The man who was appointed to assess the FBI’s response to a federal court order demanding the bureau explain how it would fix the errors and misleading statements that led to the illegal surveillance of Carter Page, a former adviser to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, has previously and fervently defended the bureau in the past, leading some to question whether he is the man for job.
David Kris, a former senior Obama Justice Department official, was appointed on January 10 to serve as amicus curiae to “assist the Court in assessing the government’s response” to a court order from then-Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) presiding judge Rosemary Collyer that required the government the government to provide a sworn written statement about how it would take steps to make sure it would never mislead the FISC when applying for electronic surveillance warrants.
As Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) explained in a letter to James E. Boasberg, the current presiding judge for FISC, Kris “does not appear to be an objective – or likely effective – amicus curiae for several reasons.”
“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 congressmen continued.
They then point to several examples where Kris has previously defended the FBI against accusations that it had mislead the FISC while obtaining warrants against Page. Kris in 2018 claimed – along with every other left-leaning media outlet – that a memo released by the House Intelligence Committee (then under Republican control) that detailed the abuse of the FISA warrant process was itself wrong.
“Based on my familiarity with the FISA process and the people who run it, I have high confidence that they would have provided the court with enough information to meaningfully assess [ex-British intelligence officer Christopher] Steele’s credibility and the provenance of the other information on which they relied,” Kris said at the time.
He was wrong, as the Inspector General’s (IG) December 9 report validate what the House Intelligence committee found in 2018.
Kris also claimed that the applications (which were later determined to contain serious errors and omissions) “already substantially undermine the President’s narrative and that of his proxies, and it seems to me very likely that if we get below the tip of the iceberg into the submerged parts and more is revealed it’s going to get worse, not better” for Page.
Again, as the IG determined, the FBI never had any basis to conclude Page was a foreign agent yet still went forward with obtaining surveillance warrants against him.
Even after the IG found the FBI had mislead the FISC in its warrant applications, Kris downplayed the role of the FBI, saying that the conduct was not political and was merely sloppy. In testimony, IG Michael Horowitz stated that the FBI did not rule out political bias, even though the report concluded it had found none.
Based on these statements, Jordan and Meadows requested answers to nine questions regarding Kris’ appointment and role:
- Please identify with specificity all the candidates you considered to serve as amicus curiae to assess the government’s response to Judge Collyer’s order dated December 17, 2019.
- Please explain whether the FISC reviewed and considered Mr. Kris’s writings and statements about Carter Page and the FBI’s electronic surveillance of Mr. Page prior to appointing Mr. Kris as amicus curiae. If not, please explain why not.
- Please explain whether the FISC reviewed and considered Mr. Kris’s writings and statements about the memorandum issued by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence dated January 18, 2018, prior to appointing Mr. Kris as amicus curiae. If not, please explain why not,
- Please explain what specific steps the FISC will take to better protect the civil liberties of American citizens who are not represented in ex parte proceedings for electronic surveillance.
- Please explain whether the FISC intends to review FBI filings in other matters to determine whether, as Judge Collyer wrote, “the government … provide[s] complete and accurate information in every filing with the Court.” If not, please explain why not.
- Please explain whether you believe that the FISC bears any responsibility for the FBI’s illegal surveillance of Carter Page.
- Please explain with detail when the FISC first received any indication that information contained in the FBI’s surveillance applications for Carter Page was misleading or false. Please explain what actions, if any, the FISC took at that time to address the FBI’s misconduct.
- Please explain whether the FISC conducted any internal review to examine the accuracy or validity of information contained in the FBI’s surveillance applications for Carter Page prior to the release of the Justice Department OIG’s report. If so, please explain the scope and process of the FISC review and any findings or information it generated.
- Please explain with specificity what disciplinary action, if any, the FISC intends to pursue for attorneys who knowingly filed false or misleading information with the FISC with respect to applications to surveil Carter Page.