Chuck Ross, DCNF
The Department of Justice says it will allow members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to view surveillance warrants granted against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in what the agency is calling an “extraordinary accommodation.”
DOJ is allowing the access to the four warrant applications in response to demands from California Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Nunes threatened earlier this week to take legal action if the DOJ did not provide all committee members access to the four Page warrants, which were issued in 2016 and 2017 by judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court. Nunes also demanded that the FBI hand over an internal document known as an Electronic Communication (EC), which laid out the basis for the bureau’s investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government.
Nunes and other congressional Republicans have accused the DOJ and FBI of abusing the FISA process by relying on the unverified Steele dossier to obtain the warrants to spy on Page. Republicans also want to view the EC in order to see whether the the FBI cited the dossier in the beginning stages of the Russia probe.
Nunes issued a subpoena for the documents on Aug. 24, though the DOJ and FBI have avoided providing them.
The DOJ has allowed two members of the House Intelligence Committee to view the FISA warrants. California Rep. Adam Schiff viewed the records for committee Democrats, while South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy was designated by Nunes to look at them.
Nunes said that the committee asked the Justice Department’s Office of Legislative Affairs on four occasions in February to grant all committee members access to the Page FISAs, in a letter sent earlier this week. Nunes said in the letter that the DOJ responded on Feb. 26 by denying the request.
But Nunes’ recent letter seems to have forced the Justice Department’s hand.
“The Department and the FBI agree to permit all members of the Committee to review the FISA applications and renewals in camera at the Department,” reads Friday’s letter, which assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent to Nunes.
“The Department considers this an extraordinary accommodation based on unique facts and circumstances. We are also extending this review opportunity to the members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence,” the letter continues.
Nunes set a deadline of April 11, next Wednesday, to provide a copy of the Electronic Communication.