Former CIA Director John Brennan admitted Tuesday that “there were mistakes” in the applications made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to surveil former Donald Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
“Well clearly, there were mistakes made based on the inspector general’s reports,” Brennan told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.
“And I know that a lot of people attribute it either to incompetence or politicization. Well, I might just attribute it to, these were FBI agents who were doing their level best to try to prevent Russian interference in the election,” he said.
“They were probably overly aggressive, they didn’t pay careful enough attention to some of the details, they may have ignored some aspects of the work that was uncovered,” Brennan continued. “But I think the IG was very clear that politicization did not seem to creep into any aspect of their work, either at the initiation of the investigation or throughout.”
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week concerning the IG report on FISA abuse, saying that while the FBI followed proper protocol in opening Crossfire Hurricane, FBI and DOJ officials failed in multiple instances to adhere to department policy in obtaining a warrant to surveil Page.
“We identified significant inaccuracies and omissions in each of the four applications: seven in the first FISA application and a total of 17 by the final renewal application,” Horowitz said.
He noted one of the major failings was not revealing to the court information the FBI had access to casting doubt on the reliability of dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele for the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign, which was used to obtain the FISA warrant.
Contrary to Brennan’s characterization, Horowitz did not state politicization played no role in how the FBI conducted Crossfire Hurricane, only that the bureau followed proper procedures in opening it.
The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger noted that the IG reported that Horowitz’s investigation unearthed no “documentary or testimonial evidence” of anti-Trump bias in the conduct of Crossfire Hurricane.
“But one has to be obtuse to read this report and not see its authors are incredulous at the idea that the only explanation possible is incompetence and misjudgment on an unimaginable scale by trained FBI professionals. As Mr. Horowitz puts it with almost bemused understatement, ‘We did not receive satisfactory explanations for the errors or problems we identified,'” Henninger wrote.
Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume argued earlier this week that the FBI committed a “series of errors,” all of which “pointed in the same direction, all negative for the president.”
“Exculpatory information that was known to FBI people was kept out or kept away from the FISA judges,” Hume said. “This, to any definition, is misconduct.”
The presiding judge of the FISA court, in a rare public order, took the FBI to task on Tuesday for its conduct in obtaining a warrant to surveil Page.
“The FBI’s handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the [Office of Inspector General] report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above,” FISA court presiding Judge Rosemary M. Collyer wrote in her order.
“The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable,” she said.
Collyer gave the FBI until Jan. 10 to provide a “sworn written submission” of how the bureau plans to properly address the wrongdoing that occurred during 2016 and into the early months of Trump’s presidency.
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