Justice OIG completes probe on FBI surveillance of ex-Trump campaign aide

The Justice Department inspector general has completed an internal review on whether the FBI complied with the law and its own policies while applying for a warrant to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page during the 2016 election.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote in a letter to members of Congress on Friday that his office had “reviewed over one million records and conducted over 100 interviews” in connection with the inquiry and is in the early stages of finalizing its report. 

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Horowitz wrote that he has submitted a draft of the “factual findings” of the inquiry to the Justice Department and FBI for a classification review, after which the inspector general’s office will begin the process of preparing final classified and public drafts of the report.

“The team has reviewed over one million records and conducted over 100 interviews, including several witnesses who only recently agreed to be interviewed,” Horowitz wrote. “We have now begun the process of finalizing our report by providing a draft of our factual findings to the Department and the FBI for classification determination and marking.”

Horowitz did not provide any details on the findings, nor did he offer a timeline on when a report might be released to the public. The inspector general said he would update the committees on his progress toward issuing the final report when possible.

The letter was sent to the top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate Oversight and Judiciary Committees on Friday.

The inspector general disclosed in May 2018, at the request of congressional Republicans, that he would review whether the Justice Department and FBI complied with legal requirements and followed appropriate policies and procedures in applying to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) for a warrant related to “a certain U.S. person.”

While the individual was not named in the announcement, the person is widely known to be Page, the former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who was investigated in connection with the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the election.

Republicans have long alleged the FBI abused its surveillance powers in applying for the warrant to spy on Page, saying officials did not sufficiently disclose the Democratic link to the so-called Steele dossier. Details from the dossier, compiled by ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, were used in part to justify the warrant to spy on Page. The inspector general reportedly interviewed Steele over the summer as part of the review.

A heavily redacted version of the Oct. 2016 Page warrant released by the Justice Department last year showed that FBI officials believed him to be “the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.”

Page was never charged in connection with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s investigation, which grew out of the FBI’s original probe.

Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock Poll shows tight GOP primary for Georgia governor MORE (R-Ga.), the House Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, separately wrote a letter to Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMore than 200 women, transgender inmates to be transferred from Rikers Island Alabama using COVID funds to build new prisons — is that Biden's vision? Alabama clears plan to use COVID-19 relief funds to build prisons MORE (D-N.Y.) on Friday demanding him to hold hearings on the results of the report, saying the inspector general had notified Attorney General William BarrBill BarrWhy it's time for conservatives to accept the 2020 election results and move on Bannon's subpoena snub sets up big decision for Biden DOJ Five takeaways: Report details Trump's election pressure campaign MORE earlier Friday of the completion of his investigation.

“As you know, FISA oversight falls squarely within the Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction. We must act swiftly to address concerns outlined in the Inspector General’s report. Accordingly, I write to request you schedule a hearing as soon as possible following Congress’s receipt of the report,” Collins wrote.

He asked that Nadler invite both Horowitz and FBI Director Christopher Wray to testify at the hearing.

Barr has also initiated a separate review spearheaded by the U.S. attorney in Connecticut on whether the intelligence collection on Trump’s 2016 campaign was properly predicated.

That review has triggered broad pushback from Democrats, who have accused Barr and President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE of trying to go after the president’s political enemies at the expense of the intelligence community.   

Friday's developments come roughly two weeks after the inspector general's office released a scathing report faulting former FBI James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump defends indicted GOP congressman Andrew McCabe's settlement with the Department of Justice is a signal to John Durham Giuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign MORE for violating FBI policies and his employment agreement by mishandling sensitive memos detailing his conversations with Trump. Barr declined to press charges against Comey for his actions. 

The Justice Department inspector general’s office did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.