Jim Jordan Sends Letter to FISC Asking Why Obama Admin Official Is Helping Them on Reforms

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Posted: Jan 16, 2020 5:15 PM
Jim Jordan Sends Letter to FISC Asking Why Obama Admin Official Is Helping Them on Reforms

Source: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Rep. Jim Jordan, the ranking member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, sent a letter to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) asking why they are choosing to have a former Obama administration-era Justice Department official assist them in explaining the FISA warrant abuses that were discovered in the Inspector General's report.

The letter, which was obtained by Townhall, was sent to Presiding Judge James Boasberg on Thursday and states, "We respectfully write with questions about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court's (FISC) commitment to protecting the civil liberties of American citizens when federal law enforcement applies for electronic surveillance."

While Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report found no evidence of political bias for the start of the FBI's investigation and that the investigation was justified, they did find 17 errors and incidents of omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications.

"On December 17, 2019, in response to the flagrant problems identified by the OIG report, then-FISC Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer issued a public order highly critical of the FBI's misconduct," the letter states. "Judge Collyer required the FBI to explain in a sworn written submission how it would ensure that it no longer misleads the FISC in applications for electronic surveillance under FISA."

Jordan is taking issue with the FISC appointing David Kris to serve as their amicus curiae "to assist the Court in assessing the government's response" to Judge Collyer's order.

"At minimum, the selection of Mr. Kris creates a perception that he is too personally invested on the side of the FBI to ensure it effectuates meaningful reform," Jordan wrote, adding:

First, Mr. Kris, a former senior Obama Justice Department official, has frequently defended the FBI's existing electronic surveillance practices. In February 2018, as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) prepared to release a memorandum of findings about FISA abuses, Mr. Kris boasted about the rigorous process for FISA warrants.

He wrote: "Based on my familiarity with the FISA process and the people who run it, I have high confidence that they would have provided the court with enough information to meaningfully assess (Christopher] Steele's credibility and the provenance of the other information on which they relied."

Mr. Kris was wrong. After the HPSCI memorandum was publicly released, Mr. Kris wrote that its "claim that the FBI misled the court was itself misleading." The OIG report, of course, validated the findings of the HPSCI memorandum and showed that Mr. Kris's "high confidence" in the FBI was misplaced. 

"Second, Mr. Kris has seemingly prejudged the FBI's conduct with respect to Carter Page. In July 2018, after the government released redacted portions of FISA applications for Carter Page, Mr. Kris opined that the applications 'already substantially undermine the President's narrative and that of his proxies, and it seems to me very likely that if we get below the tip of the iceberg into the submerged parts and more is revealed it's going to get worse, not better,' for Mr. Page," Jordan continued. "However, contrary to Mr. Kris's views then, the OIG report and Inspector General Horowitz's testimony confirmed that the FBI illegally surveilled Mr. Page. The allegations that Mr. Page acted as an agent of a foreign power have not been proven true."

"Third, when the OIG report documented serious FBI misconduct, Mr. Kris seemed to minimize the FBI's actions. Although he acknowledged in an interview that the FBI's errors and omissions were 'very significant and disturbing,' he also said that the FBI's misconduct was not 'political' and attributed it to sloppiness on the part of the FBI," he wrote.

Jordan is asking the FISC to produce all of the candidates who they considered before settling on Kris and whether they considered his past writings about the FISA abuses.