by WorldTribune Staff, March 11, 2020
Though Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz said the FBI’s applications to obtain warrants to spy on the 2016 Trump campaign were riddled with errors, FBI and DOJ officials insisted they were merely unintentional process errors, not efforts to deceive FISA judges.
In a recent order that has flown under the radar of the major media, U.S. District Judge James A. Boasberg, the new chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, “took direct aim at the excuses and blame-shifting of these senior Obama administration FBI and DOJ officials,” investigative reporter John Solomon noted.
“In just 21 words, Boasberg provided the first judicial declaration the FBI had misled the court, not just committed process errors,” Solomon wrote in a March 9 report.
Judge Boasberg wrote: “There is thus little doubt that the government breached its duty of candor to the Court with respect to those applications.”
Solomon noted that the “no-fault mantra” had been “spread by everyone from President Trump’s former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who insisted the DOJ took its responsibility to submit ‘admissible evidence, credible witnesses’ very seriously, to the ex-FBI Director James Comey, who declared recently it was ‘nonsense’ to suggest the bureau opened a probe without good cause.”
Judge Boasberg drew headlines last week for an order suspending all FBI and DOJ lawyers involved in the Russia collusion case from appearing before his court until it is determined whether they engaged in misconduct.
But, Solomon noted, “of greater long-term significance” was the judge’s “language pinning responsibility for FISA abuses squarely on senior officials, not just lower-level line agents and lawyers who prepared the warrant applications.”
Boasberg wrote: “The frequency and seriousness of these errors in a case that, given its sensitive nature, had an unusually high level of review at both DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have called into question the reliability of the information proffered in other FBI applications.”
The judge essentially said he was worried the bad conduct exhibited by the FBI may extend to more cases affecting others’ civil liberties, Solomon wrote.
Boasberg said that process fixes alone won’t suffice.
“The errors the OIG pointed out cannot be solved through procedures alone,” the judge wrote. “DOJ and the FBI, including all personnel involved in the FISA process, must fully understand and embrace the heightened duties of probity and transparency that apply in ex parte proceedings.”
Solomon noted that Boasberg had given “the first and only judicial finding in the Russia case that the FBI vastly misled the nation’s intelligence court and that blame must be shouldered by federal law enforcement’s top leaders, many of whom have spent much of the last three years trying to escape such accountability.”
Solomon concluded that “Comey and his deputy Andrew McCabe, as well as former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and Rosenstein — must come to grips with this new reality. A judge has formally concluded that his court was misled by the work product they oversaw and signed.”