The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General announced Wednesday that it had opened a probe into the FBI’s handling of a surveillance warrant for “a certain U.S. person.”
The announcement comes after Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as well as GOP lawmakers, called for more investigation into what they say was FBI misconduct in how it sought a court’s blessing to surveil Carter Page, who served as a foreign policy advisor on President Trump’s campaign.
The OIG announcement doesn’t name Page. But it also includes what appears to be a reference to Christopher Steele, the British ex-spy whose dossier of Trump-Russia ties was used by the FBI as part of its investigation into Page.
“As part of this examination, the OIG also will review information that was known to the DOJ and the FBI at the time the applications were filed from or about an alleged FBI confidential source,” the Office of Inspector General said in its statement. “Additionally, the OIG will review the DOJ’s and FBI’s relationship and communications with the alleged source as they relate to the FISC applications.”
The DOJ Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, is already investigating how the Department handled its inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The findings from that probe are expected in the weeks to come.
As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling has gained public momentum, Republicans have ramped up their criticism of the FBI, where the investigation started.
House Intel Republicans wrote a classified memo alleging the FBI misled the surveillance court in seeking the warrant for Page by not describing Steele’s ties to Democrats who were funding his research. That memo was declassified by the President in February over the objections of the Justice Department. It was quickly reported that many of the claims in the GOP memo were, at best, wildly misleading.
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, spearheaded their own memo suggesting Steele misled the FBI about his contacts with the press. The Republicans, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), sent a referral to the Justice Department recommending it pursue a criminal investigation of Steele.
Sessions in February said that the Inspector General would investigate allegations of FBI misconduct related to the Page warrant, which it first sought after Page left the campaign in the fall of 2016 and successfully renewed three more times.
Read the full OIG announcement below:
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Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced today that, in response to requests from the Attorney General and Members of Congress, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) will initiate a review that will examine the Justice Department’s and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) compliance with legal requirements, and with applicable DOJ and FBI policies and procedures, in applications filed with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) relating to a certain U.S. person. As part of this examination, the OIG also will review information that was known to the DOJ and the FBI at the time the applications were filed from or about an alleged FBI confidential source. Additionally, the OIG will review the DOJ’s and FBI’s relationship and communications with the alleged source as they relate to the FISC applications.
If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider including other issues that may arise during the course of the review.