This week, Rep. Doug Collins released the balance of transcripts pertaining to the House Judiciary Committee’s probe into decisions made at the Department of Justice and the FBI to exonerate Hillary Clinton and to spy on the Donald Trump campaign. One such transcript of FBI attorney Trisha Anderson’s testimony revealed that she said the application process for the Carter Page FISA warrant was handled in a very “unusual” way, with high-level Obama-era FBI officials pushing it through.
Essentially, Anderson’s testimony indicated the way the FISA warrant process was performed in this case was in reverse order from how it normally takes place. High-level political appointees approved the application before anyone else in the process saw it.
RedState reported …
In other words, things were done completely backwards. Instead of going through the normal checks and balances, a bunch of political appointees at the top approved the application before anyone else got ahold of it. Sally Yates, representing the DOJ, had signed off on it before the FBI’s legal department had even done their analysis.
A major check on fraudulent FISA applications was simply skipped. Anderson stressed that this was not normal.
The Page FISA application was filed with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by the DOJ and FBI in October 2016. A surveillance warrant was granted and three renewals were eventually approved. The application depended on unverified research in British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s dossier on candidate Trump’s ties to Russia, which was compiled through his employment with opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the Perkins Coie law firm.
According to the Washington Examiner, Anderson said she was the Senior Executive Service approver for the “initiation” of the Page FISA, including determining whether there is legal sufficiency.
However, Anderson testified, “in this particular case, I’m drawing a distinction because my boss and my boss’ boss had already reviewed and approved this application.” She stressed, “this one was handled a little bit differently in that sense, in that it received very high-level review and approvals — informal, oral approvals — before it ever came to me for signature.”
Anderson said that FISA approvals are usually “tracked in a linear fashion” and that someone in the Senior Executive Service “is the final approver on hard copy before a FISA goes to the director or deputy director for signature.” She reiterated that the Page FISA was approved outside regular procedures.
“Because there were very high-level discussions that occurred about the FISA,” Anderson indicated she believed “the FISA essentially had already been well-vetted all the way up through at least the Deputy Director [McCabe] level on our side and through the DAG [Yates] on the DOJ side.”
The Examiner reported …
Yates had already signed the application by the time it made it to Anderson’s desk.
The publicly available Page FISA documents show then-FBI Director James Comey also signed off on it.
Because the FISA application had already been approved at such high levels, Anderson said she did not look at the Page FISA application with much skepticism. “I wouldn’t view it as my role to second-guess that substantive approval that had already been given by the Deputy Director [McCabe] and by the Deputy Attorney General [Yates] in this particular instance,” she said.
When she was asked why this FISA application was different, Anderson said she believed “the sensitivity level of this particular FISA resulted in lots of very high-level attention both within the FBI and DOJ.”
“The General Counsel [Jim Baker] … personally reviewed and made edits to the FISA, for example,” said Anderson. “The Deputy Director was involved in reviewing the FISA line by line. The Deputy Attorney General over on the DOJ side of the street was similarly involved, as I understood, reviewing the FISA application line by line.”
The FBI’s handling of the Steele dossier is increasingly being scrutinized, with at least three federal investigations into alleged FISA abuse and other matters related to the way the FBI and DOJ conducted the Trump-Russia investigation.
Today I’m releasing the remaining interview transcripts from @JudiciaryGOP’s investigation into decisions made at the Department of Justice and FBI. To read the transcripts, visit https://t.co/EcAYT7JPdA. pic.twitter.com/kYy9YKSIZI
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) May 20, 2019