In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) said that an inquiry by the Justice Department’s inspector general might not be sufficient to get to the bottom of the FBI’s FISA abuse. Nunes said that the FBI, in using an unverified dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant against Carter Page, didn’t just violate its own ethics or the preferred procedures of the FISA court – they may have broken the law.
From Fox News:
House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., wrote in his letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that “in this instance, it’s clear that basic operating guidance was violated.”
Nunes cited the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG), which was created by the bureau and approved by the Justice Department, to say he believed the FBI violated procedures requiring verified and documented evidence in applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
An Oct. 2011 version of the operations guide states that the “accuracy of information contained within FISA applications is of utmost importance… Only documented and verified information may be used to support FBI applications to the court.”
The guidance also states that information in a FISA application must be “thoroughly vetted and confirmed.”
Nunes revealed to the public last month that the Justice Department went out of their way to conceal the unverified nature of the Steele dossier when presenting it as evidence to the FISA court. In his letter to Sessions, the California Republican said that this deliberate deception took the scandal beyond a mere lapse in policy judgment. He listed five criminal statues that the FBI violated when pursuing their warrant against Page, including contempt of court and obstruction of justice. He asked the attorney general what steps the DOJ will take to hold officials responsible for their actions.
President Trump himself expressed irritation last week when Sessions said that the inspector general was looking into the matter, insisting that the investigation would take too long and hold no prosecutorial weight. Sessions, for his part, responded by saying he was doing everything by the book.
In the meantime, though, the American people want to be assured that the FBI and the Justice Department cannot simply spy on political opponents at the behest of a partisan administration without severe repercussions. We deserve to see people held accountable, and we can only hope that Nunes and other Republicans in Congress will see to it that they are.