The FBI were «experts» at eluding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process by the time the 2016 election came around, according to a top Republican lawmaker.
Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said a Justice Department watchdog report finding widespread problems with the FBI’s preparation of FISA warrant applications dating back to at least 2014 shows why Congress needs to have further oversight over the FISA court process.
As some pundits took the latest memo from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, released last week, as evidence the Trump campaign was not singled out because the problems predated the election contest, the congressman argued this merely meant the FBI was well prepared to dig up dirt on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page to leak to the media right before Election Day.
«It’s impossible to read the text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page; it’s impossible to look at the comments, the nasty comments coming out of the former director of the FBI, the CIA, the DNI, they’re all pundits on fake news media; it’s impossible to look at all of that and say that, ‘oh well the average FBI guys they were just making mistakes.'» No, that’s not the case,» Nunes said on One America News Network.
«They were clearly targeting the Trump campaign. It just so happens they already knew how to do it because they had been doing it before. So the dirty cops that were in place, who had been basically breaking the rules, violating people’s civil liberties, they knew exactly what they were doing,» he added.
Nunes said the FBI had become «experts at dodging the process and not following the rules. And by the time it got to the Trump campaign, they knew exactly what they could do.»
Once the FBI received the FISA warrant to wiretap Page, an American citizen who was under suspicion of being an agent for Russia, Nunes said, «They were hoping for something on Carter Page that they could leak out to dirty up the Trump campaign right at the end of October. Right before the 2016 election.»
Page was never charged with any wrongdoing, and no other Trump campaign official was charged with criminal conspiracy with the Russians. In his much larger report in December, Horowitz found several mistakes and errors in the FBI’s effort to obtain a warrant and three renewals to monitor Page in 2016 and 2017 but did not find any bias or improper motivation in the FBI’s decision to use the surveillance authority on Page.
Nunes said it will be up to U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is reviewing the Russia investigation, to decide if any officials in leadership, such as former FBI Director James Comey, had been involved in any purposeful misconduct. But he stressed such «dirty cops» were allowed to grow up under this system.
With parts of the FISA law expired, and lawmakers debating reforms, Nunes said Congress needs to take action and get more involved in the FISA process. He argued that the «best» of these reforms would be having intelligence committees in the House and Senate get «full, open access to these files at all times.»
He claimed Democrats leading the House Intelligence Committee would never allow Horowitz to come in for a public hearing and stressed it would be ideal if the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is GOP-controlled, could hold a hearing every two to three weeks on this issue to «get to the bottom» of the issue.
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