The chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) condemned the FBI on Tuesday, Dec. 17, for the errors and omissions in its request to investigate Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page, which occurred under the leadership of disgraced former FBI Director James Comey.
Judge Rosemary Collyer, the presiding judge on FISC, issued the stern and unprecedented rebuke in a memo ordering the FBI to come up with solutions by Jan. 10, 2020, on how to ensure the accuracy of the information in future applications for surveillance warrants.
Collyer wrote in her order, “The FBI’s handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the [Office of Inspector General] report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above.”
The order follows the release of the report by Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Horowitz, detailing 17 “significant errors and omissions” in the surveillance page warrant application.
“The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether the information contained in other FBI applications is reliable,” Collyer added.
“Therefore, the Court orders that the government shall, no later than January 10, 2020, inform the Court in a sworn written submission of what it has done, and plans to do, to ensure that the statement of facts in each FBI application accurately and completely reflects information possessed by the FBI that is material to any issue presented by the application,” the order continues.
Horowitz said he found no substantial evidence that FBI agents were involved in a political conspiracy to undermine Trump’s 2016 campaign. Nevertheless, the report found numerous errors and inaccuracies that FBI agents used to get authorization to track phone calls and emails from Page.
Collyer pointed out to the IG’s report that FBI agents did not disclose that Steele said in an interview at the beginning of October 2016, before the office sent the first wiretap request, that one of the main sources for the dossier was a “boaster” and an “embelliser.” Agents also omitted comments from Steele’s main information provider, who denied key parts of the dossier during an interview.
Collyer’s order was by some Republican lawmakers, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
“Very pleased to see the FISA court condemn the FISA warrant application and process against Carter Page,” Graham said in a statement. “As Inspector General Horowitz’s report describes in great detail, the FISA process falsified evidence and withheld exculpatory evidence to obtain a warrant against Mr. Page on numerous occasions.”
Reps. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) and Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) introduced the FISA Improvements Act last week in a bid to “stop these abuses and better reform FISA by introducing criteria to the FBI, the DOJ, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which would also give Congress critical new insight to perform oversight of the FISA powers.
“The deceptive actions of a few high-ranking officials within the FBI and the Department of Justice have eroded public trust in our federal institutions,” Stewart stated. “They flattened internal guardrails, deceived the FISA court, and irreparably damaged the reputation of an innocent American”—a reference to Page, according to Fox News.
Several Senate Republicans publicly named Utah Senator and FISA-skeptic Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) as a leader on the issue, according to Nationa Review.
“I wish Mike Lee weren’t sitting here two people from me right now, because as a national security hawk, I’ve argued with Mike Lee in the four-and-a-half or five years that I’ve been in the Senate that stuff just like this couldn’t possibly happen at the FBI and at the Department of Justice,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said during a Senate hearing on the IG report.
“Because we’ve now seen the abuses we were warned about, you can smirk again, you were right,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) told Lee.