The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes (R-CA), is asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions whether the Justice Department is doing anything what appears to be a “clear violation” of FBI protocols.
In a letter sent on Thursday, Nunes laid out the protocols that FBI agents appear to have violated in using the Steele dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant on a Trump campaign member under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
He cited FBI guidelines that officials must follow when requesting FISA warrants, including that “Only document and verified information may be used to support FBI applications [FISA] to the court [FISC].”
Nunes said in his letter that “former and current DOJ and FBI leadership have confirmed to the Committee that unverified information from the Steele dossier comprised an essential part of the FISA applications related to Carter Page.”
As the committee’s memo laid out last month, head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division Assistant Director Bill Priestap said corroboration of the dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the FBI’s initial warrant application on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in October 2016.
In addition, then-FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers in June 2017 that he briefed President-elect Trump on the dossier in January 2017, even though it was “salacious and unverified.”
Nunes asked Sessions to respond by March 8, 2018, whether those protocols requiring “verified information” have changed, and if not, what steps is the Justice Department taking to hold officials accountable who violated the protocols?
Nunes said in addition, the presentation of false and/or unverified information to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court could entail the following violations of criminal statutes of:
— 18 USC 242
— 50 USC 1809
— Obstruction of Justice
— Contempt of Court.
Nunes concluded in his letter that the FBI guidelines provides internal oversight and controls over FBI activities. “However, in this instance, it’s clear that basic operating guidance was violated,” he said.
So far, several FBI officials involved in the investigation have been removed from their jobs and reassigned within the FBI, such as Peter Strzok. Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe abruptly resigned from his role last month, but is still at the FBI awaiting retirement in March.
Nunes’ letter comes as Sessions is facing increasing pressure on what steps he is taking regarding potential FISA abuse by FBI officials who were investigating the Trump campaign in the leadup to and after the 2016 elections. Sessions recently said the Justice Department Inspector General was looking into FISA abuse, not his prosecutors.
Here is Nunes letter to Sessions: