The Department of Justice has found its first suspect in the case of the FISA warrants that led to the surveillance of President Donald Trump’s team.
The DOJ inspector general has discovered evidence that a low-level FBI agent allegedly altered documents connected to the surveillance, The Washington Post reported.
The person under scrutiny is a low-level FBI lawyer who has since been forced out of the agency, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss material that has not yet been made public. They declined to identify the lawyer.
The allegation is contained in a draft of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report analyzing the FBI’s Russia investigation, which witnesses have in recent weeks been allowed to review, people familiar with the matter said. The report is scheduled to be released publicly Dec. 9.
The employee was forced out of the FBI after the incident was discovered, two U.S. officials said. Horowitz found that the employee erroneously indicated he had documentation to back up a claim he had made in discussions with the Justice Department about the factual basis for the application. He then altered an email to back up that erroneous claim, they said.
That conduct did not alter Horowitz’s finding that the surveillance application of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page had a proper legal and factual basis, the officials said.
Horowitz has been exploring various aspects of the Russia probe but was focused in particular on applications the FBI filed with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Page’s electronic communications.
But The Washington Post did something rather shady after publishing its story. It removed a key paragraph that showed that the person in question worked under anti-President Trump agent Peter Strzok, Fox News reported.
“The person under scrutiny has not been identified but is not a high-ranking official — they worked beneath former deputy assistant director Peter Strzok, according to people familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss material that has not yet been made public,” it said in the now deleted paragraph.
Later, it issued a correction at the bottom of its story that said “Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that the FBI employee being investigated for altering a document worked underneath former Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok. The employee was a low-level lawyer in the Office of General Counsel and did not report to the deputy assistant director.”
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to release his report on the FISA abuses on Dec. 9, and he will testify in the Senate on Dec. 11, Sen. Lindsey Graham said when he spoke to Fox News host Sean Hannity.
“I can promise you this, the Senate Judiciary Committee will call Mr. Horowitz, and he will testify under oath about this report. We’re going to declassify as much as we can including FISA warrant applications,” he said.
“Transparency and accountability are my goals… Here’s what I believe without any doubt, the dossier remains unverified to this day, and the author of the dossier was on the payroll of the Democratic Party,” he said.
In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, Sen. Graham demanded that the documents that show the FISA abuses be released.
“Since March 28, 2018, the Department’s Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, has been conducting an investigation into the Department’s and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s compliance with legal requirements, and with applicable Department and FBI policies and procedures, in applications filed with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) related to Carter Page. According to Inspector General David Horowitz that investigation is nearing completion,” the South Carolina senator said.
“In order for the Inspector General to be able to present the most complete results of his investigation to Congress and the American people, certain documents will need to be declassified and released to the public. I write to urge you to declassify all documents the Inspector General identifies as appropriate for declassification as much as possible, without harming national security,” he said.