Judicial Watch Lawsuit Forces Declassification and Release of ‘Electronic Communication’ Used to Launch Obama Administration’s Spy Operation on President Trump’s 2016 Campaign
(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch announced today that it received the “electronic communication” (EC) that officially launched the counterintelligence investigation, termed “Crossfire Hurricane,” of President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The document was written by former FBI official Peter Strzok and was obtained as the result of a Judicial Watch FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) lawsuit against the FBI and DOJ for: “The Electronic Communication that initiated the counterintelligence investigation of President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.” (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-02743)).
The redacted document details seeming third-hand information that the Russian government “had been seeking prominent members of the Donald Trump campaign in which to engage to prepare for potential post-election relations should Trump be elected U.S. President.” The document also alleges Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, claimed to an unnamed party that “they (the Russians) could assist the Trump campaign with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton.”
The document notes, “It was unclear whether he [Papadopoulos] or the Russians were referring to material acquired publicly of [sic] through other means. It was unclear how Mr. Trump’s team reacted to the offer. We note the Trump team’s reaction could, in the end, have little bearing of what Russia decides to do, with or without Mr. Trump’s cooperation.”
The document is dated July 31, 2016. The text of the “electronic communication” is reprinted below:
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
Title: Crossfire Hurricane Date: 07/31/2016
Strzok Peter P II
Contact: Strzok Peter P II, [Redacted]
Approved by: Strzok Peter P II
Drafed by: Strzok Peter P II
Case ID #: [Redacted]
FOREIGN AGENTS REGISTRATION ACT –
SENSITIVE INVESTIGATIVE MATTER
DOCUMENT RESTRICTED TO CASE PARTICIPANTS
This document contains information that is restricted to case participants
Synopsis: (S/ /
CC/NF) Opens and assigns investigation
Reason 1.4 (b)
Derived from: FBI
Declassify On: 20411231
NF) An investigation is being opened based on information received by Legat [Redacted] on 07/29/2016. The text of that email follows:
Title: (S/ / CC/NF) CROSSFIRE HURRICANE
Re: [Redacted] 07/31/2016
FOUO) Legat [Redacted] information from [Redacted] Deputy Chief of Mission
FOUO) Legat [Redacted] received information from the [Redacted] Deputy Chief of Mission related to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s website/server.
REL TO USA[Redacted] On Wednesday, July 27, 2016, Legal Attaché (Legat) [Redacted] was summoned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) for the [Redacted] who will be leaving [Redacted] post Saturday July 30, 2016 and set to soon thereafter retire from government service, advised [Redacted] was called by [Redacted] about an urgent matter requiring an in person meeting with the U.S. Ambassador. [Note: [Redacted]. The [Redacted] was scheduled to be away from post until mid-August, therefore [Redacted] attended the meeting.
(S/ [Redacted]) [Redacted] advised that [Redacted] government had been seeking prominent members of the Donald Trump campaign in which to engage to prepare for potential post-election relations should Trump be elected U.S. President. One of the people identified was George Papadopolous (although public media sources provide a spelling of Papadopoulos), who was believed to be one of Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisers. Mr. Papdopoulos was located in [Redacted] so the [Redacted] met with him on several occasions, with [Redacted] attending at least one of the meetings.
(S/ [Redacted]) [Redacted] recalled [Redacted] of the meetings between Mr. Papdopolous and [Redacted] concerning statements Mr. Papadopolous made about suggestions from the Russians that they (the Russians) could assist the Trump campaign with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton. [Redacted] provided a copy of the reporting that was provided to [Redacted] from [Redacted] to Legal [Redacted]. The text is exactly as follows:
(S/ [Redacted]) 5. Mr. Papadopolous [Redacted] also suggested the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from Russia that it could assist this process with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Mrs. Clinton (and President Obama). It was unclear whether he or the Russians were referring to material acquired publicly of through other means. It was also unclear how Mr. Trump’s team reacted to the offer. We note the Trump team’s reaction could, in the end, have little bearing of what Russia decides to do, with or without Mr. Trump’s cooperation.
(s/ [Redacted] Legat requests that further action on this information should consider the sensitivity that this information was provided through informal diplomatic channels from [Redacted] to the U.S. Embassy’s DCM. It was clear from the conversation Legal [Redacted]
had with DCM that [Redacted] knew follow-up by the U.S. government would be necessary, but extraordinary efforts should be made to protect the source of this information until such a time that a request from our organization can be made to [Redacted] to obtain this information through formal channels.
CC/NF) Based on the information provided by Legat [Redacted] this investigation is being opened to determine whether individual(s) associated with the Trump campaign are witting of and/or coordinating activities with the Government of Russia.
“No wonder the DOJ and FBI resisted the public release of this infamous ‘electronic communication’ that ‘opened’ Crossfire Hurricane – it shows there was no serious basis for the Obama administration to launch an unprecedented spy operation on the Trump campaign,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “We now have more proof that Crossfire Hurricane was a scam, based on absurd gossip and innuendo. This document is Exhibit A to Obamagate, the worst corruption scandal in American history. This document shows how Attorney General Barr and U.S. Attorney Durham are right to question the predicate of this spy operation.”
Included with each of Judicial Watch’s July, 2019 FOIA requests to the FBI and DOJ was an April 2018 letter from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to the DOJ concerning a congressional subpoena for the same record.
The DOJ initially provided the Intelligence Committee a heavily redacted copy of the Electronic Communication it sought. Only after the Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena did the DOJ, on April 10, 2018, provide a less redacted version, which has not been released publicly.
The DOJ IG also referenced and quoted the EC in its December report on FISA abuse targeting President Trump and Carter Page. The IG report, FBI texts, and testimony show President Obama was aware of Crossfire Hurricane.
Judicial Watch had previously received a production of 144 pages of emails between Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page in which the Electronic Communication was discussed.
On July 31, 2016, Strzok sent an email under the subject line “Opening EC” to Jonathan Moffa, a deputy assistant director in the bureau’s Counterintelligence Division, Lisa Page and an unidentified FBI Office of General Counsel official.
Strzok: Hey just realized I need a succinct statement for the Opening EC. To open bidding I propose: [redacted]. Comments, please.
Moffa: I would recommend: [redacted].
Page: I like Jon’s additions and subtraction.
Strzok: Thanks. So: [redacted].