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) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s investigation, which grew out of the FBI’s original probe.

Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsGOP women's group rolls out endorsements ahead of contested races Bossie, Lewandowski warned Trump he was in trouble in 2020: report The Hill's Campaign Report: GOP beset by convention drama MORE (R-Ga.), the House Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, separately wrote a letter to Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse Democrats call on DOJ to investigate recent killings of unarmed black people  Gun control group rolls out House endorsements The House impeachment inquiry loses another round — and yes, that's still going on 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 BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFormer prosecutors outraged at decision to dismiss the Flynn case should focus on the real problems The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation More than two dozen former prosecutors, judges, active trial lawyers support DOJ decision to dismiss Michael Flynn case 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 John TrumpMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Stocks open mixed ahead of Trump briefing on China The island that can save America 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 ComeyComey, Rice, Clapper among GOP senator's targets for subpoenas amid Obama-era probe GOP chairman to seek subpoena power in investigation of Russia probe, 'unmasking' requests Rosenstein to testify as part of Graham's Russia investigation probe 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.