10 Times FBI Officials Conveniently Could ‘Not Remember’ Key Details Of Trump-Russia Probe

10 Times FBI Officials Conveniently Could ‘Not Remember’ Key Details Of Trump-Russia Probe

The DOJ IG interviewed more than 100 witnesses about what happened behind-the-scenes of the Crossfire Hurricane operation, but the details were a little fuzzy for some key players involved.
Madeline Osburn
By

As part of an investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general (IG) into how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) abused protocols for obtaining warrants against a Trump campaign aide, the IG conducted more than 170 interviews involving more than 100 witnesses. Yet when asked direct questions about their behavior throughout 2016 and 2017, many key witnesses said they could not remember.

The IG report includes the phrase “not remember” 25 times and the phrase “not recall” 240 times. Here are just 10 details in the report that they claimed slipped from witnesses’ minds when asked by investigators.

1. Comey On Whether He Discussed Including Steele Dossier In President’s Briefing

Investigators asked former FBI Director James Comey 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.”

Comey and other head intelligence officials debated whether to include the unverified dossier written by British spy Christopher Steele in an intelligence report that was to be presented to both President Obama and President-Elect Trump.

Comey said he remembered discussions about whether to include the Steele dossier but did “not remember participating in debates.”

2. FBI Agent Could Not Remember Discussing Yahoo News Article With Steele

The IG asked FBI agents who attended a meeting with Steele in early October 2016 about whether they discussed Yahoo News Reporter Michael Isikoff’s report, which was based on Steele’s dossier. An FBI agent, designated as Case Agent 2 in the report, said he could not remember asking Steele about the Yahoo story, and that he was more focused on getting Steele to “play ball.”

3. Bruce Ohr Could Not Remember Who Funded Fusion GPS Oppo

Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department attorney, met with Steele on September 23, 2016 in Washington, D.C. Ohr said Steele identified the person who was funding Fusion GPS’s opposition research, “however, according to Ohr, he did not recognize the name and could not remember it long enough to write it down after the meeting.”

Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS—the firm that had hired Steele to collect opposition research on Trump for the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton.

In a congressional testimony, Ohr testified that he and Nellie also met with Steele in July, where Steele shared his initial research on supposed connections between Trump and Russia.

4. McCabe Could Not Remember Giving Instructions On Confidential Sources. Agents Say He Did

In a section of the report detailing how FBI agents on Team Crossfire Hurricane prepared and planned for meetings with confidential sources such as Steele, one unit chief in the the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC) said then Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was “on board with using the sources and using them quickly given the timing issue.”

A former FBI confidential source contacted an FBI agent in late July 2016 with information about an opposition research firm funded by the Democratic National Committee. The source gave the FBI agent a list of “individuals and entities who have surfaced in [the investigative firm’s] examination,” according to the IG.

In September that year, McCabe instructed FBI agents not to have any further contact with the former source, and not to accept any information regarding the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. But the IG reports that “McCabe told the IG he did not remember giving those instructions, and could not tell us why he might have done so.”

5. Steele Could Not Remember If He Told the FBI the Dossier Was DNC-Funded

After Fusion GPS hired Steele to compile the infamous dossier, he said he eventually learned that it was the law firm Perkins Coie and the DNC who were paying Fusion GPS. Steele told the IG “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.”

The FBI’s knowledge of the dossier’s partisan origins shows agents’ utter disregard for protocol and their determination to use it in FISA applications to wiretap Trump aides.

6. FBI Used Sources to Meet With Trump Campaign Officials But Don’t Recall Having a Plan for What to Do With Gathered Intel

The Crossfire Hurricane team used confidential human sources to meet with Trump campaign officials. In one particular meeting with an unnamed, high-ranking campaign official, the source asked about the FBI’s subjects: Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and George Papadopoulos. Ultimately, agents found the info gathered from that meeting “germane” to the allegations they were investigating and allegedly didn’t use any of the information.

However, the IG wrote in the report’s executive summary that the Crossfire Hurricane agents did not remember having any plan in place prior to the source’s meeting should sensitive information arise. The IG said they found this “concerning.”

“We believe that notification to Department officials in such situations would help to ensure that the FBI has planned sufficiently to address the incidental collection of political information, and make an assessment prior to that collection of whether the potential impact on constitutionally protected activity outweighs any potential investigative benefit,” the IG wrote on page 400.

7. Comey Doesn’t Recall Making Any ‘Significant Investigative Decisions’

The IG learned that officials briefed the Crossfire Hurricane investigation to FBI senior leadership throughout their investigation of the Trump campaign. When the IG asked Comey about the briefings, he said he was updated every two to four weeks and 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.”

8. FBI Agent Does Not Recall Asking Steele to Contact Russian Oligarchs

In a section of the report investigation Steele’s work for the FBI between 2014 and 2015, the IG found that an agent, known as Handling Agent 1, and DOJ attorney Bruce Ohr asked Steele to find out whether Russian oligarchs would be interested in entering into discussions with the FBI.

When the IG asked the agent about this, he contradicted their findings, saying “he did not recall tasking Steele to contact Russian oligarchs.” The rest of his answer is redacted.

9. Bruce Ohr Does Not Remember How He Gave Intel From Fusion GPS to the FBI

Knowing the details of Bruce Ohr’s relationship with both Steele and Steele’s business partner, Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, is crucial to understanding how Steele funneled information to the FBI even after being terminated.

As Federalist Contributor Margot Cleveland notes, “Ohr would later take on a much more significant role when, after the FBI terminated Steele as a source on November 1, 2016, Ohr became a conduit to keep feeding Steele’s intel to the FBI, which Ohr did on at least 12 occasions, continuing until November 2017. Yet in the FISA applications, the DOJ represented to the FISA court that Steele had been terminated as an informant.”

When the IG asked Ohr about his August 2016 meeting with Simpson, he was fuzzy on the details. “He stated that he could not remember when or how he provided Simpson’s information to the FBI, but would have likely contacted Handling Agent 1 or the FBI’s Transnational Organized Crime-East {TOC-East) Section Chief. Emails indicate that Ohr and Handling Agent 1 spoke on August 24, 2016, but neither of them could recall what they discussed,” the report reads.

10. McCabe Does Not Remember Knowing a Source Meeting With Papadopoulos Was to Be Secretly Recorded

The Crossfire Hurricane team directed one of their sources to meet with Papadopoulos to discuss a “project” in September of 2016. The source paid for Papadopoulous $3,000 and covered his travel costs to have the meeting in another country. The FBI’s plan was to “have a political discussion over a couple drinks” and to “collect information.”

The FBI “consensually monitored” the meeting, meaning their meeting was monitored “by an electronic device of any wire, oral, or electronic communication where one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to the monitoring or recording.”

When the IG interviewed DOJ officials about whether they knew or approved of this operation, the IG found that former deputy director McCabe “did not remember knowing ahead of time that the FBI was going to be consensually monitoring Source 2’s meetings.”

Madeline Osburn is a staff editor at the Federalist and the producer of The Federalist Radio Hour. Follow her on Twitter.
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