Department of Justice inspector general Michael Horowitz opened an investigation Wednesday into possible FISA abuses by the Justice Department and FBI officials and the nature of contacts between the FBI and a confidential source.
“The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) will initiate a review that will examine the Justice Department’s and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) compliance with legal requirements, and with applicable DOJ and FBI policies and procedures, in applications filed with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) relating to a certain U.S. person,” DOJ spokesman John Lavinsky said in a statement accompanying the announcement.
Lavinsky explained that “as part of this examination, the OIG also will review information that was known to the DOJ and the FBI at the time the applications were filed from or about an alleged FBI confidential source.”
Lavinsky noted that the investigation was prompted by requests from several members of Congress and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. House Republicans recently released a memo claiming widespread abuse of the FISA process on the part of the DOJ and FBI in order to obtain a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
The timing of the investigation and the reference to members of Congress point to Page as the U.S. person. The statement’s reference to a confidential source similarly floats concerns found in the Republican memo which found that the FBI and the DOJ did not disclose the political origins of the Steele dossier in its FISA application and revealed previously undisclosed testimony from former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe that an investigation into Page would not have occurred without Steele’s dossier.
The nature of contacts between DOJ officials and Steele during the opening of an investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign has been the nature of some controversy. The Republican memo especially expressed concern over the nature of meetings between Steele and DOJ official Bruce Ohr, whose wife worked for Steele for some time.