by WorldTribune Staff, December 12, 2017
President Donald Trump has the lawful authority to force FBI Director Christopher Wray to provide Congress access to a confidential FISA warrant that gave permission for the surveillance of Trump campaign team members, reports say.
In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last week, Wray said he could not “lawfully” give the committee access to the FISA warrant.
Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, pressed Wray to turn over the FISA court application, which would immediately reconcile whether the FBI relied on the discredited Trump dossier to obtain the warrant.
“Is there anything prohibiting you from showing this committee [that application]?” Jordan asked.
“I do not believe that I can legally and appropriately share a FISA court submission with this committee,” Wray responded. “When I sign FISA applications, which I have to do almost every day of the week, they are all covered with a ‘classified information’ cover.”
Trump, however, “could lawfully order him to do just that through his subordinates at the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ),” according to a Daily Caller report on Dec. 11, citing legal experts.
During his testimony, Wray not only cited the FISA warrant’s confidential status, but the ongoing inspector general (IG) investigation into whether the conduct of FBI officials was politically motivated.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board called Wray’s invocation of the IG probe “an excuse, not a serious reason,” and noted the IG office “was never intended to supplant congressional oversight, much less be an excuse for executive officials to protect their decisions from scrutiny.”
Trump could order deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to make the FISA warrant available to the House Judiciary Committee, the Daily Caller report said. Rosenstein would likely have to issue the directive as Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from matters related to the Russia investigation.
“As a legal matter, my understanding is that if the FISC [FISA court] records are in the government’s possession they can be released subject to whatever security classifications have been put on those records. Approval of the FISA court is not required,” Samuel Estreicher, who teaches U.S. foreign relations law at NYU School of Law, told the Daily Caller.
“As a policy/political matter, the president would be ill-advised to intervene directly. He could ask the AG or Rosenstein to review the matter and get back to him,” Estreicher added.