|"The Justice Department’s internal watchdog is expected to find in a forthcoming report that political bias did not taint top officials running the FBI investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016, while at the same time criticizing the bureau for systemic failures in its handling of surveillance applications, according to two U.S. officials.|
The report due out Dec. 9 from Inspector General Michael Horowitz will allege that a low-level FBI lawyer inappropriately altered a document that was used as part of a controversial application for electronic surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser, the officials said. The inspector general referred that finding to U.S. Attorney John Durham, so that he may investigate it as a possible crime, they said.
But Horowitz will conclude that the application still had a proper legal and factual basis, according to the officials, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive report.
In broad terms, the report refutes accusations of a political conspiracy by senior law enforcement officials against the Trump campaign to favor Democrat Hillary Clinton, while also knocking the bureau for procedural shortcomings, said the officials. On balance, they said, it provides a mixed assessment of the bureau and department’s undertaking of a probe that became highly politicized and divided the nation."
|"The inspector general report, the officials said, is divided into three parts. One focuses on the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane probe of Papadopoulos. Another reviews the surveillance order on Page. A third assesses the bureau’s handling of Steele and his information."|
|"According to the two officials, Horowitz is expected to conclude that opening of Crossfire Hurricane was legally and factually justified. "|
|"The inspector general also is expected to find that the application and subsequent renewals to monitor Page’s communications was proper and observed relevant guidelines, the officials said."|
|"But there was an issue with a low-level FBI lawyer who altered an email to the Justice Department as part of the process for renewing the FISA warrant, which expires after 90 days. One of the attorneys in the National Security Division, which handles wiretap applications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), asked the lawyer if he could document a certain claim, the officials said. He misled them when he said he could and, to cover his tracks, he altered the email, the officials said. The serious error in judgment led to his removal from the bureau, and his case has been referred for criminal investigation, officials said.|
There are other individuals whose conduct is criticized, including a low-level agent, but the lawyer’s case is the most significant, they said.
Nonetheless, in looking closely at the Page surveillance application, the inspector general has identified a number of problems in the bureau’s process for handling FISA applications, including in how it forwards material to the National Security Division for review, the officials said.
Horowitz will recommend reforms, such as strengthening the internal oversight process."
[Edited on November 22, 2019 at 5:28 PM. Reason : highlights]
11/22/2019 5:24:32 PM