Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) vowed to call four signers of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page to testify in light of the Justice Department Inspector General’s report on FISA abuse.
Graham told CBS News that he would pursue private depositions and public testimony from former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Attorney General Sally Yates, and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The prominent Republican also plans to call in current FBI chief Christopher Wray, who took over at the bureau following Comey’s firing in 2017. Wray was not involved in the approval of FISA applications for Page.
Graham said he will provide the Justice Department with a witness list for the FISA hearings shortly, and the hearings may begin between late February and early March.
“I'm going to get to the bottom of the FISA work process because it was an abuse of power of the Department of Justice, the FBI,” the South Carolinian lawmaker told Margaret Brennan on Face the Nation Sunday.
The December report by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that the FBI made serious missteps in its investigation into the Trump campaign. Horowitz said there were at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” in the Page FISA applications made between fall 2016 and summer 2017.
The FISA filings were based on the unverified dossier authored by British former spy Christopher Steele, who had been hired by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee through the law firm Perkins Coie.
In one of the most damning findings of the Horowitz report, it is now known that FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith altered an e-mail used by officials as they prepared to present their case for spying on Page to the FISA court.
As The New American has previously reported:
Among the irregularities discovered by Horowitz was a doctored e-mail sent to the FBI from the CIA concerning Page. The CIA explained to the FBI that Page had contacts with Russians from 2008 to 2013, but Page had already reported these contacts to the CIA, and was in fact serving as an operational contact and informant on Russians' business and intelligence interests for the agency.
Despite this, someone within the FBI chose to alter the e-mail to make it appear to the court that the CIA had only said that Page was not an active source for them. The FBI chose to not include in its warrant request to the FISC that Page was a volunteer working with the CIA.
“That so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations that was briefed to the highest levels within the FBI, and that FBI officials expected would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny, raised significant questions regarding the FBI chain of command's management and supervision of the FISA process,” Horowitz said.
U.S. Attorney John Durham has been conducting a probe into the origins of the Russia investigation, which ultimately did not determine that President Trump colluded with the foreign power.
In a House hearing last week, Representative John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) said that the Justice Department and FISA Court “acknowledge that this was illegal surveillance with respect to at least several of these FISA applications because there was no probable cause or proper predication. Correct?” Wray responded, "Right,” leading to speculation that Durham’s probe will result in charges.
However, the DOJ has declined to pursue criminal charges against McCabe for allegedly lying to investigators about authorizing media disclosures. “We write to inform you that, after careful consideration, the government has decided not to pursue criminal charges against your client, Andrew G. McCabe, arising from the referral by the Office of Inspector General,” federal prosecutors wrote.
This same week, however, federal prosecutors recommended a sentence of up to nine years in prison for Roger Stone, the Trump ally charged with lying to the FBI in relation to the Mueller probe.
President Trump took to Twitter to voice his discontent with the sentence recommendation, and Justice Department leadership recommended a lighter sentence, prompting four prosecutors on the Stone case to resign in protest.
The situation has provoked outrage from Democrats, with some, like Senator Elizabeth Warren (Mass) calling on Barr to step down or be impeached.
The president asserted that while he did not interfere in the Justice Department’s decision, he has a legal right to do so.
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