Rosemary Collyer, Presiding Judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), released a rare statement on Tuesday slamming the FBI’s misconduct in surveilling the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election which occurred under the leadership of disgraced former FBI Director James Comey.
“This order responds to reports that personnel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provided false information to the National Security Division (NSD) of the Department of Justice, and withheld material information from NSD which was detrimental to the FBI’s case, in connection with four applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) for authority to conduct electronic surveillance of a U.S. citizen named Carter W. Page,” Collyer wrote. “When FBI personnel mislead NSD in the ways described above, they equally mislead the FISC.”
Collyer explained in detail the process involved in obtaining a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application against a person suspected of being the agent of a foreign power, saying that it was necessary for people to understand the process in order to “appreciate the seriousness of that misconduct” that happened.
Collyer wrote that the inspector general report showed “troubling instances in which FBI personnel provided information to NSD which was unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession.
“It also describes several instances in which FBI personnel withheld from NSD information in their possession which was detrimental to their case for believing that Mr. Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power,” Collyer continued. “In addition, while the fourth electronic surveillance application for Mr. Page was being prepared, an attorney in the FBI’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) engaged in conduct that apparently was intended to mislead the FBI agent who ultimately swore to the facts in that application about whether Mr. Page had been a source of another government agency.”
“The FBI’s handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the OIG report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above,” Collyer continued. “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. The FISC expects the government to provide complete and accurate information in every filing with the Court. Without it, the FISC cannot properly ensure that the government conducts electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes only when there is a sufficient factual basis.”
Collyer ordered the government to inform the Court in a sworn written statement by January 10, 2020, what it was going to do to ensure that misconduct and abuse of Court does not happen again in the future.
Collyer also ordered the government, in the next three days, “complete a declassification review of the above-referenced order of December 5, 2019, in anticipation of the FISC’s publishing that order. In view of the information released to the public in the OIG Report, the Court expects that such review will entail minimal if any redactions.”
Trump responded to the news by writing on Twitter: “Wow! ‘In a stunning rebuke of the FBI, the FISA court severly chastised the FBI for the FISA abuses brought to light in the recent Inspector General’s Report. There were at least 17 significant errors.’ @FoxNews Statement by the Court was long and tough. Means my case was a SCAM!”
Wow! “In a stunning rebuke of the FBI, the FISA court severly chastised the FBI for the FISA abuses brought to light in the recent Inspector General’s Report. There were at least 17 significant errors.” @FoxNews Statement by the Court was long and tough. Means my case was a SCAM!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 17, 2019
Collyer’s scathing letter comes after Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz found in his report on the FBI’s misconduct in surveilling the Trump campaign during the 2016 election that the FBI made at least 17 “inaccuracies and omissions” against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
This report has been updated to include additional information.