Posted by Curt on 31 January, 2019 at 7:51 pm. 1 comment.


Bill Priestap, the high-ranking FBI official responsible for overseeing both the Clinton email investigation and the agency’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign appeared to not have been in real control of his own investigations.

In closed-door testimony before congressional lawmakers in June last year, Priestap, who served as the head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, acknowledged it was mostly FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI analyst Jonathan Moffa who were “driving the train.”

Talking to lawmakers, Priestap described the unusual circumstances under which he inherited the team in January 2016, saying the members had been previously handpicked by an unknown high ranking official at the FBI.

In his June 5, 2018, testimony—a transcript of which was reviewed for this article—Priestap appears to have been unaware of key meetings that took place between Strzok and the second highest ranking official at the FBI, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

Priestap’s congressional interview was conducted in an unclassified setting, with the appropriate agency counsel present to ensure that classified information didn’t enter into the unclassified setting.

When questioned about text messages sent between Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page that showed a strong bias in favor of Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump, Priestap told lawmakers “it wasn’t the Pete Strzok that I know.”

Priestap also said he was unaware of a meeting Strzok had with McCabe and Page—who served as counsel to McCabe—that was described in the now-infamous “insurance policy” text message.

“Somebody talking about an insurance policy, I would have asked, ‘What the heck do you mean by that?’” Priestap said in the interview before the House judiciary committee.

The FBI investigation into Clinton was opened on July 10, 2015, by Randall Coleman, then-head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division and predecessor to Priestap. At this time, McCabe was the assistant director in charge at the Washington Field Office and Strzok was an assistant special agent in charge at the Washington Field Office.

On July 30, 2015, McCabe was suddenly promoted to the No. 3 position within the FBI as associate deputy director and was transferred to FBI headquarters. Strzok would soon be transferred to headquarters as well.

Approximately two months after the opening of the Clinton investigation, FBI leadership asked for the transfer of hand-selected agents from the Washington Field Office. Strzok was one of those chosen and he was moved to FBI headquarters probably in Sept. or Oct. of 2015.

According to Priestap, Coleman had “set up a reporting mechanism that leaders of that team would report directly to him, not through the customary other chain of command” in the Clinton email investigation. Priestap, who said he didn’t know why Coleman had “set it up,” kept the chain of command in place when he assumed Coleman’s position in January 2016.

On Jan. 29, 2016, FBI Director James Comey appointed McCabe to the No. 2 position within the FBI as Deputy FBI Director. McCabe had served in the number three slot at the FBI for only six months.

Priestap Was Unaware of Key Conduit at DOJ

The FBI relied in large part on allegations contained in the so-called Steele dossier in obtaining a FISA warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The author of the dossier, former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, as well as the company he was hired by, Fusion GPS, were both feeding information to the FBI through different channels.

A key conduit for Steele to the FBI was high-ranking DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Asked if he was familiar with Ohr, Priestap told lawmakers, “I think I’ve seen Bruce Ohr, but I don’t think I’ve ever been in a meeting with Bruce Ohr.” Priestap also said he never worked with Ohr on a counterintelligence investigation, which would include the FBI’s investigation into Trump-Russia collusion:

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