A 2017 letter from the FBI, responding to a senator’s inquiry about the nature of the agency’s counterintelligence briefings with the Trump campaign, was contradicted on Wednesday by the testimony of Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz. This latest revelation of FBI lies exposes more undue spying and abuse of power at the highest levels of the intelligence agency.
On September 20, 2017, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa sent a letter to the FBI Director Christopher Wray, asking about whether or not the FBI ever provided the Trump campaign with a defensive briefing regarding Russian interference in 2016.
“I write to inquire about whether the FBI ever provided the Trump campaign with a defensive briefing or other warning regarding attempts to infiltrate the campaign by people connected with, or compromised by, Russian intelligence,” Grassley wrote.
On October 26, 2017, the FBI responded saying they did provide a counterintelligence defense briefing to then candidate Donald Trump and other campaign officials.
“In August of 2016 the FBI provided a counterintelligence defensive briefing to then candidate Donald Trump and other senior campaign officials. This defensive briefing was conducted by an experienced FBI counterintelligence agent and focused on the broad range of threats posed by foreign intelligence entities,” wrote Gregory Brower, assistant director in the FBI’s Office of Congressional Affairs.
During Senate Judiciary Committee hearings with Horowitz on Wednesday, an exchange with Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina uncovered how the FBI not only failed to brief the Trump campaign on the alleged Russian interference they were so concerned about, but used their meeting with the campaign as an opportunity to spy.
“If this is a counterintelligence investigation, who are they trying to protect?” Graham asked Horowitz.
“Well, if it’s the threat outlined in the ‘Friendly Foreign Government Information’ you would be looking to protect the election process, which would include the campaign, the candidate, and the American people,” Horowitz said.
“Did [the FBI] ever brief Hillary Clinton about efforts to foreign influences involving her campaign? Do you know?” Graham asked.
“I’ve heard that, but I don’t know that for fact,” Horowitz said.
“They did. Good for them,” Graham said. “And they stopped it. Was there ever a defensive briefing given by the FBI Department of Justice to Donald Trump about the concerns?”
“There was not,” Horowitz said.
In the FBI’s response letter to Grassley, the FBI said they do not have a policy on briefings, but they are essential for keeping up the legitimacy of the organization and fairness in practices.
“While the FBI does not maintain a specific policy governing when such briefings are to be provided, as you highlighted in your letter, defensive briefings are an essential FBI counterintelligence tool,” the letter reads.
As Sen. Graham pointed out during Horowitz’s hearing, the only counterintelligence work done in this briefing was not on behalf of or in defense of the Trump campaign, but was actually gathering intelligence against the Trump campaign.
“Did they ever try to protect Donald Trump from foreign influence?” Graham asked.
“They did not brief him,” Horowitz said.
“As a matter of fact, whenever they went in and gave him a vanilla briefing–‘the Russians are out there, you better beware,’–didn’t they have an FBI agent do a 302 on the defensive briefing itself?” Graham asked.
“They sent one of the supervisory agents from the Crossfire Hurricane team to the briefing and that agent prepared a report to the file of the briefing,” Horowitz said.
A 302 is an FBI form used to “report or summarize the interviews that they conduct” as part of an investigation. So the FBI “defensive briefing” the agency said they provided to the Trump campaign was not a defensive briefing at all, but rather an information gathering interview for the agents surveilling those associated Trump campaign.