The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “suspects” the FBI has a pattern of seeking out political information through surveillance orders, according to former U.S. Attorney Joe DiGenova.
DiGenova claimed in an interview with WMAL radio in Washington, D.C., on Monday that pattern is the reason why FISA presiding Judge James Boasberg ordered the Justice Department to provide the court with the names of targets for the applications audited by the agency’s indepedent counsel, Michael Horowitz.
Horowitz found significant and widespread problems with the FBI’s preparation of FISA warrant applications dating back to at least 2014.
“Do you know why the court did that? Because the court suspects that they’re all political figures or people connected to political figures and that the FISAs were done for the purpose of targeting so that they could get political information, unmask the people, and then leak the information,” DiGenova said.
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DiGenova echoed remarks by House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes.
The Washington Examiner noted he said in a recent interview with One America News Network that Horowitz found FBI members were already “experts” by the time they sought warrants to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page by presenting anti-Trump Russian propaganda as primary evidence.
The IG’s report looked at a sample of 29 FISA applications from eight FBI offices.
Boasberg didn’t mention political targeting specifically in his subsequent order. But he is requiring the government to provide, by June 15, a sworn declaration about the results of the analysis. He wants the names of the targets as well as an assessment of how many of the applications had “material misstatements or omissions.”
The Examiner reported: “DiGenova has been in the news in recent months as details emerged about his and his wife Victoria Toensing’s work with President Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to uncover evidence that former Vice President Joe Biden held up to $1 billion in loan guarantees from Ukraine to help his son escape a potential corruption investigation. Trump pressing Ukraine to announce investigations into his political rivals, including the Bidens, was the subject of impeachment, which ended in an acquittal of the president in the Senate in February.”
DieGenova said the government apparently had been abusing the FISA system to monitor political targets almost since the start of the Obama administration.
Horowitz found evidence the FBI misled the court in its applications of warrants to spy on the Trump 2016 campaign.
The FBI’s applications had 17 significant errors, omissions and uncorroborated information, according to Horowitz’s report. And the bureau knowingly withheld exculpatory information, using “defensive briefings” to secretly access the Trump campaign
Attorney General William Barr said the report shows the Obama FBI’s application was unjustified.
The FISA court itself has admitted as much, ruling that at least two of the warrants obtained were invalid.
“The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Barr said.
Horowitz found that while FBI special agent Peter Strzok was directly involved in the decisions to open the counter-intelligence probe of the Trump campaign, dubbed Crossfire Hurricane, other high-level decision-makers were involved.
Strzok’s intent to prevent Trump from winning in 2016 and to provide an “insurance policy” to undermine him if he were to win the White House was revealed in texts with his FBI lawyer paramour.
The Horowitz investigation centered on how the unverified anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee was used as evidence to secure the original warrant for Page. Steele later admitted under oath that his report, based on anonymous Russian sources, was unverified. Special counsel Robert Mueller debunked many of its main claims and was unable to verify any of them.