in the
    Woods File. Specifically, we found facts asserted in the FISA application that have no supporting
    documenta_tion in the Woods File, facts that have purported supporting documentation in the Woods
    File but the documentation does not state the fact asserted in the FISA application, or facts that have
    purported supporting documentation in the Woods File but the document shows the fact asserted is
    inaccurate. We provide examples of specific errors in Appendix One.
    217
    affiant to review the Woods File, only the case agent and his or her supervisor).
    After doing so, SSA 2 signed the affidavit affirming under penalty of perjury that
    the information in the package was true and correct before he submitted it to an
    OGC Attorney.
    The OGC Attorney said that while he was aware of the FBI seeking renewal
    authority for the Carter Page FISA, he had less awareness of the specific issues in
    Renewal Application No. 2 and did not recall reviewing any drafts other than the
    cert copy. We were advised that the FBI and NSD were unable to locate a fully
    signed copy of the cert memo that accompanied Renewal Application No. 2, and we
    were therefore unable to independently determine who reviewed the FISA
    application package on behalf of OGC’s NSCLB.
  2. FBI Director’s Certification
    Corney signed FISA Renewal Application No. 2 on behalf of the FBI on April 5,
    2017, certifying that the information sought was foreign intelligence information
    that could not reasonably be obtained by normal investigative techniques and was
    necessary to protect the United States against clandestine intelligence activities.
    Although Corney did not specifically recall reviewing FISA Renewal Application No.
    2, for the reasons described in Chapter Five, Corney told us that he reviewed the
    first Carter Page application and was satisfied that the requested FISA authority
    had a sufficient foreign intelligence purpose.
  3. Oral Briefing and Approval
    Sanz-Rexach briefed Boente on Renewal Application No. 2 and told us that it
    was a short briefing, and Boente did not raise any questions before he signed the
    application. Boente had requested regular briefings on the investigation after he
    became the Acting Attorney General and was familiar with the case at the time he
    reviewed and approved Renewal Application No. 2.
    Although, as noted above, contemporaneous documents and emails reflect
    that Boente read the application prior to it being filed with the court, Boente told us
    that he did not have an independent recollection of having read the application.
    After showing him the documentation indicating that he had read it, Boente said
    that he was sure he would have read the application provided to him. Boente told
    us that although he did not recall specific discussions about Steele in connection
    with this application, he remembered being aware that the origin of Steele’s reports
    was opposition research, and he thought the footnote identifying Steele’s reporting
    as political opposition research was “very clear.” Boente told us when he signed
    the application following NSD’s short oral briefing, he was satisfied that there was
    sufficient probable cause to believe Page was an agent of a foreign power. He also
    told us that he knew at the time that two different judges had previously found
    probable cause, and that it was important to acquire whatever evidence the
    Department could regarding Russia’s interference with the 2016 U.S. elections.
    On April I, Boente signed the application as Acting Attorney General, and the
    application was submitted to the FISC the same day. By his signature, and as
    218
    stated in the application, Boente found that the application satisfied the criteria and
    requirements of the FISA statute and approved its filing with the court. 368
  4. Final Orders
    The final FISA application included proposed orders, which were signed by
    FISC Judge Anne C. Conway on April I, 2017. According to NSD, the judge signed
    the final orders, as proposed by the government in their entirety, without holding a
    hearing.
    The primary order and warrant stated that the court found, based upon the
    facts submitted in the verified application, that there was probable cause to believe
    that Russia is a foreign power and that Carter Page was an a ent of Russia under
    50 U.S.C. 1801 b 2 E . The court also found that
    court aut
    days and
    necessary to effectuate the electronic surveillance
    by the court.
    III. FISA Renewal Application No. 3 (June a 2017)
    On June •, 2017, a day before FISA coverage on Carter Page was going to
    expire, and at the request of the FBI, the Department filed an application with the
    FISC requesting an additional 90 days of FISA coverage targeting Carter Page. 369 A
    FISC judge reviewed and issued the re uested orders resulting in an additional 90
    days of electronic surveillance targeting Carter Page from
    June •, 2017 to September , 2017.
    A. Investigative Developments and Decision to Seek FISA
    Renewal
    After the second renewal of FISA authority, the FBI continued its FISA
    collection of communications and other evidence pertaining to Carter Page. In
    addition, available documents indicate that one of the focuses of the Carter Page
    investigation at this time was obtaining his financial records. NYFO sought
    compulsory legal process in April 2017 for banking and financial records for Carter
    Page and his company, Global Energy Capital, as well as information relating to two
    encrypted online applications, one of which Page utilized on his cell phone.
    368 Boente’s signature also specifically .horized
    369 On May 17, 2017, the Crossfire Hurricane cases were transferred to the Office of the
    Special Counsel. Although agents and analysts were working with the Special Counsel, the FISA
    application was still subject to Department approval and notification requirements.
    219
    Documents reflect that agents also conducted multiple interviews of individuals
    associated with Carter Page.
    Case Agent 6 told us, and documents reflect, that despite the ongoing
    investigation, the team did not expect to renew the Carter Page FISA before
    Renewal Application No. 2’s authority expired on June 30. Case Agent 6 said that
    the FISA collection the FBI had received during the second renewal period was not
    yielding any new information. The OGC Attorney told us that when the FBI was
    considering whether to seek further FISA authority following Renewal Application
    No. 2, the FISA was “starting to go dark.” During one of the March 2017
    interviews, Page told Case Agent 1 and Case Agent 6 that he believed he was under
    surveillance and the agents did not believe continued surveillance would rovide
    an relevant information. Case A ent 6 said
    SSA 5 and SSA 2 said that further investigation yielded previously unknown
    locations that they believed could provide information of investigative value, and
    they decided to seek another renewal. S ecificall SSA 5 and Case A ent 6 told
    us and documents reflect that
    B. Preparation and Approval of Renewal Application No. 3
  5. Draft Renewal Application
    Case Agent 6 assisted the 01 Attorney in the preparation of Renewal
    Application No. 3. Emails reflect that Case Agent 6 and the 01 Attorney exchanged
    information on recent investigative findings and relevant FISA collections for the
    draft of Renewal Application No. 3. 370 On June 16, the 01 Attorney emailed the
    OGC Attorney and Case Agent 6 the first draft of Renewal Application No. 3 for their
    review. On June 18, Case Agent 6 responded to the email by providing answers to
    the remaining questions in the draft application. Emails reflect that on June 19, the
    Supervisory Intel Analyst and SSA 2 received a copy of the renewal draft from Case
    Agent 6 for review; howeve.r, the Supervisory Intel Analyst did not recall reviewing
    the renewal application. SSA 2 said he had no comments, and we found no
    documentation indicating one way or the other.
    The statement of facts in the third renewal application contained the same
    information used to support probable cause as in Renewal Application No. 2. This
    370 Although there were no recent relevant FISA collections the team found useful, we were
    told that the FBI was still reviewing FISA collections identified prior to Renewal Application No. 2.
    220
    included the assessment that post-election, the FBI believed that the Russian
    government would continue efforts to use U.S. persons, such as Carter Page, to
    covertly influence U.S. foreign policy and support Russia’s perception management
    efforts. In addition, Renewal Application No. 3 advised the court of recent
    investigative results, including:
    • A June 2017 interview by the FBI of an individual closely tied to the
    President of the New Economic School in Moscow who stated that
    Carter Page was selected to give a commencement speech in July
    2016 because he was candidate Trump’s “Russia-guy.” This individual
    also told the FBI that while in Russia in July 2016, Carter Page was
    picked up in a chauffeured car and it was rumored he met with Igor
    Sechin. However, the FD-302 documenting this interview, which was
    included in the Woods File for Renewal Application No. 3, does not
    contain any reference to a chauffeured car picking up Carter Page. We
    were unable to locate any document or information in the Woods File
    that supported this assertion. 371
    • A June 2017 interview by the FBI of a different individual closely tied
    to the New Economic School in Moscow who told investigators that he
    did not think it likely that Carter Page and Sechin met during Page’s
    visit to Moscow in July 2016. The FBI assessed that, because this
    individual was unaware of a meeting that Carter Page had with a
    different Russian official while in Moscow in July 2016, the individual
    did not know about all the meetings that Page had while in Moscow in
    July 2016, and the FBI assessed that, based on the rumored meeting
    between Page and Sechin described in the prior bullet point, Page
    likely met with Sechin prior to the time that Page joined this individual
    at the New Economic School;

  6. We asked both agents that interviewed this individual, Case Agent 6 and Case Agent 7, if
    this individual stated during the interview that Page was picked up in a chauffeuted car. Case Agent 6
    told us he did. recall the individual making this statement; Case Agent 7 did not recall and stated he
    may have made the statement during a telephone interview that occurred later.
    221

    • A statement by Carter Page during a March 30 interview with the FBI
    about the loss and destruction of his cell phone at the same time
    media reports were discussing the FBI’s possible investigation of Page;
    and
    • Carter Page’s meetings with media outlets, which the FBI assessed
    may have been undertaken to promote his theories on U.S. foreign
    policy and refute claims of involvement with the Russian government’s
    efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. election. The FBI believed Page was
    instructed by Russian officials to deny in the media Russian
    involvement with the election.
    The application also stated the following:
    Additionally, based on Page’s history of willingness to
    assist Russian IOs, which as discussed above the FBI believes began
    as early as 2007 … , and his comment to the FBI that he believes he is
    “on the [SVR] books,” the FBI believes that Page remains favorable to
    future RIS taskings.
    Steele’s source characterization statement, reliance on Steele’s reporting,
    and the information concerning the positions and access of Steele’s sub-sources
    remained the same as in Renewal Application No. 2. The short description of the
    FBI’s January 2017 interview with Steele’s Prima Sub-source also remained the
    same. Renewal A lication No. 3 also added
    In support of probable cause, the FBI added statements Carter Page made
    during his first consensually monitored meeting with an FBI CHS in August 2016
    (summarized in Chapter Ten). These statements included Page’s response to a
    reference to “the 1980 October Surprise,” where Page stated that there would be a
    “different October Surprise” this year and later stated that “well I want to have the
    conspiracy theory about the, uh, the Ru- the next email dump with these, uh, 33
    thousand, you know.” In the application, the FBI assessed that these statements,
    along with other evidence, indicated that Page was aware of the pending leak of
    DNC emails. 373 As previously described in Chapter Five, none of the applications
    advised the court of other statements Page made during this meeting, including
    373 On or about November 6, 2016, Wikileaks released a second set of DNC emails.
    222
    that he had “literally never met” Manafort, had “never said one word to him,” and
    that Manafort had not responded to any of Carter Page’s emails.
    As described in Chapter Five, we found that information about the August
    2016 meeting was not included in any of the three prior FISA applications because
    it was not shared with the 01 Attorney until on or about June 20, 2017, when Case
    Agent 6 sent the 01 Attorney a 163-page document containing the statements
    made by Carter Page during the meeting. The 01 Attorney told us that he used the
    163-page document to accurately quote Page’s statements concerning the “October
    Surprise” in the final renewal application but that the 01 Attorney did not read the
    other aspects of the document and that the case agent did not flag for him the
    statements Page made about Manafort. The 01 Attorney told us that these
    statements; which were available to the FBI before the first application, should
    have been flagged by the FBI for inclusion in the FISA applications at that time
    because the statements were relevant to the court’s assessment of the allegations
    concerning Manafort using Page as an intermediary with Russia. Case Agent 6 told
    us that he did not know that Page made the statement about Manafort because the
    August 2016 meeting took place before he was assigned to the investigation. He
    said that the reason he knew about the “October Surprise” statements in the
    document was that he had heard about them from Case Agent 1 and did a word
    search to find the specific discussion on that topic. Case Agent 6 further told us
    that he added the “October Surprise” statements in consultation with the 01
    Attorney after the 01 Attorney asked him if there was other information in the case
    file that would help support probable cause.
    Case Agent 1 assisted in the preparation of the first application and told us
    that he did not recall why he did not include the “October Surprise” statements in
    the first application. He told us that he remembered that he thought it was an “odd
    exchange” between Pag·e and the CHS at the time, and he said may have thought
    that it would have been difficult to convey to the court what Page’s words meant.
    Similar to the previous applications, Renewal Application No. 3 did not advise
    the court of information provided to the FBI in August 2016 regarding Carter Page’s
    relationship with another U.S. government agency and information Page had shared
    with the other agency about his contacts with Russian intelligence officers, contacts
    that overlapped with facts asserted in the FISA application. This was so even
    though the FBI re-engaged with the other U.S. government agency in June 2017,
    following interviews that Page gave to news outlets in April and May 2017 during
    which Page stated that he had assisted the USIC in the past. SSA 2, who was to be
    the affiant for the third renewal and had been the affiant for the first two renewals,
    told us that he wanted a definitive answer as to whether Page had ever been a
    source for the other U.S. government agency before the final renewal application
    because he was concerned that Page could claim that he had been acting on behalf
    of the U.S. government in engaging with certain Russians. As we describe in
    Chapter Eight, this led to interactions between the FBI OGC Attorney and a liaison
    from the other U.S. government agency, who reconfirmed the information that the
    other agency had provided to the FBI in August 2016 that Page did have a prior
    relationship with that other agency. However, for reasons we detail in Chapter
    223
    Eight, that information was not accurately provided to either SSA 2 or 01 by the
    OGC Attorney and was therefore not included in the third renewal application.
  7. Review and Approval Process
    As with Renewal Application Nos. 1 and 2, Baker told us he did not review
    Renewal Application No. 3. Baker told us that he questioned whether it was
    worthwhile to seek another renewal because Carter Page was no longer using the
    facilities the FBI was monitoring, and that from a management perspective, an
    additional renewal was not worth the expenditure of resources. Baker recalled
    discussions about whether the FISA was still productive and providing any foreign
    intelligence, but the decision was made to continue with the renewal because there
    was still an opportunity to obtain foreign intelligence information. Anderson did not
    recall whether she reviewed the third renewal application, and we found no
    evidence that anyone else in OGC above the OGC Unit Chief level did so.
    On June 21, the 01 Unit Chief sent the 01 Attorney, Case Agent 6, and the
    OGC Attorney questions after reviewing the draft application. The 01 Unit Chief’s
    questions focused on whether there were updates to assessments from the prior
    renewals. On June 22, following email communications with Case Agent 6 to
    finalize the edits and questions from the 01 Unit Chief, the 01 Attorney emailed the
    read copy to Evans, Sanz-Rexach, the Deputy Operations Section Chief, and Case
    Agent 6. The 01 managers and Evans told us that they did not recall their
    feedback, and Evans said he was not sure whether he reviewed this final application
    before it was filed.
    On June 23, the same day the read copy was submitted to the court, Evans
    emailed Gauhar the application for ODAG’s review. Unlike the read copy for the
    three prior Carter Page FISA applications, we found no information indicating that
    ODAG received and approved the read copy in advance of 01 filing it with the court.
    With Renewal Application No. 3, it appears NSD followed the more typical practice
    of submitting the application to ODAG shortly before the DAG approved and signed
    the final application.
  8. Feedback from the FISC, Completion of the Final Renewal
    Application and Woods Procedures, and FBI Director
    Certification
    On June 28, the 01 Attorney advised Evans, Sanz-Rexach, and OI’s Deputy
    Operations Section Chief that, based on the read copy, the judge would approve
    Renewal Application No. 3. According to the 01 Attorney’s email to his supervisors,
    the judge “believed there was enough to let us go one more time and he will
    approve without a hearing.” The 01 Attorney told the OIG that the words, “let us
    go one more time” were his words and not the words of the judge. He said that he
    was not trying to imply that the judge said that the court would not approve
    another renewal.
    Before the court’s feedback, the 01 Unit Chief “signed out” the cert copy of
    the application and cert memo to the FBI, so that the FBI could complete the
    224
    Woods Procedures. Emails reflect that a few additional minor edits were made to
    the cert copy after the read copy was filed and prior to the completion of the Woods
    Procedures.
    Case Agent 7 was a relatively new FBI special agent who was responsible for
    compiling the supporting documentation into a Woods File and performing the field
    office database checks on Carter Page and the accuracy review of each fact
    asserted in the FISA application. Case Agent 7 told us that he had been assigned
    to assist in the Carter Page investigation sometime in spring 2017. Case Agent 7
    was responsible for confirming that the file contained appropriate documentation for
    the factual assertions in the FISA application. Case Agent 7 told us that when he
    conducted the factual accuracy review on Renewal Application No. 3, he reviewed
    every fact to re-verify the accuracy of factual assertions carried over from prior
    applications and made sure every factual assertion had appropriate documentation
    in the Woods File. During the Woods process, Case Agent 6 and Case Agent 7,
    identified some documents that were missing from the Woods File, and added them
    in order to provide support for the pertinent factual assertions in Renewal
    Application No. 3. After Case Agent 7 completed the Woods process, he signed the
    Woods Form and gave the Woods Form and Woods File to SSA 5, who was Case
    Agent 7’s supervisor in NYFO. SSA 5 told us he made sure every factual assertion
    in the application had a supporting document in the Woods File. SSA 5 signed the
    Woods Form on June 27, affirming the verification and documentation of each
    factual assertion in the application, and then sent the FISA application package
    containing the Woods Form, cert copy, and cert memo to the Headquarters
    Program Manager assigned the responsibility of signing the final application, as the
    affiant, under oath that the factual information was true and correct. 374
    As with the prior renewal applications, the Headquarters Program Manager
    assigned as the affiant for the final renewal application was SSA 2. SSA 2 told us
    that he believed he reviewed the newly added information in the renewal. In
    addition, SSA 2 said that as the affiant, it was his practice to review the Woods
    Form to make sure it was completed by the case agent and an SSA before signing
    off on the application and submitting it to an OGC attorney (as described in Chapter
    Two, the Woods Procedures did not require the affiant to review the Woods File,
    only the case agent and his or her supervisor). SSA 2 told us that he believed
    everything in the application was true and correct. SSA 2 signed the affidavit
    affirming under penalty of perjury that the information in the package was true and
    correct. He then submitted the FISA application package to the OGC Attorney for
    legal review.
    374 The OIG examined the completeness of the Woods File by comparing the facts asserted in
    Renewal Application No. 3 to the documents maintained in the Woods File. Our comparison identified
    instances in which facts asserted in the application were not supported by documentation in the
    Woods File. Specifically, we found facts that are asserted in the FISA application that have no
    supporting documentation in the Woods File, facts that have purported supporting documentation in
    the Woods File but the documentation does not state the fact asserted in the FISA application, or facts
    that have purported supporting documentation in the Woods File but the documentation shows the
    fact asserted is inaccurate. We provide examples of specific errors in Appendix One.
    225
    The OGC Attorney, who had participated in the drafting process and was
    familiar with the content of the application, told us that he reviewed the Woods
    Form with the Headquarters Program Manager. After the OGC Attorney confirmed
    that all of the Woods Procedures had been completed, he signed the cert memo
    below the 01 Unit Chief’s signature and submitted the package to OGC Unit Chief 2
    who was assigned to perform the supervisory legal review. 375
    · OGC Unit Chief 2 told us that he could not recall whether he read Renewal
    Application No. 3 in its entirety or just the probable cause portion. He said that his
    general practice is to rely upon the cert memo’s description, and if something
    “triggers” his inclination to go further, he will read some or all of the application.
    OGC Unit Chief 2 told us that he was sure he reviewed the cert memo and Woods
    Form and, based on those documents, determined that the application package was
    complete, all the steps of the Woods Procedures were represented to have been
    taken, the probable cause standard was met, and there were no outstanding issues.
    He then signed the cert memo, signifying that the application was ready for
    certification and for submission to the FBI Director.
    Then Acting Director McCabe signed Renewal Application No. 3 on June 28,
    certifying that the information sought was foreign intelligence information that
    could not reasonably be obtained by normal investigative techniques and was
    necessary to protect the United States against clandestine intelligence activities.
    McCabe told us that he did not recall whether he reviewed the entire FISA
    application package or whether he relied primarily upon the cert memo and his
    familiarity with the Carter Page investigation before he made the required
    certification. He told us that he understood at the time he signed the application
    that the FBI, Department, and FISC were comfortable with the application such that
    it was not “a great stretch” for him to sign the certification.
  9. DAG Oral Briefing and Approval
    On April 26, 2017, Rod Rosenstein was confirmed as the Deputy Attorney
    General. Gauhar remained the Associate Deputy Attorney General (ADAG)
    responsible for ODAG’s national security portfolio and told us that she worked
    primarily with Crowell to complete the ODAG review of Renewal Application No. 3.
    Crowell told us he read the application but relied on Gauhar and NSD to advise
    Rosenstein on this application.
    Shortly after he was sworn in as DAG, Rosenstein received briefings about
    the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Rosenstein told us that, as a result, he was
    more familiar with the facts of the case than is typical for FISA applications.
    Rosenstein received a copy of the application in advance of NSD’s oral briefing, and
    told us he “would have looked through it.” Although he could not recall whether he
    375 Chapter Two describes the signature from NSCLB necessary for approval on the cert memo
    as Senior Executive Service (SES) level. Witnesses told us that usually the SES-level supervisor is an
    NSCLB section chief or a Deputy General Counsel, but that, on occasions, the role is delegated to a
    GS-15 Unit Chief.
    226
    reviewed the application in its entirety, he recalled reading enough to understand
    the substance of the allegations involved.
    Rosenstein told us that he had reviewed FISA applications almost every day
    after his confirmation, and he believed Renewal Application No. 3 was “above
    average” in terms of the justification for the continued coverage in the renewal. He
    said that he was in a different position than those who considered the previous
    applications because by the time he received the application, many different
    Department officials had approved the prior ones and three different federal judges
    had found probable cause. He also said he had a conversation with Boente about
    the application in which Boente expressed the view that a DAG should not refuse to
    sign a FISA application that establishes probable cause, and when there is a
    legitimate basis for conducting the investigation, just because it could end up
    becoming “politically embarrassing” at some later point. 376 Further, Rosenstein told
    us that he did not view the application as being “particularly sensitive” when he
    received it in June 2017 because at that time the campaign was over, and Carter
    Page did not have any connection to the Trump Administration.
    On June 29, OI’s Deputy Operations Section Chief provided a briefing on the
    June renewal application to Rosenstein, and, according to Gauhar, Rosenstein
    brought his copy of Renewal Application No. 3 to the briefing. Gauhar and the
    Deputy Operations Section Chief did not recall any significant questions during the
    briefing about the renewal. However, Rosenstein told us that he recalled raising a
    question (at this briefing or immediately before it) about whether continued FISA
    coverage was going to produce useful information given that the FISA coverage
    targeting Carter Page had been leaked to the media. He said that he remembered
    being told that this renewal would likely be the last one unless new evidence was
    uncovered.
    On June •, Rosenstein signed the application, and the application was
    submitted to the FISC the same day. By his signature, and as stated in the
    application, Rosenstein found that the application satisfied the criteria and
    requirements of the FISA and approved its filing with the court. 377
  10. Final Orders
    The final FISA application included 2oposed orders, which were signed by
    FISC Judge Raymond J. Dearie, on June., 2017. According to NSD, the judge
    signed the final orders, as proposed by the government in their entirety, without
    holding a hearing.
    The primary order and warrant stated that the court found, based upon the
    facts submitted in the verified application, that there was probable cause to believe
    376 On June 26, Boente, who at the time was serving as the Acting Assistant Attorney General
    for NSD, received the read copy of Renewal Application No. 3. Boente told us he had no recollection
    of reading the application.
    377 Rosenstein’s signature also specificallarized
    227
    that Russia is a foreign power and that Carter Page was an a
    50 U.S.C. 1801 b 2 E . The court also found that
    court aut
    days and
    necessary to effectuate the electronic surveillance
    by the court.
    Approximately 1 year after this final FISA application, in July 2018, NSD
    submitted a letter to the FISC, advising the court of certain factual omissions in the
    Carter Page FISA applications that came to NSD’s attention after the last renewal
    application was filed. In the next chapter we describe this compliance letter to the
    FISC and the omissions detailed in it, as well as other instances, not known to NSD
    at the time but identified by the OIG during this review, in which factual assertions
    relied upon in the three Carter Page renewal applications were inaccurate,
    incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information
    in the FBI’s possession at the time the applications were filed.
    228
    CHAPTER EIGHT
    MISSTATEMENTS, OMISSIONS, AND ERRORS IN THE FISA
    RENEWAL APPLICATIONS
    As we describe in this chapter, the three Carter Page renewal applications
    contained a number of factual representations that were inaccurate, incomplete, or
    unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information in the FBl’s
    possession at the time the applications were filed. On July 12, 2018, approximately
    one year after the final FISA renewal application, the National Security Division
    (NSD) sent a letter to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) advising
    the court of certain factual omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications that
    came to NSD’s attention after the last renewal application was filed. The
    information, which had been in the FBI’s possession, included certain statements
    made by George Papadopoulos to FBI confidential human sources (CHSs),
    information provided to the FBI by Department attorney Bruce Ohr as a result of
    Ohr’s conversations with Christopher Steele, and admissions Steele made in court
    filings in foreign litigation regarding his interactions with the media. We found no
    evidence that officials in NSD had been told of this information or were aware of
    these omissions at the time the four FISA applications were filed with the court.
    Further, we found no evidence suggesting that the senior Department officials who
    approved the various FISA applications-Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Sally
    Yates (the first application and first renewal), Acting Attorney General Dana Boente
    (the second renewal), or DAG Rod Rosenstein (the third renewal)-were aware of
    these issues at the time they signed the FISA applications.
    We also detail instances not described in the July 2018 letter to the FISC, but
    identified by the OIG during the course of this review, in which factual assertions
    made in the three renewal applications were inaccurate, incomplete, or
    unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information in the FBl’s
    possession at the time the applications were filed. These included inconsistencies
    between Steele’s reporting and information provided by his Primary Sub-source to
    the FBI; information provided to the FBI by another U.S. government agency about
    Page’s prior relationship with that agency; information concerning Steele’s past
    work-related performance; information regarding the connection between Steele’s
    reporting and the Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee (DNC),
    and the Hillary Clinton campaign; information from the FBl’s human source
    validation report concerning Steele; denials by Joseph Mifsud to the FBI; and
    information about Carter Page’s lack of involvement in the change in the Republican
    Party platform concerning Russia and Ukraine. We found no evidence that Yates
    was aware of these issues at the time she approved the first FISA renewal
    application. We found that Boente was also unaware of these issues when he
    approved the second renewal application, with one exception concerning
    information regarding the ties between Steele’s reporting and the Democratic Party.
    Boente recalled knowing the information at the time he approved the second
    renewal. We found that Rosenstein was unaware of the issues we identified at the
    time he approved the third renewal application. With respect to the ties between
    Steele’s reporting and the Democratic Party, Rosenstein told us he believes he
    229
    learned that information from news media accounts, but did not recall whether he
    knew it at the time he approved the third renewal.
    I. Omissions in the FISA Applications, as NSD Reported to the FISC in
    July 2018
    Under Rule 13(a) of the FISC Rules of Procedure, the government has an
    obligation to correct any and all misstatements or omissions of material fact in its
    submissions to the court. Although the Rules do not define or otherwise explain
    what constitutes “material” facts ·or omissions, the FBl’s Foreign Intelligence
    Surveillance Act and Standard Minimization Procedures Policy Guide (FISA SMP PG)
    states that a fact or omission is “material” if it is relevant to the court’s probable
    cause determination. According to NSD supervisors, NSD will consider a fact or
    omission material if the information is capable of influencing the court’s probable
    cause determination, but NSD will err on the side of disclosure and advise the court
    of information that NSD believes the court would want to know.
    On July 12, 2018, aboutl year after the last Carter Page FISA application was
    filed with the FISC, the NSD Assistant Attorney General submitted a letter to FISC
    Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer under Rule 13(a), advising the court of certain
    factual omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications. These omissions included:
  11. Statements made by George Papadopoulos to FBI CHSs in September
    and October 2016 denying that anyone involved in the Donald J.
    Trump for President Campaign was coordinating with Russia in the
    DNC hack or release of emails;
  12. Information Department attorney Bruce Ohr provided to the FBI in
    November and December 2016 relevant to Steele’s motivations and
    reliability; and
  13. Admissions Steele made in April and May 2017 regarding his
    interactions with the news media in the summer and fall of 2016.
    According to NSD supervisors, the Rule 13 Letter was initially prompted by
    NSD’s receipt and review of the Ohr information in late January 2018. At about the
    same time, the FBI advised NSD and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General
    (ODAG) of admissions Steele made in court filings in foreign litigation in April and
    May 2017 concerning his media contacts. Later, in May 2018, while a draft of the
    letter was under review, NSD learned of Papadopoulos’s September 2016 denial
    from ODAG, which ODAG had recently identified during a review of FBI documents.
    Then, in June 2018, NSD learned of Papadopoulos’s October 2016 denial from the
    FBI, after asking the FBI to recheck its files for any other information that should be
    disclosed to the court.
    In the Rule 13 Letter, NSD stated that, after the filing of the Carter Page
    FISA applications, NSD became aware of additional information relevant to the
    applications, and that some of this information was subject to Rule 13(a). The
    letter did not specify which information the government believed was material and
    230
    therefore subject to Rule 13(a), and which information it believed was not.
    However, the letter stated that some of the additional information had been
    discussed publicly and that the government was providing all of the information
    “out of an abundance of caution” to ensure that the court had a complete
    understanding of the additional information.378 The letter concluded by asserting
    that “even considering the additional information regarding Papadopoulos'[s]
    conversations with [an FBI CHS] and others, and regarding [Steele], the
    applications contained sufficient predication for the Court to have found probable
    cause that Page was acting as an agent of the Government of Russia.”
    According to NSD supervisors, as of October 2019, NSD had not received a
    formal response from the FISC to the Rule 13 Letter. 379 According to then Deputy
    Assistant Attorney General Stuart Evans, in his experience, although not in every
    case, there have been occasions in which the FISC has responded to Rule 13
    letters, either by issuing a supplemental order, asking the government for more
    information, or holding a hearing. On January 31, 2019, Evans told the OIG that
    NSD had advised FISC Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer that, through participation
    in OIG interviews~ NSD Office of Intelligence (01) officials learned of additional
    information that was possibly material to the Carter Page FISA applications, and
    that NSD planned to wait until after the OIG completed its review and provided its
    findings to the Department before determining whether to submit another Rule 13
    letter to the court. 380 NSD supervisors told us that they believe the court may be
    waiting for the completion of the OIG’s review, and the submission of any potential
    supplemental filings by NSD, before taking responsive steps, if any.
    378 Regarding the public discussion referenced in the letter, NSD cited to the memoranda from
    the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) majority and HPSCI minority
    regarding the Carter Page FISA applications, and a memorandum from Senators Charles Grassley and
    Lindsey Graham to DAG Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray concerning Steele and his
    reporting, which were all publicly released in February 2018.
    379 On May 10, 2019, NSD sent a second letter to the FISC concerning the Carter Page FISA
    applications, advising the court of two incidents in which the FBI failed to comply with the Standard
    Minimization Procedures (SMPs) ap licable 111111111111111 pursuant to the final FISA
    orders issued by the court on June 2017. Accordin to the letter the FBI took and retained on an
    FBI-issued cell hone
    to an electronic folder on the FBI’s
    classified secret network, which NSD assessed also did not comport with the SMPs. According to NSD,
    court staff contacted an NSD official in response to this letter and asked when the information at issue
    would be removed from non-compliant FBI systems, and asked about other cases that might be
    impacted by the same problem. On October 9, 2019, NSD sent another letter to the FISC advising the
    court that the FBI completed the remedial process for the information associated with the Page FISA
    applications and information from other cases impacted by the same problem.
    380 Later in the chapter, we discuss other instances, not described in the July 2018 Rule 13
    Letter, in which the three Carter Page renewal applications were inaccurate, incomplete, or
    unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information in the FBI’s possession at the
    time the applications were filed.
    231
    A. Papadopoulos’s Denials to FBI Confidential Human Sources
    In Chapter Five, we described how the first Carter Page FISA application did
    not include statements Papadopoulos made to an FBI CHS in September 2016 that
    were in tension with other information included in the application. 381 Specifically, in
    September 2016, Papadopoulos told the CHS that, to his knowledge, no one
    associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia or with outside
    groups like WikiLeaks in the release of emails. We were advised by NSD that it did
    not know about this denial by Papadopoulos until May 2018, after ODAG found the
    information while reviewing documents in response to Congressional information
    requests. Upon learning the information, NSD incorporated Papadopoulos’s denial
    into the Rule 13 Letter. 382
    As described in Chapter Five, Case Agent 1 told us that he did not recall
    whether he advised the 01 Attorney about Papadopoulos’s denial in September
    2016 but that, if he did not, it may have been an oversight. He also told us that
    the Crossfire Hurricane team’s assessment was that Papadopoulos’s denial to the
    CHS was a rehearsed response, and Case Agent 1 did not view the information as
    particularly germane to the investigation of Carter Page. 383 However, Evans told us
    that because Papadopoulos’s denial was inconsistent with the theory that
    Papadopoulos had received ( or was aware of) an offer from the Russians involving
    the release of emails, there was no question in Evans’s mind that the information
    was material and would have been disclosed to the court had NSD known about it
    at the time of the FISA applications.
    After NSD incorporated Papadopoulos’s statements into the Rule 13 Letter,
    and before the final letter was submitted to the court, the FBI advised NSD of
    similar, previously undisclosed statements made by Papadopoulos to a CHS after
    the first Carter Page FISA application was filed but before the renewal
    applications. 384 Specifically, in October 2016, when asked if the Trump campaign
    was involved in the DNC email hack, Papadopoulos told the CHS that the campaign
    was not involved and that it would have been illegal to have done so. .
    Papadopoulos also said that he did not think Russia was “playing” with the election
    381 We summarize the information this CHS obtained from Papadopoulos in Chapter Ten.
    382 In a footnote, NSD advised the court that Papadopoulos made similar statements directly
    to the FBI in a January 2017 interview. The renewal applications did not advise the court of these
    January 2017 statements, but did advise the court that Papadopoulos had been interviewed by the FBI
    and denied that he discussed anything related to the Russian government with FFG officials. As
    discussed in Chapter ?even, the renewal applications did not include that Papadopoulos made other
    statements during his interviews with the FBI, including statements that minimized Carter Page’s role
    in the Trump campaign and statements that Person 1 (whom the FBI assessed was the likely source
    for some of the Steele reporting relied upon in the applications, including the allegations against Page)
    told Papadopoulos that he/she (Person 1) had no knowledge of the information reported in “the recent
    Trump Dossier.”
    383 As noted previously, after reviewing a draft of this report, Case Agent 1 told us that he
    and the team discounted Papadopoulos’s denials for several reasons, but that, in hindsight, he now
    realizes that the denials, and the team’s assessment of those denials, should have been shared with
    01.
    384 We summarize the information the CHS obtained from Papadopoulos in Chapter Ten.
    232
    or had any interest in it. Case Agent 1 received a document with these
    Papadopoulos statements included in it a few days after the October 2016 meeting
    (well before Renewal Application No. 1 was filed). Case Agent 1 told us that he was
    familiar with this CHS meeting at the time and probably reviewed the summary of
    the interview containing these statements, but Case Agent 1 said he did not recall
    why the statements were not shared with 01 or included in the subsequent renewal
    applications. He said that the information would not have been purposely withheld
    from 01, but it may have been accidentally omitted from the information provided
    to 01 for the renewal application.
    In the Rule 13 Letter, NSD advised the court of these statements and added
    that Pa ado oulos told the CHS in October 2016 that
    The letter further stated that by March 2017, Papadopoulos had denied any
    campaign involvement in the release of DNC emails on WikiLeaks during interviews
    conducted by the FBI and that those denials were included in Renewal Application
    Nos. 2 and 3.
    The Rule 13 Letter stated that NSD would have included Papadopoulos’
    denials to the FBI CHSs in the Carter Page FISA applications had NSD known about
    them at the time. The letter further stated that, even if the information had been
    included in the FISA applications, it was the government’s position that the “totality
    of information submitted in these applications concerning Page’s activities was
    sufficient to support the Court’s finding of probable cause that Page was acting as
    an agent of a foreign power.” The letter included a footnote advising the court that
    Papadopoulos had been charged and pied guilty to making false statements and
    omissions that impeded the FBI’s investigation. Evans told the OIG that the
    government’s position was based in part on the fact that the FFG information
    concerning Papadopoulos was only one of many different pieces of information that
    supported the court’s probable cause determination as to Carter Page. Further,
    according to Evans, this new information concerning Papadopoulos’s denials was
    “cumulative” in that Renewal Application Nos. 2 and 3 had already advised the
    court that Papadopoulos had denied informing the FFG of any campaign
    involvement in the release of DNC emails on WikiLeaks during interviews with the
    FBI.
    B. Information the FBI Received From Bruce Ohr Concerning
    Steele and His Reporting
    In Chapter Nine, we describe the relationships and communications Ohr had
    with Steele and Glenn Simpson whose company, Fusion GPS, hired Steele to
    conduct the research on Trump’s ties to Russia. We also describe the information
    Ohr passed to then Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in mid-October 2016 about
    Steele and his reporting, as well as the information Ohr passed to the Crossfire
    Hurricane investigative team beginning in November 2016 and continuing until the
    Special Counsel’s appointment in mid-May 2017. At the time of these
    233
    communications, Ohr was an Associate Deputy Attorney General (ADAG) and
    Director of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) within
    ODAG. However, as we describe in the next chapter, Ohr’s interactions with Steele
    and Simpson were outside Ohr’s areas of responsibility, and he did not advise
    anyone in ODAG that he was meeting with Steele, Simpson, or the FBI about
    Steele’s election reporting.
    As described in Chapter Nine, the FBI interviewed Ohr on multiple occasions
    in 2016 and 2017 and those interviews were memorialized in FD-302s. Of
    particular relevance to the Carter Page FISA renewal applications, during the first
    interview of Ohr on November 21, 2016, which was attended by FBI officials
    overseeing the Crossfire Hurricane investigation-including Deputy Assistant
    Director (DAD) Peter Strzok, the Chief of the Counterintelligence Division’s (CD)
    Analysis Section 1 (Intel Section Chief), and SSA 1-and by the FBI’s Office of the
    General Counsel (OGC) Unit Chief, Ohr advised the FBI of the following :385
    • Ohr met with Steele in July and September 2016 during which Steele
    advised Ohr of Steele’s election reporting and who had hired him;
    • Simpson, who hired Steele, was himself hired by a lawyer “who does
    opposition research,” and Steele’s reporting was going to Hillary
    Clinton’s presidential campaign, an identified State Department official,
    and the FBI;
    • Simpson was passing Steele’s reporting to “many individuals or
    entities,” and at times Steele would attend meetings with Simpson;
    • Steele was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was
    passionate about him not being the U.S. President;”
    • Steele and Simpson could have met with Yahoo News or the author of
    the September 23 news article jointly, but Ohr did not know if they
    met jointly; and
    • Ohr never believed Steele was “making up information or shading it.”
    Further, during subsequent interviews on December 5 and 12, 2016, Ohr
    advised members of the Crossfire Hurricane team that:
    • Simpson directed Steele to speak to the press, which was part of what
    Simpson was paying Steele to do. Ohr did not know whether speaking
    with Mother Jones was Simpson’s idea or not; and
    • Simpson asked Steele to speak to Mother Jones as it was Simpson’s
    “Hail Mary attempt.”
    385 The FD-302 documenting this November 2016 interview stated that the interview took
    place on November 22, 2016, which SSA 1 told us was incorrect. Because the date noted on the FD-
    302 incorrectly stated that the interview took place on November 22, the Rule 13 Letter also
    incorrectly stated that the interview took place on November 22.
    234
    None of the Carter Page FISA renewal applications included any information
    obtained from Ohr during the course- of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, even
    though the interviews described above took place before Renewal Application No. 1
    was filed in January 2017. In the Rule 13 Letter, NSD advised the court that NSD
    officials were not aware of the FBl’s interviews of Ohr at the time of the renewal
    applications, and we found no documentation indicating otherwise. Further, Evans,
    the 01 supervisors, and the 01 Attorney who drafted the applications told us that
    they were not aware at the time of the renewal applications that Ohr had provided
    information to the FBI related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Similarly,
    Yate~, Boente, Rosenstein, and the ODAG officials who reviewed the renewal
    applications told us that they were also not aware that Ohr had provided the FBI
    with information related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
    As described in Chapter Nine, handwritten notes of an FBI briefing Boente
    received in February 2017 indicate that the FBI advised Boente and others at that
    time-including Evans, then Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord, then
    Deputy Assistant Attorney General George Toscas from NSD, ADAG Tashina
    Gauhar, ADAG Scott Schools, and Principal ADAG James Crowell-that Ohr knew
    Steele for several years and remained in contact with him, and that Ohr’s wife
    worked for Simpson as a Russian linguist. However, none of these handwritten
    notes-which include separate notes taken by Boente, Schools, and Gauhar-stated
    that the FBI had interviewed Ohr or that Ohr had provided the FBI with information
    regarding Steele’s election reporting or Steele’s feelings toward candidate Trump.
    Schools told us that he recalled a meeting in which the OGC Unit Chief referenced
    Ohr having contact with Simpson, but Schools was not sure if it was during this
    February 2017 briefing or another briefing. Further, he said that it was a “passing
    reference, 11 and he never would have imagined that Ohr was having regular contact
    with the Crossfire Hurricane team and providing the information that appeared in
    the FD-302s. Boente and the other attendees of the February 2017 briefing told
    the OIG that they did not recall the FBI mentioning Ohr at any time during the
    investigation, and that they did not know about the FBI’s interviews with Ohr at the
    time of the FISA applications. According to Gauhar, she was surprised to find a
    reference to Ohr in her notes, and, regardless, she “would never have dreamt” back
    then what she knows now concerning the extent of Ohr’s interactions with Steele,
    Simpson, and the FBI on Steele’s election reporting.
    According to Gauhar, she first learned of Ohr’s connections to the Crossfire
    Hurricane investigation from media reports in early January 2018. She said that
    around this same time, Schools gave her a copy of a January 4, 2018 letter from
    Senators Grassley and Graham to the Department, which referenced the FBI’s
    interviews of Ohr. Emails reflect that on January 8, Gauhar forwarded this letter to
    Evans, and 2 days later Evans forwarded the letter to 01. According to Evans, this
    was the first time he learned about Ohr’s interactions with the FBI on the Crossfire
    Hurricane investigation. Evans also said that when he consulted with the 01
    supervisors and 01 Attorney who had worked on the Carter Page FISA applications,
    he learned that Ohr’s involvement was “a surprise to all of us. 11 Shortly thereafter,
    Evans requested and obtained the FD-302s documenting the Ohr interviews, and
    days later 01 completed a first draft of the Rule 13 Letter.
    235
    Handwritten notes taken during a meeting in late January 2018 indicate that
    OGC’s Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson told Gauhar, Evans, and 01
    supervisors that it had been reported to her that the FBI’s New York Field Office
    (NYFO), which at the time had responsibility for the Carter Page investigation, had
    reviewed the FD-302s contemporaneously with Renewal Application No. 1 and
    decided that the information from Ohr was not relevant to the Carter Page FISA
    request. The notes further stated that the case agent handling the FISA request
    had been focused at that time on information relating to Carter Page’s own
    activities and the FBI’s termination of its source relationship with Steele.
    Case Agent 1, who, as described previously in Chapter Seven, worked with
    01 in preparing Renewal Application No. 1 and later assisted Case Agent 6 with
    Renewal Application No. 2, told the OIG that he did not attend any of the interviews
    with Ohr. He also said that the information coming from Ohr was not a main focus
    for him personally. He told us, and documents reflect, that he received information
    about the Ohr interviews during at least one team meeting in December 2016 and
    through instant messages with SSA 1 that same month. Case Agent 1 told us that
    he recalled hearing about St~ele being “desperate” about Trump, possibly during
    the team meeting in December 2016, but Case Agent 1 said he was unable to
    explain why that information was not included in the renewal applications. He said
    that he could not recall why he did not share the FD-302s of the Ohr interviews
    with 01. He said that he did not recall the details very well about the “desperate”
    comment or the discussions the team had about it, but he remembered thinking
    that the comment reflected the same potential bias as political opposition research,
    which was already articulated to the court. He further stated that, with respect to
    Ohr, he was primarily concerned with whether Ohr had any additional reports from
    Steele that the FBI did not possess. Because Case Agent 1 understood that there
    were no differences in the reporting Ohr and the FBI possessed, he said his thought
    was “unless [Ohr] gets more information that’s germane to the investigation,” he
    was going to keep his attention focused on other aspects of the investigation.
    Other FBI officials responsible for helping 01 draft the renewal applications or
    performing the Woods Procedures were also unable to explain why the FBI did not
    include any information from Ohr about Steele. SSA ;3, who, as described
    previously, performed the supervisory factual accuracy review for Renewal
    Application No. 1 after Case Agent 1 completed the initial review, told us that he
    had just joined the case at the time he performed the Woods Procedures. SSA 3
    said he had not been part of any discussions about what information to include or
    not to include in the renewal application and did not know why information from the
    Ohr interviews was not included. Case Agent 6, who helped 01 draft the final two
    ren.ewal applications, told us that he could not explain why information from Ohr
    was not included in the applications. Case Agent 6 said that no one told him about
    the Ohr interviews when he joined the case after Renewal Application No. 1 was
    filed. He said that he saw the FD-302s in the case file and glanced at them, but he
    did not think he knew at the time about the “desperate” comment or the
    information from Ohr about Steele’s media contacts. His supervisor, SSA 5, who
    also joined the case after Renewal Application No. 1, said that he did not recall
    being aware at the time he performed the supervisory factual accuracy review on
    236
    Renewal Application Nos. 2 and 3 that Ohr had been interviewed by the FBI and
    had provided information about Steele.
    The OGC Attorney did not attend the Ohr interviews or read the FD-302s, but
    he told us, and documentation reflects, that he attended the team meeting in
    December 2016 during which the first two Ohr interviews were discussed. He told
    us that although he recalled learning about the “desperate” comment, he did not
    believe at the time that it needed to be included in the renewal applications
    because the comment was only Ohr’s opinion of Steele’s feelings toward Trump. In
    addition, he said he believed that the renewal applications already addressed
    Steele’s personal motivations through the new footnote advising the court of the
    circumstances that led to Steele’s disclosures to Mother Jones and his closure as a
    CHS.
    The OGC Unit Chief attended the first interview of Ohr in November 2016 and
    heard the information Ohr provided first hand. She said that the information did
    not change her perspective on Steele or cause her to believe the renewal
    applications needed to be updated. In particular, she explained that she was given
    the impression during Ohr’s interview that Steele’s research led to his views about
    Trump being elected president, rather than the other way around. She said she
    was reassured by Ohr’s statements about Steele’s truthfulness. She told the OIG
    that she believed at the time that the FBI had provided the FISC with all necessary
    information concerning Steele’s potential bias and motivations through the
    footnotes describing the genesis of his research and the reasons the FBI eventually
    closed him as a CHS. For these reasons, she said it did not occur to her at the time
    to advise 01 of the information Ohr provided, and that in any event, she would have
    deferred to the agents on the investigative team who were responsible for assisting
    01 with the application to advise 01. However, she said that given the “secondguessing”
    that occurred on that point after the Ohr interviews became more broadly
    known, she now believes that the investigative team should have provided the
    information to 01 at the time of the renewal applications.
    In the Rule 13 Letter, NSD advised the court that some of the information
    Ohr provided to the FBI during his November and December 2016 interviews
    goes beyond what was included in the applications. In particular, the
    Ohr information states specifically that the source’s work was “going
    to” Candidate #2’s [Hillary Clinton’s] campaign. This information is
    consistent with, although goes somewhat further than the applications,
    which informed the Court, that “the FBI speculates that the identified
    U.S. person [who hired Source #1] was likely looking for information
    that could be used to discredit Candidate #l’s [Donald Trump’s]
    campaign.” With respect to Ohr’s statements concerning the strength
    of the Source’s desire to see Candidate # 1 lose and the Source’s
    October 2016 media engagement, this information is additional to but
    consistent with the applications, already informing the Court that
    Source #1 spoke with the press in October 2016, in violation of the
    FBI’s admonishment, and was motivated to do so because he was
    “frustrated” that the FBI Director’s actions “would likely influence the
    237
    2016 U.S. Presidential election.” The applications further stated that
    the FBI had suspended, and then closed its relationship with Source

1, and then closed him as a source, due to these actions. Moreover,

during the November 22nd interview Ohr also stated that in his
dealings with Source #1 he “never believed [Source #1] was making
up information or shading it.” Ultimately, none of the additional
information altered the FBI’s assessment of Source # 1 ‘s reliability.
According to Evans, there was no question that 01 would have included the
Ohr information in the renewal applications had 01 been made aware of it, because
of its practice of erring on the side of disclosing information to the FISC. However,
Evans told us that NSD ultimately did not believe that any of the information was
material to the court’s probable cause determination because the information was
“largely cumulative” of other information in the applications concerning Steele’s
potential bias. He agreed, however, that the “desperate” comment provided
“another strain of potential bias” because the “desperate” comment pertained
specifically to Steele’s own potential bias and motivations, whereas the disclosures
in the FISA applications· concerning the origins of Steele’s research focused on the
motivation of Simpson, who hired Steele, not Steele specifically.
c. Inaccuracies Regarding Steele’s Disclosures to Third Parties
and Admissions Concerning Steele’s Yahoo News Contact
In Chapter Five, we described the footnote in the first Carter Page FISA
application providing the FBI’s assessment that Steele was not the direct source of
the disclosure to Yahoo News in September 2016 about the FBI’s investigation of
Carter Page and Page’s alleged meetings with Igor Sechin and Igor Divyekin. The
basis for this assessment-that Steele told the FBI that he “only provided his
information to [Simpson] and the FBl”-was neither accurate at the time nor
supported by appropriate documentation. Nevertheless, the FBI repeated this error
in all three renewal applications. In the Rule 13 Letter, NSD advised the FISC of
this error, noting that the FBI knew before the first application that Steele also
provided his information to a State Department official and knew before the first
renewal that Steele provided his information to Ohr and Senator John McCain’s
office.
The Rule 13 Letter also advised the court of additional information the FBI
obtained after the first FISA application-but that was not included in any of the
renewal applications-that further undermined the FBI’s assessment that Steele
was not a direct source of the Yahoo News disclosure. Specifically, the Rule 13
Letter advised the court that in November 2016, Ohr told the FBI that it was
possible that Steele and Simpson, who hired Steele, met jointly with Yahoo News,
based on information Ohr learned from Steele in late September 2016. In addition,
the letter advised that in December 2016, Ohr told the FBI that part of the work
Simpson was paying Steele· to do included speaking with the media. We found no
evidence that the Crossfire Hurricane team, or any FBI officials overseeing the
investigation, considered advising the court or 01 of this information at the time of
the renewal applications. As referenced above, FBI personnel involved in the FISA
238
applications said they did not believe at the time that information from Ohr
warranted any changes to the application.
However, by the time of Renewal Application No. 3, the FBI had learned
information that more strongly indicated that Steele had directly provided
information to Yahoo News around the time of the September 23 article. Yet, no
revisions were made to the FBI’s assessment, contained in Renewal Application No.
3, that Steele had not directly provided the information to the press. Media
reporting in late April 2017 described statements Steele made in a court filing
(pertinent to a lawsuit filed against him and others in a foreign court) concerning
his interactions with the media. Specifically, one article excerpted a sworn
statement dated April 3, 2017, in which Steele admitted that he gave “off-therecord
briefings to a small number of journalists about the pre-election memoranda
in late summer/autumn 2016.” Emails reflect that on April 26, 2017, Strzok
circulated this article to the Intel Section Chief and the Unit Chief assigned to take
over the Crossfire Hurricane investigation in April 2017 (Unit Chief 1).
Other documentation indicates that the foreign lawsuit against Steele was
discussed during a meeting with then Director James Corney on May 1, 2017.386
The OGC Unit Chief took handwritten notes during the meeting, which stated “did
not change our assessment, no need to update FISA” below references to the
lawsuit. The OGC Unit Chief told us that she did not recall this discussion or who
concluded that the FISC did not need to be updated with information from the
foreign litigation. She also said that she did not recall specifically discussing or
knowing prior to January 2018 that Steele admitted to talking to the media in these
court filings and therefore she did not believe that the FBI advised 01 of this
information at the time of the Carter Page FISA applications. Corney told the OIG
that he did not recall being advised of the court filings.
Approximately two weeks after the May 1, 2017 meeting, in a separate court
filing submitted on his behalf, Steele admitted that he and Fusion GPS briefed
journalists from five media outlets, including Yahoo News, at the end of September
2016, and also admitted the briefings involved “the disclosure of limited intelligence
regarding indications of Russian interference in the U.S. election process and the
possible co-ordination of members of Trump’s campaign team and Russian
government officials.”
According to the Rule 13 Letter and FBI officials, although there had been
open source reporting in May 2017 about Steele’s statements in the foreign
litigation, the FBI did not obtain Steele’s court filings until the receipt of Senators
Grassley and Graham’s January 2018 letter to DAG Rosenstein and FBI Director
Christopher Wray with the filings enclosed. We found no evidence that the FBI
made any attempts in May or June 2017 to obtain the filings to assist a
determination of whether to change the FBI’s assessment concerning the
386 The OGC Unit Chief’s notes of the meeting do not reflect who else attended the meeting,
but she told us that this meeting with the Director would have included a large group of FBI officials.
239
September 23 news article in the final renewal application. 387 However, the OGC
Unit Chief’s notes suggest that on May 1, without consulting 01, and relying only
upon open source reporting concerning the filings, the FBI decided that Steele’s
· April 3, 2017 sworn statement in the foreign litigation did not warrant any changes
to Renewal Application No. 3.
We were unable to determine whether FBI personnel responsible for assisting
01 on Renewal Application No. 3 were told about Steele’s admissions in the foreign
litigation regarding his media contacts. Case Agent 6 and the OGC Attorney told us
that they did not recali:whether they were aware of Steele’s admissions in the
foreign litigation before the final renewal application was filed. We are not aware of
any other evidence on this point. The Supervisory Intelligence Analyst (Supervisory
Intel Analyst) told us that although he was aware at the time, he did not recall
making a connection between the open source reporting about Steele’s court filings
and the information in the FISA application concerning Steele’s media contacts. He
told us that if he had made such a connection, he would have made sure Case
Agent 6 and the OGC Attorney were advised.
According to Evans, the failure to include this information in the prior FISA
renewals was not the most significant error identified in the Rule 13 Letter. Evans
told us that he was not sure an updated assessment would have been particularly
relevant to the court’s probable cause determination because whether Steele or the
people who hired him were the source of the disclosure, the applications made clear
that Steele’s research was relied upon in the article. In addition, Evans said that as
a result of the disclosure in the renewal applications concerning the Mother Jones
article in October 2016, the court was already on notice that Steele had talked to
one media organization when it approved the renewal of FISA authority.
In the Rule 13 Letter, NSD advised the court that the FBI should have
updated its assessment in Renewal Application No. 3 about the source of the Yahoo
News disclosure. The letter further stated that “irrespective of whether Source # 1
directly spoke with the press in connection with the September 23 News Article, or
was forthright with the FBI regarding his contacts with the press in September
2016,” for the reasons described in the letter and in the FISA applications, “the FBI
continued to assess that [Steele’s] prior reporting was reliable.”
II. Other Inaccurate, Incomplete, or Undocumented Information in the
Three FISA Renewal Applications
In addition to the issues raised in the July 2018 Rule 13 Letter to the FISC,
our review revealed other instances in which the three Carter Page renewal
applications were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate
documentation, based upon information in the FBl’s possession at the time the
387 The OGC Attorney told us that a later (unsuccessful) attempt to obtain the court filings
may have been made in the summer of 2017, probably in August, as part of a continuing effort to
validate Steele’s reporting.
240
applications were filed. We describe the more significant instances below and
identify other instances in Appendix One. ·
A. Inconsistencies between Steele’s Reporting and Information
His Primary Sub-source Provided to the FBI
As described previously, all four Carter Page FISA applications relied upon
the following aspects of Steele’s reporting to support the government’s position that
there was probable cause to believe that Carter Page was an agent of a foreign
power:
• From Report 80: Derogatory information about Hillary Clinton had
been compiled for many years, was controlled by the Kremlin, and the
Kremlin had been feeding information to the Trump campaign for an
extended period of time;
• From Report 94: During his July 2016 trip to Moscow, Carter Page
attended a secret meeting with Igor Sechin, Chairman of Rosneft and
a close associate of Putin, and discussed future cooperation and the
lifting of Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia; and a separate
meeting Page attended with Igor Divyekin, a highly-placed Russian
government official, and discussed sharing derogatory information
about Clinton with the Trump campaign;
• From Report 95: Carter Page was an intermediary between Russia
and the Trump campaign in a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation,”
managed by Trump’s then campaign manager, Paul
Manafort, using Page as an intermediary, which led to Russia’s
disclosure of hacked DNC emails to Wikileaks in exchange for the
Trump team’s agreement, to include at least Page, to sideline Russian
intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue; and
• From Report 102: Russia released the DNC emails to Wikileaks in an
attempt to swing voters to Trump, an objective conceived of and
promoted by Page and others.
All four FISA applications clearly stated that Steele did not obtain the
information described above directly from his source network. Instead, as
described in the FISA applications, Steele received the information from a Primary
Sub-source who obtained the information from his/her own source network.
In Chapter Six, we described the FBl’s interview of the Primary Sub-source in
January 2017, after FISA Renewal Application No. 1 was filed but before the last
two renewal applications were filed. After the interview, the Supervisory Intel
Analyst and Case Agent 1 memorialized the information in a lengthy written
summary. As described in Chapter Six, the Primary Sub-source confirmed for the
FBI that he/she provided Steele with some of the information in Steele’s reports.
However, in some instances, the information the Primary Sub-source told the FBI
about what his/her sources told him/her-and what he/she then provided to
Steele-was inconsistent with information attributed to his/her sources in Steele’s
reporting. Of particular relevance to the FISA applications, we found that the
241
Primary Sub-source’s account to the FBI (based on the written interview summary)
differed from Steele’s reporting on the following points:
• With respect to the information from Reports 95 and 102 that the FBI
assessed had come from Person 1 (described in prior chapters)
concerning the alleged “conspiracy” between Russia and individuals
associated with the Trump campaign, and Russia’s release of DNC
emails to Wikileaks in an attempt to swing voters to Trump: the
Primary Sub-source said, among other things, that he/she had no
discussion with Person 1 concerning Wikileaks and that there was
“nothing bad” about the communications between the Kremlin and the
Trump team;
• With respect to the alleged secret meeting between Carter Page and
Sechin in July 2016: the Primary Sub-source said he/she was not told
by his/her sub-source that this meeting had taken place until October
2016, well after Steele prepared and circulated Report 94, and that
he/she only told Steele in July 2016 that he/she had heard that the
meeting would be taking place; and
• With respect to the positions and access of the sub-sources: the
Primary Sub-source’s description of each of his/her sources indicated
that their position and access to the information they were reporting
was more attenuated than re resented b Steele and described in the
FISA a lications.
Regarding the information in the first bullet above, in early October 2016, the
FBI learned the true name of Person 1 (described in Report 95 as “Source E”). As
described in Chapter Six, the Primary Sub-source told the FBI that he/she had one
10- to 15-minute telephone call with someone he/she believed to be Person 1, but
who did not identify him/herself on the call. We found that,. during his/her
interview with the FBI, the Primary Sub-source did not describe a “conspiracy”
between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign or state that
Carter Page served as an “intermediary” between Manafort and the Russian
government. In addition, the FBI’s summary of the Primary Sub-source’s interview
did not describe any discussions between the parties concerning the disclosure of
DNC emails to Wikileaks in exchange for a campaign platform change on the
Ukrainian issue. To the contrary, according to the interview summary, the Primary
Sub-source told the FBI that Person 1 told him/her that there was “nothing bad”
about the communications between the Kremlin and Trump, and that Person 1
made no mention at all to Wikileaks. Further, although Steele informed the FBI
that he had received all of the information in Report 95 from the Primary Subsource,
and Steele told the OIG the same thing when we interviewed him, the
242
Primary Sub-source told the FBI that he/she did not know where some of the
information attributed to Source E in Report 95 came from. 388
Despite the inconsistencies between Steele’s reporting and the information
his Primary Sub-source provided to the FBI, the subsequent FISA renewal
applications continued to rely on the Steele information, without any revisions or
notice to the court that the Primary Sub-source had contradicted the Steele
reporting on key issues described in the renewal applications. Instead, as
described previously, FISA Renewal Application Nos. 2 and 3 advised the court:
In an effort_ to further corroborate [Steele’s] reporting, the FBI has
met with [Steele’s] sub-source [Primary Sub-source]
described immediately above. During these interviews, the FBI found
the sub-source to be truthful and coo erative.
additional investigative steps t
~Steele] and
NSD cited this language from the renewal applications in its July 2018 Rule 13
Letter as an example of information “corroborating” Steele’s reporting, noting that
“the FBI met with [Steele’s] [Primary] sub-source, whom the FBI found to be
truthful and cooperative.” Evans and the 01 officials who participated in the
preparation of the renewal applications and Rule 13 Letter told us that they were
not advised of the inconsistences between Steele’s reporting and the Primary Subsource’s
interview, and that they did not believe that the FBI provided them with
the lengthy written summary of the interview. We did not find any evidence
indicating otherwise.
We found no evidence that the Crossfire Hurricane team ever considered
whether any of the inconsistencies warranted reconsideration of the FBI’s previous
assessment of the reliability of the Steele reports or notice to 01 or the court in the
subsequent renewal applications. As described below, team members told us that
they either were not aware of the inconsistences or, if they were, did not make the
connection that the inconsistencies affected aspects of the FISA applications.
Case Agent 1, who led the January 2017 interview of the Primary Subsource,
was closely familiar with the Carter Page FISA applications because, as
described previously; he originally requested FISA authority targeting Carter Page
and assisted 01 with drafting the first two FISA applications. In addition, after the
Carter Page investigation was reassigned to Case Agent 6 in early 2017, Case Agent
1 assisted Case Agent 6 with the completion of the Woods Procedures for Renewal
388 According to Steele and his reports, Report 80 (dated June 20, 2016), Report 95 (dated
July 28, 2016), Report 97 (dated July 30, 2016), and Report 102 (dated August 10, 2016) all contain
information from Person 1. If these reports were accurate regarding Person 1 ‘s contributions to the
reporting and the Primary Sub-source’s estimate was accurate concerning his/her debrief of Person 1,
then all of the information attributed to Person 1 came from a single, 10-to-15-minute telephone call
between the Primary Sub-source and Person 1.
243
Application No. 2 by performing the factual accuracy review. The Woods File used
during that review contained the interview summary of the Primary Sub-source.
Case Agent 1 told us that he could not explain why changes had not been made to
the renewal applications to account for the inconsistencies between the Primary
Sub-source and Steele on facts asserted in the applications. Case Agent 1 said that
although he thought the Primary Sub-source may have been minimizing the extent
of his/her interactions with Person 1, it did not occur to Case Agent 1 at the time
that the information from the Primary Sub-source contradicted information in the
FISA applications. In particular, Case Agent 1 said that he did not know enough
about some of the details concerning Person 1 to necessarily understand that the
Primary Sub-source’s account potentially conflicted with information in the FISA
applications. For example, he said he did not know whether Steele had his own
relationship with Person 1 such that Steele could have had another basis for
attributing all the information in Report 95 to Person 1. Case Agent 1 added that
he believed that someone else should have highlighted the issue for the agents
working on the FISA application.
Case Agent 6 told us that he read the written summary of the Primary Subsource’s
January 2017 interview before he assisted the 01 Attorney with FISA
Renewal Application No. 2, and Case Agent 6’s written contributions to the draft
application contain two references to information the FBI learned during the
interview. However, Case Agent 6 did not identify for 01 inconsistences between
the Primary Sub-source and Steele on. the facts asserted in the FISA application.
Case Agent 6 did not participate in the Primary Sub-source’s interview, which took
place before he took over the Carter Page case from Case Agent 1. Case Agent 6
told us that he read the written summary of the interview after he took over and
realized that he did not yet understand all the details of the case. He said that for
this reason, he asked Case Agent 1 to assist him with the Woods Procedures for
Renewal Application No. 2. Case Agent 6 told us that he did not recall Case Agent 1
or Supervisory Intel Analyst advising him during the Woods process of the
inconsistencies.
Analytical documents prepared by, or with the assistance of, the Supervisory
Intel Analyst after the Primary Sub-source interview identified inconsistences
between Steele and the Primary Sub-source regarding some of the information
contained in Reports 94 and 95. The Supervisory Intel Analyst told us that, after
the January 2017 interview, his impression was that the Primary Sub-source’s
account did not line up completely with Steele’s reporting, but the Supervisory Intel
Analyst said he did not have any “pains or heartburn” about the accuracy of the
Steele reporting based on what the Primary Sub-source had said. The Supervisory
Intel Analyst said that his thinking at the time was focused instead on using the
additional information learned from the Primary Sub-source, particularly the
identity of his/her sub-sources, to see what other investigative leads could be
generated for the team.
The Supervisory Intel Analyst told us that he played a supportive role for the
agents preparing the FISA applications, including reading the probable cause
section of the first application and providing the agents with some of the
information on the identity of the sub-sources noted in the application. He said that
244
he had some interaction with the agents preparing the renewal applications, but he
believed those interactions were less extensive than his involvement in the first
application. The Supervisory Intel Analyst did not recall anyone asking him
whether he thought the Primary Sub-source was “truthful and cooperative,” as
noted in the renewal applications. 389 He told us it was his impression that the
Primary Sub-source may not have been “completely truthful” and may have been
minimizing certain aspects of what he/she told Steele. However, the Supervisory
Intel Analyst told the OIG that, on the whole, he did not see any reason to doubt
the information the Primary Sub-source provided about who he/she received
his/her information from, which was the Supervisory Intel Analyst’s focus.
SSA 5, who performed the supervisory factual accuracy review during the
Woods Procedures for Renewal Application Nos. 2 and 3, told us that he did not
recall whether he was briefed on the Primary Sub-source’s interview, and he did not
appear during his OIG interview to know anything about the Primary Sub-source.
Similarly, Case Agent 7, who performed the Woods Procedures for Renewal
Application No. 3, told us that he did not know, or have the case knowledge
necessary to determine, that the Primary Sub-source provided information
inconsistent with facts asserted in the FISA application.
Program managers supervising the investigation from FBI HeadquartersSSA
2 and SSA 3-were aware of the Primary Sub-source’s interview and had read
the written summary of it. However, we found no evidence that either of them
identified issues with or raised any questions about how the Primary Sub-source’s
interview may have impacted the information in the FISA applications. As
described previously, SSA 3 did not play a direct role in Renewal Application No. 2,
but he was familiar with the prior FISA applications, having performed the
supervisory factual accuracy review during the Woods Procedures for Renewal
Application No. 1. SSA 3 told us that he did not recall noticing any information
from the Primary Sub-source’s interview that was inconsistent with information in
the FISA application. SSA 2 was the affiant who declared, based on the completion
of the Woods Procedures, that the information in Renewal Application Nos. 2 and 3
was true and correct. He told us that he did not recall any discussion about
whether the Primary Sub-source’s interview warranted revisions to the FISA
applications, but said he had some recollection that the investigators believed at
the time that the Primary Sub-source was holding something back about his/her
interaction with Person 1.
The OGC Unit Chief and the OGC Attorney told us that they did not review or
receive the written summary of the Primary Sub-source’s January 2017 interview at
389 Email communications reflect that in March 2017-after the first FISA application and first
renewal were filed and before the last two renewals-the Supervisory Intel Analyst reviewed the first
FISA application and the first renewal at OGC’s request to assist with potential redactions before the
Department responded to Congressional information requests. The Supervisory Intel Analyst provided
comments to the OGC Attorney, including advising him that the Primary Sub-source was not
as stated in the FISA applications, and asking whether a correction should be made. The
Supervisory Intel Analyst did not provide any other comments relating to the Primary Sub-source, and
he told us that he did not notice anything else potentially inaccurate or incomplete in the applications
at that time.
245
any time before Renewal Application No. 2 was submitted to the court. However,
they said that they knew the interview had taken place and had the general
understanding from the team that the information provided to the FBI by the
Primary Sub-source “essentially echoed,” “was consistent with,” or “corroborated”
the information in Steele’s reporting. The OGC Unit Chief said that her
understanding was that the Primary Sub-source raised some questions about how
Steele wrote his reports or the wording Steele used, and that the agents and
analysts had looked into it but did not think the wording choices were substantively
different. The OGC Attorney said that he had some vague recollection that the
team thought Steele may have conflated some of his sourcing on Wikileaks based
on information provided by the Primary Sub-source. However, they both said that
they did not recall the details of these discussions.
Although documents provided to the OIG indicate that senior FBI officials
were told about some aspects of the Primary Sub-source’s interview, the
documents do not reflect that senior FBI officials were advised of the
inconsistences. For example, in late February 2017, the Supervisory Intel Analyst
circulated a 2-page Intelligence Memorandum to CD Assistant Director E.W. “Bill”
Priestap and other CD officials highlighting aspects of the Primary Sub-source’s
interview. In March 2017, Priestap forwarded the memorandum to Corney’s and
McCabe’s offices. The memorandum stated that the Primary Sub-source told the
FBI that Steele’s reporting contained “some of [his/her] reporting, what appear to
be [his/her] analytical conclusions, and what [he/she] believes to be [Steele’s]
analytical judgments.” The memorandum provided some details concerning what
the Primary Sub-source said about his/her own sources, but the memorandum did
not describe the inconsistencies we noted earlier. 390
Senior CD officials overseeing the Crossfire Hurricane investigation-including
Priestap, Strzok, the Intel Section Chief, and CD DAD Jennifer Boone-told us that
they did not recall being advised that the information from the Primary Sub-source
significantly differed from the information in Steele’s reporting. Boone told us that
she recalled being told after the Primary Sub-source’s interview that the team
assessed that Steele may have gotten some of his information from a source other
than the Primary Sub-source. Boone said that she did not recall being advised that
the interview created inconsistencies between Steele and his Primary Sub-source as
to facts relied upon in the FISA applications. Boone further stated that she would
have expected to have been told that information. Strzok-told us that he did
remember learning as a result of the Primary Sub-source interview that Steele did
not receive his reporting directly from the sub-sources, but rather solely through
39° For example, the memorandum stated that, according to the Primary Sub-source, a
particular person told the Primary Sub-source that the secret meeting between Carter Page and
Sechin had taken place. However, the memorandum failed to note that the Primary Sub-source told
the FBI that he/she was not told untn October 2016 that the meeting had occurred, which was well
after Steele drafted Report 94 in July 2016 (Report 94 asserted that the meeting had taken place, that
Page and Sechin discussed the lifting of sanctions, and that Page reacted positively but was
noncommittal). As the Primary Sub-source described to the FBI, he/she had only told Steele in July
that he/she was aware of a rumor that Page was going to be meeting with Sechin. As noted
previously, Page denied to an FBI CHS that he had met with Sechin in July 2016, and the FBI was
unable to determine whether a meeting between Sechin and Page took place.
246
the Primary Sub-source as the intermediary. Strzok said he recalled having a “little
bit of concern” about that. He later wrote to Corney’s Chief of Staff, Priestap, and
others that “[r]ecent interviews and investigation, however, reveal Steele may not
be in a position to judge the reliability of his sub-source network.”
Corney told us that he did not know whether the team interviewed any of
Steele’s sub-sources. Because Corney decided not to have his security clearance
reinstated for his OIG interview, we were unable to question him further or refresh
his recollection with relevant, classified documentation.
The NSD’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES)
representatives who attended the Primary Sub-source’s January 2017 interviewSection
Chief David Laufman and his Deputy Section Chief-told us that they did
not recall discussing the interview with 01 officials afterward. They told us that
they did not have knowledge of the information in the Carter Page FISA applications
at the time, and that they were not sufficiently familiar with the Steele reports to
have understood that there were inconsistencies between the Primary Sub-source
· and Steele. We did not find any information to the contrary. They told us that they
attended the interview because CES had helped negotiate the terms of the
interview with the Primary Sub-source’s attorney, and, as noted previously, their
role during the interview was primarily to address any issues or concerns raised by
the attorney during the interview.
The 01 Attorney told the OIG that if had he known about the inconsistencies
between the Primary Sub-source and Steele on the facts asserted in the FISA
applications, he would have wanted an opportunity to ask questions and gather
more information. In particular, after we asked the 01 Attorney to read the written
summary of the Primary Sub-source’s interview regarding the telephone call with
Person 1, the 01 Attorney was surprised, agreed it was not consistent with the
information in the FISA applications concerning Report 95, and said “it doesn’t
seem like the same story.” Evans told us that 01 would have sought to determine
how the new information impacted the FISA applications, including obtaining the
FBl’s own assessment of how to reconcile the apparent inconsistencies. Evans said
that at a minimum, 01 would have advised the court of the inconsistencies and the
FBl’s assessment of those inconsistences. He further stated that, depending on the
information from the FBI, 01 may have decided to delay or abandon the filing of the
next renewal application altogether.
B. Information about Page’s Prior Relationship with Another U.S.
Government Agency and Information Page Provided the Other
Agency that Overlapped with Facts Asserted in the FISA
Applications
As noted in Chapter Five, on or about August 17, 2016, while early FISA
discussions were ongoing, the Crossfire Hurricane team received a memorandum
(August 17 Memorandum) from another U.S. government agency relating to Page’s
prior relationship with that agency, including that Page had been approved for
operational contact from 2008 to 2013. The information also described Page’s prior
interactions with Russian intelligence officers about which the agency was aware,
247
including contacts Page had with a Russian intelligence officer (Intelligence Officer
1), which were among the historical connections to Russian intelligence officers that
the FBI later relied upon in the first FISA application (and subsequent renewal
applications) to help support probable cause. 391 We found that, although this
information was highly relevant to the FISA application, the Crossfire Hurricane
team did not engage with the other agency regarding this information. In addition,
in response to a question from the 01 Attorney in September 2016 as to whether
Carter Page had a current or prior relationship with the other agency, Case Agent 1
provided the 01 Attorney with inaccurate information that failed to disclose the
extent and nature of Page’s relationship with that agency. As a result, the first
FISA application, and FISA Renewal Application Nos. 1 and 2, contained no
information regarding Page’s. relationship with the other U.S. government agency,
and did not reveal that his relationship with the other agency overlapped in part
with facts asserted in the application regarding ~age’s ties to particular Russian
intelligence officers.
Before Renewal Application No. 3 was submitted to the court, and following
news reports about the Carter Page FISAs, Page conducted news interviews in April
and May 2017 in which he publicly stated that he had assisted the USIC in the past.
Thereafter, the FBI re-engaged with the other U.S. government agency about its
prior relationship with Page. SSA 2, who had been the affiant for the first two
renewals and would be the affiant for FISA Renewal Application No. 3, told the OIG
that in June 2017 he wanted a definitive answer as to whether Page had a prior
relationship with the USIC before SSA 2 signed the last renewal application. SSA 2
also told us that he was concerned that Page could claim that he had been acting
on behalf of the U.S. government in engaging with certain Russians. SSA 2 stated
that he contacted the OGC Attorney assisting with the Crossfire Hurricane
investigation to help resolve this issue. 392 According to the OGC Attorney and SSA
2, the OGC Attorney was responsible for handling questions or concerns involving
the other U.S. government agency for the Crossfire Hurricane team.
The OGC Attorney told us he recalled that the Supervisory Intel Analyst on
the Crossfire Hurricane team had raised a concern that Page may have had a prior
391 As described in Chapter Five, according to the August 17 Memorandum provided to the FBI
by the other U.S. government agency, Page told the other agency in October 2010 that he met with
Intelligence Officer 1 four times (which the other agency assessed began in 2008), characterized
Intelligence Officer 1 as a “compelling, nice guy,” and described Intelligence Officer l’s alleged interest
in contacting an identified U.S. person. According to the August 17 Memorandum, the employee of
the other U.S. government agency who met with Page assessed that Page “candidly described his
contact with” Intelligence Officer 1.
As further described in Chapter Five, the other agency’s memorandum did not provide the FBI
with information indicating it had knowledge of Page’s reported contacts with another particular
intelligence officer. The FBI also relied on Page’s contacts with this intelligence officer in the FISA
application.
392 On May 17, 2017, the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was transferred from the FBI to
the Office of Special Counsel upon the appointment of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to
investigate Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election and related matters.
248
relationship with the other U.S. government agency in the past. 393 The OGC
Attorney said it was “a big, big concern from both 01 and from the FBI that we had
been targeting [an individual with a prior relationship with the other agency],
because that should never happen without us knowing about it.” The OGC Attorney
characterized the Crossfire Hurricane team as “spun up” about this concern, and
said he knew that if it were true, they would “need to provide that to the court”
because such information would “drastically change[] the way that we would
handle … [the] FISA application.” SSA 2 told the OIG that this issue was very
important to resolve, because if Page
was being tasked by another agency, especially if he was being tasked
to engage Russians, then it would absolutely be relevant for the Court
to know … [and] could also seriously impact the predication of our entire
investigation which focused on [Page’s] close and continuous contact
with Russian/Russia-linked individuals.
In mid-June 2017, the OGC Attorney contacted the other U.S. government
agency to seek additional information about Page’s prior relationship with that other
agency, and then communicated back to the 01 Attorney and SSA 2. Because we
determined that the OGC Attorney did not accurately convey, and in fact altered,
the information he received from the other agency, we provide these
communications in detail below.

  1. June 15, 2017-FBI OGC Attorney Requests Information
    about Page from Other U.S. Government Agency
    On June 15, 2017, the OGC Attorney emailed the liaison for the other U.S.
    government agency (Liaison) about Carter Page’s past, stating:
    We need some clarification on Carter Page. There is an indication that
    he may be a “[digraph]” source. 394 This is a fact we would need to
    disclose in our next FISA renewal (we would not name the [U.S.
    government agency] of course).
    To that end, can we get two items from you?
    1) Source Check/Is Page a source in any capacity?
    393 The Supervisory Intel Analyst said that he did not recall raising a concern about this issue,
    but that he did recall being aware that Page had been a “type of source” with this other agency in the
    past. Although the Supervisory Intel Analyst did not recall discussions about including this information
    in the FISA application, he did recall general discussions about Page’s relationship with the other U.S.
    government agency.
    394 The Liaison told the OIG that the other U.S. government agency uses a specific two-letter
    designation, or digraph, to describe a U.S. person who has been approved by the other agency for
    operational contact.
    249
    2) If he is, what is a “[digraph]” source (or whatever type of source he
    is)?
    If you would like to discuss more, please let me know. 395
    The Liaison responded that same day by providing the OGC Attorney with a
    list of documents previously provided by the other agency to the FBI mentioning
    Page’s name, including the August 17 Memorandum. The Liaison also wrote that
    the U.S. government agency uses
    the [digraph] to show that the encrypted individual…is a [U.S. person].
    We encrypt the [U.S. persons] when they provide reporting to us. My
    recollection is that Page was or is … [digraph] but the [documents] will
    explain the details. If you need a formal definition for the FISA, please
    let me know and we’ll work up some language and get it cleared for
    use.
    The OGC Attorney responded, “Thanks so much for this information. We’re
    digging into the [documents] now, but I think the definition of the [digraph]
    answers our questions.” That same day, the OGC Attorney forwarded the Liaison’s
    email response to Case Agent 6 and an FBI SSA assigned to the Special Counsel’s
    Office, without adding any explanation or comment. The SSA responded by telling
    Case Agent 6 that she would “pull these [ documents] for you tomorrow and get you
    what you need.” The OGC Attorney also sent an instant message to his supervisor,
    the OGC Unit Chief, stating that Carter Page was a “U.S. subsource of a source” and
    that “[digraph] =encrypted US PER.”
    We asked the OGC Attorney if he read the documents identified by the
    Liaison in her June 15, 2017 email. The OGC Attorney told the OIG that he “didn’t
    know the details of … the content of the [documents]” and did not think he was
    involved in reviewing them. He also said he “didn’t have access to the [documents]
    in the OGC space,” but that the investigative team was provided the list of
    documents and that they would have been reviewing them. The OGC Attorney said
    he understood the Liaison’s response to mean that Page had not been a sourcewhich
    the OGC Attorney described as a “recruited asset”-but rather someone who
    had some interaction with a source for the other U.S. government agency, and not
    a direct relationship with the other agency. He stated his understanding was that
    the other U.S. government agency
    identified that [Page] was [“digraph”], and [“digraph”] refers to a U.S.
    person … who’s incidentally picked up … [in] reporting out from a source
    of theirs. So their recruited asset is at a meeting, and [Page]
    happened to be there too. And then, in the reporting, the source
    mentions [Page] is there, so the agency protects [Page’s] true name
    by using … [“digraph” for Page].
    395 In an email sent to Case Agent 6 on June 13, 2017, and in an instant message sent to
    Case Agent 6 on June 15, 2017, the OGC Attorney referred to this request as “that source check” and
    “that [digraph] check,” respectively.
    250
    The OGC Attorney told us that- his belief that Page had never been a source
    for the other U.S. government agency, but instead interacted with a source-was
    based on telephone conversations with the Liaison. He said he recalled the Liaison
    “saying that [Page] was not a source of theirs,” but rather “incidentally reporting
    information via a source of theirs” and that they “ended up not actually opening
    him.”396
    When we asked the Liaison about the OGC Attorney’s interpretation of the
    Liaison’s email, the Liaison told us that her email stated just the opposite, namely
    that Page was a U.S. person who had provided direct reporting to the other U.S.
    government agency in the past. The Liaison also said that the reason she offered,
    in her email, to assist in providing language for the FISA application was because
    she was telling the OGC Attorney that, using the FBI’s terminology, Page had been
    a source for the other agency. The Liaison also stated that she saw no basis for the
    OGC Attorney to have concluded, based on their communications and the August
    17 Memorandum, that Page never had a direct relationship with the other agency.
    The Liaison also said that she did not recall having any telephone discussions
    with the OGC Attorney on this issue. She added that, even if she had, she did not
    think the OGC Attorney would have been able to draw any conclusions from such a
    conversation. The Liaison explained that she would not have had the documents in
    front of her at the time of any such conversation, and therefore would not have
    given the OGC Attorney a definitive answer. She emphasized the need to read the
    documents in order to accurately understand the relationship between Page and the
    other U.S. government agency.
  2. June 16, 2017-FBI OGC Attorney Provides the Liaison’s
    Response to the 01 Attorney
    On the-evening of June 15, 2017, the OGC Attorney contacted the 01
    Attorney to request a time to talk the next day. FBI telephone records confirm they
    spoke the next morning for approximately 28 minutes, until 11:46 a.m. Also at
    11:46 a.m. on June 16, the OGC Attorney forwarded to the 01 Attorney the
    Liaison’s June 15 email response. However, in forwarding the Liaison’s response to
    the 01 Attorney, the OGC Attorney did not include the initial email that he sent to
    the Liaison inquiring about Page’s status as a “[digraph] source.” The OGC
    Attorney told us that he could not recall why he did not include the initial email, in
    which he asked, “Is Page a source in any capacity?”
    The 01 Attorney responded to the OGC Attorney’s email, “thanks I think we
    are good and no need to carry it any further.” The OGC Attorney replied, “Music to
    my ears.”
    The 01 Attorney told us that he did not recall this email exchange with the
    OGC Attorney or the telephone call on June 16 with the OGC Attorney indicated in
    396 When questioned further on this point, the OGC Attorney told us that he only recalled
    engaging with the Liaison on this issue and not any other person from the other U.S. government
    agency.
    251
    FBI telephone records. When we asked the 01 Attorney whether he reviewed the
    August 17 Memorandum, he said he did not recall if he had asked to see it, but also
    stated that he would have relied on the case agent’s assessment of that document.
    The OGC Attorney initially told us that he recalled providing a detailed
    briefing to the 01 Attorney about Page’s status, and telling him that the OGC
    Attorney had conferred with the Liaison and that Page had not been a source for
    the other agency. However, in a subsequent OIG interview months later, the OGC
    Attorney said he did not recall a specific conversation with the 01 Attorney on this
    subject matter, but thought he would have conveyed to the 01 Attorney the details
    of what the Liaison had told him.
  3. June 19, 2017-FBI OGC Attorney Provides SSA 2 with
    Inaccurate Information
    a. lune 19, 2017 Instant Message Exchange
    On June 19, 2017, the OGC Attorney and SSA 2 exchanged instant messages
    about Carter Page’s past relationship with the other agency. 397 As described above,
    SSA 2 would be the affiant on Renewal Application No. 3 and was seeking a
    definitiv·e answer as to whether Page had a prior relationship with the other agency.
    The relevant portions of the instant message exchange were as follows:
    15:26:35, SSA 2: “Do we have any update on the [agency] CHS
    request? Also, [Case Agent 6] said [01 Attorney] is not so optimistic.”
    15:27:53, OGC Attorney: “[agency] CHS: You are referring to [Carter
    Page]?”
    15:28:01, SSA 2: “Yes.”
    15:28:05, OGC Attorney: “He is cleared.”
    15:28: 15, SSA 2: “Cleared to fly?”
    15:28:16, OGC Attorney: “[digraph]=Masked USPER.”
    15:28:34, SSA 2: “So he was and the relationship officially ended?”
    15:28:37, OGC Attorney: “So, essentially, the real…source was using
    [Carter Page] as a [Steele]-like subsource.”
    15:28:47, OGC Attorney: “[Carter Page] was never a source.”
    15:28:59, SSA 2: “You mean the [agency] officer?”
    15:29: 19, OGC Attorney: “Right. Whomever generated the reporting
    from the [documents].”
    397 These instant messages were exchanged on an internal FBINet application for FBI
    personnel. All instant messages produced to the OIG reflected Greenwich Mean Time. We have
    corrected the time stamps to reflect the time in the Eastern Time Zone. Some of the instant
    messages also contained emojis, which we omitted unless they affected the meaning of the message.
    We also do not include other intervening instant messages about unrelated topics unless they
    contributed to an understanding of the relevant messages.
    252
    15:29:45, OGC Attorney: “It was just liaison with [Carter Page] which
    resulted in reporting, eventually they closed it out as unhelpful.”
    15:30:39, OGC Attorney: “So, in discussing with [01 Attorney], he
    agreed we do not need to address it in the FISA.”
    15: 31: 16, OGC Attorney: “[01 Attorney] is always Eeyore in drafting
    these special FISA applications.”
    15:31:27, SSA 2: “So [Carter Page] was a [digraph] or [Carter Page]
    was a subsource of the [digraph].”
    15:32:00, OGC Attorney: “It’s [sic] sounds like a subsource of the
    [digraph].”
    15:32:31, OGC Attorney: “And yes, [the other agency] confirmed
    explicitly he was never a source.”
    15:33:05, SSA 2: “Interesting.”
    15:33:21, OGC Attorney: “But like, interesting good, right?”
    15:33:54, OGC Attorney: “I mean, at least we don’t have to have a
    terrible footnote.”
    15:33:57, SSA 2: “Sure. Just interesting they say not a source. We
    thought otherwise based on the writing … ! will re-read.”
    15:34:28, OGC Attorney: “At most, it’s [the Supervisory Intel
    Analyst] being the CHS, and you talking to [the Supervisory Intel
    Analyst].”
    15:34:54, SSA 2: “Got it. Thank you. Do we have that in writing.”
    15:35:19, OGC Attorney: “On TS. I’ll forward/”
    We asked the OGC Attorney about this instant message exchange with SSA 2
    in which he told SSA 2 that Carter Page was never a source. The OGC Attorney
    stated, “That was my, the impression that I was given, yes.” We also asked why he
    told SSA 2 in the instant message exchange that the other U.S. government agency
    “confirmed explicitly that he was never a source.” The OGC Attorney explained that
    his statement was just “shorthand” for the information provided by the other
    agency about Page and that he had no particular reason to use the word
    “explicitly.” As to his comment about a “terrible footnote” in the instant messages,
    the OGC Attorney told us that he was referring to how “laborious” it would be to
    draft such a footnote for the FISA application, not that such a footnote might
    undermine or conflict with the overall narrative presented in the FISA applications.
    SSA 2 told us that the most important part of this interaction with the OGC
    Attorney was when the OGC Attorney told SSA 2 that the other agency had said
    “explicitly” that Page had never been a source. SSA 2 characterized that statement
    as “the confirmation that I need[ ed].” SSA 2 also said that he understood the OGC
    Attorney’s comment about not having to draft a “terrible footnote” to mean that the
    team could avoid having to explain in Renewal Application No. 3 that they had “just
    now come to determine that [Page] was an asset of the [other agency] and
    253
    probably being tasked to engage … [with] Russians which is … why we opened a case
    on him.” SSA 2 said that he understood the 0GC Attorney to be saying that “the
    optic … would be terrible” if the prior FISA applications were “dubious” in light of a
    relationship between Page and the other agency, and the FBI was only becoming
    aware of th~t relationship in the third renewal application and after Page’s public
    statements.
    We showed the instant message exchange between the 0GC Attorney and
    SSA 2 to the Liaison and the 01 Attorney. Neither had previously been aware of
    this exchange. The 01 Attorney told us that the 0GC Attorney’s description of Page
    as a sub-source did not sound familiar to him. He said:
    I feel like if the [0GC Attorney] would have said, well he was a subsource,
    I mean to me that’s like a flag…. [T]hat means he was being
    handled by somebody. That means that there was … something more;
    let’s dig more into it.
    The 01 Attorney also focused on the portion of the exchange where SSA 2
    expressed a belief that Page was a source and where the 0GC Attorney mentioned
    not having to prepare a “terrible footnote.” He told us that 01 should have been
    made aware of any “internal debate” within the FBI about whether Page was a
    source for another U.S. government agency, because with the FISC there is no
    “defense counsel on the other side,” and it is up to 01 “to over tell the story.”
    The Liaison focused on the portion of the exchange in which the 0GC
    Attorney stated that Page “was never a source.” The Liaison told us· that this
    statement was wrong, as was the 0GC Attorney’s statement that Page “was a U.S.
    sub-source of a source.” The Liaison said that such an assertion is “directly
    contradictory to the [documents]” the agency provided to the FBI. The Liaison also
    said it was inaccurate to describe Carter Page as “like a sub-source of [a digraph]”
    and to -state that the other agency had “confirmed explicitly that [Page] was never
    a source.” We asked the Liaison whether the Liaison ever told the 0GC Attorney
    that Page was not a source. The Liaison said that, to the best of the Liaison’s
    recollection, the Liaison did not and would not have characterized the status of a
    “[digraph]” without either first reaching out to the other agency’s experts
    responsible for the underlying reporting, or relying on the proper supporting
    documentation for an answer. The Liaison stated, “I have no recollection of there
    being any basis for [the 0GC Attorney] to reach that conclusion, and it is directly
    contradicted by the documents.”
    b. The OGC Attorney Sends SSA 2 an Altered Version
    of the Liaison’s lune 15 Email
    Immediately following the June 19 instant message exchange between the
    0GC Attorney and SSA 2, SSA 2 received an email from the 0GC Attorney that
    appeared to be forwarding the Liaison’s June 15 response email concerning Page’s
    historical contact with the other U.S. government agency. However, the 0IG
    determined that this forwarded version of the Liaison’s response email had been
    altered. Specifically, the words “and not a ‘source”‘ had been inserted in the
    254
    Liaison’s June 15 response after the word “[digraph].” Thus, the Liaison’s email
    was altered to read: “My recollection is that Page was or is and [sic] ‘[digraph]’
    and not a ‘source’ but the [documents] will explain the details.” (Emphasis
    added). The OGC Attorney also did not include in the email sent to SSA 2 the initial
    email inquiry from the OGC Attorney to the Liaison about Page’s status as a
    ” [digraph] source. “398
    In response to the June 19 email, SSA 2 asked the OGC Attorney if SSA 2
    could send the email to the FBI agents working on the matter. The OGC Attorney
    responded: “Yes. I actually already did on Friday when [the 01 Attorney] said
    we’re good to go. Sorry for not cc’ing you. “399
    We asked the OGC Attorney about the alteration in the email he sent to SSA
  4. He initially stated that he was not certain how the alteration occurred, but
    subsequently acknowledged that he made the change. He also stated it was
    consistent with his impression of the information that he had been provided by the
    Liaison.
    We discussed the altered email with SSA 2, who told us that the OGC
    Attorney was the person he relied upon to resolve the issue of whether Carter Page
    was or had been a source for the other U.S. government agency. SSA 2 told us
    that the statement inserted into the Liaison’s email-that Page was “not a source”was
    the most important part of the email for him. SSA 2 said “if they say [he’s]
    not a source, then you know we’re good.” SSA 2 also said that if the email from
    the Liaison had not contained the words “not a source” then, for him, the issue
    would have remained unresolved, and he would have had to seek further
    clarification. SSA 2 stated: “If you take out ‘and not a source,’ it’s not wrong, but
    it doesn’t really answer the question.” He also said that something lesser, such as
    a verbal statement from the Liaison through the OGC Attorney, would not have
    resolved the issue for him. SSA 2 also told us it was important to him that the OGC
    Attorney had first sent the Liaison’s response email to the 01 Attorney, because if
    they discussed the issue and they have “decided we don’t have to do a footnote
    that he’s not a source … we’ve resolved this. We’re good to move forward.” He also
    said that he “would assume that the [01 Attorney]. .. received exactly what [SSA 2]
    received since it was a forward.”
    We also showed the altered June 19, 2017 email to the Liaison. She told us
    that the combination of the omission of the OGC Attorney’s question to the Liaison
    about Page’s status as a “[digraph] source,” along with the addition of the words
    “not a ‘source”‘ to her response, was misleading. She explained that by omitting
    398 However, the email the OGC Attorney sent to SSA 2 did include header information from
    the June 16 email sent by the OGC Attorney to the 01 Attorney, reflecting that the QI Attorney had
    been provided the Liaison’s response email. It therefore appeared to SSA 2 that he and the OI
    Attorney had received the same information about Page’s past status with the U.S. government
    agency. However, as described above, the email the OGC Attorney sent to the 01 attorney did not
    contain the altered text that was included in the email that the OGC Attorney sent to SSA 2.
    399 The OGC Attorney did not alter the email he had previously forwarded to the other FBI
    agents.
    255
    how the OGC Attorney phrased his questions to her, it took away the context
    necessary to fully understand her response. We also asked the Liaison whether
    “not a ‘source”‘ is language she would use to describe a “[digraph].” She said she
    would not have included the “not a ‘source”‘ language in an email to the OGC
    Attorney because the Liaison’s agency does “not call them sources.” The Liaison
    added that the phrase “not a ‘source”‘ is contradictory to the term “[digraph],”
    because “[digraph]” indicates that the person is providing information to the
    Liaison’s agency.
    Consistent with the Inspector General Act of 1978, following the OIG’s
    discovery that the OGC Attorney had altered the email that he sent to SSA 2, who
    thereafter relied on it to swear out the final FISA application, the OIG promptly
    informed the Attorney General and the FBI Director, and provided them with the
    relevant information about the OGC Attorney’s actions. 400
    C. Information Concerning Steele’s Past Work-Related
    Performance
    As described in Chapter Five, NSD told us that in the absence of information
    corroborating the facts from Steele’s reporting asserted in the Carter Page FISA
    application, it was particularly important for the application to articulate to the court
    the FBI’s assessment of the reliability of the source. Therefore, all four FISA
    applications articulated for the court the basis for the FBI’s assessment that Steele
    was reliable. In all four applications, the FBI’s source characterization statement
    ~ntification of Steele as a former
    -· FBI and NSD officials told us t~teele’s
    reliability, the FBI placed great weight on Steele’s-· Additionally,
    400 Prior to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, the OGC Attorney had been assigned to
    provide legal support to the FBI’s “Midyear Exam” investigation, which concerned former Secretary of
    State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. In the OIG’s June 2018 report, Review of Various
    Actions in Advance of the 2016 Election, we referred to the OGC Attorney as FBI Attorney 2. In that
    report, we described improper political instant messages that the OGC Attorney sent to other FBI
    employees using FBI information technology systems. For example, on the day after the 2016 U.S.
    elections, the OGC Attorney sent an instant message to another FBI employee regarding the ·election
    outcome, stating:
    I am so stressed about what I could have done differently .. .! just can’t imagine the
    systematic disassembly of the progress we made over the last 8 years. ACA is gone.
    Who knows if the rhetoric about deporting people, walls, and crap is true. I honestly
    feel like there is going to be a lot more gun issues, too, the crazies won finally. This is
    the tea party on steroids. And the GOP is going to be lost, they have to deal with an
    incumbent in 4 years. We have to fight this again. Also Pence is stupid.
    Two weeks later, the OGC Attorney sent an instant message to another FBI colleague about
    the amount of money the subject of an FBI investigation had been paid while working on the Trump
    campaign. The FBI colleague responded, “Is it making you rethink your commitment to the Trump
    administration?” The OGC Attorney replied, “Hell no,” and then added “Viva le resistance.”
    We note that the OGC Attorney’s alteration of the Liaison’s email in connection with the
    Crossfire Hurricane investigation described in this report occurred in June 2017, one year prior to our
    June 2018 referral to the FBI of his actions in connection with the Midyear Exam investigation.
    256
    ~ter Five, the FISC legal advisor asked NSD to explicitly identify
  • in the source characterization statement.
    As described in Chapter Six, after the first FISA application was filed, but
    before Renewal Application No. 1, Priestap and Strzok obtained information about
    Steele from persons with direct knowledge of his performance of his work duties in
    a prior position in an effort to further assess Steele’s reliability. This was the first
    time anyone associated with the Crossfire Hurricane investigation discussed Steele
    with these persons, and it was prompted, at least in part, by Steele’s disclosures to
    Mother Jones in late October 2016. Priestap and Strzok took handwritten notes of
    the feedback they received from the former employer about Steele. These notes
    referenced that St’eele had held a “moderately senior” position in Moscow, as the
    Crossfire Hurricane team had originally thought and advised 01. Nothing in the
    notes indicated that Steele was “high-ranking” as stated in the applications. The
    notes described positive feedback about Steele, such as “smart,” “person of
    integrity,” “no reason to doubt integrity,” and “[i]f he reported it, he believed it.”
    Priestap told us that his impression was that Steele was considered to be a “Russia
    expert” and very competent in his work. However, Priestap and Strzok were also
    provided negative feedback concerning Steele’s judgment, including
    “[d]emonstrates lack of self-awareness, [demonstrates] poor judgment;” “[k]een to
    help but underpinned by poor judgment;” “[j]udgment: pursuing people [with]
    political risk but no intel value;” “[r]eporting in good faith, but not clear what he
    would have done to validate;” and “[d]idn’t always exercise great judgmentsometimes
    [he] believes he knows best.”
    Priestap and Strzok told us that they did not change their overall assessment
    of Steele’s reliability after being provided this information because they were told
    that Steele was never untruthful. According to Priestap, he interpreted the
    negative feedback about Steele’s judgment to mean that Steele was a person who
    strongly believed in his convictions and that those convictions did not always align
    with management’s convictions. Priestap said he himself confronted similar
    disagreements over prioritization with his own staff, and what stood out more to
    Priestap were the statements indicating that Steele had never been intentionally
    dishonest in ~is prior work. Priestap also told us that, according to the feedback he
    received, Steele’s past reporting accurately reflected what he was told, but Priestap
    said the question was the accuracy of what he was told, which could not addressed
    in this instance without knowing the identity of Steele’s sources for the election
    reporting. Strzok interpteted the feedback regarding Steele’s judgment to mean
    that Steele sometimes followed the “shiny object” without a judgment about
    whether the shiny thing was really worth pursuing given the risks involved, which
    was seen as a hindrance to his career progression, but that Steele had no history of
    fabricating, embellishing, or otherwise “spinning” information.
    FBI officials told us, and documents reflect, that Strzok briefed the Crossfire
    Hurricane team regarding the information he received about Steele. Case Agent l’s
    handwritten notes from a December 2016 team meeting reflect that the team was
    told that Steele “may have some judgment problems” but that the team could
    “continue to rely on reports for FISA.” Case Agent 1 did not recall this discussion or
    257
    who said that they could continue to rely on Steele’s reporting in the next FISA
    application.
    Handwritten notes from the 01 Unit Chief reflect that the OGC Attorney
    advised the 01 Unit Chief and the 01 Attorney at the end of November 2016 that
    the team had met with persons with direct knowledge of Steele’s performance of
    his work duties in a prior position. According to the notes, the OGC Attorney told
    01 that Steele’s past contacts said he “could be prone to rash judgments.” The
    notes also indicate that the OGC Attorney advised 01 that the FBI did an internal
    review and found no indication that any of Steele’s reporting was false or
    misleading and that McCabe had signed off on requesting a FISA renewal targeting
    Carter Page.
    The 01 Attorney told us that he only vaguely recalled this discussion, but the
    01 Unit Chief said that he recalled being told that Steele was prone to rash
    judgment in his actions but not in his reporting. The 01 Unit Chief told us he also
    recalled that the FBI believed it had no reason to question Steele’s reporting and
    therefore had not changed its assessment of his reliability. Evans recalled that one
    or both of them later advised him, probably in December 2016, that the FBI had
    been told Steele had “questionable judgment” but was otherwise professional and
    reliable.
    As for why Renewal Application No. 1 (and the subsequent renewal
    applications) did not include this information about Steele, Ev·ans and the 01 Unit
    Chief told us that, because the information did not change the FBI’s assessment as
    to Steele’s reliability, the circumstances leading to the FBI’s closure of Steele as a
    CHS was the more critical update for the court. However, during their OIG
    interviews, Evans and the 01 Unit Chief were shown Strzok’s notes. After reviewing
    the notes, both Evans and the 01 Unit Chief said that the notes contained more
    detail than what they recalled being told by the FBI, including the statement that it
    was “not clear what [Steele] would have done to validate” his reporting. Both said
    that they would have asked for more detail about that particular comment if they
    had known at the time. According to Evans, he would have considered whether to
    include information in the renewal application if he had known.
    D. Information Regarding Steele Reporting’s Ties to the
    Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, and the
    Hillary Clinton Campaign
    As described in Chapter Five, the first Carter Page FISA application contained
    a footnote advising the court that Steele’s election reporting may have originated
    from a request for political opposition research:
    [Steele], who now owns a foreign/business/financial intelligence firm,
    was approached by an identified U.S. person, who indicated to [Steele]
    that a U.S.-based law firm had hired the identified U.S. person to
    conduct research regarding Candidate# 1 ‘s ties to Russia (the identified
    U.S. person and [Steele] have a long-standing business relationship).
    The identified U.S. person hired [Steele] to conduct this research. The
    258
    identified U .5. person never advised [Steele] as to the motivation
    behind the research into Candidate # 1 ‘s ties to Russia. The FBI
    speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for
    information that could be used to discredit Candidate # 1 ‘s campaign.
    (Emphasis added).
    According to FBI officials, and as represented to 01 at the time of the first
    application, the Crossfire Hurricane team was told by Steele that he had been hired
    by Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson to perform his election-related work, was advised
    by Steele that Fusion GPS had been retained by an unnamed law firm, and had not
    been informed by Steele of the motivation of Fusion GPS. Additionally, as we
    discuss in Chapter Four, the FBI assumed, but did not know at the time of the first
    application, that Steele was conductin·g opposition research. As described in
    Chapter Five, McCabe told us that he thought he had heard by the time of the first
    application that Simpson had been working first for a Republican and then later for
    a Democrat. However, McCabe also told the OIG that his memory on the timing of
    events is not always reliable. Other FBI officials told us that the team did not know
    who hired Simpson until after the first FISA application. We were told by Evans
    that the use of the term “speculates” in the footnote was intended to convey that
    even though the FBI did not know at the time the identity of Simpson’s and the
    U.S. law firm’s ultimate client, the FBI believed it was likely that it was someone
    who was seeking political opposition research against candidate Trump.401
    According to FBI officials, the Crossfire Hurricane team did not investigate
    who ultimately paid for Steele’s reporting. The OGC Unit Chief and the Supervisory
    Intel Analyst told us that the team focused instead on vetting the accuracy of the
    information in Steele’s reporting because, if the reporting turned out to be true, it
    would not matter to the team who ultimately paid for the research.
    Nevertheless, in the months following the first FISA application, information
    became known to the Crossfire Hurricane team that provided greater clarity about
    the political origins and connections of Steele’s reporting. As described in Chapter
    Nine, by no later than November 21, 2016, Ohr had advised FBI officials that
    Steele’s reporting had been given to the Hillary Clinton campaign (among other
    entities) and that Steele was “desperate” that Trump not be elected. SSA 1 and the
    Supervisory Intel Analyst told us, and email communications reflect, that by no
    later than January 11, 2017, SSA 1 and the Supervisory Intel Analyst understood
    that Fusion GPS had been hired by the DNC and another unidentified entity to
    research candidate Trump’s ties to Russia. Finally, handwritten notes and other
    documentation reflect that in February and March 2017 it was broadly known
    among FBI officials working on and supervising the investigation, and shared with
    senior NSD and ODAG officials, that Simpson (who hired Steele) was himself hired
    first by a candidate during the Republican primaries and then later by someone
    401 As we describe in Chapter Five, QI officials told us that the FBI did not advise them of the
    FBI’s belief that Steele was conducting political opposition research until October 11, 2016, when
    Evans asked the FBI three rounds of questions about Steele’s political affiliations in connection with
    Evans’s review of the first FISA application probing the FBI for information. Evans said that he
    expressed his frustration that the FBI had not informed QI of its belief earlier in the FISA process.
    259
    related to the Democratic Party. Nevertheless, the footnote in Renewal Application
    Nos. 1, 2 and 3, was not revised to reflect this additional information.
    Case Agent 6 told us that after he took over the Carter Page investigation, he
    believed he had a conversation with Case Agent 1 about the identity of Steele’s
    client, but he did not recall any details about what he was told. Case Agent 1 and
    the OGC Attorney told us that they did not recall when they learned who ultimately
    paid for the research, and Case Agent 1 said that it may have been sometime after
    he left the case. The 01 Attorney told us that he did not recall being advised that
    the FBI had more clarity on who had paid for Steele’s research.
    By March 2017, Evans had received information indicating that Simpson was
    first hired by a Republican primary candidate and then later by someone related to
    the Democratic Party. Evans told us that he did not recall revisiting the language in
    the footnote after learning this information. He said that he interpreted the word
    “speculates” in the footnote to have the same meaning as the FBI “assesses” or
    “believes.” Further, in his opinion, the footnote clearly advised the court of the
    potential for political bias, such that he could not see how the additional information
    would have made a real difference for the court. He said that he did not know that
    members of the Crossfire Hurricane team had learned that Fusion GPS was hired
    specifically by the DNC and that, if that were true, he would have wanted to update
    the court about that information, not because it was material, but just in the
    interest of candor with the court.
    The OGC Unit Chief recalled the team briefing Corney that the research was
    conducted first for a Republican primary candidate and then later for the
    Democratic Party. We determined this briefing likely occurred in March 2017.
    Corney told us that he remembered being advised of this information. He also told
    us that he did not recall taking notice of the word “speculates” at the time he
    reviewed the FISA applications, but that in reviewing the language again he thought
    it “fairly conveyed” that the research originated from a biased source.
    Yates told us that she remembered hearing that Steele’s research was
    conducted first for a Republican and then later for a Democrat, but she said she did
    not recall whether she heard that before or after she left the Department in late
    January 2017. Yates was removed as Acting Attorney General on January 30,
    2017, and we did not find evidence that she was informed of thi.s information prior
    to that time. We identified notes indicating that by February and March 2017 it was
    broadly known that Simpson was hired first by a Republican primary candidate and
    then later by someone related to the Democratic Party. Boente told us that he
    remembered knowing before he approved Renewal Application No. 2 in April 2017
    that Simpson had been hired by a Republican primary candidate and then a
    Democratic candidate, but Boente said he did not recall any discussion about
    whether to revise the language in the footnote. He said that whether, in hindsight,
    the FBI should have revised the language was not a question he could answer
    during his OIG interview without first having the benefit of an analysis. Rosenstein
    told us that he did not recall the FBI telling him about the political origins of
    Steele’s reporting before he approved Renewal