The Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice announced today that it will begin a probe of the process by which FBI and DOJ obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance ACT (FISA) warrant on a "certain U.S. person." Republican members of Congress have frequently voiced allegations FBI personnel and the Obama administration relied on an unsubstantiated dossier of allegations against then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016 to justify a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court.
Members of Congress have already revealed that the FBI asked for a surveillance warrant to snoop on Carter Page, a former volunteer on Trump’s presidential campaign, that relied on information gathered by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. It was the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee that paid for the dossier that made salacious claims about Trump. Democrats have sought to show that Russia may have had information that could compromise the president.
DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, who is already conducting allegations of political bias in several investigations leading up to the 2016 election, will seek to find out what DOJ knew about what role "an alleged FBI confidential informant" may have played in providing information about the unnamed surveillance target. Horowitz is already pursuing a previous probe into investigations DOJ and the FBI had conducted on Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she served as Barack Obama's secretary of state. He said earlier this month that he expected to wrap up that investigation in March or April.
According to a memo released by House Republicans in February, both DOJ and the FBI knew that the dossier prepared by British spy Steele had been financed by the Clinton and the Democratic Party and that it was essential in obtaining the FISA warrant in order to spy on Trump volunteer Page. The memo said that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe (who was fired this month by the Trump administration) told congressional investigators that the FISA warrant against Page would not have been granted without reliance on the dossier. At the time, James Comey was director of the FBI. Trump fired him in January 2017.
In an interview with Spero News, author James Bovard expressed concern over the tactics used by the FBI. Bovard said, “It is time to take the FBI off its pedestal. That is a huge part of the trouble with the federal government and politics is that the FBI is on a pedestal and that it has received so much deference. And it has used that deference to cover up an awful lot of abuses going back to [founding FBI director] J. Edgar Hoover period.” Bovard has argued that the FBI operates like a “secret police.” Bovard, who wrote “Lost Rights: the Destruction of American Liberty,” warned that as far back as 1924, the ACLU warned that the FBI had become “a secret police system of a political character.” He noted that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court feared that the FBI had bugged the conference room where justices held private discussions on landmark cases in 1930s. Later, President Harry Truman noted in 1945 memo that “We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction.”
Bovard warned that the FBI frequently abuses its power to intimdate citizens and even Members of Congress. He cited that among the agency's secret dealings came in a report by the Washington Post on Tuesday that Seddique Mateen, the father of the shooter at the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre, was an FBI confidential informant for more than 10 years and until the shooting, according to attorneys for the shooter's widow.