The “Russia” investigation goes on and on, with no evidence of collusion by the Trump team but nevertheless with no end in sight. At this point, people who are trying to do their jobs in the White House and in Congress, from the President on down, are understandably impatient. When people get impatient, they tend to fire off letters, and those letters have been flying this week, especially as it concerns the FBI and the FISA court.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has had enough, and he’s fired one off to Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions saying the applications submitted to the FISA court for surveillance of Carter Page appear to be in violation of FBI rules for the submission of evidence and may constitute crimes as well. FBI rules make it crystal clear that “only documented and verified information may be used to support FBI applications (FISA) to the Court (FISC).” Nunes also lists the specific laws that appear to have been broken. We absolutely know that the FBI used unverified information to get its warrant to spy on Carter Page, so Nunes wants to hear from Sessions how he’s going to deal with this very serious transgression by the FBI. Sessions may remain in his coma, but FBI Director Christopher Wray and DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz were cc’d. Nunes wants answers within 7 days.
But it’s not just the FBI. Why haven’t the judges on the FISA court had anything to say about these violations? They’ve been strangely quiet, at least as far as we can tell. The Landmark Legal Foundation, headed by Mark Levin, has filed a motion with the FISA court to take action regarding the alleged abuse by the Department of Justice and the FBI. The failure of federal judges to take action when they find out they’ve been misled in a case for which they issued warrants to spy on Americans is, according to Levin, something Congress needs to look into.
“I don’t expect the Department of Justice to investigate the Department of Justice,” he said in an interview with Sean Hannity. “I don’t expect the FBI to investigate the FBI, but I damn well expect federal judges serving as FISA court judges to make sure that misconduct wasn’t committed in front of them.”
The Foundation sent a letter to the FISA court last April asking if requests had been made of them for surveillance in order to commit subterfuge for political purposes, or with the pretext of affecting a national Presidential campaign “and subsequent transition of an incoming President.” He also asked them whether the applicant for a warrant had let FISA know the sources of payments (Hillary and the DNC) to the British ex-spy who’d produced the “dossier” that was being used as evidence. The letter asked the FISA judge to direct the government to investigate and report its findings to the court within 90 days. It also asked the court to notify all agencies involved to show cause why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for their misuse of classified information.
Levin got a terse reply later in the month from Rosemary Collier, the presiding FISA judge, turning down his request by saying that the matter was no longer pending before the court. Not true, according to Levin; with the warrant being extended three times, the case was still very much in play. Besides, the court has ongoing jurisdiction to supervise the conduct of attorneys appearing before it, even after a case is over. But as far as he knows, Collier never pressed anyone involved for answers, called for any investigation or held a contempt hearing. Nothing was done.
And now, almost a year has passed. We now are certain the FISA court was misled, and we know the FISA court must be perfectly aware of that, too. Why are these judges as silent as the Sphinx? It makes no sense that they wouldn’t want to hold people accountable for using them to violate the rights of American citizens. And when something makes no sense, it means we still need another piece of the picture.
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