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  Horowitz Report Chapter 5 Section II

      B. Review and Approval Process
B. Review and Approval Process

As described in Chapter Two, once an FBI case agent affirms the accuracy of the information in the read copy of an application, an OI Unit Chief or Deputy Unit Chief is usually the final and only approver before a read copy is submitted to the FISC.
The Unit Chief or Deputy is also usually the final approver that" signs out'' the final application( cert copy) to the FBI for completion of the Woods Procedures and Director 's certification before presentation to either the Assistant Attorney General( AAG) of NSD, the DAG, or Attorney General for final signature. The final signatory receives an oral briefing, the cert copy, and a cover memorandum( cert memo) describing each application. In most cases, the start of the oral briefing, or shortly beforehand, is the first time the application is presented to the final signatory. According to NSD, most FISA applications do not get singled out for additional review and, to place that in perspective, there are approximately 1,300 applications submitted to the FISC each year and roughly 25-40 final applications go to the AAG, DAG, or the Attorney General for signature in any given week.

However, in some cases, according to NSD, a FISA application will receive additional review and scrutiny, particularly if it presents a novel or complicated issue or otherwise has been flagged for further review.
In this case, as described immediately below, documents and witness testimony reflect that the first Carter Page FISA application underwent a lengthy review and editing process within NSD, the FBI, and ODAG. According to Evans and other witnesses, this application had heightened sensitivity and therefore received additional attention because of the apparent effort by a foreign power to influence the upcoming 2016 U.S. elections and the prior connection of the FISA target( Carter Page) to one of the presidential campaigns.

Initial Feedback and NSD Concerns over Steele 's bPotential Motivation and Bias

Sanz-Rexach, Chief of OI 's Operations Section, and his Deputy Section Chief were the first layers above the OI Unit Chief to receive a draft of the Carter Page application.
After they provided feedback, the OI Attorney provided the draft on October 6, 2016 to Evans and, at the request of FBI OGC, to FBI General Counsel James Baker for concurrent review.

Baker told us that a review by the General Counsel was not a necessary step in the FBI 's FISA approval process, but said that he would sometimes review an application when he thought it was warranted.
Baker said that in this case, he asked to read the application because he recognized its sensitivities, including that the target had been associated with a presidential campaign and that the whole case was about Russian efforts to influence the presidential election and whether those efforts included any interactions with the Trump campaign. He said that he expected that the FBI would be called upon after-the-fact to justify its actions, and he wanted to ensure that his significant FISA experience was" brought to bear'' on the application.

For these reasons, Baker said he asked his Deputy General Counsel, Trisha Anderson, to give him the draft application before it was" too gelled'' so that he could have influence over the drafting without disrupting the process.
FBI documents indicate that Baker reviewed the draft on October 6 or 7. Baker told us that he read the probable cause section of the application, as well as the description in the Director 's certification section of the foreign intelligence purpose of the requested FISA authority. He said that he thought it was important that the foreign intelligence purpose of the FISA authority was made clear in the application by focusing on the FBI 's objective of learning the capabilities and tradecraft of Russia. He stated that he remembered being satisfied that the foreign intelligence purpose was properly articulated in the draft he reviewed.

Baker told us that he also remembered being satisfied at the time that there was probable cause articulated in the draft application to believe that Carter Page was an agent of a foreign power.
He said that it was difficult for him to fully explain nto us the basis for his assessment without reviewing the entire application again, but that he recalled Page 's continuing relationships with Russian intelligence officers, even after the FBI made Page aware that they were Russian intelligence officers, being" key'' facts in his mind .271 Further, he said that, in retrospect, he thought that Page 's knowing interactions with Russian intelligence officers could have established probable cause even without reliance on the reporting from Steele. However, Baker did not recall being involved in the FISA discussions the team was having before the Steele reporting came in, and because of the redactions in the public version of the FISA application, he was unable to speak to how recent Page 's interactions with Russian intelligence officers had been at the time the application was filed.

Baker said that he did not recall his specific line edits to the draft, but that another theme of his comments was to ensure that the court was fully apprised of all material factual information regarding Steele and his reliability as well as any derogatory information about Steele, so that the court could make its own assessment of the Steele reporting.
Questions attributed to Baker in an October 7 draft reflect that he, among other things, asked the FBI to provide more information about Steele 's prior employment to help establish his credibility and explain why he would have a source network. He also asked questions regarding Carter Page in an apparent attempt to clarify some of the facts regarding Page 's travel history and past relationships with Russian intelligence officers. According to Baker, he did not read the application a second time before it was submitted to the court, but Anderson told him that his comments were adequately addressed.

Anderson also reviewed a draft of the application; however, we could not determine the timing of her review.
Documents indicate that Anderson requested the draft on October 5 and received it the next day, but Anderson told us she recalled reading the draft after Baker, and closer in time to ODAG 's review of the draft, which was almost 2 weeks later. Anderson said that she did not recall providing feedback on the draft and explained that Baker and the OGC Unit Chief were directly involved in the review process. Anderson did recall that she made sure the draft incorporated Baker 's previous edits in some fashion, but she did not recall what those edits were.

Review or approval of the FISA application by senior Counterintelligence Division( CD) officials was not a required step in the FBI 's FISA procedures.
Priestap, Strzok, and the Intel Section Chief told us that they did not play roles in the preparation or approval of the Carter Page FISA application. These officials told us that they were aware that FISA authority was being sought and, as described previously, Strzok provided DAD approval of the team 's request for an expedited FISA application, as required by FBI procedures. Further, as described later in this chapter, Strzok had conversations with Evans about the status of the application. However, we found no information suggesting that senior CD officials contributed to the substance of the application.

Evans shared his own feedback with the 0i Unit Chief and OI Attorney, which included, among other issues, asking the Crossfire Hurricane team whether Steele" is affiliated with either campaign and/or has contributed to either campaign.''
On October 7, the OI Unit Chief emailed Evans 's question to the team, and on October 10, Case Agent 1 addressed the second part of Evans 's question, stating that Steele was most likely a foreign national and therefore unable to contribute to either campaign. Because Case Agent 1 did not fully address Evans 's question, the OI Unit Chief asked the agent again, on October 11, whether Steele was affiliated with and/or had contributed to either presidential campaign. Again, the case agent answered only the second part of the question, confirming that Steele had not contributed to any campaign and was not a U.S. person. Evans told us that he remembered being somewhat frustrated and annoyed by this answer and asked the question a third time to be sure that nothing was missed in terms of any potential political bias on the part of the source.

According to Evans, later in the day on October 11, after OI circulated a new draft application and, in response to his questions, he and OI learned for the first time from the FBI that Steele had been paid to develop political opposition research.
He told us that he recalled that he, the OI Unit Chief, and the OI Attorney were all quite surprised by this new information and that it was frustrating that they had not been informed sooner. Evans said that the new information, coupled with the sensitive nature of the case, made him concerned that the source might have a bias that needed to be disclosed to the court. Consequently, Evans placed a temporary hold on the application so that OI could further explore and evaluate with the FBI the information OI had just learned.

Evans told the OIG, and emails and instant and text messages reflect, that over the next three days, he and OI asked additional questions about Steele to better understand his potential motivations, bias, and overall reliability.
Before being asked these questions, the Crossfire Hurricane team had expected that the October 11 draft would be the final version submitted to the court as the read copy. However, on the evening of October 11, Evans had a telephone conversation with his counterpart at the FBI, DAD Strzok, to discuss Evans 's concerns and let him know that OI needed more time to understand and evaluate the information it had just learned concerning Steele. According to Evans, there was frustration expressed on both sides, with Strzok frustrated that the FISA process was not moving at the desired pace and Evans responding to the effect that" it does n't help that just now, at the eleventh hour, I have for the first time learned that information about Steele.'' As detailed below, text messages between Strzok and the OGC Attorney reflect that Strzok believed the FBI had previously informed OI about Steele 's source of payment. The conversation ended with Strzok agreeing to allow the Crossfire Hurricane team to answer whatever questions about the source OI needed to ask. Similarly, during her OIG interview, then NSD Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord recalled that she had a telephone conversation with then Deputy Director Andrew McCabe during which she advised him that she believed the FISA application needed to include more information about who hired Steele, and that McCabe did not push back. McCabe told us that he did not recall any specific conversations with McCord about this FISA application.

Internal FBI emails, as well as instant messages and text messages, reflect the FBI 's discussions with Evans and reactions to his concerns.
For example, following his telephone call with Evans on the evening of October 11, Strzok reached out to Lisa Page and advised her that support from McCabe might be necessary to move the FISA application forward:

6:21 p.m., Strzok to Lisa Page:" Currently fighting with Stu[ Evans] for this fisa.''

6:50 p.m., Strzok to Page:" Hey-The FISA will probably not go forward without a call from the[ Deputy Director].
Even as is, the court may not hear it this week.''

At the same time, Strzok also had communications with the OGC Attorney:

6:56 p.m., Strzok to OGC Attorney:" Stu is nervous.
Did n't help that he just found out today about[ Steele 's] source of payment/direction for this particular reporting. I thought we had told OI earlier? ''

6:56 p.m., OGC Attorney to Strzok:" Yes, we absolutely informed[ OI Unit Chief] and[ OI Attorney] about the source.''
" Multiple meetings, actually, with[ Case Agent 1] and[ the SOS].''

6:57 p.m., Strzok to OGC Attorney:" Ok-including the named intermediary, with the unnamed client( presumed to be connected to the campaign in some way)?
Well, they did n't tell Stu...'' 6:59 p.m., OGC Attorney to Strzok:" Yes, we provided source descriptions for all of the sub-sources, sources, etc.. That is confusing because that seemed to be what put[ OI Unit Chief] and[ OI Attorney] at ease.'' 6:59 p.m., OGC Attorney to Strzok:" Is he going to hold the FISA? '' 7:06 p.m., Strzok to OGC Attorney:" no, but I 'm concerned about how they preload the Court/court advisor''

7:06 p.m., Strzok to OGC Attorney:" I think he wants more words in there about it.

7:07 p.m., OGC Attorney to Strzok:" Roger.
I 'll reach out to[ OI Unit Chief] to see if he is in the office by chance.

Later the same evening, Strzok communicated with the OGC Unit Chief:

7:34 p.m., OGC Unit Chief to Strzok:" So Stu called you about his concerns about the[ Page] FISA?
Not sure why he did n't reach out to the[ FBI General Counsel/Deputy General Counsel] or the[ Deputy Director]/ Director, as they 've all approved moving forward with this. What was the point of his[ sic]? Was he trying to get you to pull it? ''

7:53 p.m., OGC Unit Chief to Strzok:" I got further clarification from[ OI Unit Chief].
I think it 's all good. We should have more from DOJ tomorrow.''

7:53 p.m., Strzok to OGC Unit Chief:" Ok.
Stu is very nervous.''

7:54 p.m., Strzok to OGC Unit Chief:" He said he was n't aware of the fact until a few hours ago that[ Steele] was employed to find this information by a named client, in turn hired by an unnamed client presumably affiliated with the Clinton campaign in some manner.''

Between 7:54 p.m. and 7:59 p.m.,[ Strzok and the OGC Unit Chief exchanged messages on an unrelated topic.]

7:59 p.m., Strzok to OGC Unit Chief:" Is OI still sending copy to FISC, tomorrow? ''

7:59 p.m., Strzok to OGC Unit Chief:" I 'm worried about what Stu whispers in Court Advisors ear.''

7:59 p.m., OGC Unit Chief to Strzok:" Yeah.
I think so. Stu 's going to think about it overnight. Not for attribution, but apparently he 's the only one over there worried about it.''

7:59 p.m., OGC Unit Chief to Strzok:" Yeah, me too.''

8:00 p.m., Strzok to OGC Unit Chief:" Jim[ Baker] or[ Deputy Director] or someone may need to weigh in with[ NSD Assistant Attorney General John] Carlin.''

8:00 p.m., Strzok to OGC Unit Chief:" I 'll bring it up at the prep SVTC tomorrow.''

8:00 p.m., OGC Unit Chief to Strzok:" If it goes beyond noon, I would tend to agree.''

The next morning, at 7:44 a.m., the OGC Attorney sent the following text message to Strzok:

Pete, I talked to( OI Unit Chief] last night.
It does n't sound like Stu is concerned about the FISA itself, but more of fleshing out the details of[ Steele]( e.g., how he began his reporting). All of that information was obtained from[ Case Agent 1]. We should be in good shape once OI bats it around a little more internally this AM.

Although the OGC Attorney stated in these text messages that the OI Unit Chief and the OI Attorney had been briefed before October 11 on who had commissioned Steele 's reporting, the OI Unit Chief told the OIG that he believed they did not learn about the potential political connections to Steele 's reporting until after Evans raised his questions.
The OI Attorney told us that he did not recall exactly when he learned about them, but that it was later in the drafting process, and that Evans 's inquiries led to a better understanding of the nature of Steele 's research. The OI Attorney told us that he did not recall asking the agent any specific questions about who Steele 's clients were. Case Agent 1 told us that he did not recall any conversations with the OI Attorney about the source reporting 's connection to political opposition research before OI asked questions about it. He explained that the Crossfire Hurricane team only suspected, but did not know in mid-October 2016, that Steele 's reporting was generated through political opposition research.

The OIG did not find any written communications indicating that anyone on the Crossfire Hurricane team advised OI about the potential or suspected political connections to Steele 's reporting before Evans raised his questions on October 11, and nothing to that effect appeared in the October 11 draft FISA application.
Further, the emails described above containing Evans 's questions about Steele 's campaign affiliation or contributions suggest that OI did not have prior knowledge.

FBI Leadership Supports Moving Forward with the FISA Application and OI Drafts Additional Disclosures Concerning Steele

On October 12, 2016, Evans 's concerns about Steele were briefed to Comey and McCabe in a meeting attended by at least Priestap, Strzok, Lisa Page, and the OGC Unit Chief.
According to notes of the meeting, the group discussed that Evans was concerned Steele may have been hired by someone associated with Hillary Clinton or the Democratic National Committee( DNC) and that the read copy of the FISA application would not be filed with the court that day so that Evans could further assess the potential bias. The notes reflect that the group discussed that Evans was also concerned that the foreign intelligence to be collected through the FISA would not be" worth[ the] risk.'' Following the meeting, the OGC Unit Chief emailed Anderson and the OGC Attorney on October 12 and advised them that the concerns Evans had raised were discussed with Comey and McCabe and that both were" supportive'' of moving forward despite those concerns.

During his OIG interview, Evans told us that he thought he did not raise the concern about the potential value of the collection outweighing the risk until sometime after OI worked through the bias issue with the FBI.
According to Evans, he raised on multiple occasions with the FBI, including with Strzok, Lisa Page, and later McCabe, whether seeking FISA authority targeting Carter Page was a good idea, even if the legal standard was met. He explained that he did not see a compelling" upside'' to the FISA because Carter Page knew he was under FBI investigation( according to news reports) and was therefore not likely to say anything incriminating over the telephone or in email. On the other hand, Evans saw significant" downside'' because the target of the FISA was politically sensitive and the Department would be criticized later if this FISA was ever disclosed publicly. He told the OIG that he thought there was no right or wrong answer to this question, which he characterized as a prudential question of risk vs. reward, but he wanted to make sure he raised the issue for the decision makers to consider. According to Evans, the reactions he received from the FBI to this prudential question were some variations of-we understand your concerns, those are valid points, but if you are telling us it 's legal, we can not pull any punches just because there could be criticism afterward.

Baker told us that he recalled having a telephone conversation with Evans after learning about Evans 's prudential concerns from Anderson and the OGC Unit Chief.
According to Baker, he told Evans that he understood the matter was sensitive but that he( Baker) thought there was probable cause and that the FBI was seeking the FISA for a legitimate purpose and thought the application should go forward. Baker told us that he did not think he had persuaded Evans, and Baker said he was left with the impression that Evans planned to raise the issue with others in the Department.

Evans told us that he discussed this prudential question with Tashina Gauhar, the Associate Deputy Attorney General responsible for ODAG 's national security portfolio, and McCord.
According to Evans, Gauhar seemed to share his concern, but Gauhar said that she did not think anyone was going to tell the FBI not to pursue the FISA if the legal standard was met. Gauhar told us that ODAG 's position was first to ensure that the legal standard for the FISA application was met, and that everyone, including NSD, thought that it was. She said that there was a separate question about the" policy decision to go forward,'' and on that question she understood that FBI leadership believed strongly that the application should go forward. She said that although it was possible, she did not remember stating ODAG 's position in terms of deferring to the FBI or not being inclined to overrule the FBI if the FBI wanted to move forward.

According to Evans, McCord said that she would discuss the prudential issue with McCabe, but the discussion did not happen before Evans raised the issue directly with McCabe after a regularly scheduled meeting on October 19.
According to Evans, McCabe told Evans on October 19 something to the effect of," I hear you. I understand.[ B] ut we ca n't pull any punches and we 've got to do it, and... let the chips fall where they may.'' McCabe told us that he did not recall the specific words he used with Evans, but he believed he conveyed to Evans that the FBI" felt strongly'' that the FISA application should move forward. McCabe said that he understood at the time that the FBI would likely be criticized no matter what the team did or did not do, but he believed that the team had to get to the bottom of this potentially serious threat to national security. He said that if the FBI had not sought FISA authority under the circumstances presented here simply because the team was afraid of the" political nature'' of the information, the FBI would have failed to do its job.

The email on October 12, referenced above, from the OGC Unit Chief to Anderson and the OGC Attorney following the meeting with Comey and McCabe, said that Lisa Page would inform Evans of the FBl 's decision to move forward with the FISA application.
Text messages from Lisa Page to McCabe indicate that Page communicated with Evans later that same day:

3: 11 p.m., Lisa Page to McCabe:" OI now has a robust explanation re any possible bias of the chs in the package.
Do n't know what the holdup is now, other than Stu 's continued concerns. Strong operational need to have in place before Monday if at all possible, which means ct tomorrow. I communicated you and boss 's green light to Stu earlier, and just sent an email to Stu asking where things stood. This might take a high level push. Will keep you posted.

3: 13 p.m., Page to McCabe:" If I have not heard back from Stu in an hour, I will invoke your name to say you want to know where things are, so long as okay with you.''

Later the same day, Page sent a text message to McCabe stating that she''[ s] poke to Stu.
Let 's talk in the morning.'' Available text message records are unclear as to whether McCabe responded directly to this text or to the previous text message at 3:13 p.m., but to one or the other, McCabe responded," Ok.''

Shortly before Lisa Page 's first text to McCabe above, the Crossfire Hurricane team provided to OI additional information regarding Steele that the OI Attorney had requested.
In an email on October 12, OI asked the FBI team what Steele had been specifically hired to do, what the FBI knew about the motivation of the individual who hired Steele, including whether that individual was a supporter of Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party, and if the FBI could" articulate why it deems[ Steele 's] reporting to be credible notwithstanding[ Steele] did the investigation based on[ a] private citizen 's motivation to help[ Hillary Clinton/Democratic Party].'' Through SSA 1, the team advised OI that based on information from Steele, Steele was specifically hired by an individual to provide information on candidate Trump 's business affairs and contacts in Russia, Steele was never advised of the motivation of the individual who hired him, the individual who hired him was hired by an unidentified law firm in Washington, D.C., and" anything further would be speculation.'' In response to OI 's final question about Steele 's credibility, SSA 1 responded that:( 1) the FBI has had an established relationship with the source since 2013;( 2) the source was generating reporting well before the opening of Crossfire Hurricane and the leaks concerning the DNC emails, and therefore this was not a situation where a source was attempting to steer an ongoing investigation; and( 3) Steele was not a U.S. citizen and therefore had no vested interest in the outcome of the election. The OI Attorney forwarded this information to the OI Unit Chief, noting that," This creates more questions for me now...''

During further back and forth over a 3-day period, the Crossfire Hurricane team advised OI that Steele was hired by Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, they did not know Simpson 's motivations, and they did not know the name of the law firm that retained Fusion GPS or its connections to Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party because Steele did not believe asking Simpson about his client was appropriate.
However, we found no evidence that Steele advised the FBI that he believed asking Simpson about the name of his client would be inappropriate. Rather, as described in Chapter Four, we obtained conflicting testimony as to whether Steele was even requested by the FBI to ask Simpson for the name of the law firm. Steele 's FBI handler( Handling Agent 1) told us that he informed Steele during their July 5 meeting that the FBI would be interested in finding out the name of the law firm. SSA 2 told us that he understood Handling Agent 1" stayed away from tasking[ Steele] about the identity of the U.S. law firm.'' During his OIG interview, Steele told us that he did not know the identity of the law firm when he met with Handling Agent 1 on July 5. Steele said that he learned of it later in July and probably told the FBI the law firm 's name at some later date, but he did not specifically recall.

The Crossfire Hurricane team further advised OI that Steele 's Primary Sub-source recently provided unrelated information that was found by[ REDACTED] to be consistent with other reporting on the same topic.
OI asked the team what the FBI knew about the September 23, 2016 Yahoo News article that quoted a" well-placed Western intelligence source'' for information ostensibly coming from Steele 's reporting about Carter Page 's alleged meetings with Sechin and Divyekin. The team responded that they did not have any additional details regarding the leak.

On October 14, the OI Attorney consolidated in writing for Evans and OI management the additional details concerning Steele, described above, that the FBI provided over the previous 3 days.
According to Evans, at this point, he and the others in OI believed that they had received all the information the FBI had on Steele. The OI Attorney and the OI Unit Chief then revised the footnote in the draft application on Steele to address the potential that Steele, or those who hired him, had a bias. Specifically, they added the following paragraph, which became part of Footnote 8 in the read copy and final application:

[ Steele], who now owns a foreign business/financial intelligence firm, was approached by an identified U.S. person, who indicated to[ Steele] that a U.S.-based law firm had hired the identified U.S. person to conduct research regarding Candidate# l 's ties to Russia( the identified U.S. person and[ Steele] have a long-standing business relationship).
The identified U.S. person hired[ Steele] to conduct this research. The identified U.S. person never advised[ Steele] as to the motivation behind the research into Candidate# l 's ties to Russia. The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate# 1 's campaign.

According to Evans, the use of the term" speculates'' in the footnote was intended to convey that even though the FBI did not know at the time who Simpson 's and the U.S. law firm 's ultimate client was, the FBI believed it was likely that it was someone who was seeking political opposition research against candidate Trump.
The FBI represented to Evans and OI that the Crossfire Hurricane team assumed, but did not know, that someone associated with the Hillary Clinton campaign or the Democratic Party paid for the research. According to Evans, the use of" speculates'' in a FISA application was unusual, but, in this context, he believed it was necessary to fully advise the court of the potential for bias. Evans told us that this additional information made him comfortable with the way that Steele was described in the application, specifically by making clear to the court that Steele had conducted opposition research on behalf of someone who appeared to have the intention of discrediting the Trump campaign.

Evans told us that sources often have" baggage'' and can have a bias, but that does not necessarily make their information unreliable, especially if the FBI has a long history of assessing the source 's reporting as reliable.
In his experience, the important thing is to make sure that enough information is presented to the court so that the judge understands the issue. His general approach with this particular footnote was to exceed" what was even legally required and just mak[ e] sure there was nothing... left on the table about this source that we could be open to criticism on afterwards, based on what the FBI was giving us.''

After OI made this revision to the footnote, OI submitted an updated draft application to McCord for her review on October 14.
McCord remembered reading an early draft of the probable cause section and believed she probably read an updated probable cause section at least one more time before the read copy was filed focused on the questions OI asked the FBI and the revisions that were made to address those questions. Based upon our review of relevant emails, it appears that McCord provided comments on the October 14 draft. She said her strongest memory was asking about Steele 's fee arrangement with Fusion GPS, which is also reflected in an October 18 email from the OI Unit Chief to his supervisors. McCord also remembered discussions within NSD and with ODAG about the prudential question described earlier as to whether to file the application even if it was legally supportable. She said the collective thinking was that filing the application was a legitimate investigative step even though it may later be criticized unfairly.

Other Substantive Changes to the Application before ODAG Review

In addition to the revisions made to the Steele footnote, the October 14 draft application contained another substantive change from earlier drafts, concerning the FBI 's assessment of whether Steele was the source for the September 23 Yahoo News article described earlier in this chapter.

The draft FISA applications, and later the read copy and final application, advised the court that the Yahoo News article reported that U.S. intelligence officials were investigating Carter Page 's involvement in suspected efforts by the Russian government to influence the U.S. presidential election and that a" well-placed Western intelligence source'' told Yahoo News about Carter Page 's alleged secret meetings with Sechin and Divyekin.
The applications stated that, based on statements made in the Yahoo News article and in other news articles, individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign made statements distancing the campaign from Carter Page. Further, the applications noted that Page himself denied the accusations in the Yahoo News article and reiterated that denial in a September 25 letter to the FBI Director and in a September 26 media interview.

Evans told the OIG that OI included the reference to the September 23 Yahoo News article in the FISA application solely because it was favorable to Carter Page and not as corroboration for the Steele reporting in the application.
According to Evans, the application 's treatment of the article was favorable to Page in three respects:( 1) the application described statements in the article that the campaign distanced itself from Page and minimized his role as an advisor;( 2) the application stated that Page denied the allegations in the news article in a letter to the Director; and( 3) as described below, the application made clear that the people who financed Steele 's reporting were likely the same source for the information in the article.

The drafts of the FISA application that preceded the October 14 draft-including the October 11 draft that the FBI expected would be submitted to the FISC as the final read copy-stated that the FBI" believes that the` well-placed Western intelligence source' is Steele.''
After reviewing the initial drafts, Evans asked OI to" drill down'' on why Steele disclosed information to the media. For example, in an October 11 email to OI staff, Evans asked" does the FBI know why the source provided this info to the press.... Is there anything about his decision to speak to the press that suggests he 's got a bias? ''

The result of this effort culminated in new language in the October 14 draft stating that the FBI believed it was Glenn Simpson or the law firm who hired Simpson, and not Steele, who provided Steele 's reporting to the media.
With respect to the basis for the FBI 's assessment, the language that appeared in Footnote 18 of the read copy and final application stated the following:

As discussed above,[ Steele] was hired by a business associate to conduct research into Candidate# l 's ties to Russia.
[ Steele] provided the results of his research to the business associate, and the FBI assesses that the business associate likely provided this information to the law firm that hired the business associate in the first place.[ Steele] told the FBI that he/she only provided this information to the business associate and the FBI. Given that the information contained in the September 23rd News Article generally matches the information about Page that[ Steele] discovered during his/her research, the FBI assesses that[ Steele 's] business associate or the law firm that hired the business associate likely provided this information to the press. The FBI also assesses that whoever gave the information to the press stated that the information was provided by a" well-placed Western intelligence source.'' The FBI does not believe that[ Steele] directly provided this information to the press.

Case Agent 1 told the OIG that he did not recall why the October 11 draft stated that Steele was the" well-placed Western intelligence source'' or the reason the language was changed in the updated draft to state that the FBI did not believe Steele directly provided the information in the article.
He said he did not recall the details regarding what he was told, or what he told OI, about whether Steele was the source for the Yahoo News article leak. The OGC Attorney told us that he was not familiar with how the change between drafts occurred.

The OI Attorney said he could not recall the circumstances that led to the change in the drafts, including whether the Crossfire Hurricane team originally told him that Steele had disclosed the information to Yahoo News.
The OI Attorney said that it was possible he had assumed that that was the case and wrote the initial drafts in that manner for the FBI 's consideration. The OI Attorney told us that at some point during the drafting process, the FBI assured him that Steele had not spoken with Yahoo News because the source was" a professional.'' We did not find any evidence that the FBI asked Steele whether he was a source for the information in the September 23 Yahoo News article. As described later in this chapter, the basis the FBI asserted in the application for its assessment that Steele was not a source was inaccurate and the documentation in the Woods File did not support it.

Another change from the early drafts of the first FISA application was the addition of particularized minimization procedures( PMPs) at the request of Evans.
The final PMPs restricted access to the information collected through FISA authority to the individuals assigned to the Crossfire Hurricane team and required the approval of a DAD or higher before any FISA-derived information could be disseminated outside the FBI. In normal circumstances, the FBI is given more latitude to disseminate FISA-derived information that appears to be foreign intelligence information or evidence of a crime. Evans told us that he believed these added restrictions were warranted here because of the possibility that the FISA collection would include sensitive political campaign related information. 4. October Meeting between Page and an FBI CHS

As we summarize in Chapter Ten, in October 2016, before the FBI obtained the initial FISA authority targeting Carter Page, an FBI CHS had a consensually monitored meeting with Page.
During the meeting, among other things, Page said that he wanted to develop a research institute and, in talking about how he would fund the institute, Page said," I do n't want to say there 'd be an open checkbook, but the Russians would definitely...'' According to the partial transcript, the sentence trailed off as Carter Page laughed. The CHS then stated" they would fund it-yeah you could do alright there'' and Page responded" Yeah, but that has its pros and cons, right? '' At another point in the conversation, Page noted that he had" a longstanding constructive relationship with the Russians going back throughout'' his life. When asked about the link between the Russians and Wikileaks, Page said that,''[ as he has] made clear in a lot of... subsequent discussions/interviews...! know nothing about that-on a personal level, you know no one 's ever said a word to me.'' With regard to the platform committee during the Republican National Convention, Page said that he" stayed clear of that-there was a lot of conspiracy theories that I was one of them...[ but] totally off the record... members of our team were working on that, and... in retrospect it 's way better off that! ... remained at arms length.''

Carter Page also told the CHS during the meeting that the" core lie'' against him in the media" is that[ Page] met with these sanctioned Russian officials, several of which I 've never met in my entire life.''
Page said that the" core lie'' concerned" Sechin[ who] is the main guy, the head of Rosneft...[ and] there 's another guy I had never even heard of, you know he 's like, in the inner circle.'' When asked about that person 's name, Page said" I ca n't even remember, it 's just so outrageous.''

The Crossfire Hurricane team provided to OI some, but not all, of the information obtained during this meeting for inclusion in the first FISA application.
According to the description in the FISA application, Page met with the FBI CHS on a particular date in October and made statements that led the FBI to believe that Page continued to be closely tied to Russian officials, including the suggestion that" the Russians'' would be giving him an" open checkbook'' to fund a foreign policy think tank project. The description also stated that Page told the CHS that he may be appearing in a televised interview to discuss the potential for change in U.S. foreign policy toward Russia and Syria in the event Trump wins the presidential election. However, as discussed later in this chapter, the application filed with the court did not fully or accurately describe the information obtained by the FBI as a result of this meeting because the FBI did not advise OI that Page denied meeting with Sechin and Divyekin, as alleged in Report 94, or that Page denied knowing anything about the disclosure by Wikileaks of hacked DNC emails, as alleged in Report 95.

In addition, the FBI did not advise OI that Carter Page denied having been involved with the Republican Platform Committee.
Page 's statements to the FBI CHS, if true, would have been inconsistent with the FBI 's assessment in the FISA application that Page helped influence the Republican Party to change its platform to be more sympathetic to Russia 's interests by eliminating language in the Republican platform about providing weapons to Ukraine. The FBI 's assessment was based in part on Report 95 's allegation that Page and possibly others agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue in exchange for Russia 's disclosure of hacked DNC emails to Wikileaks. The assessment also drew upon news articles in July and August 2016 reporting that the Trump campaign influenced the Republican Party to change its platform to not call for giving Ukraine weapons to fight Russian and rebel forces. 5. Feedback from ODAG and Submission of the Read Copy

At the time OI submitted the October 14 draft application to McCord, OI simultaneously sent the draft to ODAG for review.
Over the next few days, the application was reviewed by Gauhar, an OI attorney on detail in ODAG, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Matthew Axelrod, and later Yates, who ultimately approved and signed the final application.

As noted previously, in instances where the DAG approves and signs FISA applications, OI typically submits the application package to ODAG as a finished product after the read copy has been filed with the court and shortly before or during the oral briefing on the final application.
However, in cases with heightened sensitivity, which can occur for a variety of reasons, OI may proactively flag the application for ODAG earlier in the process for special attention, which OI did in this case. Further, although sometimes NSD will ask ODAG whether it wants to read a flagged application in advance, Evans told us that in this case NSD decided that it would not submit the read copy to the FISC until Yates had personally read it and said she was comfortable moving forward.

Gauhar and the OI attorney on detail, both of whom had prior FISA experience in OI before joining ODAG, were the first to review the draft Carter Page application.
On October 18, the two met with OI to discuss specific suggestions they had for the probable cause section, and later in the day, OI circulated an updated draft incorporating new edits to address ODAG 's suggestions. According to Gauhar, and as reflected in the October 18 updated draft, her office had suggested edits to add more emphasis and focus on Carter Page in the probable cause section, while at the same time making changes in tone to characterize the Trump campaign in a more neutral manner. She explained that ODAG wanted to make sure that the court was not left with the misimpression that the FBI had information indicating that there were current members of the Trump campaign who were wittingly conspiring with Russia. Gauhar said she did not think that OI intentionally drafted the application in that direction, and she thought that some additional changes would help ensure that there was no misimpression.

Axelrod said he read the October 18 draft the next morning and had some suggested edits to further address the theme of the edits from the day before.
ODAG sent NSD the additional suggested changes, and NSD and the FBI accepted the changes and incorporated them into the read copy.

ODAG 's edits did not suggest significant changes to the Steele information in the application.
Gauhar said that she was in communication with Evans when he was asking his questions about Steele and by the time that she reviewed the draft, she knew that Evans and others had drilled down on the source.

On October 18, Gauhar reached out to Lisa Page, her contact in the Deputy Director 's office, to advise her that the Carter Page FISA application was under review in ODAG.
According to Gauhar, she was aware at the time that the FBI had been pushing OI to complete the process on the application, and she wanted McCabe to know that the application was now with ODAG and they were working on it. Page advised Gauhar that it was possible that McCabe might ask Yates about the status of application during a regularly scheduled meeting the following morning on October 19. We did not find any evidence reflecting that McCabe asked Yates during that morning meeting on October 19 about the status of the application, and McCabe told us that he did not have a specific recollection of having done so.

As noted earlier, Evans told the OIG that he discussed the issue of whether this FISA application was a good idea with McCabe after a regularly scheduled meeting on October 19.
Gauhar told us that sometime around this date, she believes that Yates may have had a similar discussion with McCabe. According to Gauhar, she advised Axelrod that Evans had raised his prudential question with the FBI, and she said she had a general recollection that Yates may have had direct conversations with McCabe to discuss FBI leadership 's position on moving forward with the application. Gauhar said she was not present during any such conversations between Yates and FBI leadership and did not recall the details, but she believed Yates was told that FBI leadership felt strongly that the FISA was an important investigative step.

Yates told the OIG that she did not specifically recall any conversations with either McCabe or Comey about the Carter Page FISA application, but that such conversations could have happened.
Yates said she had a general recollection that the FBI believed that they really needed to take this investigative step, but whether that understanding was the result of a specific conversation or just by virtue of the fact that Comey was prepared to sign off on the FISA application, she did not recall. Comey and McCabe told us that they did not recall a discussion with Yates about the FISA application.

On October 19, after incorporating Axelrod 's edits, OI finalized the read copy of the Carter Page FISA application and sent it to the Crossfire Hurricane team for final review.
Late in the evening, Strzok notified Evans that the FBI was comfortable with its accuracy and content. Separately, Evans received notice from ODAG that, as he requested, Yates had read the application and had cleared NSD to file the read copy with the court. OI filed the read copy with the FISC the next day.

The OIG found no indication that then Attorney General Loretta Lynch or anyone in the Office of the Attorney General( OAG) was involved in the preparation, review, or approval of the Carter Page FISA application.
Gauhar told us that she had brief conversations with Lynch 's National Security Counselor and Chief of Staff to advise them for their situational awareness that a FISA application targeting Carter Page was expected to be filed. Neither the National Security Counselor nor the Chief of Staff read the application prior to its filing with the court. Lynch also said she did not read the application and did not recall any conversations about it.
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