GOP Lawmakers Press Spy Court For Answers About Ex-DOJ Official Picked To Monitor FBI Reforms

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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Two leading Republican lawmakers pressed the judge presiding over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) on Thursday to explain his choice of former Justice Department official David Kris to monitor the FBI’s proposed reforms in response to an inspector general’s report regarding surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser.

“If the FISC’s goal is to hold the FBI accountable for its serious misconduct, Mr. Kris does not appear to be an objective — or likely effective — amicus curiae for several reasons,” Rep. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows wrote to Judge James Boasberg, who presides over the FISC, in a letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“At minimum, the selection of Mr. Kris creates a perception that he is too personally invested on the side of the FBI to ensure it effectuates meaningful reform.”

The Republicans cited Kris’s commentary during the heat of the Trump-Russia investigation defending the FBI’s surveillance of Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser. (RELATED: Ex-DOJ Official Picked To Oversee FBI Reforms Was Ardent Defender Of Carter Page Surveillance)

Kris criticized Republicans who accused the FBI of submitting misleading information to the FISC in order to wiretap Page. Kris asserted that the bureau would not have misled the FISC in order to obtain surveillance warrants.

Carter Page on November 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Kris, who served as assistant attorney general for national security during the Obama administration, also embraced the FBI’s assertion that there was probable cause to believe that Page was a Russian agent.

The IG report supported GOP theories about the FBI, while undermining the case against Page. It said that the FBI committed “significant” errors and omissions in an effort to surveil Page.

The report said that FBI agents withheld exculpatory information about Page from its four FISA applications. Agents also failed to disclose information that raised questions about the validity of the Steele dossier, which the IG said played a “central and essential” role in the FBI’s decision to wiretap Page.

Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, asserted that Page was part of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russian government. The IG report and special counsel’s report said there was no evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy.

Judge Rosemary Collyer, who preceded Boasberg, said in a Dec. 17 letter that the FBI made “false” and “misleading” statements about Page. She directed the bureau to develop a list of reforms to address problems laid out in the IG report.

On Jan. 10, Boasberg selected Kris to serve as amicus curiae on the review of the FBI’s proposed reforms. The FISC maintains a stable of eight amici curiae who are chosen to provide expert advice on surveillance-related matters.

Kris submitted a letter to the FISC Wednesday that analyzed 12 corrective actions that the FBI has proposed taking in response to the IG report. Kris said that the reforms are “a step in the right direction,” but “insufficient” to address the IG’s findings.

Jordan and Meadows, who are close allies of President Trump, asked Boasberg to provide details about the decision to have Kris serve as amicus curiae.

The Republicans also asked Boasberg whether he reviewed Kris’s writings about public statements prior to selecting him as amicus curiae.

A spokesman for the court declined comment on Wednesday about Kris’s selection.

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