Cruz: OIG Report Found Steele Report Based on Statements Made in ‘Jest’

By Melanie Arter | December 11, 2019 | 3:48pm EST
(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

( – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Wednesday compared leadership at the FBI and DOJ to “Beavis and Butthead,” saying that when he was working at the Justice Department, if someone suggested tapping Hillary or Bill Clinton or John Kerry, “the people would have said, ‘what in the hell are we talking about?’”

“I can tell you from my time at the Department of Justice and from my time in law enforcement, any responsible leader when hearing that you're talking about sending in spies and sending in a wiretap on any presidential nominee, should say what in the hell are we doing?” Cruz said after questioning DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on FISA abuses at the FBI.

“And by the way, the people up the chain who are saying we didn't know, if you had responsible leadership, there’s no more important decision than you make. I can tell you when I was at DOJ, if someone had said let's tap Hillary Clinton or let’s tap Bill Clinton or John Kerry, the people there would have said what in the hell are you talking about?” he said. “This wasn't Jason Bourne. This was Beavis and Butthead.”

Cruz called the IG report on FISA application abuses at the FBI to look into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to interfere in the 2016 election “a stunning indictment of the FBI and the Department of Justice of a pattern of abuse of power.”

“And I will say, both the Department of Justice and the FBI for decades have had a great many honorable principled professionals with a fidelity to rule of law, and this indictment—I’m an alumnus of the Department of Justice. This pattern of facts makes me angry, and it makes anyone who expects law enforcement to be nonpartisan and faithful to the law, it should make them angry as well,” he said.

Cruz said he disagrees with Horowitz’s conclusion that there was no evidence of political bias in the FBI’s FISA application to investigate the Trump campaign for possible coordination with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election.

“Now the press has focused on your specific conclusion that you did not find evidence of political bias. That's a judgment you have. I disagree with that judgment, but I think that judgment is in many ways the least significant component of this report. I think the facts that are in this report need to be understood, and they should be deeply chilling to anyone who understands the facts in this report, and then people can draw the inference as to why that pattern of abuse occurred,” he said.

When asked whether he agrees with Cruz’s assertion, Horowizitz said the purpose of the report “is to lay out the facts for the public, and everybody can debate and decide what they think of this information. I absolutely agree.”

The 17 major errors and misstatements made by the FBI and DOJ in securing the FISA warrants are “grotesque abuses of power,” Cruz said.

“So this 434-page report outlines 17 major errors and misstatements that were made by the FBI or DOJ in securing the FISA warrants. A number of them are deeply, deeply troubling. These are not typos. These are not small inadvertent errors. These are grotesque abuses of power,” he said.

CRUZ: Let’s focus on a couple of them.  The primary sub source, primary sub source and indeed the first error you note in the second, third and fourth application for the FISA warrant is that the primary sub source reporting raised serious questions about the accuracy of the Steele dossier, which we now know was a bunch of malarkey, to use a term that's been in the news lately, and, that the FISA court was not informed of that.

Now let's get specific. So the basis of this Steele report was what’s referred to in your report as the primary sub source. That was the principal basis, and the FBI interviewed that primary sub source not once, not twice, but three times in January, March, and May of 2017. So that’s the basis of this dossier.  What did the primary sub source say?

As the OIG report said, the interviews with the primary sub source raised ‘significant questions about the reliability of the Steele reporting period. What did the sub source says specifically? As your report goes on to say, it says Steele misstated or exaggerated multiple sections of the reporting. 

It says that portions of it, particularly of the more salacious and sexual portions, were based on ‘rumor and speculation.’ It says that some of the basis of that came from conversations with ‘friends over beers and statements that were made in jest.’ And the primary sub source also says to take the other sub sources ‘with a grain of salt.’

The FBI had that information, knew that the basis of this dossier was saying it’s unreliable, and what did the FBI and DOj do? In renewal application number two and number three, the FBI advised the court, ‘The FBI found the sub source to be truthful and cooperative with zero revisions.’ You note that as the most significant misstatement, and that is going in front of the court of law, relying on facts that you know are unreliable without any basis. That was the number one.

The number two major error in the applications was omitting Carter Page's prior relationship. Now we now have evidence that Carter Page functioned as a source for a United States intelligence agency. That's a pretty darn important fact. If you’re telling the FISA court, hey, the fact that this guy Carter Page, who I don’t know -- I don't know this guy Carter Page, but the fact that he's talking to Russians is really suspicious. 

The fact that he is serving as a source for U.S. Intelligence agents is pretty darn relevant to why he’s talking to Russians, because we have lots of sources that are talking to bad guys, and when you don't tell the court that, you’re deceiving the court, but it's worse than just deceiving the court, because as the OIG report details, an assistant general counsel in the FBI altered an email, fabricated evidence, and reading from the OIG report, specifically the words, ‘And not a source’ had been inserted into the email. That email then was sent on to the officials responsible for making the decision to go forward and as the report said, -- let me read on page 256 of the report the final paragraph. 

‘Consistent with the Inspector General Act of 1978 and following the OIG’s discovery that the OGC attorney had altered the email that he sent to the supervising agent who thereafter relied on it to swear out the final FISA application.’

So the men and women at home need to know what’s happening. A lawyer at the FBI creates fraudulent evidence, alters an email. That is in turn used as the basis for a sworn statement to the court that the court relies on. Am I stating that accurately?

HOROWITZ: That’s correct. That is what occurred.

CRUZ: You have worked in law enforcement a long time. Is the pattern of a Department of Justice employee altering evidence and submitting fraudulent evidence that ultimately gets submitted to a court, is that commonplace? Is that typical?

HOROWITZ: I have not seen an alteration of an email end up impacting a court document like this. 

CRUZ: In any ordinary circumstance, if a private citizen did this, fabricated evidence, and by the way, what he inserted was not just slightly wrong, it was 180 degrees opposite what the evidence said. So the intelligence agency said this guy is a source, and he inserted this guy is not a source. 

If a private citizen did that in any law enforcement investigation, if they fabricated evidence and reversed what it said, in your experience, would that private citizen be prosecuted for fabricating evidence, be prosecuted for obstruction of justice, be prosecuted for perjury? 

HOROWITZ: They certainly would be considered for that if there was an intentional effort to deceive the court. On this one, I’m going to defer, cause as we noted here in the sentence you indicated, we referred that over to the attorney general and the FBI director for handling. 

CRUZ: Third major omission that the Department of Justice and the FBI did not tell the court is that this entire operation was funded by the DNC, was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and by Democrats. It was an oppo research dump. Look at some level, this is the most effective oppo research dump in history, because the Department of Justice and FBI were perfectly happy to be hatchet men for this oppo research dump. Now throughout every one of the filings, DOJ and the FBI didn't inform the FISA court that this was being paid for by the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign, is that right? 

HOROWITZ: That’s not in any of the FISA applications. 

CRUZ: So they didn’t’ tell the court that, and it's not like DOJ didn't know. Indeed, one of the senior Department of Jjustice officials, Bruce Ohr, his wife worked at Fusion GPS, the oppo research company being paid by the DNC, and he became the principal liaison with Steele without telling anyone at the Department of Justice that he was essentially working on behalf of the Clinton campaign. 

Who at the Department of Justice was -- and by the way, several Democrats -- it's interesting seeing Democratic senators wanting to defend this abuse of power. Several senators - Senator Feinstein said, and I wrote this down. ‘The FBI didn't place spies in the Trump campaign.’ Senator Leahy said something similar. 

Well that may be true, not spies in the Trump campaign, but reading for your report and in  particular, page 4 of the executive summary, your report says ‘thereafter the Crossfire Hurricane team used the intrusive techniques including confidential human sources to interact and consensually record multiple conversations with Paige and Papadopoulos both before and after they were working for the Trump campaign as well as on one occasion with a high-level Trump campaign official who was not the subject of the investigation.

So they didn't place spies in the campaign, but they sent spies to record senior members of the campaign in the middle of a presidential campaign when that candidate was the nominee for the other major party that was the opposing party to the one in power. Is that right? 

HOROWITZ: They sent confidential human sources in to do those. 

CRUZ: Did anyone at DOJ-- who at DOJ knew about this? Did the attorney general know about this? Did the White House know about this? 

HOROWITZ: Based on what we found, nobody had been told in advance. The only evidence that somebody new were the line attorneys in NSD, in the national security division, when they were told very selective portions of what had occurred. Nobody knew beforehand. Nobody had been briefed, and frankly, that was one of the most concerning things here is that nobody needed to be told. 

CRUZ: I can tell you from my time at the Department of Justice and from my time in law enforcement, any responsible leader when hearing that you're talking about sending in spies and sending in a wiretap on any presidential nominee, should say what in the hell are we doing.

And by the way, the people up the chain who are saying we didn't know, if you had responsible leadership, there’s no more important decision than you make. I can tell you when I was at DOJ, if someone had said let's tap Hillary Clinton or let’s tap Bill Clinton or John Kerry, the people there would have said what in the hell are you talking about? This wasn't Jason Bourne. This was Beavis and Butthead.


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