Senate Panel Conducts First Deposition In FISA Abuse Probe

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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The Senate Judiciary Committee had its first deposition Tuesday as part of a probe into the FBI’s improper surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters.

Graham said he did not not remember who was deposed Tuesday. But the South Carolina Republican had asked Attorney General William Barr for permission to interview 17 Justice Department and FBI employees who were discussed in a Justice Department inspector general (IG) report about the bureau’s surveillance of Page.

Graham has also said he plans to hold open hearings with former FBI and Justice Department officials like James Comey and Rod Rosenstein who approved the Page surveillance warrants, which were granted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). (RELATED: Graham Releases FISA Interview Wish List)

The IG report said the FBI made 17 “significant” errors and omissions in FISA applications regarding Page. The FBI relied heavily on the Steele dossier to assert that there was probable cause to suspect that Page was a Russian agent.

But the IG report found that the FBI failed to disclose exculpatory information regarding Page in its FISA requests. Investigators also left out information that called the dossier’s reliability into question.

Graham said last month that his top priority is to interview FBI and DOJ employees who know about a January 2017 interview with dossier author Christopher Steele’s primary source. The IG report said the source, identified as “Primary Sub-Source,” told the FBI and the DOJ that Steele misrepresented allegations attributed to him in the dossier.

Graham’s interview wish list includes a veteran FBI counterintelligence investigator who took part in the interview with Steele’s source. The IG report was highly critical of the investigator, who is referred to as “Case Agent 1,” saying that he was “primarily responsible” for several “significant” errors during the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. The New York Times recently identified the agent as Stephen M. Somma.

As a result of the FBI’s errors, the Justice Department has deemed two of the four Carter Page FISA warrants to be invalid.

The special counsel’s investigation ultimately found no evidence that Page or anyone else on the Trump campaign conspired with Russia or worked as agents of Russia.

Graham’s office did not respond to emails seeking comment on the committee’s deposition schedule.

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