WA EX: A former top lawyer for the FBI described to lawmakers the “unusual” way the surveillance request targeting former Trump campaign associate Carter Page was handled by top leadership at the Justice Department and FBI, according to a transcript released this week.
In front of a joint session of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees on Aug. 31, 2018, former FBI Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson said she was normally responsible for signing off on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications before they reached the desk of her superiors for approval. Anderson said the “linear path” those applications typically take was upended in October 2016, with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates signing off on the application before she did. Because of that unusual high-level involvement, she didn’t see the need to “second guess” the FISA application.
The Page FISA application was filed by the Justice Department and FBI with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in October 2016. A surveillance warrant was granted and three renewals were subsequently approved. The FISA application relied heavily on unverified research in British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s dossier on President Trump’s ties to Russia, which was compiled through his employment with opposition research firm Fusion GPS with funding from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the Perkins Coie law firm.
Anderson said all FISAs need to be signed off on in the FBI’s National Security Law Branch, where she was assigned at the time. Anderson said she was the Senior Executive Service approver for the “initiation” of the Page FISA, including determining whether there is legal sufficiency.
But Anderson stressed “in this particular case, I’m drawing a distinction because my boss and my boss’ boss had already reviewed and approved this application.” She emphasized “this one was handled a little bit differently in that sense, in that it received very high-level review and approvals — informal, oral approvals — before it ever came to me for signature.” more here