Trump Again Attacks Sessions, This Time for FISA Investigation

President Donald Trump again attacked beleaguered Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday, this time for not ordering the Justice Department to investigate the agency’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in its Russia probe.
Sessions instead has asked the department’s inspector general to investigate the matter, Trump said. The Office of the Inspector General said it’s aware of a referral from the Justice Department and declined further comment.“Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse?” the U.S. president wrote in a tweet that was also critical of the IG,Michael Horowitz. “Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!”
Horowitz is investigating the FBI and Justice Department’s handling of an investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email arrangements. Trump fired FBI director James Comey last year in part, he said, because of that investigation.

‘Fair, Fact Centric’

The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Trey Gowdy, who regularly clashed with the Obama administration and Clinton, defended Horowitz as an impartial investigator.
“I have had a number of interactions with Inspector General Horowitz, including as recently as earlier this month,” Gowdy said in a statement. “He has been fair, fact centric, and appropriately confidential with his work.”
“He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate without a single dissent,” Gowdy said. “I have complete confidence in him and hope he is given the time, the resources and the independence to complete his work.”
The Justice Department declined to comment on Trump’s tweet, spokesman Ian Prior said in an email. The Office of Inspector General says on its website that it’s “a statutorily created independent entity whose mission is to detect and deter waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct in DOJ programs and personnel, and to promote economy and efficiency in those programs.”
Sessions told reporters on Tuesday that the inspector general would look into Republican claims that FISA standards were abused in the early stages of the FBI investigation into Trump campaign associates and ties to Russians. Trump’s decision to weigh in adds new fuel to concerns about presidential interference that could undermine the Justice Department’s independence.
“The inspector general will take that as one of the matters they’ll deal with,” Sessions said on Tuesday, concluding that it is “just the appropriate thing.”
Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee, led by Chairman Devin Nunes, have alleged that the FBI and Justice Department were biased against Trump in their handling of the probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. A memo that the Republican lawmakers released on Feb. 2 asserts that officials relied primarily on an unverified dossier prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele to obtain a surveillance warrant on Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser on Trump’s campaign. The dossier was largely funded by Clinton’s campaign and Democrats.
Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee, led by their top-ranking member, Adam Schiff, disputed the claims in their own memo, released in redacted form on Saturday.
Democrats say the Steele dossier wasn’t part of the FBI’s decision to open its counterintelligence investigation, which began in July 2016, well before the bureau received the dossier in September of that the year. While the dossier was cited in the FBI’s initial FISA warrant application in October 2016, the bureau “cited multiple sources to support the case for surveilling Page” and made only “narrow use” of information from Steele’s sources, according to the Democratic memo.
Page had been on the FBI’s radar for many years and a Russian intelligence officer targeted him for recruitment, according to the Democratic memo. The Page warrant was also renewed three times -- in January 2017, April 2017 and June 2017 -- which requires evidence that the surveillance was bearing fruit.

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