Was the Mueller investigation into Russian interference “an attempted overthrow, and a lot of people were in on it and they got caught, they got caught red-handed,” as President Trump states?
Or, were the steps taken by the FBI appropriate and justifiable?
A year-long investigation by the inspector general based on more than 1 million documents, over 170 interviews with more than 100 witnesses was finally released.
F.B.I. officials had sufficient reason to open the investigation into links between Russia and Trump campaign aides
Information from an ex-British spy named Christopher Steele–paid for by Democrats–was used, in part, to obtain permission to wiretap Donald Trump’s campaign aide Carter Page. The procedure used to obtain the warrant was problematic (more on this below). BUT, the inspector general found that this warrant had no bearing on the decision to open the investigation into links between Russia and Trump campaign aides.
The investigation was opened after George Papadopoulos, another aide to the Trump campaign, told an Australian diplomat that the Russians had information on Hillary Clinton that would be unfavorable to her run for president. This Australian told the FBI about the conversation.
the FBI acted without political bias
“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced” officials’ decision to open the investigation, the report said.
This notably clears two agents (Peter Strzok and Lisa Page) on Mueller’s team–whose texts to each other indicated a deep political bias against Trump–of any unfairness that could have seeped into the investigation.
Most recently, at a political rally, President Trump disparaged the pair, pretending to be Page in an intimate moment, prompting Page to publicly speak out against the President’s crude and relentless smear against her.
no informants inside Trump campaign
The F.B.I. did not send informants or undercover agents to meet with Trump campaign officials prior to the official start of the investigation. President Obama did not place any informants inside the campaign. There was no evidence of a broader conspiracy of people opposed to Trump.
The report said, “Witnesses told us that they did not recall observing during these discussions any instances or indications of improper motivations or political bias on the part of the participants.”
there were problems with the application to wiretap Carter Page, campaign advisor to Trump
In the wiretap application, investigators indicated that Carter Page was suspected of being an unregistered agent of a foreign power. But, there were dozens of examples of missing or inaccurate documentation.
The applications relied heavily on Christopher Steele’s input. Steele is a British former intelligence agent, and his research was paid for by Democrats, which could be considered a conflict of interest. In addition, Mr. Steele told the F.B.I. that he based a lot of his information on a confidential source, and, at least in one case, during this “investigation of the investigation” a source contradicted Steele’s work.
He said, “I have ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the Report’s recommendations. Because our credibility and brand are central to fulfilling our mission, we are also making improvements beyond those recommended.”