As Republican members of the House Intelligence committee continue to investigate the appearance of political bias concerning the federal government’s decision to spy on the Donald Trump campaign, it is becoming more clear with every day that the government won’t turn over information easily. However, the committee has hit a bit of a snag due to the classified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application process.
Last month, Republicans on the committee sent a letter to the desk of President Donald J. Trump, asking him to declassify portions of the FISA warrant taken out for Carter Page, a demand that terrified members of the Obama DOJ. That letter sought to help the committee gain information that the Department of Justice wasn’t likely to provide. Who’s surprised that the information turned over was absurdly heavily redacted?
The application is heavily redacted, so it’s hard to discern much information from it other than the purpose of the application.
This is the reason for the letter in the first place, which was written to President Trump on June 14, 2018.
The letter stated that due to the ongoing obstruction by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the DOJ, it would be in the best interest of the investigation, and the public, if the details of the FISA application were put into the public domain.
All thirteen Republicans on the committee, including chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican congressman from California, stated in the letter that the declassification should be consistent with the need of the federal government to protect intelligence sources and its methods for uncovering information.
However, they also stated that by declassifying that information, it will enable the public to understand the reasoning behind allowing the DOJ and FBI to surveil Carter Page, and what led them to provide three renewals on the warrant taken out against a political opponent.
The Republicans on the committee also said that there were two sections in particular that they wanted declassified.
They suggested that these two areas would be important in determining whether or not the two agencies were following proper procedures and ‘best practices’ when they first obtained the warrant for surveillance in October 2016, just a month before election day.
So far, it still appears that a key portion of their warrant was the Christopher Steele dossier, a collection of unconfirmed political attack claims which was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Obviously, using salacious and unconfirmed claims to get a warrant is unethical at the very least.
In the letter, the Republicans asked Donald Trump to declassify, “and release publicly, and in unredacted form, pages 10-12, and 17-34,” along with any footnotes associated with that portion of the third renewal of the FISA application.
The letter goes on to state that this third renewal was filed in June 2017, and that it was signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over at the Department of Justice.
According to the letter from the house republicans, and the ongoing investigation, it appears that the way that they utilized the infamous Steele Dossier was outside of the established procedures from the FBI, and that it actually violated strict rules set by the agency.
They continued on to say that according to the FBI’s own Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) the use of unverified material to obtain a warrant via the FISA court system is prohibited.
In other words, their use of the Steele Dossier goes against the regulations of the agency.
Furthermore, the FBI essentially used another Steele source to get the FISA warrant. In all of the applications for surveillance of Carter Page, they referenced a September 2016 article from Yahoo News, which they maintained was an ‘independent intelligence stream.’
However, the article was written after Steele leaked information from the dossier to said news agency.
The congressmen also requested that the senior judge involved in the FISA court decision should launch an investigation.
On the other hand, left-leaning Democrats later released their own statement, which basically said that releasing the information could sabotage national security.
If President Trump were to declassify the information, it would be better for the American people. FISA courts are filled with classified information, and it’s about time that they see how the proverbial government sausage is made.