Inspector General Michael Horowitz told a Senate Judiciary hearing that surveillance without a legal foundation is “illegal surveillance.”
His comment came after he accused top officials in the FBI of mishandling a flawed effort via a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to get authority to surveil Carter Page, an American foreign policy adviser who worked on President Donald Trumps election effort.
Horowitz was asked by Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) about whether there was a point when surveilling Page became unlawful. Horowitz first said that his report was sent to the courts to make a decision on whether charges should be filed against anyone at the FBI.
“If you dont have a legal foundation to surveil somebody and you keep doing it, is that bad?” Graham asked Horowitz.
“Absolutely,” he replied, adding that “its illegal surveillance.”
“Its not court-authorized surveillance,” Horowitz added.
The FISA warrant application featured claims from an unverified dossier of opposition research on Trump. Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele compiled the dossier by using second- and third-hand sources with ties to the Kremlin.
There were “significant questions” “raised” about the “reliability of the Steele reporting that was used in the Carter Page FISA applications.”
He added that “the FISA applications relied entirely on information from the Steele reporting to support the allegation that Page was coordinating with the Russian government on 2016 U.S. presidential election activities.”
The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee ultimately paid for Steeles work, a fact the FBI did not disclose in the warrant application.
A number of FBI officials directly involved in preparing and signing the FISA warrants have all either left or been fired from the bureau, including Director James Comey, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok.
In his statement to the Judiciary Committee, Horowitz said his office is “deeply concerned” that numerous “basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked investigative teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations.”
And it came “after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the FBI; even though the information sought through use of FISA authority related so closely to an ongoing presidential campaign; and even though those involved with the investigation knew thRead More – Source