Skip to comments.Ex-FBI lawyer: Carter Page FISA application approved in 'unusual' way by McCabe, Yates, and Baker
Posted on 05/23/2019 1:08:12 PM PDT by Mount Athos
A former top lawyer for the FBI described to lawmakers the unusual way the surveillance request targeting former Trump campaign associate Carter Page was handled by top leadership at the Justice Department and FBI, according to a transcript released this week.
In front of a joint session of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees on Aug. 31, 2018, former FBI Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson said she was normally responsible for signing off on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications before they reached the desk of her superiors for approval. Anderson said the linear path those applications typically take was upended in October 2016, with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates signing off on the application before she did. Because of that unusual high-level involvement, she didnt see the need to second guess the FISA application.
The Page FISA application was filed by the Justice Department and FBI with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in October 2016. A surveillance warrant was granted and three renewals were subsequently approved. The FISA application relied heavily on unverified research in British ex-spy Christopher Steele's dossier on President Trump's ties to Russia, which was compiled through his employment with opposition research firm Fusion GPS with funding from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the Perkins Coie law firm.
Anderson said all FISAs need to be signed off on in the FBIs National Security Law Branch, where she was assigned at the time. Anderson said she was the Senior Executive Service approver for the initiation of the Page FISA, including determining whether there is legal sufficiency.
But Anderson stressed in this particular case, I'm drawing a distinction because my boss and my boss boss had already reviewed and approved this application. She emphasized this one was handled a little bit differently in that sense, in that it received very high-level review and approvals informal, oral approvals before it ever came to me for signature.
Anderson said that FISA approvals are typically tracked in a linear fashion and that someone in the Senior Executive Service is the final approver on hard copy before a FISA goes to the director or deputy director for signature. She said the Page FISA was approved outside regular procedures.
"Because there were very high-level discussions that occurred about the FISA," Anderson said she believed that meant the FISA essentially had already been well-vetted all the way up through at least the Deputy Director [McCabe] level on our side and through the DAG [Yates] on the DOJ side. Yates had already signed the application by the time it made it to Andersons desk.
The publicly available Page FISA documents show then-FBI Director James Comey also signed off on it.
Because the FISA application had already been approved at such high levels, Anderson said she did not look at the Page FISA application with much skepticism. I wouldn't view it as my role to second-guess that substantive approval that had already been given by the Deputy Director [McCabe] and by the Deputy Attorney General [Yates] in this particular instance," she said.
Asked why this FISA application was different, Anderson said she believed the sensitivity level of this particular FISA resulted in lots of very high-level attention both within the FBI and DOJ.
The General Counsel [Jim Baker] personally reviewed and made edits to the FISA, for example, Anderson said. The Deputy Director was involved in reviewing the FISA line by line. The Deputy Attorney General over on the DOJ side of the street was similarly involved, as I understood, reviewing the FISA application line by line.
Baker recently defended the FBIs handling of the FISA process, saying we took [the dossier] seriously but we didnt necessarily take it literally and did not treat it as literally true in every respect. Baker also said, I am not going to go into details with respect to what investigative steps we actually took to try to validate it. Former FBI Director James Comey still referred to the dossier as salacious and unverified even in 2017.
Anderson stressed that McCabe, Yates, and Baker all played key roles in reviewing the Page FISA. My approval at that point was really purely administrative in nature. In other words, the substantive issues the FISA had already substantively been approved by people much higher than me in the chain of command," Anderson said.
Anderson said it typically would not have been the case that people such as McCabe and Yates would sign off on a FISA application before she did.
"That part of it was unusual, and so I didn't consider my review at that point in the process to be substantive in nature," Anderson said. "In other words, there were smart lawyers, high-level people on both sides of the street who had reviewed and signed off on the application, the details of the application. And so I was simply signaling, yes, this package is ready to go forward."
Anderson said the seal of approval from such high-ranking FBI and DOJ officials meant that her signature on the FISA application was mostly perfunctory.
Anderson cast doubt on whether Comey would usually read a full FISA application, considering he could receive more than a dozen in a given day. And so, yes, the director or deputy director, if he signs the FISA, you know, relies on others, Anderson said.
Even in normal circumstances, Anderson said she likely would not read the full FISA application before signing off on it unless there were an issue that was identified by the cover note," due to time constraints.
Anderson admitted she did not read the Page FISA the day that she signed off on it but noted shed read it at some earlier point in time.
The FBIs handling of the Steele dossier has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks, and there are at least three federal investigations into alleged FISA abuse and other matters related to the way the FBI and DOJ conducted the Trump-Russia investigation.
The Deep State criminals fast tracked it, went around channels because they were out to get Trump and that’s all that mattered to them.
They should all rot in prison.
In this case more of a "crooked fashion."
When will anyone with authority “act”. The haste before the election proves it was purely political. People need “perp walks”.
They had to have the warrants before the election.
Every day counted.
Plus, she may have put an end to the whole thing.
Carter Page was/is an FBI INFORMANT that was put in the campaign to SPY!! That’s the reason NO charges were ever considered for him!
This should be investigated.
Why is the SES even involved in anything like this? This is a law-related action, not personnel-related.
What an absolute tire fire this government is right now (not blaming Trump, BTW).
Exactly....if it came in in the typical linear fashion she would have reviewed it, and potentially questioned it. When your boss's boss signs off on it, the train has already left the station. You simply sign it and not even give it a second thought.
I do and don't blame her. Yes, she should have as a matter of policy reviewed it and questioned it where appropriate, though that may have ended her career right then.
They cut her out of the usual approval protocols.
who was the deputy attorney general at the time?
This shows that McCabe, Yates, and Baker conducted their own review of the material prior to sign off. They cannot blame "poor staff work" for their signatures.
Over the past few weeks, McCabe has been silent. I think he has cut a deal. This article confirms he is exposed to criminal prosecution.
james m cole
She could give a damn....
IIRC, Comey said he never read it.
I’m not sure whether Comey read it or not. Regardless, there will be a paper trail, usually in the form of a staff summary sheet, which normally has the dates that people signed. If Comey signed the staff summary sheet last, then he may have a case that he signed based on staff recommendation.
Carter Page was an Annapolis grad and a Naval officer. He spoke fluent Russian. I cant help noticing that he has the resume of a CIA Moscow station chief. And by shear coincidence (Im sure) he was stationed in Moscow for several years.
Then he comes back to the US and is immediately sucked into an FBI counterintelligence investigation. No sooner does he beat the rap on that and then hes immediately sucked into another counterintelligence investigation that is unrelated to the first one. What an unlucky guy.
Any scrutiny at all would have been more than what they had before.
trish anderson left the fbi and joined covington and burling, where eric holder now works. stuart eizenstat from the clinton era also works there. covington and burling represented big tobacco in washington, dc.
letting anderson off the hook just perpetuates the denial of responsibility within the deep state swamp. after nuremberg, “i was just doing my job” is not supposed to be a good enough excuse for crimes performed under the color of law.
and anyway anderson is a top lawyer. signing off on a fisa order that could result in wiretapping the future president without reading it just does not parse... imho.
if nothing else, ... rico.
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