Almost exactly a month ago, the head of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) issued a rare public rebuke of the FBI in the wake of the Michael Horowitz report on Operation Crossfire Hurricane. At the time, Judge Rosemary Collyer demanded a response from the bureau over the way the court had been misled by its agents and attorneys and demanded a sworn written response to explain how the FBI would ensure never to mislead the court on FISA warrant applications again. Last week, Collyer appointed an amicus curiae to review the FBI’s submission — and that appointment has two leading House Republicans crying foul.
National-security investigative reporter Catherine Herridge, fresh to CBS News after a long gig at Fox, reports that Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows have sent a letter demanding an explanation from Collyer why she appointed an Obama-era Department of Justice official who had publicly scoffed at reports of FBI abuse of the FISA system as her analyst. They also wonder when Collyer plans to get around to sanctioning the officials who lied to the court to get four warrants to surveil Carter Page:
Writing to the court’s presiding judge, James Boasberg, Congressmen Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows expressed doubts about the court’s choice of a former Justice Department official who worked under the Obama administration, charging that David Kris was unlikely to be “objective — or likely effective” in changing the process used by the FBI and Justice Department to obtain surveillance warrants.
“…[T]he selection of Mr. Kris creates a perception that he is too personally invested on the side of the FBI… (and) has frequently defended the FBI’s existing electronic surveillance practices,” they wrote.
Meadows and Jordan, who sit on the House Oversight Committee, continued, “Please explain with specificity what disciplinary action, if any, the FISC intends to pursue for attorneys who knowingly filed false or misleading information with the FISC with respect to applications to surveil Carter Page.”
John previously wrote that Kris had publicly criticized the memo written by then-House Intel chair Devin Nunes, which turned out to be all too accurate about the FBI’s abuse of the FISA process. That, however, is not the only basis for objections from Jordan and Meadows. Later in 2018, Kris also bragged that the FISA applications “already substantially undermine the President’s narrative and that of his proxies,” and that the “submerged parts” of the process would make things “worse, not better” for Page. Even after Horowitz exposed the serial lies and misrepresentations used to secure the warrants, including deliberately omitting the fact that Page was working for US intelligence against the Russians and not the other way around, Kris insisted that it was just sloppy practices and not anything malicious.
That hardly seems like a fair and impartial arbiter for reviewing the FBI’s response to the court. In fact, it sounds more like a recipe for allowing the FBI to conduct its FISA business in exactly the same way, as long as it doesn’t blow up in the judges’ faces the way it did with the Carter Page warrants. Jordan and Meadows agree, and they want Collyer to start providing some answers of her own, including her role in dealing with the FBI’s misconduct:
Jordan and Meadows don’t have much juice in pursuing this, except through public pressure. However, Senate Republicans have a majority and Lindsey Graham’s certainly expressed interest in pursuing these same questions at the Senate Judiciary Committee. When the upper chamber is done with the impeachment trial, Graham might well decide to start calling FISC jurists to testify to some of these same questions, and might take a very close look at Collyer’s appointment of an FBI apologist to deal with the bureau’s worst scandal in counterintelligence since the failure to stop 9/11. The lack of any disciplinary activity so far from that isn’t going to build confidence in Collyer or the FISA court, either.
Here’s the full letter from Jordan and Meadows, via CBS News and Scribd.