After months of allegations on a number of fronts and from several prominent Republicans, the Department of Justice announced this week that its Office of the Inspector General will review one key area of contention.
Much of the concern from some lawmakers and GOP leaders, including President Donald Trump, stems from questions regarding the process by which the DOJ and FBI secured Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrants in an investigation of Carter Page, a one-time aide to then-candidate Trump.
In a statement released Wednesday, Inspector General Michael Horowitz indicated that his investigation began “in response to requests from the Attorney General (Jeff Sessions) and Members of Congress.”
Sessions signaled in a news conference last month his intention to task the OIG with launching an investigation of alleged abuses by the agencies, specifically in relation to FISC practices.
“Yes it will be investigated,” he said. “And I think that’s just the appropriate thing the inspector general will take that as one of the matters he’ll deal with.”
Addressing the issue in broad terms, Sessions affirmed his belief that “the Department of Justice must adhere to the high standards in the FISA court.”
His announcement came after claims were made public earlier in the month through a partisan memo released by U.S. Rep Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who chairs the House Intelligence Committee.
For Trump and some others who called for a more rigorous investigation, the response to Sessions’ choice of Horowitz to lead the investigation was lackluster at best.
Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2018
The president tweeted that his attorney general’s decision was “DISGRACEFUL” shortly after Sessions made his announcement last month.
“Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse,” Trump wrote.
Among the president’s complaints were that Horowitz “has no prosecutorial power and (is) already late with reports on Comey etc.”
He went on to dismiss the inspector general as “an Obama guy,” suggesting instead that Sessions “use Justice Department lawyers” to investigate alleged misdeeds.
Wednesday’s statement revealed the initial scope of the review.
The OIG “will examine the Justice Department’s and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) compliance with legal requirements, and with applicable DOJ and FBI policies and procedures, in applications filed with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) relating to a certain U.S. person,” the statement read.
Without mentioning Page’s name, the statement went on to indicate that “the OIG also will review information that was known to the DOJ and the FBI at the time the applications were filed from or about an alleged FBI confidential source.”
Another area of focus will be “the DOJ’s and the FBI’s relationship and communications with the alleged source as they relate to the FISC applications.”
The scope of the investigation could broaden to include “other issues that may arise during the course of the review.”
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