DOJ IG to Investigate FISA Abuses by Obama Justice Department

Yesterday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it would launch an internal investigation into possible Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses by the DOJ under the Obama Administration during the 2016 election. Inspector General Michael Horowitz, an Obama appointee, will lead the investigation within the DOJ.

The scope of the investigation purportedly includes how the DOJ may have mishandled FISA warrant applications; included in this, Carter Page and failure of DOJ to fully disclose the origins and inherent biases of the so-called Steele Dossier to the ex parte Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), as was detailed in House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes' memo released early last month.

In a reply letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham, dated yesterday, Inspector General Horowitz laid out the general scope of his investigation:

[The Office of the Inspector General (OIG)] is initiating a review that will examine the Department’s and the FBI’s compliance with legal requirements, and with applicable DOJ and FBI policies and procedures, in applications filed with the FISC related to this U.S. person. As part of this examination, the OIG also will review information that was known to the Department and the FBI at the time the applications were filed from or about an alleged FBI confidential source. Additionally. The OIG will review the Department’s and FBI’s relationship and communications with the alleged source as they relate to the FISA applications. If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider including other issues that may arise during the course of the review. 

Chairman Grassley issued the following statement after learning of the OIG’s new investigation:

Federal surveillance authority is an important tool to combat terrorism and keep Americans safe, but it must be used by the book in order to protect the constitutional rights and civil liberties of all Americans. We need to be sure that improper political influence, misconduct or mismanagement is never a factor when federal law enforcement seeks permission to secretly surveil Americans. I’m grateful that the non-partisan inspector general is reviewing both the controversial FISA application and the FBI’s relationship with Christopher Steele, whose Clinton-funded work was used in the FISA application. The inspector general has a sterling reputation for getting the facts and holding any bad actors accountable.

I am very pleased the Inspector General has decided to act on our request to investigate these issues further. . . The American people are rightfully troubled by the information they have heard about politicization in DOJ. All Americans deserve to know if the rules were followed and whether justice was indeed blind.

This is an important first step toward understanding the degree and depth of political biases by career employees at the DOJ and the important efforts to correct this troubling problem. We will keep you posted on further developments on this very important story.