Rep. Adam Schiff admitted Sunday that the FBI committed “serious abuses” of the foreign surveillance court process in order to spy on Carter Page, though the California Democrat stopped short of acknowledging he was wrong to defend the bureau and in his promotion of the infamous Steele dossier.
“Given what you know now … are you willing to admit that you were wrong in your defense of the FBI’s FISA process?” “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace asked Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
“I’m certainly willing to admit that the inspector general found serious abuses of FISA that I was unaware of,” said Schiff, referring to a Justice Department inspector general’s report that found the FBI made “significant” errors and omissions in applications for FISA warrants on Page. (RELATED: IG’s FISA Report Undercuts ‘Schiff Memo’)
Schiff has been one of the FBI’s most ardent defenders regarding its investigation of the Trump campaign. He has also aggressively pushed the Steele dossier’s theories that the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government.
During a March 20, 2017, congressional hearing, Schiff read out dossier author Christopher Steele’s allegations that Page worked at the direction of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as part of the Russia conspiracy. He also cited the dossier’s allegations that Page met secretly with a Kremlin insider in July 2016 to discuss a bribe in exchange for a future Trump administration relaxing sanctions on Russia.
Schiff defended the FBI and Christopher Steele’s findings in a memo released Feb. 24, 2018, that rebutted a House Republican memo that accused the FBI of withholding information in its FISA applications.
“FBI and DOJ officials did not ‘abuse’ the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign,” the so-called “Schiff memo” said.
The IG report found otherwise. Michael Horowitz, the inspector general, found 17 errors and omissions in its applications for FISA orders against Page. The report said the FBI withheld exculpatory information regarding the former Trump aide, as well as derogatory information about the dossier.
The report stated FBI agents and officials failed to disclose that Steele told investigators Oct. 3, 2016, several weeks before the FBI submitted its first application to spy on Page, that one of the dossier’s key sub-sources was a “boaster” and “embellisher.”
The FBI also failed to disclose to FISA Court judges that Steele’s primary collector of information disputed many of the dossier’s characterizations during an interview with FBI agents in January 2017.
Schiff insisted Sunday that he was not aware of the FBI’s omissions when he defended the bureau.
“I think it’s only fair to judge what we knew at the time, not what would be revealed two years later. But yes, there were very serious abuses of the FISA process. They need to be corrected, we need to make sure they never happen again,” he said.
Despite those claims, Schiff had access to the same information that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee cited in their Feb. 2, 2018, memo that blasted the FBI and the Steele dossier.
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