Late last week the FBI document that started the Trump-Russia collusion fiasco was publicly released. It hasn’t received a lot of attention but it should, because not too long from now this document likely will be blown up and placed on an easel as Exhibit A in a federal courtroom.
The prosecutor, U.S. Attorney John Durham, will rightly point out that the document that spawned three years of political misery fails to articulate a single justifiable reason for starting the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation.
Those of us who have speculated there was insufficient cause for beginning the investigation could not have imagined the actual opening document was this feeble. It is as if it were written by someone who had no experience as an FBI agent.
Keep in mind the FBI cannot begin to investigate anyone, especially a U.S. citizen or entity, without first creating a document that lists the reasonably suspicious factors that would legally justify the investigation. That’s FBI 101, taught Day 1 at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Va.
To the untrained eye, the FBI document that launched Crossfire Hurricane can be confusing, and it may be difficult to discern how it might be inadequate. To the trained eye, however, it is a train wreck. There are a number of reasons why it is so bad. Two main ones are offered below (if you would like to follow along, the document is here):
First, the document is oddly constructed. In a normal, legitimate FBI Electronic Communication, or EC, there would be a “To” and a “From” line. The Crossfire Hurricane EC has only a “From” line; it is from a part of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division whose contact is listed as Peter Strzok. The EC was drafted also by Peter Strzok. And, finally, it was approved by Peter Strzok. Essentially, it is a document created by Peter Strzok, approved by Peter Strzok, and sent from Peter Strzok to Peter Strzok.
On that basis alone, the document is an absurdity, violative of all FBI protocols and, therefore, invalid on its face. An agent cannot approve his or her own case; that would make a mockery of the oversight designed to protect Americans. Yet, for this document, Peter Strzok was pitcher, catcher, batter and umpire.
In addition, several names are listed in a “cc” or copy line; all are redacted, save Strzok’s, who, for some reason, felt it necessary to copy himself on a document he sent from himself to himself.
Names on an FBI document are always listed in cascading fashion, with the most senior at the top and on down to the least senior. On this EC, Strzok is listed last, so the redacted names should be more senior to him. Those names could well include then-FBI Director James Comey, then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and then-Counterintelligence Assistant Director Bill Priestap. The document also establishes these redacted names as “case participants.”
Second, the Crossfire Hurricane case was opened as a Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) investigation. A FARA investigation involves a criminal violation of law – in this case, a negligent or intentional failure to register with the U.S. government after being engaged by a foreign country to perform services on its behalf – that is punishable by fines and imprisonment. It is rarely investigated.
In a normal EC opening a FARA case, we should expect to see a list of reasons why the FBI believes individuals associated with a U.S. presidential campaign had been engaged by the Russian government to represent and advocate that government’s goals.
This, however, was no normal EC. Try as we might to spot them, those reasons are not found anywhere in the document. Despite redactions, it has been fairly well established that an Australian diplomat, Andrew Downer, met a low-level Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, in a London bar for drinks; Downer then reported the conversation, which eventually made its way to U.S. officials in London.
All those involved should be arrested tried and convicted for these crimes