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Rod Rosenstein says he authorized release of Strzok-Page texts: DOJ

Westlake Legal Group rosenstein Rod Rosenstein says he authorized release of Strzok-Page texts: DOJ Nick Givas fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/person/robert-mueller fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc c56acea4-cd99-5e11-a348-03e2a8a8c26e article

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said it was his call to release hundreds of politically charged text messages between former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page to the media, according to a Friday court filing by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In his declaration, Rosenstein explained he did not see any legitimate reason to withhold the text messages because they were sent on government phones and subject to FBI review. He also said they were being sought by the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate, for oversight reasons.

“I learned that the text messages were ready for release to the Senate and House committees that had requested them, there was no basis to withhold them, and they were arguably relevant to the Judiciary Committee’s oversight hearings,” he wrote, according to the DOJ filing.

“[The texts] were sent on government phones with the knowledge that they were subject to review by FBI; [and] were so inappropriate and intertwined with their FBI work that they raised concerns about political bias influencing official duties,” Rosenstein said.

STRZOK CLAIMS ANTI-TRUMP TEXTS PROTECTED BY FIRST AMENDMENT, ADMINISTRATION VIOLATED HIS RIGHTS

Rosenstein said he released the text messages in their entirety on Dec. 12, 2017, to avoid selective leaking by federal lawmakers, who were set to receive the texts the next day.

“If I had believed the disclosure to was prohibited by the Privacy Act, I would have ordered department employees not to make the disclosure,” he wrote.

The Justice Department argued that Rosenstein did his due diligence by having his aides consult with the DOJ’s top privacy official Peter Winn on the release of the text messages, and cannot be held responsible for violating the Privacy Act because there was no willful intent.

“Even if [the] Plaintiff could show that the disclosure was somehow inconsistent with the Privacy Act — the Department did not intentionally or willfully violate the statute,” the court filings read.

LISA PAGE SUSES FBI AND DOJ, CITING ‘COST OF THERAPY’ AFTER TRUMP MOCKED HER SALACIOUS TEXT MESSAGES

Strzok and Page, who were both members of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation team, were caught exchanging messages that were disparaging of President Trump and highly partisan in nature throughout 2016.

They discussed a possible “insurance policy” if Trump won the presidency, and referred to him as a “loathsome human” and an “idiot.” They were also engaged in an extramarital affair with one another during the period in question.

Page, who eventually resigned from the Bureau, sued the DOJ last month over the release of the text messages, claiming it violated the Federal Privacy Act. She said she has suffered numerous damages including therapy costs and “permanent loss of earning capacity due to reputational damage.”

Strzok also sued the DOJ last month, claiming his First Amendment Rights had been violated. He is seeking reinstatement on the basis that his firing was unconstitutional. Rosenstein’s declaration was part of the government’s defense in Strzok’s lawsuit.

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During their time in the public eye, Trump has made both Strzok and Page frequent political targets and recently discussed their ongoing issues on Twitter.

“When Lisa Page, the lover of Peter Strzok, talks about being “crushed”, and how innocent she is, ask her to read Peter’s “Insurance Policy” text, to her, just in case Hillary loses,” he Tweeted last month. “Also, why were the lovers text messages scrubbed after he left Mueller. Where are they Lisa?”

Rosenstein resigned from his post with the DOJ in April and is now with a corporate law firm in Washington, D.C.

Fox News’ Gregg Re, Dom Calicchio and Brooke Singman contributed to this report 

Westlake Legal Group rosenstein Rod Rosenstein says he authorized release of Strzok-Page texts: DOJ Nick Givas fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/person/robert-mueller fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc c56acea4-cd99-5e11-a348-03e2a8a8c26e article   Westlake Legal Group rosenstein Rod Rosenstein says he authorized release of Strzok-Page texts: DOJ Nick Givas fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/person/robert-mueller fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc c56acea4-cd99-5e11-a348-03e2a8a8c26e article

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Former Florida mayor gets prison after buying BMW, beach condo with $650G in United Way funds

Westlake Legal Group Judge-Gavel-Money-iStock Former Florida mayor gets prison after buying BMW, beach condo with $650G in United Way funds fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson article 441b2f79-d766-5de5-83a9-9e2c41fcc7c8

A former Florida mayor was reportedly sentenced to 51 months in prison and required to pay full restitution Friday for embezzling more than $650,000 from United Way — after a Navy veteran’s testimony played a key role in his conviction.

Guy Thompson, who served as mayor of Milton in northwestern Florida from 1994 to 2014, stole a total of $652,000.61 through a check-fraud scheme while he served as executive director of the United Way in Santa Rosa County, the Pensacola News Journal reported.

Thompson, 66, used the money for purchases that included a BMW automobile and a beachfront condominium, the newspaper reported.

He pleaded guilty last May to 20 counts of wire fraud and three counts of tax evasion.

CHRIS COLLINS, FORMER GOP REP, SENTENCED TO 26 MONTHS IN PRISON OVER SECURITIES FRAUD

The FBI began investigating in October 2018, the same month Thompson was removed from his position at United Way as allegations of fraud surfaced. The organization started an internal audit at the same time.

Ronald Benson, a 20-year-old Navy veteran hired to help manage funds at United Way, testified in Thompson’s trial that he started noticing “anomalies” in checks and deposit slips.

“I started to discover where large amounts of money were being redirected,” Benson said in court, according to the News Journal. “Not misdirected, redirected.”

He also said Thompson smeared his credibility to hide his own crimes, adding even though he resigned from the position, his association with the former mayor has made it impossible to get a job.

Thompson started stealing the money while he was still mayor in 2011, prosecutors found, and he continued the scheme for seven years until his ouster in 2018.

Over the course of those seven years, federal prosecutors said, Thompson made “hundreds of fraudulent deposits” meant for United Way into his personal account.

He also evaded about $159,362 by not reporting his fraudulent earnings on his taxes.

Thompson was well-known and respected in the community – the Milton Community Center was even renamed for him in 2015. His name was later removed.

He also served on many boards and was involved in other charities during his career.

Thompson’s attorney, Ryan Cardoso, told the News Journal earlier this year that Thompson “is deeply remorseful that his conduct has hurt the United Way of Santa Rosa County, as well as the organizations and the people it serves.”

“I would say, overall, people’s confidence in elected officials took a big nosedive, and it’ll probably never recover,” Milton resident Kim Macarthy said about Thompson’s crimes. “It was important for me to see this. I don’t take pleasure in this, but it’s important for closure and moving forward.”

Thompson has been ordered to pay full restitution for the $650,000 and federal authorities have already seized upwards of $220,000 from his bank accounts – mostly from the beach condo he sold soon after the FBI investigation started.

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Thompson could have faced life in prison as each count carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, according to the News Journal.

Westlake Legal Group Judge-Gavel-Money-iStock Former Florida mayor gets prison after buying BMW, beach condo with $650G in United Way funds fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson article 441b2f79-d766-5de5-83a9-9e2c41fcc7c8   Westlake Legal Group Judge-Gavel-Money-iStock Former Florida mayor gets prison after buying BMW, beach condo with $650G in United Way funds fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson article 441b2f79-d766-5de5-83a9-9e2c41fcc7c8

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FISA court adviser, ex-Obama DOJ official, calls FBI’s proposed reforms ‘insufficient’ in point-by-point rebuke

David Kris, who has been appointed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to oversee the FBI’s proposed surveillance reforms on Wednesday alerted the court that the bureau’s proposals are “insufficient” and must be dramatically “expanded” — even declaring that FBI Director Christopher Wray needs to discuss the importance of accuracy and transparency before the FISC every time he “visits a field office in 2020.”

The unclassified findings were a stark rebuke to Wray, who had filed assurances to the FISC last week that the agency was implementing new procedures and training programs to assure that the FBI presents accurate and thorough information when it seeks secret warrants from FISC judges. At the same time, Wray acknowledged the FBI’s “unacceptable” failures as it pursued Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to surveil members of the Trump team.

Kris is a former Obama administration attorney who has previously defended the FISA process on “The Rachel Maddow Show” and in other left-wing venues, making his rebuke of Wray something of an unexpected redemptive moment for Republicans who have long called for more accountability in how the bureau obtains surveillance warrants. (“You can’t make this up!” President Trump tweeted on Sunday. “David Kris, a highly controversial former DOJ official, was just appointed by the FISA Court to oversee reforms to the FBI’s surveillance procedures. Zero credibility. THE SWAMP!”)

Wray had specifically promised to change relevant forms to “emphasize the need to err on the side of disclosure” to the FISC, to create a new “checklist” to be completed “during the drafting process” for surveillance warrants that reminds agents to include “relevant information” about the bias of sources used, and to “formalize” the role of FBI lawyers in the legal review process of surveillance warrants.

Additionally, Wray said the FBI would now require “agents and supervisors” to confirm with the Justice Department’s (DOJ) Office of Intelligence that the DOJ has been advised of relevant information. Wray further indicated that the FBI would formalize requirements to “reverify facts presented in prior FISA applications and make any necessary corrections,” as well as to make unspecified “technological improvements.”

But in a 15-page letter to FISC presiding Judge James E. Boasberg, obtained by Fox News, Kris declared that the proposed corrective actions “do not go far enough to provide the Court with the necessary assurance of accuracy, and therefore must be expanded and improved” — and he took aim at Wray himself.

“The focus on specific forms, checklists and technology, while appropriate, should not be allowed to eclipse the more basic need to improve cooperation between the FBI and DOJ attorneys,” Kris said, noting that the FBI and DOJ have historically not always worked well together.

“A key method of improving organizational culture is through improved tone at the top, particularly in a hierarchical organization such as the FBI,” Kris said, noting that Wray’s public statements on the matter, while positive, have not gone far enough. “Director Wray and other FBI leaders, as well as relevant leaders at the Department of Justice, should include discussions of compliance not only in one or two messages, but in virtually every significant communication with the workforce for the foreseeable future.”

FISC ORDERS FBI REVIEW OF PROCEDURES … BUT LEAVES OUT SPECIAL AGENT PIENTKA, A LITTLE-KNOWN KEY PLAYER IN THE FISA SCANDAL

Indeed, the FISC “should require the FBI and DOJ to document and report on the nature and extent of this communication; such a requirement to document and report communication may encourage the FBI and DOJ to conduct more of it,” he said. Every time Wray “visits a field office in 2020,” Kris wrote, he should stress the importance of accuracy in FISA applications.

Top-down culture changes require “ongoing” and sustained efforts, not simply a handful of organizational reforms, Kris emphasized.

Separately, Kris urged the FISC to hold more hearings and involve field agents in those hearings when possible, both to increase accountability and break down communication barriers. However, Kris noted that the bureau needs to be cautious when it implements major changes involving field agents, given its tarnished credibility.

“The single most significant process issue that is not addressed in the government’s submission concerns the possibility of using field agents, rather than headquarters agents, as declarants in FISA applicants,” Kris went on. “This would represent a major change in practice, with potentially profound consequences, because it would tend to shift responsibility away from FBI headquarters in particular cases.”

Such a reform, Kris said, should not be “undertaken lightly,” but the “FBI’s recent failures … are egregious enough to warrant serious consideration of significant reform.

“Even if field agents do not serve as declarants in some or all FISA applications, the court should require them in appropriate cases to sign or otherwise attest to the court directly with respect to asserted facts within their purview,” Kris said.

In addition to implementing procedures to test the effectiveness of new training modules and case studies set to be implemented by the FBI, Kris asserted that the FISC “should require the government to conduct more accuracy reviews, to expand those reviews, and to conduct a reasonable number of in-depth reviews on a periodic basis.” A statistical approach is necessary and feasible, he said, given the FBI and DOJ’s “vast resources.”

FISC SLAMS FBI, SAYS ‘FREQUENCY’ OF ERRORS AND INACCURACIES CALLS INTO QUESTION PREVIOUS FISA WARRANT APPLICATIONS

Concerning the changed forms, Kris urged the FISC to “require the government to review, reassess, and report periodically on possible improvements to FISA standards and procedures.” The bureau should also be forced to demonstrate that its new forms are “well-designed” and effective,” he said.

Overall, Kris echoed the findings of the Justice Department Inspector General (IG), noting that the FBI had “profoundly” and repeatedly “breached its obligation” to provide accurate information to the secret court “through a series of significant and serious errors and omissions” during the Russia probe.

The FISC has ordered an inquiry into the slew of FBI surveillance abuses over the past several years but has stopped short of requiring the bureau to reverify several potentially impacted warrant applications.

For example, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz found specific evidence of oversights and errors by several top FBI employees as they sought to obtain a warrant to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page under the FISA statute; an unidentified FBI supervisory special agent (SSA) mentioned in the IG report was responsible for ensuring that the bureau’s “Woods Procedures” were followed in the Page warrant application.

Westlake Legal Group Carter-Page-Getty-001 FISA court adviser, ex-Obama DOJ official, calls FBI's proposed reforms 'insufficient' in point-by-point rebuke Jake Gibson Gregg Re fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc article 051ac388-8fde-5b44-9e45-f319e539f775

Former Trump advisor Carter Page was surveilled by the FBI for more than a year. The DOJ inspector general has found a slew of problems with the FBI’s handling of his warrant application, including the deliberate falsification of key evidence. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

According to the procedures, factual assertions need to be independently verified, and information contradicting those assertions must be presented to the court. But Horowitz found several instances in which the procedures were not followed.

Horowitz’s report leaves little doubt that the unnamed SSA is Joe Pientka — a current bureau employee.

The inspector general also noted than an unnamed “Case Agent 1” was “primarily responsible” for some of the “most significant” errors and omissions in the FISA warrant applications and renewals submitted to the FISC to extend the monitoring of Page.

Nevertheless, former FISC Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer ordered the FBI only to identify “all other matters currently or previously before this Court that involved the participation of the FBI OGC [Office of General Counsel] attorney” mentioned in Horowitz’s report.

Additionally, Collyer ordered the FBI to “describe any steps taken or to be taken by the Department of Justice or FBI to verify that the United States’ submissions in those matters completely and fully described the material facts and circumstances” and to advise whether the attorney’s conduct “has been referred to the appropriate bar association(s) for investigation or possible disciplinary action.”

Those were apparent references to ex-FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, whom Horowitz found to have doctored an email from the CIA. The FBI reached out to the CIA and other intelligence agencies for information on Page; the CIA responded in an email by telling the FBI that Page had contacts with Russians from 2008 to 2013, but that Page had reported them to the CIA and was serving as a CIA operational contact and informant on Russian business and intelligence interests.

Clinesmith then allegedly doctored the CIA’s email about Page to make it seem as though the agency had said only that Page was not an active source. And, the FBI included Page’s contacts with Russians in the warrant application as evidence he was a foreign “agent,” without disclosing to the secret surveillance court that Page was voluntarily working with the CIA concerning those foreign contacts.

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Republican calls for more accountability may not go unanswered for long. Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham announced last year that he did not “agree” with the IG’s assessment that the FBI’s probes were properly predicted, highlighting Durham’s broader criminal mandate and scope of review.

Durham is focusing on foreign actors, as well as the CIA, while Horowitz concentrated his attention on the Justice Department and FBI.

“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” Durham said in his statement, adding that his “investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department” and “has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.”

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6033949216001_6033949304001-vs FISA court adviser, ex-Obama DOJ official, calls FBI's proposed reforms 'insufficient' in point-by-point rebuke Jake Gibson Gregg Re fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc article 051ac388-8fde-5b44-9e45-f319e539f775   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6033949216001_6033949304001-vs FISA court adviser, ex-Obama DOJ official, calls FBI's proposed reforms 'insufficient' in point-by-point rebuke Jake Gibson Gregg Re fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc article 051ac388-8fde-5b44-9e45-f319e539f775

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FISA selects former Obama admin lawyer, left-wing blogger to oversee FBI’s surveillance reforms

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6115142777001_6115139242001-vs FISA selects former Obama admin lawyer, left-wing blogger to oversee FBI's surveillance reforms Gregg Re fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox news fnc/politics fnc c588f147-744d-5e2d-b6d0-a6d295b5ad2e article

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) has stunned court-watchers by selecting David Kris — a former Obama administration lawyer who has appeared on “The Rachel Maddow Show” and written extensively in support of the FBI’s surveillance practices on the left-wing blog Lawfare — to oversee the FBI’s implementation of reforms in the wake of a damning Department of Justice Inspector general report last year.

The development on Friday, first reported by independent journalist Mike Cernovich, has roiled Republicans who have demanded accountability at the FBI. House Intelligence Commitee ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told The Daily Caller that Kris’ appointment was “shocking” and “inexplicable.”

“It’s hard to imagine a worse person the FISC could have chosen outside [James] Comey, [Andy] McCabe, or [Adam] Schiff,” Nunes said. Speaking to Fox News contributor Sara Carter, Nunes added: “It’s a ridiculous choice. The FBI lied to the FISC, and to help make sure that doesn’t happen again, the FISC chose an FBI apologist who denied and defended those lies. The FISC is setting its own credibility on fire.”

On Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Nunes reminded anchor Maria Bartiromo that Kris had panned the now-vindicated 2018 memo produced by Nunes’ panel, which asserted a series of surveillance abuses by the FBI against former Trump aide Carter Page. DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz later substantiated Nunes’ claims, noting that the FBI had falsely made numerous material representations to the FISC.

“Of all the people in the swamp … this is the guy that you come up with?” Nunes asked. “The guy that was accusing me of federal crimes? The guy that was defending the dirty cops at the FBI? … The court must be trying to abolish itself. There is long-term damage.”

President Trump then referenced Nunes’ interview with Bartiromo on Twitter on Sunday afternoon, calling Kris “highly controversial” and slamming the FISC’s decision.

FISA COURT REBUKES FBI, BUT LEAVES OUT KEY PLAYERS AT THE BUREAU, INCLUDING LITTLE-KNOWN AGENT PIENTKA

“You can’t make this up!” Trump wrote. “David Kris, a highly controversial former DOJ official, was just appointed by the FISA Court to oversee reforms to the FBI’s surveillance procedures. Zero credibility. THE SWAMP!”

Kris argued on Lawfare in March 2018 that Nunes had “tried to deceive the American people in precisely the same way that it falsely accused the FBI of deceiving the FISA Court.”

Additionally, Kris claimed that “had the FBI done in its FISA applications what Nunes did in his memo, heads would have rolled on Pennsylvania Avenue.” He asserted, “It’s disturbing that Page met that legal standard and that there was probable cause to conclude he was a Russian agent.”

“The Nunes memo was dishonest,” Kris chargred. “And if it is allowed to stand, we risk significant collateral damage to essential elements of our democracy.”

Kris was a former assistant attorney general for national security who worked at the DOJ from 2009 to 2011, and served as an associate deputy attorney general under George W. Bush from 2000 to 2003. He later criticized Bush’s justifications for warrantless wiretap surveillance.

But, as the political winds changed, Kris became more of a proponent for government surveillance in other contexts. He appeared on MSNBC’s left-wing “The Rachel Maddow Show” in 2018 to offer a spirited defense of the FBI’s FISA practices.

“FISA applications are typically quite long — they’re big enough that you don’t want to drop one on your foot,” Kris told Maddow. “They contain a lot of information and detail, because the statute is quite exacting in what it requires the government to establish to get the warrant granted.”

Commenting on whether unredacting FISA materials posed a challenge to the FBI’s investigation, Kris remarked that “a lot of water [was] already under the bridge thanks to the back-and-forth precipitated” by Nunes — knocking the key House Republican for pushing to release some of the secretive documents.

Kris added: “These applications already substantially undermine the president’s narrative and that of his proxies, and it seems to me very likely that if we get below the tip of the iceberg and into the submerged parts and more is revealed, it’s going to get worse, not better. And it would potentially be dangerous to disclose additional information because some of this relates to ongoing investigations.”

On Twitter, Kris also insisted the “walls” were “closing in” on Trump — a common refrain on liberal cable news networks during the Russia probe.

Nevertheless, FISC presiding Judge James E. Boasberg, in a Friday order, said that Kris would be an “amicus curiae to assist the Court in assessing the government’s response” to its previous order demanding changes at the FBI.

In December, the FISC ordered the FBI to re-verify all previous warrant applications involving the FBI attorney who falsified evidence against Page. Fox News learned, however, that the court did not order the FBI to double-check warrant applications involving other officials who made key omissions and errors in warrant applications as the bureau sought to surveil Page.

“It’s hard to imagine a worse person the FISC could have chosen outside [James] Comey, [Andy] McCabe, or [Adam] Schiff.”

— House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

The FISC’s failure to request a comprehensive evaluation of previous submissions frustrated Republicans who have questioned whether enough is being done to deter future misconduct by the FBI. In the past, the FISC has gone so far as to prohibit some FBI agents from appearing before the court after finding impropriety.

In response to Horowitz’s recent report into FBI surveillance abuses, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that the bureau “embraces the need for thoughtful, meaningful remedial action.”

Also last Friday, the FBI filed a new response to the FISC’s request for more information. In the lengthy filing, Wray outlined some of the new steps the bureau planned to take in the future.

“The FBI has the utmost respect for this court, and deeply regrets the errors and omissions identified by the [Justice Department inspector general],” Wray wrote.  “FISA is an indispensable tool in national security investigations, and in recognition of our duty of candor to the court and our responsibilities to the American people, the FBI is committed to working with the court and DOJ to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the FISA process.”

Wray told the FISC that the FBI would begin teaching a “case study” using Horowitz’s findings, and would ensure that the FISC was “apprised of all information in the FBI’s holdings at the time of an application that would be relevant to a determination of probable cause.”

GIULIANI ASSOCIATE ALLEGES FBI USED FISA, POSSIBLE CELLPHONE STINGRAY TO CONDUCT, HIDE SECRET SURVEILLANCE

“Critically, the FBI must also balance the implementation of these actions with its ongoing responsibility to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States, during a time of ever-present threats to our national security,” Wray went on. “The leadership of the FBI has devoted—and will continue to devote—a substantial amount of time, thought and effort to striking this balance, while paying scrupulous attention to its duty of candor to the court and maintaining the trust of the American people.”

The FBI’s response to the FISC on Friday was signed by FBI General Counsel Dana Boente — who also signed onto the discredited Page FISA applications.

Horowitz found specific evidence of oversights and errors by several top FBI employees as they sought to obtain a warrant to surveil Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). For example, an unidentified FBI supervisory special agent (SSA) mentioned in the IG report was responsible for ensuring that the bureau’s “Woods Procedures” were followed in the Page warrant application.

According to the procedures, factual assertions need to be independently verified, and information contradicting those assertions must be presented to the court. But Horowitz found several instances in which the procedures were not followed.

Horowitz’s report leaves little doubt that the unnamed SSA is Joe Pientka — a current bureau employee. Pientka briefly appeared on the FBI’s website as an “Assistant Special Agent in Charge” of the San Francisco field office late last year, according to the Internet archive Wayback Machine — although Pientka no longer appears on any FBI website. Twitter user Techno Fog first flagged the Wayback Machine’s archive of the page.

The FBI did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for clarification on Pientka’s status.

The inspector general also noted than an unnamed “Case Agent 1,” was “primarily responsible” for some of the “most significant” errors and omissions in the FISA warrant applications and renewals submitted to the FISC to extend the monitoring of Page.

Nevertheless, FISC Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer ordered the FBI only to identify “all other matters currently or previously before this Court that involved the participation of the FBI OGC [Office of General Counsel] attorney” mentioned in Horowitz’s report.

Additionally, Collyer ordered the FBI to “describe any steps taken or to be taken by the Department of Justice or FBI to verify that the United States’ submissions in those matters completely and fully described the material facts and circumstances” and to advise whether the attorney’s conduct “has been referred to the appropriate bar association(s) for investigation or possible disciplinary action.”

Those were apparent references to ex-FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, who Horowitz found to have doctored an email from the CIA. The FBI reached out to the CIA and other intelligence agencies for information on Page; the CIA responded in an email by telling the FBI that Page had contacts with Russians from 2008 to 2013, but that Page had reported them to the CIA and was serving as a CIA operational contact and informant on Russian business and intelligence interests.

FISC SLAMS FBI, SAYS ‘FREQUENCY’ OF ERRORS AND INACCURACIES CALLS INTO QUESTION PREVIOUS FISA WARRANT APPLICATIONS

Clinesmith then allegedly doctored the CIA’s email about Page to make it seem as though the agency had said only that Page was not an active source. And, the FBI included Page’s contacts with Russians in the warrant application as evidence he was a foreign “agent,” without disclosing to the secret surveillance court that Page was voluntarily working with the CIA concerning those foreign contacts.

Collyer has separately sought updates from the FBI concerning details in the IG report but has ordered a re-review of any other FISA applications that were previously reviewed.

However, details in the IG report reveal that the pervasiveness of apparent misconduct in the FISA process extended far beyond Clinesmith.

The unnamed “SSA 1” in the IG report was given a supervisory role on the Russia investigation team, overseeing agents and reporting directly to since-fired anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok. The special agent created the electronic sub-file to which the reports by ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele would be uploaded. According to Horowitz, these reports were used to support the probable cause in the Page FISA applications.

Then, on Sept. 23, 2016, Yahoo News published an article describing U.S. government efforts to determine whether Page was in communication with Kremlin officials. The article seemed to closely track information from one of Steele’s reports. As a result, one FBI case agent who reported to SSA 1 believed Steele was the source, according to Horowitz.

FBI AGENTS MANIPULATED FLYNN FILE, AS CLAPPER URGED ‘KILL SHOT,’ EXPLOSIVE FILING CLAIMS

SSA 1 apparently thought the same, as his notes from a meeting held on Sept. 30, 2016, said: “Control issues — reports acknowledged in Yahoo News.” When questioned by Horowitz’s office, the agent explained he was concerned — but not sure — that Steele was the Yahoo News source.

The drafts of the Page FISA application, however, tell a different story. Horowitz found that until Oct. 14, 2016, drafts state that Steele was responsible for the leak that led to the Yahoo News article. One draft specifically states that Steele “was acting on his/her own volition and has since been admonished by the FBI.”

These assertions, which could have pointed to political motivations for Steele to make his information public weeks before the 2016 presidential election, were changed to the following: Steele’s “business associate or the law firm that hired the business associate likely provided this information to the press.”

Horowitz found no facts to support this assessment.

FORMER FBI LAWYER LISA PAGE SUES FBI AND DOJ, SAYS SHE NEEDS ‘COST OF THERAPY’ REIMBURSED AFTER TRUMP MOCKED HER BIAS

On Oct. 11, 2016, Steele met with then-State Department official Jonathan Winer and Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Kavalec. Steele informed Kavalec that the overseers of a Russian cyber-hacking operation targeting the 2016 U.S. elections were paying the culprits from “the Russian Consulate in Miami.” Kavalec later met with an FBI liaison and explained to them that Russia did not have a consulate in Miami. SSA 1 was informed of Steele’s incorrect claim on Nov. 18, 2016, but the FISA court was never provided this information, according to the IG report.

Additionally, SSA 1 was aware of Page’s denials to an FBI confidential human source (CHS) that he knew Russian officials Igor Sechin and Igor Divyekin – officials that Steele alleged Page had met in Moscow in July 2016. In fact, Horowitz found that SSA 1 “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,” Horowitz wrote, referring to the FBI’s practice of reverifying facts in its FISA application before seeking renewals.

7 TAKEAWAYS FROM HOROWITZ’S BOMBSHELL FISA REPORT

SSA 1 also 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,” according to Horowitz.

But Horowitz found numerous 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.”

In particular, the FBI misled the FISC by asserting that Steele’s prior reporting “has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings.” Horowitz’s review found there was no documentation to support this statement; SSA 1 told Horowitz they “speculated.”

SSA 1 was also aware, according to Horowitz, that Steele had relayed his information to officials at the State Department, and he had documentation showing Steele had told the team he provided the reports to his contacts at the State Department. Despite this, the FISC was informed that Steele told the FBI he “only provided this information to the business associate and the FBI.”

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Republican calls for more accountability may not go unanswered for long. Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham announced this month that he did not “agree” with the IG’s assessment that the FBI’s probes were properly predicted, highlighting Durham’s broader criminal mandate and scope of review.

Durham is focusing on foreign actors as well as the CIA, while Horowitz concentrated his attention on the Justice Department and FBI.

“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” Durham said in his statement, adding that his “investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department” and “has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.”

Wilson Miller contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6115142777001_6115139242001-vs FISA selects former Obama admin lawyer, left-wing blogger to oversee FBI's surveillance reforms Gregg Re fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox news fnc/politics fnc c588f147-744d-5e2d-b6d0-a6d295b5ad2e article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6115142777001_6115139242001-vs FISA selects former Obama admin lawyer, left-wing blogger to oversee FBI's surveillance reforms Gregg Re fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox news fnc/politics fnc c588f147-744d-5e2d-b6d0-a6d295b5ad2e article

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Some Saudi service members in US facing expulsion after NAS Pensacola shooting probe: reports

More than a dozen Saudi service members undergoing training at U.S. military facilities are expected to be expelled from the U.S. following an investigation into last month’s deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, according to reports.

None of the Saudis targeted for expulsion is accused of aiding the Saudi second lieutenant whom authorities say killed three U.S. sailors and injured eight other people in the Dec. 6 rampage, CNN reported. But some of them were found to have ties to extremist groups and others are accused of possessing child pornography, the report said.

NAVY PILOTS DEMAND MORE BE ARMED ON BASES IN LETTER TO LAWMAKERS AND MILITARY BRASS

The Justice Department is also expected to conclude that the Pensacola attack was an act of terrorism, CNN reported. The FBI has been investigating the case as possible terrorism since discovering writings by the gunman, who was killed by reponding sheriff’s deputies, The Washington Post reported.

Following the attack, about a dozen Saudi trainees were confined to their quarters in Pensacola as the FBI investigated the shooting as a possible terror attack and the Pentagon launched a review of some 850 Saudis undergoing training throughout the U.S., the report said.

“In the wake of the Pensacola tragedy, the Department of Defense restricted to classroom training programs foreign military students from Saudi Arabia while we conducted a review and enhancement of our foreign student vetting procedures. That training pause is still in place while we implement new screening and security measures,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver told the Washington Post.

CNN said its report was based on conversations with “multiple sources.” Officials from the FBI and Justice Department would not comment. CNN said U.S. Navy officials referred questions to the Defense Department, which had not responded to the network.

The gunman, identified as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, was believed to have acted alone. He is said to have become angered when an instructor at Pensacola referred to him as “Porn Stash,” comparing his mustache to that of a stereotype of an actor in pornography films, The New York Times reported.

Westlake Legal Group Mohammed-Saeed-Alshamrani-REUTERS Some Saudi service members in US facing expulsion after NAS Pensacola shooting probe: reports fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/tech/topics/security fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/tech/companies/apple fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio article 691d7390-9340-5b7e-9c9e-fd66dd4fcd83

Royal Saudi Air Force 2nd Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, airman accused of killing three people at a U.S. Navy base in Pensacola, Fla., is seen in an undated military identification card photo released by the FBI, Dec. 7, 2019. (FBI via Reuters)

Meanwhile, the FBI has asked Apple for help in accessing data from a pair of iPhones owned by the gunman.

Investigators are hoping that data stored on the phone may help them learn more about a possible motive behind the killings.

Apple has previously resisted efforts by government authorities to access phone customers’ data, citing a company commitment to its customers’ privacy. But Apple told Fox News it is cooperating in the Pensacola investigation.

Westlake Legal Group NAS-Pensacola-2-US-Navy Some Saudi service members in US facing expulsion after NAS Pensacola shooting probe: reports fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/tech/topics/security fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/tech/companies/apple fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio article 691d7390-9340-5b7e-9c9e-fd66dd4fcd83

​​​​​​​The main gate at Naval Air Station Pensacola is seen March 16, 2016, in Pensacola, Fla. (U.S. Navy/Patrick Nichols)

“We have the greatest respect for law enforcement and have always worked cooperatively to help in their investigations,” the Apple statement said. “When the FBI requested information from us relating to this case a month ago we gave them all of the data in our possession and we will continue to support them with the data we have available.”

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Following an unrelated attack in San Bernardino, Calif., in 2015 that left 14 people dead, Apple denied an FBI request to access data on the shooter’s phone but was later ordered to comply through a judge’s order. But by that time the FBI had already hired a different company for the job, USA Today reported.

Westlake Legal Group NAS-Pensacola-2-US-Navy Some Saudi service members in US facing expulsion after NAS Pensacola shooting probe: reports fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/tech/topics/security fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/tech/companies/apple fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio article 691d7390-9340-5b7e-9c9e-fd66dd4fcd83   Westlake Legal Group NAS-Pensacola-2-US-Navy Some Saudi service members in US facing expulsion after NAS Pensacola shooting probe: reports fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/tech/topics/security fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/tech/companies/apple fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio article 691d7390-9340-5b7e-9c9e-fd66dd4fcd83

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NYC woman who plotted terror bombing on law enforcement gets 15 years in prison

A New York City woman was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in federal prison for studying how to make bombs for a terrorist attack targeting law enforcement in the United States, according to reports.

Asia Siddiqui, 35, of Queens, admitted in federal court in Brooklyn that she and another woman looked online for recipes for homemade explosives and shopped for components at Home Depot with the intent to bomb government targets.

She was arrested in 2015 and pleaded guilty last year.

The other woman charged in the case, Noelle Velentzas, also of Queens, is scheduled to be sentenced March 5.

Westlake Legal Group Asia-Siddiqui-Noelle-Velentzas-AP NYC woman who plotted terror bombing on law enforcement gets 15 years in prison Frank Miles fox-news/world/terrorism/al-qaeda fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox-news/us/terror fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/new-york-city fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/justice-department fox news fnc/us fnc c420c382-77f3-5b8e-bec9-eb5a68484df6 article

Seen here in an illustration, Asia Siddiqui and Noelle Velentzas were “inspired by radical Islam” and taught each other chemistry and electrical skills necessary to build explosives and detonating devices, authorities said. (AP)

Prosecutors asked that Siddiqui be sentenced to two decades behind bars, saying she and Velentzas “followed and expressed a violent, warped version of Islam which, in their view, demanded that they teach each other and learn how to build a bomb.”

The women used the teachings of radical jihadist Samir Khan, who was a prominent member of Al Qaeda but is now deceased, as inspiration for their plots.

Prosecutors said Siddiqui wrote two poems and an article that were published in Khan’s magazine called “Jihad Recollections.”

US DEFENDS SOLEIMANI KILLING AS ‘SELF-DEFENSE’

In a poem called “Take Me to the Lands Where the Eyes Are Cooled,” Siddiqui wrote that she “taste[s] the Truth through fists and slit throats” and that there is “[n]o excuse to sit back and wait — for the skies rain martyrdom.”

“Had they succeeded in executing a bombing like the prior terrorist attacks they repeatedly discussed and celebrated, the result would have been catastrophic,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.

Siddiqui and Velentzas discussed several prior terrorist attacks in the U.S. with a New York Police Department (NYPD) counterterrorism officer posing as a convert to Islam. The undercover agent had been assigned to mingle with young Muslims around the city and made recordings of the women discussing their plans.

Authorities said they discovered “tools of the trade for terrorists” inside the women’s homes, including propane gas tanks, soldering tools, jihadist literature and machetes.

“Lives were saved when the defendants’ plot to detonate a bomb in a terrorist attack was thwarted by the tireless efforts of law enforcement,” U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue for the Eastern District of New York said in a news release.  “This is precisely the reason why countering terrorism remains the highest priority of the Department of Justice, and working with the FBI, the NYPD and our Joint Terrorism Task Force partners, we will continue to do everything possible to stay steps ahead of aspiring terrorists and their evil plans to harm Americans.”

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Siddiqui’s defense attorneys argued that there had been no specific plot.

They said in court filings that her role in studying the explosive devices had been “inconsequential” and that the so-called terrorism enhancement in the case had distorted the “seriousness” of the crime.

“To construct a bomb from what Ms. Siddiqui had in her basement would have required the expertise of the fictional MacGuyver, and the claim that she was going to independently build her own explosive device is equally fictional,” the defense attorneys claimed.

Defense attorney Charles Swift said he respected the 15-year sentence, but added: “I still believe in the merits of the argument we made.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Asia-Siddiqui-Noelle-Velentzas-AP NYC woman who plotted terror bombing on law enforcement gets 15 years in prison Frank Miles fox-news/world/terrorism/al-qaeda fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox-news/us/terror fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/new-york-city fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/justice-department fox news fnc/us fnc c420c382-77f3-5b8e-bec9-eb5a68484df6 article   Westlake Legal Group Asia-Siddiqui-Noelle-Velentzas-AP NYC woman who plotted terror bombing on law enforcement gets 15 years in prison Frank Miles fox-news/world/terrorism/al-qaeda fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox-news/us/terror fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/new-york-city fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/justice-department fox news fnc/us fnc c420c382-77f3-5b8e-bec9-eb5a68484df6 article

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Colorado town duped out of $1M paid to scammer instead of bridge-building contractor, official says

Westlake Legal Group usa-cash-iStock Colorado town duped out of $1M paid to scammer instead of bridge-building contractor, official says fox-news/us/us-regions/west/colorado fox-news/us/crime fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson article 080ef73d-6e56-5a3e-a72f-e189603673ae

A small town in Colorado was reportedly defrauded out of more than $1 million in October when officials sent money meant for the contractor of a new bridge to a fake account, town administrator Malcolm Fleming said Monday.

The sum of $1,016,233.80 was transferred to an unknown suspect purporting to be with SEMA Construction, which Erie, Colo., had hired to build the Erie Parkway Bridge.

The suspect allegedly filled out a form on the city’s website, requesting to be paid electronically rather than by check, The Denver Post reported.

City officials verified some of the information in the request but didn’t verify with SEMA, Fleming said.

MICHIGAN MAYOR CHARGED IN FEDERAL SIX-FIGURE FRAUD INVESTIGATION

“Once the payments were in that account, the perpetrators of this fraud sent the money via wire transfer out of the country,” Fleming said.

“Once the payments were in that account, the perpetrators of this fraud sent the money via wire transfer out of the country.”

— Malcolm Fleming, Erie, Colo., town administrator

The town realized the mistake Nov. 5 when the bank contacted it about potential fraud. SEMA confirmed it had not received the money.

Officials paid SEMA by check Nov. 15 with funds from a transportation impact fund that can temporarily cover the debt. The town has an insurance claim pending to cover the lost funds, according to The Post.

The form on the city website to request payment changes has been removed and no electronic funds will be transferred in the future without full verification.

The official who updated the payment information didn’t follow protocol and resigned following the incident, Fleming said.

The bridge was completed in 10 months last year starting in January.

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The FBI is investigating the crime along with Erie Police, The Post reported.

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Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell under FBI investigation

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Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime friend and alleged enabler of disgraced sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, is being investigated by the FBI, according to a report Friday.

Maxwell, the daughter of late British media magnate Robert Maxwell, has been accused in court filings of facilitating a sex-trafficking operation that brought girls — some as young as 14 — to Epstein’s Manhattan home, though she has not been formally charged with any criminal wrongdoing.

FORMER NYC CORRECTIONS OFFICIAL ON JEFFREY EPSTEIN CASE: ‘THIS WHOLE THING DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE’

Reuters reported that several others who “facilitated” Epstein’s alleged sexual abuse are also being investigated, though the main focus is on Maxwell. 

Maxwell, 58, dated Epstein more than a decade ago and became a member of his tight inner circle until his Aug. 10 jail-cell suicide earlier this year. In a 2003 Vanity Fair article, Epstein referred to Maxwell as his “best friend.”

Epstein, 66, faced sex-trafficking charges at the time of his death and was awaiting trial in a case that, if convicted, could have put him behind bars for several years.

JEFFREY EPSTEIN’S GIRLS LEFT IMPRESSION ON CHARTER CAPTAIN, BUT DISGRACED MILLIONAIRE WAS ELUSIVE

Last month, Maria Farmer, one of Epstein’s accusers, told “CBS This Morning” that Maxwell had been directly involved in peddling young women for Epstein and his high-profile friends.

“All day long, I saw Ghislaine going to get women. She went to places like Central Park. I was with her a couple of times in the car. …She would say, ‘Stop the car.’ And she would dash out and get a child,” Farmer said.

During an interview in August on “The Daily”, Farmer claimed Maxwell threatened her.

“She says, ‘You’re going out to jog on the West Side Highway every day and I know this. You need to be very careful because there’s so many ways to die there. So you have to be really careful. Look over your shoulder.'”

Another alleged Epstein victim, Virginia Giuffre, accused Maxwell of recruiting her as a masseuse for Epstein when she was only 15.

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Sarah Ransome, another alleged victim, told the BBC that Maxwell “controlled the girls.”

“She was like the madam,” Ransome said. “She was like the nuts and bolts of the sex trafficking operation.”

Calls to Maxwell’s lawyers for comment were not returned.

Westlake Legal Group Ghislaine-Maxwell-Jeffrey-Epstein-1-Getty Jeffrey Epstein's alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell under FBI investigation fox-news/world fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us/crime fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/person/jeffrey-epstein fox news fnc/us fnc Barnini Chakraborty article 4bedbdd0-14b9-5025-8077-fc773e9498b7   Westlake Legal Group Ghislaine-Maxwell-Jeffrey-Epstein-1-Getty Jeffrey Epstein's alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell under FBI investigation fox-news/world fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us/crime fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/person/jeffrey-epstein fox news fnc/us fnc Barnini Chakraborty article 4bedbdd0-14b9-5025-8077-fc773e9498b7

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Judith Miller: ‘Richard Jewell’ raises troubling questions about how FBI and media operate

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6116114637001_6116120045001-vs Judith Miller: ‘Richard Jewell’ raises troubling questions about how FBI and media operate Judith Miller fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/person/james-comey fox-news/opinion fox-news/entertainment fnc/opinion fnc City Journal article 1377fa0e-f02d-5f65-8055-dedb2b014288

“Richard Jewell,” Clint Eastwood’s drama about the security guard falsely accused of bombing the 1996 Olympics, opened Friday in over 2,500 cinemas to a dismal box office of $5 million — one of the worst debuts in the iconic actor and director’s career. With luck, word of mouth will overcome this poor debut. Despite one serious misstep, Eastwood’s film about the power of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, aided and amplified by the media, is a brilliant, emotional gut punch that raises important questions about the unfettered power of law enforcement, especially the FBI.

The Centennial Park bombing on July 27, 1996, killed two and wounded 111 people. Jewell, the private security guard on duty that night, initially spotted the military-style backpack filled with explosives and nails and sounded the alarm that helped save hundreds of lives. But three days after being hailed as a hero, he saw his life, and that of his mother, Barbara “Bobi” Jewell, upended by an FBI leak to an Atlanta Constitution-Journal reporter identifying him as the bureau’s prime suspect.

At the time, the AJC’s banner-headline story, triggering his reversal of fortune, was accurate — Jewell was indeed the bureau’s leading “person of interest.” And yet the FBI, the press would later learn, had no credible evidence linking Jewell to the plot. His alleged guilt was based largely on a profiling theory that the bomber, like Jewell, was a frustrated wannabe law-enforcement official seeking attention, a loser/loner who lived with his mother in a cramped apartment in Atlanta.

RICHARD JEWELL’S WIDOW: 1996 OLYMPICS HERO ‘SCARRED’ BY FALSE FBI ACCUSATION AND MEDIA SMEARS

Though the FBI concluded within days that Jewell was not the bomber, 88 days passed before it exonerated him; the film explores what happened in between. The actual bomber, Eric Rudolph, was eventually caught and convicted in a plea deal in 2005. Two years later, Jewell died at 44.

Eastwood and his gifted veteran screenwriter Billy Ray rely heavily on Marie Brenner’s 16,000-word Vanity Fair profile of Jewell, “American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell.” They also draw on “The Suspect,” a 2019 book coauthored by former U.S. Attorney Kent Alexander, who was involved in the investigation, and former Wall Street Journal editor Kevin Salwen, who helped cover the bombing.

Published in February 1997, Brenner’s article savaged Louis Freeh’s FBI for running roughshod over a suspect’s civil rights and privacy, and the print and broadcast media that rushed to judgment and generated a frenzy that nearly destroyed him. Several dialogue scenes from her famous story appear almost verbatim in the film.

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Given Eastwood’s libertarian politics and the film’s focus on abuses by the FBI and the media — two of Donald Trump’s favorite targets — “Richard Jewell” has already sparked controversy and criticism that it reinforces a political agenda. This, in my view, is misguided. The film’s power resides not in its politics but in its frank portrait of an individual under pressure from an unscrupulous law-enforcement agency that few who have not directly experienced it can imagine. Eastwood gives an unstinting look at what can happen to an odd but ordinary individual who stands falsely accused. Above all, the film is about justice — and the lack of it — or, as Brenner wrote in 1997, how the misguided investigation of Jewell and the media hysteria around it became the “epitome of the false accusation.”

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In an interview and an introduction to a new collection of her essays about Jewell and other similar victims, Brenner said that she has remained haunted by Jewell’s saga and those it touched 23 years ago. So, too, apparently, was Eastwood, who told her when they met on set in Atlanta that he had long yearned to make a film about Jewell. As The New York Times noted, while Eastwood has directed several films about extraordinary men facing equally extraordinary challenges — “Sully” and “American Sniper” come to mind — his focus in Richard Jewell concerns the travails of a peculiar, often pathetic, and unremarkable man caught in a web spun of government incompetence, media carelessness, ambition, and unregulated power.

It’s not surprising, then, that Eastwood’s favorite film is “The Ox-Bow Incident,” the classic 1943 low-budget Western, directed by William A. Wellman, about the lynching of an innocent man suspected of cattle rustling and the dangers of mob justice.

Ray, the screenwriter, is also no stranger to these themes. In 2003, Ray wrote and directed “Shattered Glass,” the understated drama chronicling how Stephen Glass fell from journalistic grace after colleagues discovered that almost half his articles for The New Republic were fabricated.

In “Richard Jewell,” almost every member of cast delivers a memorable performance, none more so than Paul Walter Hauser as Jewell, whose flawless portrayal of a complicated figure is worthy of an Oscar. Kathy Bates plays his devoted, supportive mother. Sam Rockwell is a superb Watson Bryant, Jewell’s hyperactive, anarchistic lawyer, and Jon Hamm is the quintessential FBI agent — smooth, self-assured, and in way over his head. Olivia Wilde plays controversial reporter Kathy Scruggs, who breaks the Jewell story. Eastwood’s steady directorial hand rarely wavers.

The film is almost as tough on the media as it is on the FBI. Indeed, the film’s only overreach is its depiction of the press as the FBI’s enthusiastic accomplice in practically ruining Jewell’s life. Eastwood and Ray rely heavily on Brenner’s examples and her palpable fury over what became known as the “Jewell syndrome,” the media’s rush to judgment in their frenzied search for scoops. Some 30,000 law-enforcement officials were in Atlanta for the Olympics, Brenner notes, along with nearly 10,000 athletes and coaches and roughly an equal number of journalists — 150 to 200 of whom were constantly staking out the Jewells’ apartment after the story broke. In the Brenner article and in the film, reporters yell questions at Bobi as she walks the family dog: “Did he do it?” “When will they arrest your son?” And, as Brenner reports: “You deserve to die, fat pig.”

After the AJC broke the story on Jewell, the accusation led all three network evening newscasts, and PBS. Mike Wallace of CBS’s “60 Minutes” told Jewell that he should lose weight. NBC’s Tom Brokaw, once Bobi’s favorite anchorman, is shown telling millions of viewers that the police “probably have enough to arrest him right now, probably enough to prosecute him, but you always want to have enough to convict him as well. There are still holes in this case.” Bobi was crushed by these comments, Brenner reports.

Many reporters undoubtedly erred in their overzealous coverage. But Eastwood and Ray further demonize the press — at least women reporters — by implying that Scruggs got her scoop by sleeping with the FBI’s lead agent in the investigation. Brenner’s article never makes that accusation; nor do the authors of “Suspect.” Ron Martz, the AJC reporter who covered Jewell and shared a byline with Scruggs, defended Scruggs as a flamboyant but hard-charging reporter whose scoops came from her deep knowledge and persistent coverage of the Atlanta police. “When she went after a story she did what was necessary to get the story, within legal and ethical bounds,” he said in an AJC story published shortly before the film’s release.

Since Eastwood rarely gives interviews, and Ray was unreachable, it’s hard to know why the two men decided to insert such a misogynist trope about women journalists in their otherwise sensitive docudrama. Yes, some women reporters have been caught and shamed for sleeping with their sources — a violation of journalism ethics for which women, rather than men, are usually held accountable. Scruggs, however, died in 2001, and cannot defend herself or her reputation. The AJC hired Martin Singer, a Hollywood celebrity lawyer not usually known for his First Amendment litigation, to represent the paper in this matter. Singer has threatened Eastwood and Warner Brothers with a defamation suit unless they add a prominent disclaimer about the charge in the film credits.

So far, Warner Brothers has refused to do so. In his first comments about the controversy in Deadline, Ray defended “every word and assertion in the script” and lambasted the paper for failing to acknowledge, even belatedly, its role in destroying Jewell. The film, he said, had given the AJC a chance to admit its “misdeeds.” The paper had launched a “distraction campaign,” he said. “They focus solely on one single minute in a film that’s 129 minutes long … The film isn’t about Kathy Scruggs. It’s about the heroism and hounding of Richard Jewell, and what rushed reporting can do to an innocent man.”

The sexism controversy notwithstanding, the film’s main target is the FBI and rogue law enforcement. Eastwood has ample company on both sides of the political aisle. Many Democrats have never forgiven former FBI director James Comey for his pre-election press conferences about the bureau’s investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. If Democrats blame the FBI for Clinton’s loss, Republicans have found similar fodder in the Justice Department’s Inspector General report on Russian meddling in the election.

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While Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that the FBI investigation of senior Trump campaign officials was legitimate, the report contains often-disturbing information about the bureau’s 17 errors of omission, commission, and reckless conduct during its probe. Among the most shocking findings concern Carter Page, a Trump campaign official whom the FBI wished to surveil. In 2016, the bureau sought approval from the secret court to spy on Page, even though he was already communicating with the Central Intelligence Agency about meetings with Russian officials. The report also recommends that at least one agent be investigated criminally for altering emails provided to the secret court.

The list of FBI abuses is long and bipartisan. If Eastwood’s film helps spur public outrage about the FBI’s conduct and the need for prompt reform, so be it. But one disgraced bureau leader is getting Hollywood’s help in his resurrection campaign. Ray is now directing a miniseries adaptation of “A Higher Loyalty,” Comey’s memoir, with Jeff Daniels playing Comey. Reforming the FBI may once again prove elusive.

This column was first published in City Journal on December 17, 2019.

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Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6116114637001_6116120045001-vs Judith Miller: ‘Richard Jewell’ raises troubling questions about how FBI and media operate Judith Miller fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/person/james-comey fox-news/opinion fox-news/entertainment fnc/opinion fnc City Journal article 1377fa0e-f02d-5f65-8055-dedb2b014288   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6116114637001_6116120045001-vs Judith Miller: ‘Richard Jewell’ raises troubling questions about how FBI and media operate Judith Miller fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/person/james-comey fox-news/opinion fox-news/entertainment fnc/opinion fnc City Journal article 1377fa0e-f02d-5f65-8055-dedb2b014288

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Trey Gowdy: If Pelosi thinks Trump is an existential threat, why is she sitting on articles of impeachment?

Westlake Legal Group gowdy-2 Trey Gowdy: If Pelosi thinks Trump is an existential threat, why is she sitting on articles of impeachment? Talia Kaplan fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/topic/durham-probe fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/shows/the-daily-briefing-dana-perino fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/media fnc fe1ed2fc-3887-53b3-bbda-0340192fdfb4 article

Fox News contributor Trey Gowdy told Fox News Monday that he thinks “most people are smart enough” to see through House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s move to withhold the articles of impeachment against President Trump from the Senate.

“If he [Trump] really is an existential threat to the republic, if he really has committed conduct that should result in his removal from office, then why would you not go ahead and send it on to the Senate?” Gowdy, the former chairman of the House Oversight Committee, asked on “The Daily Briefing.”

“The Constitution gives the House no role in deciding how this trial takes place,” Gowdy told host Dana Perino.

REP. SCALISE: DEMS STARTED IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY ‘LOOKING FOR A CRIME’ AND NEVER FOUND ONE

“It is exclusively within the providence of the Senate. I think most of my fellow citizens will see through this ‘let’s hurry up and impeach him and then sit on the indictment for god knows how long.’ I think most people are smart enough to see through that.”

Pelosi stunned Washington last week with her decision to withhold the articles — which accuse Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over his dealings with Ukraine — as she sought to pressure the Senate to agree to certain terms for a trial. In an unusual press conference Thursday, Pelosi, D-Calif., defended her decision while calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a “rogue leader.”

MCCONNELL CALLS PELOSI’S IMPEACHMENT DELAY ‘ABSURD,’ PREDICTS SHE’LL BACK DOWN ‘SOONER OR LATER’

McConnell on Monday said Pelosi’s delay in sending articles of impeachment is an “absurd” position to take, saying the speaker “apparently believes she can tell us how to run the trial.”

“I wish this were a judicial proceeding, but keep in mind if it were, then [House Intelligence Committee Chairman] Adam Schiff would not have been leading the investigation, 60 House Democrats would not have made up their minds before the first syllable of the [Robert] Mueller [Russia] report,” Gowdy said Monday. “I mean you had Eric Swalwell [House Judiciary Committee member] investigating the president while he was trying to become the president. So you would never have that in a real judicial proceeding.”

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“I wish that it were like a judicial proceeding, but it’s not,” Gowdy added. “The jury has already made up its mind.”

Fox News’ Joshua Nelson contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group gowdy-2 Trey Gowdy: If Pelosi thinks Trump is an existential threat, why is she sitting on articles of impeachment? Talia Kaplan fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/topic/durham-probe fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/shows/the-daily-briefing-dana-perino fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/media fnc fe1ed2fc-3887-53b3-bbda-0340192fdfb4 article   Westlake Legal Group gowdy-2 Trey Gowdy: If Pelosi thinks Trump is an existential threat, why is she sitting on articles of impeachment? Talia Kaplan fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/topic/durham-probe fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/shows/the-daily-briefing-dana-perino fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/media fnc fe1ed2fc-3887-53b3-bbda-0340192fdfb4 article

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