U.S. Rep. David Kustoff Is the Sole Tennessee Republican House Member to Vote Against Ending Warrantless Spying Under FISA

David Kustoff

U.S. Representative David Kustoff (R-TN-08) was the sole member of Tennessee’s congressional delegation to vote on Friday against an amendment that would have ended the warrantless spying on United States citizens allowed under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Kustoff was among the 86 Republicans who joined 126 Democrats in a vote against a FISA amendment proposed by Representatives Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07) that would have required intelligence agencies to obtain a warrant before spying on American citizens.

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Reporter Tom Pappert: U.S. Rep. David Kustoff Is ‘Ripe for a Challenge’ in Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District Following FISA Vote

David Kustoff

Tom Pappert, lead reporter at The Tennessee Star, said he believes Tennessee U.S. Representative David Kustoff’s (R-TN-08) vote on Friday against an amendment that would have ended the warrantless spying on United States citizens allowed under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) makes the congressman “ripe for a challenge” this election cycle.

Kustoff and Democrat Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN-09) were the sole members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation to vote against the amendment on Friday, Pappert previously reported.

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Amendment in GOP-House’s FISA Renewal Bill for Warrant Requirement Fails in Tie Vote, 212-212

A bipartisan warrant requirement amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act section 702 renewal bill failed to pass in a tie vote of 212-212 on the House floor on Friday. The amendment would have prohibited “warrantless searches of U.S. person communications in the FISA 702 database, with exceptions for imminent threats to life or bodily harm, consent searches, or known cybersecurity threat signatures.”

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Rep. John Rose Applauds Possible Reduced FISA Reauthorization

John Rose

U.S. Representative John Rose (R-TN-06) applauded a possible change to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reauthorization bill, shrinking the period of reauthorization from five years to two, according to a Thursday release.

After several Republican legislators blocked a plan to reauthorize FISA on Wednesday, it was reported the next day that House leaders are considering a plan that would limit the bill’s authority to two years. Such a plan resembles an amendment originally proposed by Rose.

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Rep. Burchett: ‘FISA Needs to Die’

Tim Burchett

A U.S. Congressman from Tennessee had some strong words after he joined 19 of his Republican counterparts in voting against the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on Wednesday.

“FISA, of course, is what they use to spy, literally, on America citizens,” said Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN-02) in a video posted to his X account. “So what happens, very literally, say you have somebody working on your house, on your roof, what have you, [who is] not an American citizen, and then they contact you on their cell phone and basically because of that [the U.S. government] can follow you or investigate you or what have you, without a search warrant. And when I was told by the State Department that in fact it was problematic to have search warrants on these cases, they obviously have a problem with our Constitution. So, tough day for democracy today folks. And FISA needs to die.”

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Tennessee U.S. Rep Andy Ogles Among 19 Republicans Who Voted to Kill FISA, Warrantless Surveillance

Andy Ogles

U.S. Representative Andy Ogles (R-TN-05) joined 18 other Republicans in voting against reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on Wednesday. He told The Tennessee Star his vote would protect Tennesseans from “unreasonable searches and seizures by the federal government.”

Ogles explained his decision to break with the majority of Republicans and vote against reauthorizing FISA came after House leadership “chose to keep the doors closed and did not allow an open amendment process.” He noted he had six amendments that were all ignored by House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA-04).

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FISA Renewal Deadline Fast Approaching amid Bipartisan Call for Ending Warrantless Surveillance

Mike Lee and Dick Durban in front of FISA court (composite image)

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) renewal deadline is fast approaching as conservative lawmakers and some Democrats continue their push for ending warrantless surveillance.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including conservative and progressive legislators, have called for reforming section 702 of FISA ahead of the April 19 deadline.

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Virginia U.S. Rep. Bob Good Promises House Freedom Caucus Will Fight Speaker’s NDAA

Representative Bob Good (R-VA-05) said the House Freedom Caucus will work to oppose the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) supported by House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA-04) crafted with leadership in Congress, which will reauthorize a controversial government surveillance law that House Republicans previously pulled due to backlash.

Good told John Fredericks, publisher of The Virginia Star, that he plans to rally Republicans against the proposed NDAA due to its inclusion of an extension for controversial government spying under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The current version of the bill, he explained, was created by Johnson, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-08), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

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House Judiciary Introduces FISA Reform Bill

A group of lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee has unveiled legislation Monday to restrict the intelligence community’s warrantless surveillance authority and impose stiffer punishments for violations.

Spearheaded by Arizona GOP Rep. Andy Biggs, the plan boasts Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Ranking member Jerold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., as cosponsors, The Hill reported.

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Arizona U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs Demands Answers on Invasive Surveillance Program Said to Be Tapping Into Trillions of Private Communications

U.S. Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) wants answers from the Biden administration about a spying program targeting Americans’ domestic communications.

Biggs this week sent a letter to Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) after details emerged about the so-called Hemisphere Project.

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Commentary: The Left’s FISA Reform Trap

Republicans have had a crash course since 2016 in the ways the power of the intelligence community can be abused. To take a few examples, four consecutive judges operating under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act approved wiretaps of a Trump adviser, Carter Page, relying without question on the partisan fictions of the Steele dossier. Michael Flynn was ousted after he was the target of an unprecedented leak of another FISA intercept. And 51 former intelligence officers intervened in the 2020 election to dismiss without evidence the Hunter Biden laptop contents as likely Russian disinformation.

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Commentary: FBI Chief Replies with Less-than-Inspiring ‘Not to My Knowledge’ When Asked About Tricky FISA Warrants, Criminal Investigations

“Not to my knowledge.”

That was FBI Director Christopher Wray’s response to questioning from U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) at the House Judiciary Committee on July 13 about whether the Justice Department and FBI utilize parallel construction — where law enforcement agencies are handed information obtained from Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants or via warrantless surveillance by intelligence agencies, not unlike the FISA surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016 that became the Russiagate counterintelligence and eventually criminal investigation — and then act on it.

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Top Biden Intel Nominee Calls Warrantless Surveillance Tool Used to Spy on Americans ‘Irreplaceable’

President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead top intelligence agencies described a tool used to surveil Americans without a warrant as vital at his confirmation hearing Wednesday.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh characterized Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a tool that has been abused to spy on Americans, as “extensively used” and “irreplaceable” in his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Biden nominated Haugh to head both Cyber Command and the National Security Agency (NSA) in May, according to Politico.

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Bipartisan Effort to Reform FISA, End Abuses Could be Iced by GOP Outrage of Durham Report Findings

Congressional Democrats have joined in bipartisan effort to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amid abuses but GOP outrage over the findings in the Durham Report, including recent calls to impeach Attorney General Merrick Garland over such matters, has likely hurt such efforts.

Congressional reauthorization of FISA is due in December, with particular focus on Section 702 of the law, which permits the government to conduct targeted surveillance on foreign people outside the U.S., with the assistance of electronic communication service providers, to acquire foreign intelligence information.

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Commentary: Abandon the Swamp and Let it Rot

Suppose a document drops in the wilderness and no one is around to hear it. Does it make a sound? I submit that John Durham just tested this Bishop Berkeleyesque query. The special counsel spent four years beavering away in the forests of the deep state and what did he produce? Three hundred pages telling us what, for the most part, we already knew and with the result that exactly nothing, apart from a little hand wringing, will happen. 

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FBI Repeatedly Abused Surveillance Tool to Spy on Americans in Wake of January 6, Newly Unsealed Court Doc Reveals

The FBI abused a digital surveillance tool nearly 300,000 times between 2020 and early 2021, running 23,132 inquiries alone after Jan. 6., according to a newly unsealed court document.

The Section 702 database, which the FBI is authorized to use to gather foreign intelligence information or if they believe there is evidence of a crime, was used on Jan. 6 suspects, along with congressional campaign donors and protestors arrested in riots after George Floyd was killed in 2020, a newly unsealed court document reveals. An April 2022 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) opinion described these abuses, noting that the employee who ran the queries after Jan. 6 did so “to find evidence of possible foreign influence, although the analyst conducting the queries had no indications of foreign influence related to the query term used.”

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Commentary: The 2023 Congress’ Opportunity to Stop the FBI’s Spying on Americans

The 18-member U.S. intelligence community (IC) has released the Annual Statistical Transparency Report Regarding the Intelligence Community’s Use of National Security Surveillance Authorities. One of the few to pay attention was historian Matthew Guariglia, a policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and an affiliated scholar at the University of California’s Hastings School of Law.

This government document, the ninth such report to be made public, “provides statistics and contextual information concerning how the Intelligence Community uses the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and certain other national security authorities to accomplish its mission.”

The law authorizes the U.S. government to engage in mass surveillance of foreign targets. As Guariglia discovered, FISA is “still being abused by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to spy on Americans without a warrant.” This abuse takes place under Section 702, an amendment to FISA.

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Hillary Factor: Evidence Now Shows False Russia Collusion Story Began and Ended with Clinton

In an era where the hunt for disinformation has become a political obsession, Hillary Clinton has mostly escaped having to answer what role she played in spreading the false Russia collusion narrative that gripped America for nearly three years.

On Friday, that dodge ended with a most unlikely witness: her former campaign manager Robby Mook, who was supposed to be a witness helping the defense of her former campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann on a charge of lying to the FBI.

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Commentary: Christopher Steele Is a Product of Corrupt FBI

Just as the special counsel’s investigation into the origins of Crossfire Hurricane—the FBI counterintelligence probe launched in the summer of 2016 to sabotage Donald Trump’s presidential campaign—is showing signs of life, one of the central figures in the hoax is attempting to burnish his sullied image.

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos has produced a documentary featuring Christopher Steele, the man responsible for the so-called dossier bearing his name. “Out of the Shadows: The Man Behind the Steele Dossier,” streamed on Hulu Monday night; promotional clips hinted that, far from a hard-hitting interview exposing Steele for the charlatan he is, Stephanopoulos gave Steele a chance to spin his story ahead of possible new indictments related to John Durham’s inquiry into the Trump-Russia election collusion hoax.

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GOP Senators Demand Intelligence Records on Hunter Biden’s Dealings with Chinese Energy Conglomerate

Hunter Biden

Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson called on the Biden administration Wednesday to turn over intelligence records regarding Hunter Biden’s work with a Chinese energy company with suspected ties to the Chinese military.

In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, Grassley and Johnson said that it is “imperative” for Congress to understand the relationship between the Biden family and CEFC China Energy, the now-defunct energy conglomerate.

CEFC China Energy paid Biden approximately $6 million from August 2017 to September 2018 for consulting and legal services, according to a report that Grassley and Johnson released last year.

The Republicans said in the report that banking regulators flagged some of the wire payments from CEFC to Biden for “potential criminal financial activity.” Grassley and Johnson also noted that CEFC’s founder, Ye Jianming, was an official in the mid-2000s for a front group of the Chinese Communist Party.

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Trump Praises Carter Page’s Lawsuit Against FBI and DOJ, Asks ‘Where’s Durham?’

Trump was lamenting that the Justice Department was not investigating allegations of voter fraud in various swing states. He brought up an investigation led by U.S. Attorney John Durham into FBI and CIA intelligence-gathering activities related to the Trump campaign in 2016.

Republicans had high hopes for Durham’s investigation when it started in April 2019, but have recently grown frustrated at a lack of public revelations from the probe.

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DOJ Lawyer Who Signed Carter Page Spy Warrants Now Regrets Doing So

The Justice Department attorney who signed the four surveillance warrant applications against Carter Page says they would not have done had they known of the information withheld by the FBI, according to a letter sent to the Senate this month.

Sen. Lindsey Graham read portions of the letter at the beginning of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with former FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday.

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Peter Strzok Defends FBI Against FISA Abuse Allegations, Says Agents Were ‘Overworked’

Former FBI official Peter Strzok defended the bureau’s surveillance of former Trump aide Carter Page in an interview aired Sunday, attributing failures found in a government watchdog report to agents being “overworked.”

“I don’t think at all that it’s anything improper. You get people who are overworked, who make mistakes — and don’t get me wrong, inexcusable mistakes,” Strzok said in an interview with “CBS Sunday Morning.”

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Justice Department Announces FISA Reforms to Prevent Another Carter Page Debacle

The Justice Department announced a series of reforms to its procedures for obtaining Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders on Tuesday aimed at preventing abuses that the FBI committed during its investigation of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Attorney General William Barr issued two memos laying out the reforms Tuesday. One memo announced the creation of an FBI Office of Internal Auditing, which will review all factual allegations submitted in FISA applications. The other memo deals with surveillance of elected federal officials and candidates seeking federal office.

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FBI Agents Pushed for a FISA to Investigate Foreign Government Targeting Hillary Clinton

by Chuck Ross   FBI agents in 2015 sought authorization to surveil foreign government operatives who sought to influence Hillary Clinton, but ultimately settled for a defensive briefing given to lawyers for the Democratic presidential candidate, according to documents released on Sunday. One FBI agent involved in the investigation asked then-FBI Director James Comey in an April 2015 email for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant, according to the documents, published by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham. A FISA order was not granted in the investigation. Instead, an FBI special agent provided a defensive briefing to Clinton’s personal lawyers in October 2015. Graham, a Republican, said that the documents are evidence of a double standard in how the FBI conducted investigations of foreign meddling regarding the Clinton and Trump campaigns. The FBI obtained FISA orders against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in October 2016 as part of its investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election. The FISA Court has been highly critical of the FBI over its surveillance of Page, citing numerous errors and omissions found in applications for the spy warrants. The FBI provided defensive briefings to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton regarding general foreign threats in August 2016.…

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DOJ IG Checked 29 More FBI Spy Warrants, and Found Problems with All of Them

The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General has a “lack of confidence” in the FBI’s procedures to validate information used to obtain spy warrants on American citizens, the watchdog said in a report released Tuesday.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found errors in all 29 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications that were subject to the review.

The audit is a follow-up to an investigation of the FBI’s surveillance of Carter Page, the former Trump campaign aide.

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Commentary: The FBI’s Darkest Hour

by Adam Mill   One can imagine the unspoken question hanging in the darkness during the January 2017 ride back to the airport. A small gaggle1 of FBI agents had just concluded their long-overdue interview with Christopher Steele’s primary sub-source. The silence must have been deafening. Steele had tried to conceal2 his source from the FBI. But the FBI knew his identity and set up an interview behind Steele’s back, and the interview contradicted several Steele assertions. The downcast agents waited for somebody to ask the question on all of their minds: “Now what?” The right answer would have been to admit to the court that Steele was an unreliable source who exaggerates and lies and put an end to spying on Americans in pursuit of the mirage of Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia. When presented one last opportunity to do the right thing, the FBI instead pushed harder for their now-discredited hypothesis justifying the investigation. Peter Strzok had promised his lover, Lisa Page, he would “save” the country from Donald Trump. Given a choice between bringing the FBI back into the light of the Constitution or the darkness of blind hatred of Donald Trump, the conspirators choose darkness. It was at…

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Commentary: Justin Amash Is Condoning the FISA Spying by Calling for Trump’s Impeachment

by Robert Romano   U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) on May 18 called for the impeachment of President Donald Trump in a Twitter thread, accusing him of committing obstruction of justice and “conduct that violates the public trust,” citing the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as justification. Nowhere in the Twitter thread did Amash make a specific allegation of which conduct by President Trump he was referring to that obstructed justice or violated the public trust — although he said there were “multiple examples”. In May 2017, Amash did indicate that President Trump firing former FBI Director James Comey could be a basis for impeachment, a topic the Mueller report does consider, so let’s assume for the purposes of this discussion that in part that is what he’s talking about. Critically, nowhere in the Twitter thread did Amash mention Russia or the fact that the Mueller report had found no coordination or conspiracy with Russia by President Trump, his campaign or any American for that matter to interfere in the 2016 elections. Mueller stated in the report, “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference…

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Commentary: The FISA Footnote that Could Doom Collusion Hoaxsters

James Comey, Andrew McCabe

by Julie Kelly   It is the controversial footnote to the most infamous application in American political history: The application submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for approval to wiretap Trump campaign aide Carter Page. And it could lead to the downfall of the Trump-Russia collusion schemers, as it will help make the case they misled the secret court to target an innocent man in an effort to thwart Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. In an application filed with the FISA court in October 2016, former FBI Director James Comey accused Carter Page, a Trump campaign aide, of being a Russian agent. (The initial warrant also was signed by former deputy attorney general and Trump foe Sally Yates.) The document is symbolic of how the Obama Justice Department was weaponized against the Trump campaign by corrupt partisans, many of whom—thankfully—now find themselves under investigation. The FISA application at issue claimed the Russian government, in coordination with Page, was attempting to “improperly and illegally influence the 2016 presidential election.” The FISA court approved the FBI’s request, subsequently unleashing the most powerful government surveillance methods possible against Page: “It’s an order by the court to basically monitor that person 24/7, not just tap their…

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Commentary: Former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes Claims Obama Knew Nothing About the FBI Investigation and Spying on Trump in 2016

by Robert Romano   “We learned about it when it was in the report that was appended to the report to Congress at the end of the administration.” That was former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes speaking to PJ Media’s Nicholas Ballasy on April 25 at Georgetown University promoting his new memoir of his time in the Obama administration, denying that the White House had any knowledge prior to Jan. 5, 2017 of the dossier by former British spy Christopher Steele that was commissioned by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign that was utilized by the Justice Department to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant in Oct. 2016 to spy on the Trump campaign. It had that alleged President Donald Trump was a Russian agent and that the Trump campaign had coordinated the DNC hacking and putting its emails onto Wikileaks with Russia. Those were crimes, we now know from the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report to Attorney General William Barr, which were never committed. Per Mueller, “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”…

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Potential Consequences of Spying on the Trump Campaign

by Fred Lucas   Actions by Justice Department officials in spying on a Donald Trump campaign adviser in 2016 could be a crime or merely an administrative offense, legal experts say. Crimes could include perjury or misleading a court, they say, while disciplinary action for an administrative offense could mean being fired or losing a law license. Testifying last week before two separate congressional panels, Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General report about the surveillance of Trump campaign aide Carter Page will be released in May or June. Barr also indicated that he planned a further review of government “spying” on the Trump campaign. Actions by Justice Department officials in spying on a Donald Trump campaign adviser in 2016 could be a crime or merely an administrative offense, legal experts say. Crimes could include perjury or misleading a court, they say, while disciplinary action for an administrative offense could mean being fired or losing a law license. Testifying last week before two separate congressional panels, Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General report about the surveillance of Trump campaign aide Carter Page will be released in May or June.…

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Commentary: Of Course the Obama Administration Spied on the Trump Campaign – That’s What a FISA Is For

by Robert Romano   “I think spying did occur… but the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated?” That was Attorney General William Barr testifying before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Science and Justice on April 10, acknowledging that the Trump campaign was spied on by the Obama administration during the 2016 election campaign. Barr outlined his impending review of the conduct of the Justice Department, the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies in launching surveillance and an investigation of the Trump campaign for conspiring with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election — a crime we now know was never committed. And of course spying occurred. The nearly three-year investigation was complete with Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants, approved in federal court, that allowed federal officials to look at Trump campaign emails, listen to phone calls and see other communications. That’s what a FISA warrant does. It’s for surveillance, which is right in the name of the statute. That is spying. What’s worse, the months-long surveillance resulted in individuals being prosecuted for unrelated process crimes and otherwise destroyed people’s lives, only to find out later there was no conspiracy or coordination with Russia after an exhaustive probe…

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Here Is When the FISA Abuse Investigation Will Be Done

by Chuck Ross   Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that an inspector general’s investigation into whether the FBI abused the surveillance court process during the Russia probe will be completed by May or June. Barr also told lawmakers during a House Appropriations Committee hearing that he is reviewing how the FBI handled the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign that began in summer 2016. “The office of the inspector general has a pending investigation of the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] process in the Russia investigation. I expect that that will be complete, probably in May or June, I am told,” said Barr. “More generally, I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all of the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016,” he added. Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, began investigating on March 28, 2018 whether the FBI mislead the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in applications for FISA warrants against Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser. The FBI relied heavily on the Democrat-funded Steele dossier to obtain four FISA warrants against Page. The dossier, authored by a former British spy, alleged that Page acted…

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Portman Resists Lindsey Graham’s Call for New Special Counsel to Investigate FBI

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and other Republicans are calling for an investigation, and possibly the appointment of a new special counsel, into the FBI surveillance of the Trump campaign. Graham told reporters on Monday that he wants to investigate the surveillance warrants obtained by the FBI against Carter Page, an adviser to the Trump campaign, which were ultimately used to wiretap Page. The warrants, however, were granted partially based on material contained in the infamous and uncorroborated “dossier” produced by Christopher Steele. Graham and his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee want to get to the bottom of the matter, and determine if the warrants were used as “a back-door to spy on the campaign.” “Whether or not it’s illegal, I don’t yet know,” Graham said. “What makes no sense to me is that all of the abuse by the Department of Justice and the FBI—the unprofessional conduct, the shady behavior—nobody seems to think that’s much important. Well that’s going to change, I hope.” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), however, told The Columbus Dispatch that he opposes calls to have Attorney General William Barr appoint a new special counsel to investigate what Graham called “the other side of the story.” Portman…

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