Republican lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee on Thursday sent several interrogatories directly to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) in a major new inquiry aimed at highlighting the secret court’s growing credibility crisis after Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report last month.
Fox News reported that a letter sent to FISC Presiding Judge James Boasberg, the committee’s Ranking Member, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and member Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), demanded to know whether the court believes it “bears any responsibility” for the surveillance of former Trump aide Carter Page.
In addition, the lawmakers want to know what “disciplinary action” the court plans to pursue against Justice Department and FBI attorneys who knowingly deceived the court to obtain a surveillance warrant on Page, then a member of the 2016 Trump campaign.
The lawmakers also want to know when the FISC discovered the first “indication” materials used to obtain the warrant were false or incomplete, Fox News reported.
Jordan and Meadows also asked the FISC to explain whether it “conducted any internal review to examine the accuracy or validity of information contained in the FBI’s surveillance applications for Carter Page,” and if so, to explain the steps taken.
Furthermore, Jordan and Meadows asked whether the FISC would review FBI filings “in other matters” to ensure that they were completed accurately.
Last month following the Horowitz report, the FISC ordered the FBI to review applications previously filed by former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith after the IG found he had altered an email from the CIA to make it appear as though Page’s interactions with Russian clients was suspicious.
In reality, the CIA’s email stated that Page was a known asset to the agency and had been used before to gather intelligence on Russian targets.
But the FISC left out other important players who were also seemingly implicated in FISA abuses by Horowitz. That includes FBI agent Joe Pientka, who quietly relocated to San Francisco in recent months without explanation, according to an update on a bureau site that was eventually edited to remove reference to his name, Fox News noted.
“Pientka was one of the agents responsible for following established procedures to verify dozens of inaccurate or unsubstantiated facts in the Page FISA warrant application, but he failed to do so, according to Horowitz’s report,” the network reported online.
Pientka was also reportedly one of the FBI agents sent to interview then-incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn just a few weeks before President Trump’s inauguration. The other agent was Peter Strzok, who was later discovered to have sent scores of texts disparaging the future president exchanged with then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having a relationship.