Senate Judiciary Committee Draws a Bead on FBI's Use of FISA Warrants and the Trump Dossier

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-iowa, looks at Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., during a markup hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee as they prepare to vote on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, July 20, 2010. Sen. Graham was the only republican to vote to approve Kagan's nomination which passed 13-6. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

An interesting development out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today. Senator Charles Grassley, as committee chairman, and Lindsey Graham, as chairman of the subcommittee on crime and terrorism, jointly signed a letter requiring the FBI to turn over all FISA applications associated with the Trump-Russia collusion nonsense.


You can read the whole letter here but these are the highlights as I see them.

The request is extensive.

As explained below, we are writing to request the following related materials: all proposed FISA applications that the FBI and Justice Department submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC); the FISC’s responses to such proposed FISA applications; all final, signed FISA applications that the FBI and the Justice Department submitted to the FISC; and the FISC’s responses to the final, signed applications. Media reports and the FISC’s 2016 annual report provide reason to believe that, in the course of these investigations, the FBI and Justice Department may have submitted proposed FISA applications that the FISC preliminarily evaluated and stated it would reject, which the FBI and Justice Department then modified and resubmitted. Media reports also provide reason to believe that the FBI and Justice Department may have submitted some final, signed FISA applications in these matters that the FISC rejected outright. The Committee needs all of these documents to evaluate fully the FBI’s and Justice Department’s actions in this situation.

Or if you prefer, here it is enumerated:

In order for the Committee to asses this situation, please provide the following information by no later than July 11, 2017:

1. Copies of all proposed and all final signed FISA applications submitted to the FISC relating to: Russian interference in the 2016 election; allegations of collusion between people associated with the Trump campaign and Russia; and any known Trump associates regardless of context.

2. Copies of all FISC responses to the above-mentioned applications in which the Court notified the FBI or Justice Department that it would not grant the proposed applications or recommended changes. If any such FISC responses were provided orally, rather than in writing, please provide copies of all FBI or Justice Department records memorializing or otherwise referencing the relevant FISC responses.

3. Copies of all FISC orders relating to the above-mentioned applications, whether denying the applications and certifications, denyi9g the orders, modifying the orders, granting the orders, or other types of orders.


Essentially, anytime the FBI thought about getting a FISA warrant on someone associated with Trump’s campaign the committee wants to know about it.

This is where it gets interesting:

There have been subsequent media reports claiming the FBI submitted and received approval of a FISA application in the investigation that was based on the political opposition research dossier.

Back in March, Grassley voiced a concern that the  FBI created the Russia collusion story by relying upon the famous Trump dossier. The basic theory being that the dossier, itself, provided the basis for FISA warrants — we know of one directed at Carter Page — and those FISA warrants, themselves, gave legitimacy to the dossier and the underlying story.

By asking for all warrant applications, whether approved or not, and by examining declined warrants that were successfully rewritten, the committee is obviously looking at the degree to which the dossier influenced what was presented to the FISA court. They will also be able to see the extent to which intelligence developed outside the dossier detected “collusion.” Were I a betting man, I’d go out on a limb here and wager that in excess of 90% of whatever evidence there is of “collusion” comes directly from the Trump dossier we know about as well as from the $50,000 special project the FBI gave the author. And I’ll bet the other 10% relies upon the work of Christopher Steele for the context and interpretation it has been given.


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