Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed Sunday that the Department of Justice is investigating whether the FBI disclosed all relevant facts to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court in seeking a warrant to spy on a 2016 Trump campaign volunteer.
“Let me tell you, every FISA warrant based on facts submitted to that court have to be accurate,” Sessions replied when asked by Fox News “Sunday Morning Futures” host Maria Bartiromo about the controversial FISA warrant application.
“That will be investigated and looked at, and we are not going to participate as a Department of Justice in providing anything less than a proper disclosure to the court before they issue a FISA warrant,” Sessions said.
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Sessions was referring to a warrant submitted by the FBI to the FISA court in 2016 to spy on Carter Page, a volunteer foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump’s campaign organization. The application was based mainly on information compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele in a dossier.
Steele’s work was paid for by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign committee and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which the Democratic nominee controlled at the time. The funding was provided indirectly through a prominent Washington, D.C., law firm with longtime Democratic ties.
But the warrant application only referred in the most oblique terms to the source of the Steele dossier’s funding, a violation of court rules that require disclosure of all material facts related to the credibility of information given to the highly secretive intelligence panel.
The FBI’s failure to tell the FISA court about Steele’s funding first came to light as a result of a four-page summary of classified information prepared by aides to House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).
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The oblique reference to Steele’s funding source was included in a footnote in the application. The warrant was approved and then reapproved multiple times thereafter, all without required full disclosure of the facts about Steele, according to the Nunes memo.
Democrats on the intelligence committee, led by ranking minority member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), have written their own countermemo. But it is reportedly significantly longer than the Nunes document and is being reviewed by the FBI and White House counsel Donald McGahn to ensure it doesn’t compromise U.S. intelligence “sources and methods” if it becomes public.
The Nunes memo was subject to the same process prior to its public release.
Neither The Washington Post nor The New York Times had reported Sessions’ comment confirming a DOJ investigation of the FBI FISA warrant as of the posting time for this story.