This week it was revealed in federal court that the FBI is probing the alleged withholding of exculpatory information during the series of investigations into Donald Trump and his campaign know collectively as Crossfire Hurricane.
On May 24, Agent Curtis Heide, while on the stand said testifying during a trial that he is being investigated as part of an internal FBI inquiry into Crossfire Hurrican for not including exculpatory information, or information that negates an allegation or allegations, in an application to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Heide described the information as “various consensual recordings.”
A former Trump campaign associate, George Papadopoulos, was spied on by an FBI confidential source before the 2016 election, during an appearance on Fox News called the disclosure of the FBI probe an “incredible twist.”
Papadopoulos than asked, “Did the FBI willfully take information that they knew was tainted to obtain these fraudulent warrants,” or were they duped.
The FBI received permission from the court just weeks before the 2016 election to spy on Carter Page, another Trump campaign associate. The bureau also received three renewals, which enabled it to keep spying on Page for months.
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, an Obama appointee, investigated the four applications and found they were riddled with errors and omissions. That included citing portions of the discredited dossier compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele despite not having verified the portions that were cited, and omitted the fact Page had worked as a CIA asset, which would have been exculpatory.
Kevin Clinesmith, an FBI lawyer who worked on Crossfire Hurrican, was the first person charges by special counsel John Durham. Clinesmith admitted to doctoring an email from the CIA to change it from saying Page had been an asset to saying he had not been. Clinesmith received no jail time.
Durham has since brought charges against two others, including former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann. Heide was testifying during the trial of Sussman, who was charged with lying to the FBI when he said he was bringing claims about Trump and Russia to the bureau on his own accord but later acknowledged he was doing so on behalf of a client.
“That is a serious allegation, that you intentionally withheld information that could help prove an individual’s innocence,” Sean Berkowitz, a lawyer for Sussmann, told Heide at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse.
Heide denied under oath that he intentionally withheld exculpatory information for the surveillance court.
A more recent audit uncovered widespread problems with the FBI’s applications to the court, including the identification of 183 applications that had a missing or incomplete Woods file, a document meant to ensure the accuracy of statements.
The FBI, which doe not comment on ongoing investigations, said after that audit was released that the FBI has already made “significant changes” to how the applications are handled in light of the issues Horowitz’s office uncovered.