It’s been a long time coming — well, it feels like it’s been a long time coming, but the Steele dossier has really only been exhausting us since June of 2016 — but the Department of Justice Inspector General has decided to formally investigate allegations of abuse by the agency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, and its associated court.
The FISA court is, of course, where warrants were obtained to spy on Carter Page, former adviser to President Donald Trump, using the now-largely debunked Steele dossier which contained little more than unverified and highly salacious claims. The dossier was created by a former British intelligence officer, Michael Steele, who was under the employ of a firm being paid by Hillary Clinton via the Democratic National Committee.
Republican lawmakers and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been engaged in a letter-writing campaign in recent weeks in an attempt to convince the DOJ’s internal watchdog to investigate what they considered abuse of the secretive court. They allege that the unverified dossier was created by a political opponent in an attempt to smear Donald Trump pre-2016 election, ostensibly to hurt his chances of winning; and then post-election to damage his reputation.
The Department of Justice’s internal watchdog announced Wednesday that it will review the DOJ and FBI’s compliance with the law and their own policies related to applications for secret surveillance warrants made “related to a certain U.S. person,” in response to requests from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and members of Congress.
The DOJ did not name the “certain U.S. person,” but some Republican members of Congress have asked DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to look into how the DOJ and FBI obtained warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) against former Trump campaign aide.
The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee conducted their own investigation and released a memo detailing their findings — notably that the FISA court was, indeed, abused by members of the FBI and the DOJ — which led Sessions to declare that he would push to investigate the matter further. The IG’s announcement formalizes that intent.
“As part of this examination, the [Office of the Inspector General] also will review information that was known to the DOJ and the FBI at the time the applications were filed from or about an alleged FBI confidential source. Additionally, the OIG will review the DOJ’s and FBI’s relationship and communications with the alleged source as they relate to the FISC applications,” the DOJ IG said in its release Wednesday. “If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider including other issues that may arise during the course of the review.”