The identity of an FBI agent who was faulted for making some of the most significant ‘errors’ detailed in a scathing Justice Department inspector general report on FISA abuses against a 2016 Trump campaign associate has been revealed.
Citing people familiar with the FBI’s ‘Russian collusion’ probe, The New York Times Stephen A. Somma, a counterintelligence investigator who works out of the bureau’s New York field office, as “Case Agent 1” from the inspector general’s (IG) report.
The IG heavily criticized the FBI for abusing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court in attaining at least two improper surveillance warrants against Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide.
“Case Agent 1” is singled in the report as being “primarily responsible for some of the most significant errors and omissions in the FISA applications,” The Daily Caller reported Monday.
Somma was involved in multiple aspects of “Crossfire Hurricane,” the official name of the the FBI counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign.
He was the FBI agent who initially sought a surveillance warrant against Page, the IG report stated.
Somma apparently pushed for a FISA warrant “almost immediately” after the FBI opened Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016, the IG report added.
Initially, Somma’s surveillance request was rejected by the FISA court, which in and of itself is extremely rare. But FBI lawyers later approved his second request for a FISA warrant against Page after the bureau received the “Russia dossier” from former British spy Christopher Steele.
In the dossier, Steele alleged that Page was a key player in Trump’s 2016 campaign’s “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” with the Russian government’s attempts to influence the election.
The IG blamed the FBI for failing to verify details in the dossier before using it to obtain a FISA warrant. A subsequent investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller determined that no evidence existed to substantiate the claim.
Later, reports noted that the dossier itself was paid for by a political opposition research firm, Fusion GPS. The money for the dossier was supplied by the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC, through a law firm, Perkins Coie.
“Somma was in charge of verifying the accuracy of information included in the FISA applications. He was also the FBI handler for Stefan Halper, a former Cambridge professor who met with and secretly recorded Trump campaign aides Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos,” The Daily Caller reported.
The IG noted Somma failed to disclose potentially exculpatory information that Page and Papadopoulos told Halper.
In addition, he also failed to disclose that the CIA told him on Aug. 15, 2016, that Page had been an “operational contact” for the agency years earlier.
It’s not clear who was directing Somma’s actions at the bureau.