President Donald Trump is calling on the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to look into allegations that Obama administration officials knowingly used false information to obtain surveillance warrants against one of Trump’s campaign advisers.
On Fox News’ Hannity Wednesday, network legal analyst Gregg Jarrett suggested that the FISC investigate charges that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other Justice Department officials presented a dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele as part of their applications for four warrants to eavesdrop on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page despite the fact that the FBI was aware that the dossier was far from accurate. Trump then quoted Jarrett in a pair of tweets:
“[Justice Department intelligence analyst Bruce] Ohr told the FBI it (the Fake Dossier) wasn’t true, it was a lie and the FBI was determined to use it anyway to damage Trump and to perpetrate a fraud on the court to spy on the Trump campaign. This is a fraud on the court. The Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is in charge of the FISA court. He should direct the Presiding Judge, Rosemary Collier [sic], to hold a hearing, haul all of these people from the DOJ & FBI in there, & if she finds there were crimes committed, and there were, there should be a criminal referral by her….” @GreggJarrett
Rosemary Collyer, whose last name Trump misspelled, is indeed the presiding judge of the FISC, which hears — in secret — government requests for surveillance warrants.
The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid research firm Fusion GPS to compile the dossier in 2016. Fusion GPS then hired Steele to work on it; at the same time, Steele was also working as an FBI source. Ohr, whose wife, Nellie, was also employed by Fusion GPS at the time, became one of Steele’s contacts for sharing information with the Obama administration.
Republicans allege that the FBI used Steele’s dossier as one of the prime pieces of evidence in its Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications even though the agency knew the dossier was false. They further claim that the FBI’s applications used a seemingly independent news report to corroborate the dossier without telling the FISC that Steele had served as one of the anonymous sources for the article.
Ohr’s closed-door testimony before two House committees Tuesday seems to have confirmed their suspicions. Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told Fox News @ Night Tuesday evening that, based on Ohr’s testimony, he believes the FBI omitted “important facts” about the dossier in its FISA applications. Jordan said “he learned the FBI failed to disclose to the court who funded the dossier, Ohr’s role in its production and former British spy Christopher Steele’s ‘extreme bias’ against Trump at the time.”
All this suggests that the FISC was had. The Obama administration, it appears, did not have the goods on Page but instead used an obviously phony document cooked up by a Trump hater and paid for by Trump’s opponent to fraudulently obtain surveillance warrants against Page. Trump is therefore justified in asking Supreme Court Justice John Roberts to direct Collyer to investigate the charges and refer for prosecution any parties she believes are guilty. Those parties may include former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Attorney General Sally Yates, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, all of whom signed off on the warrants.
“The only way to restore trust [in the FISC] and send an unmistakable signal that such abuses cannot and will not be tolerated in the future is to hold people accountable for those abuses,” declared the National Sentinel.
On the other hand, points out the website, “The entire concept of a ‘secret court’ in the United States of America is anathema to our founding principles of open, transparent government and judicial processes.” As long as such a court exists, it will continue to allow officials to run roughshod over Americans’ constitutional rights and to engage in chicanery that is difficult to unearth. Holding people accountable for abusing FISA is important, but doing away with the unconstitutional law is the only way to guarantee it will never be used, let alone abused, again.
Photo of President Trump: AP Images