The Department of Justice Office of Inspector General announced Wednesday it is launching a review into whether the Justice Department and the FBI violated the law and applicable policies when using the Steele dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant on a former Trump campaign member.
DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz is launching the review in response to requests from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and members of Congress, according to a statement.
The probe will review information that was known to the DOJ and the FBI at the time the warrant applications were filed from or about Christopher Steele, the ex-British spy who authored the dossier.
The DOJ and FBI did not tell the secret court that issued the surveillance warrant on former Trump adviser Carter Page that the dossier was funded by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
As confirmed by a memo issued by the House Intelligence Committee’s Democrat members, the DOJ and FBI — who submitted the warrant application and renewals — only vaguely referenced the dossier’s political origins. The application said Steele:
“was approached an identified U.S. Person, who indicated to Source #1 [Steele] that a U.S. based law firm had hired the identified U.S. Person to conduct research regarding Candidate #1’s ties to Russia. (The identified U.S. Person and Source #1 have a long-standing business relationship.) The identified U.S. Person hired Source #1 to conduct this research into Candidate #1’s ties to Russia. The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. Person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #1’s campaign.”
In reality, the “U.S. Person” was Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, and the “U.S. based law firm” was Perkins Coie, the law firm representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC.
In addition, FBI guidelines require its employees to use verified information when applying for surveillance warrants. According to former FBI Director James Comey in January 2017, the dossier was “salacious and unverified.” However, the FBI did use the dossier as part of its application in October 2016.
The probe will also look into the DOJ’s and FBI’s relationship and communications with Steele, and if circumstances warrant, “other issues that may arise during the course of the review.”
The announcement of the probe comes after nearly two dozen members of Congress have called for a second special counsel to examine potential bias and improper conduct at the DOJ and FBI related to the investigation of the Trump campaign.
They argue that a inspector general review is not enough, since the office does not have the ability to interview non-government employees and has no prosecutorial or subpoena power.
Earlier this month, four senators — Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senate Judiciary Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) joined House lawmakers’ calls for a second special counsel.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) also joined over a dozen lawmakers calling for a second special counsel.
The inspector general probe is unlikely to quell calls for a second special counsel, though the Justice Department can now argue they are looking into the matter.
Sessions has said he is “seriously” considering the appointment of a second special counsel, and has appointed a former official to examine the need for one. Breitbart News reached out to the DOJ as to whether a second special counsel was still under consideration.
A DOJ spokesperson said, “No announcements on that front.”