web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)"

House to Vote on Limiting F.B.I. Power to Collect Americans’ Internet Data

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-surveillance-facebookJumbo House to Vote on Limiting F.B.I. Power to Collect Americans’ Internet Data USA PATRIOT Act United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Surveillance of Citizens by Government Schiff, Adam B Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Lofgren, Zoe Law and Legislation House Committee on Intelligence Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Federal Bureau of Investigation

WASHINGTON — House leaders have agreed to permit a vote on tightening limits on when the F.B.I. may collect Americans’ internet browsing and search records during national security investigations, after negotiations over Memorial Day weekend between two California Democrats, Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Adam B. Schiff.

A vote on the proposal — an amendment to a peripatetic bill related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, that both the House and Senate have passed in different forms — is likely to come this week. If it passes, the bill would return to the Senate, extending its long-running consideration.

But by Tuesday night, there were multiple signs of political turbulence that raised new doubts about the bill’s future.

The text of the compromise amendment was not yet public, but congressional aides said that the proposal essentially limits to Americans the protections of a Senate proposal that would categorically ban the F.B.I. from using a court order for business records to collect internet browsing and search records.

The House is preparing to vote this week on the overall bill, which centers on extending three partly expired tools the F.B.I. uses to hunt for spies and terrorists.

It has also become a vehicle for broader changes to surveillance matters, with lawmakers who have long championed civil liberties teaming up with allies of President Trump after an inspector general report uncovered myriad problems in FISA surveillance used in the Trump-Russia investigation. The result is a mix of overhauls and new restrictions — some related to the Russia case and some not.

Complicating matters, however, Mr. Trump abruptly urged Republicans late Tuesday on Twitter to vote against the FISA bill even though it contains changes in response to his complaints, including generally requiring the appointment of an outsider in the FISA court to argue against the government’s position if the surveillance would affect a political campaign.

“I hope all Republican House Members vote NO on FISA until such time as our Country is able to determine how and why the greatest political, criminal, and subversive scandal in USA history took place!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

The president has a history of erratic intervention in FISA legislation politics. In January 2018, when Congress was about to extend a different part of that law that permits warrantless surveillance of noncitizens abroad, he abruptly urged lawmakers to vote it down after watching a segment on Fox News — only to walk back his remarks hours later. It passed.

The House passed a version of the current bill in March. But this month, when the Senate took up the bill, senators approved a different amendment to it while narrowly rejecting another one about internet records, sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, and Steve Daines, Republican of Montana.

A majority — 59 of the 100 senators — voted for the Wyden-Daines amendment, which would have banned the F.B.I. from gathering internet records using a type of FISA court order that permits collection of business records deemed relevant to a case. But it fell one short needed under Senate rules to attach it to the bill at that stage.

Because the Senate modified the bill, it returned to the House for another vote. Galvanized by the close vote, privacy advocates like Ms. Lofgren used the opportunity to push House leaders for permission for an up-or-down vote on the same idea.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi instructed Ms. Lofgren to negotiate with Mr. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to see whether they could arrive at compromise language that would narrow the Senate version. Over the holiday weekend, they agreed to limit the protection to Americans.

It was not clear, however, how far the new rule would go, were it to be enacted into law.

For one thing, the restriction would apply only to business records orders collected under a provision of law known as Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which allows the F.B.I. to collect such records deemed relevant to a terrorist investigation. (It is also one of the three provisions that have now partly lapsed, but would be revived and extended.)

But the government has sometimes used a different provision of FISA, the “pen register/trap and trace” section, to gather internet metadata. Orders to install a pen register device have the same low standard as orders requiring the production of business records.

Moreover, aides said the amendment would not explicitly lay out whether the proposed limit on using Section 215 business records orders would apply to situations where the F.B.I. does not know ahead of time whose data will be collected — like when it may want to gather the addresses of all visitors to a website or viewers of a video.

Ms. Lofgren declared that the language, should it become law, should be interpreted strictly as an “outright prohibition” on collecting Americans’ data — even if it was incidental.

For example, she said, the F.B.I. could not use a Section 215 order to get “a list of everyone who has visited a particular website, watched a particular video or made a particular search query” unless it could somehow guarantee that no Americans would be caught in the net.

But in his own statement, Mr. Schiff put forward a narrower emphasis. Stressing the continued need to investigate foreign threats, he described the compromise as banning the use of such orders “to seek to obtain” an American’s internet information.

That formulation left open the possibility of interpreting the potential new law as banning only deliberate attempts to collect an American’s data, leaving the F.B.I. free to ask for lists of all visitors to websites despite the risk that the list may turn out to incidentally include some Americans.

One traditional means by which courts interpret ambiguously written statutes is by looking at evidence of legislative intent — like statements by lawmakers explaining what they believed a bill would do before a vote — so such statements may in part be an attempt to create fodder to argue about what the compromise language means in future litigation.

Mr. Wyden, who initially issued a statement on Tuesday endorsing the compromise House language and echoing Ms. Lofgren’s claims about what he believed it would mean, said later Tuesday that in light of Mr. Schiff’s suggestion of a narrower understanding, he would no longer support the measure and wanted his original version.

“It is now clear that there is no agreement with the House Intelligence Committee to enact true protections for Americans’ rights against dragnet collection of online activity, which is why I must oppose this amendment, along with the underlying bill, and urge the House to vote on the original Wyden-Daines amendment,” Mr. Wyden said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

National Security Surveillance on U.S. Soil Fell Amid Scrutiny of Russia Inquiry

Westlake Legal Group 30dc-surveillance-facebookJumbo National Security Surveillance on U.S. Soil Fell Amid Scrutiny of Russia Inquiry Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Surveillance of Citizens by Government Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Privacy Page, Carter Office of the Director of National Intelligence National Security Agency Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Federal Bureau of Investigation Espionage and Intelligence Services Classified Information and State Secrets

WASHINGTON — The number of people targeted for court-approved surveillance by counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigators in 2019 plunged to its lowest level in at least seven years, a drop that coincided with intense scrutiny on the F.B.I.’s use of its national-security wiretapping power in the Trump-Russia investigation.

There were 1,059 such targets of wiretap and search warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, in 2019, according to a newly declassified report released on Thursday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The number of such FISA targets had been on an upward trend during the previous six years, when investigators used FISA to eavesdrop on an average of more than 1,500 people each year — including 1,833 targets in 2018, the peak during that period.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence began issuing a report of surveillance-related statistics annually after the 2013 leaks by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden set off a broad debate about electronic spying.

The report offers a window onto how the intelligence community uses its surveillance powers in ways that may affect the privacy of Americans — information that was once a closely guarded secret, but that the agencies have been trying to be more open about to build and maintain public trust.

The steep decline last year in the number of people targeted for eavesdropping in FISA court orders was among the most striking numbers in the latest report. The drop-off came as the F.B.I.’s use of FISA to wiretap Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser, came under scrutiny.

President Trump and his allies, including Republicans in Congress, have portrayed the wiretapping of Mr. Page under FISA from October 2016 until mid-2017 as part of a conspiracy by the F.B.I. to sabotage Mr. Trump for political reasons. An otherwise scathing report by the Justice Department’s independent inspector general did not corroborate that theory, but found numerous errors and omissions in the wiretap applications submitted to the FISA court.

Still, a top official cautioned against interpreting the decline in the number of suspects that the F.B.I. sought court permission to wiretap in national security investigations as “seemingly reflecting the events of the day.” The figure includes American targets anywhere in the world, as well as noncitizens on American soil like foreign diplomats.

The official, Benjamin T. Huebner, the chief civil liberties, privacy, and transparency officer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, suggested to reporters that fluctuations could be driven by a variety of factors, such as a “change in the terrorism threat” and world events.

He also noted that the number of FISA orders — as opposed to people targeted by those orders — has been on a steadier downward trend. (The F.B.I. can bundle requests to target more than one suspect into the same application for an order.)

A senior Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity in the same briefing with reporters, echoed his points and said she had no information that the number of targets declined based on any “fear of using the FISA tool.”

Both also noted that the government’s use of its traditional FISA powers to obtain a court’s permission to wiretap particular targets has been on an overall downward trend since 2007 and 2008, when Congress adjusted the law to permit warrantless wiretapping of foreigners abroad. Before that, investigators also had to get individual warrants to collect emails from American companies, like Google and Yahoo, in the accounts of noncitizens abroad.

The number of foreign targets of such warrantless surveillance — sometimes known as Section 702, after the portion of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 that authorizes it — has been on a continuous upward trend since at least 2013 and did not divert from it last year, when there were 204,968 such targets. In 2018, there had been 164,770 such targets.

One recurring dispute has been the government’s ability to read private emails to and from Americans gathered without a warrant because they were communicating with a foreigner abroad who was targeted in the 702 program. The report said that analysts queried the database with 9,126 search terms of Americans last year — a slight drop from 2018.

Since an early 2018 change by Congress, F.B.I. analysts working on an ordinary criminal investigation unrelated to foreign intelligence must obtain court permission before they may view a communication in the warrantless surveillance repository, if the message came up in response to a query about an American.

The report said there was one such instance in 2019. It also disclosed that an oversight review in 2019 had identified six such viewings in December 2018, even though last year’s report had said there were none in 2018. But the F.B.I. obtained no court orders granting permission to review the results of such a query either year, the data showed.

The report said the government had reported the unauthorized viewings to the FISA court as rules violations. Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program at New York University Law School, spotted the disclosure “buried in the numbers” and posted about it on Twitter.

“Today’s statistical transparency report reveals, through the dry recitation of numbers, that the F.B.I. has violated this statutory warrant requirement in literally every case in which it has applied,” she wrote, arguing that the episodes underscored a need for greater restrictions on F.B.I. surveillance powers.

An F.B.I. spokeswoman, Kelsey Pietranton, said the episodes amounted to “growing pains” resulting from the new requirement and that they prompted the bureau to modify its systems and include the new rule in training. She also said none of the intercepted communications returned by the query “produced any information that was relevant to the criminal investigation.”

The N.S.A. also disseminated 4,297 intelligence reports that had information about American citizens, permanent residents and organizations like corporations drawn from the warrantless wiretapping program, including 1,562 reports where that identity was openly included rather than hidden from the view of other officials who read it, the report said.

Another recurring controversy has centered on when the intelligence community can unmask an American’s identity in an intelligence report. The standard practice is to conceal it for privacy protection reasons, but the rules permit unmasking the identity if it is necessary to understand the intelligence.

The report said that the N.S.A. unmasked an American’s identity 10,012 times in response to another agency’s request in 2019. That marked a rough return to previous levels after a steep rise to 16,721 such unmaskings in 2018, which was up about 75 percent from 2017 and 2016.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Court Orders F.B.I. to Fix National Security Wiretaps After Damning Report

Westlake Legal Group merlin_165689457_68b5fa1d-845f-4bda-96be-4db849961c9b-facebookJumbo Court Orders F.B.I. to Fix National Security Wiretaps After Damning Report Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Surveillance of Citizens by Government Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Federal Bureau of Investigation Espionage and Intelligence Services Collyer, Rosemary M

WASHINGTON — A secretive federal court accused the F.B.I. on Tuesday of misleading it about the factual basis for wiretapping a former Trump campaign adviser and ordered the bureau to propose changes in how investigators seek permission for some national security surveillance.

In an extraordinary public order, the presiding judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Rosemary M. Collyer, gave the F.B.I. a Jan. 10 deadline to come up with a proposal. It was the first public response from the court to the scathing findings released last week by the Justice Department’s independent inspector general about the wiretapping of the former Trump adviser, Carter Page, as part of the Russia investigation.

“The frequency with which representations made by F.B.I. personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other F.B.I. applications is reliable,” Judge Collyer wrote.

The court “expects the government to provide complete and accurate information in every filing,” she added.

While the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, debunked the claims by President Trump and his allies that senior F.B.I. officials were part of a political conspiracy, his investigation also exposed a litany of errors and inaccuracies by which case agents cherry-picked the evidence about Mr. Page as they sought permission to eavesdrop on his calls and emails.

The order specifies no particular reforms for the bureau’s policies for seeking permission to wiretap people under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. But it indicated that the court will weigh in on whether the F.B.I.’s proposals are sufficient.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week about the report’s findings, the chairman of the panel, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, addressed the FISA court directly, telling the judges that they needed to take steps to preserve political support for the national security surveillance system.

“The FISA system, to survive, has to be reformed,” Mr. Graham said. “To the FISA court: We’re looking to you to take corrective action. If you take corrective action, that will give us some confidence that you should stick around. If you don’t, it’s going to be hurtful to the future of the court, and I think all of us are now thinking differently about checks and balances in that regard.”

Mr. Horowitz suggested several changes. He recommended that the F.B.I. overhaul the forms used to ask the Justice Department to submit a FISA request or renewal to ensure they identify any information that cuts against suspicions about a target; surface any reasons to be skeptical about an informant whose information is included; and require agents and supervisors to reverify factual assertions repeated from prior applications when they seek renewals.

In a statement issued when the report was released, the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, said he accepted Mr. Horowitz’s findings and embraced the need to make changes. He said he was ordering “concrete changes” to ensure that that FISA process was “more stringent and less susceptible to mistake or inaccuracy.”

Among the other ideas floated by reform proponents, including the American Civil Liberties Union: appointing a third party to critique the government’s cases for wiretapping people, at least in sensitive investigations, or allowing defense lawyers with security clearances to see the government’s evidence presented to the FISA court on those rare occasions when it is used to prosecute a suspect.

Mr. Horowitz has already begun an audit of other, unrelated FISA applications to see whether there is a broader pattern of problems in how the F.B.I. is portraying the evidence about suspects. Another possibility for reform is that going forward, the bureau’s general counsel could oversee recurring audits of a random sampling of FISA applications, so that case agents will always have to take into account that someone may later second-guess their work.

In his report, Mr. Horowitz scrutinized the four applications that the Justice Department submitted between October 2016 and June 2017 to wiretap Mr. Page, whom F.B.I. agents suspected might be a conduit between the Trump campaign and Russia during its covert operation to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.

The review uncovered a deeply dysfunctional and flawed process riddled with inaccuracies and material omissions. Investigators highlighted facts that made Mr. Page look suspicious while failing to mention potentially exculpatory ones, and when they sought to renew the wiretap, they failed to correct earlier statements whose credibility had since come under serious question, the report found.

Justice Department lawyers who deal directly with the FISA court passed that misleading portrait onto the judges. While Mr. Horowitz’s findings placed most of the direct blame on a handful of case agents and their supervisors who worked directly with the raw evidence, his report also blamed senior officials for permitting a culture in which such actions could happen.

The report said Mr. Horowitz’s investigators had found no evidence that political bias against Mr. Trump was behind the problems — as opposed to apolitical confirmation bias, gross incompetence or negligence. But the inspector general said the explanation the F.B.I. offered — that the agents had been busy with other aspects of the Russia investigation, and the Page FISA was a minor part of those responsibilities — was unsatisfactory.

Congress enacted FISA in 1978 to regulate the government’s use of domestic surveillance for national-security investigations — those aimed at monitoring suspected spies and terrorists — as opposed to ordinary criminal cases. The law sets up a special court, made up of 11 sitting district court judges who are selected to serve staggered terms by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, and decide whether the evidence shows a target is probably a foreign agent.

In 2018, government records show, the court only fully denied one of 1,080 final applications submitted under FISA to conduct electronic surveillance. However, the court also demanded unspecified modifications to 119 of those applications before approving them. There were 1,833 targets of FISA orders, including 232 Americans, that year.

National-security wiretaps are more secretive than ordinary criminal ones. When criminal wiretap orders end, their targets are usually notified that their privacy has been invaded. But the targets of FISA orders are usually not told that their phone calls and emails have been monitored, or that their homes or businesses have been searched.

And when people are prosecuted for crimes based on evidence derived from ordinary criminal wiretaps, the defendants and their lawyers are usually allowed to see what the government told judges about them to win approval for that surveillance, giving them the opportunity to argue that investigators made mistakes and the evidence should be suppressed.

But defense lawyers, even those with security clearances, are not shown FISA applications for their clients. As a result, there is no prospect of second-guessing in an adversarial court setting to keep F.B.I. agents scrupulous about how they portray the evidence when seeking to persuade FISA judges to sign off on putting a target under surveillance.

In the absence of that disciplining factor, the Justice Department and F.B.I. have developed internal procedures that are supposed to make sure that the evidence presented in FISA applications is accurate and includes any facts that might undercut the government’s case. But that system failed in the Page wiretaps, Mr. Horowitz’s report showed.

At the Senate hearing, one of the rare areas of agreement between Republicans and Democrats was the need for change to the FISA system. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who has unsuccessfully proposed legislation to tighten restrictions on national-security surveillance in the past, said he welcomed the moment.

“I hope my Republican colleagues who have been so vocal and vehement about the dangers of potential FISA abuses will join me in looking forward and reform of that court,” Mr. Blumenthal said, adding: “I hope that we can come together on a bipartisan basis to reform the FISA process.”

Adam Goldman contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Court Orders F.B.I. to Fix National Security Wiretaps After Damning Report

Westlake Legal Group merlin_165689457_68b5fa1d-845f-4bda-96be-4db849961c9b-facebookJumbo Court Orders F.B.I. to Fix National Security Wiretaps After Damning Report Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Surveillance of Citizens by Government Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Federal Bureau of Investigation Espionage and Intelligence Services Collyer, Rosemary M

WASHINGTON — A secretive federal court accused the F.B.I. on Tuesday of misleading it about the factual basis for wiretapping a former Trump campaign adviser and ordered the bureau to propose changes in how investigators seek permission for some national security surveillance.

In an extraordinary public order, the presiding judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Rosemary M. Collyer, gave the F.B.I. a Jan. 10 deadline to come up with a proposal. It was the first public response from the court to the scathing findings released last week by the Justice Department’s independent inspector general about the wiretapping of the former Trump adviser, Carter Page, as part of the Russia investigation.

“The frequency with which representations made by F.B.I. personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other F.B.I. applications is reliable,” Judge Collyer wrote.

The court “expects the government to provide complete and accurate information in every filing,” she added.

While the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, debunked the claims by President Trump and his allies that senior F.B.I. officials were part of a political conspiracy, his investigation also exposed a litany of errors and inaccuracies by which case agents cherry-picked the evidence about Mr. Page as they sought permission to eavesdrop on his calls and emails.

The order specifies no particular reforms for the bureau’s policies for seeking permission to wiretap people under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. But it indicated that the court will weigh in on whether the F.B.I.’s proposals are sufficient.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week about the report’s findings, the chairman of the panel, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, addressed the FISA court directly, telling the judges that they needed to take steps to preserve political support for the national security surveillance system.

“The FISA system, to survive, has to be reformed,” Mr. Graham said. “To the FISA court: We’re looking to you to take corrective action. If you take corrective action, that will give us some confidence that you should stick around. If you don’t, it’s going to be hurtful to the future of the court, and I think all of us are now thinking differently about checks and balances in that regard.”

Mr. Horowitz suggested several changes. He recommended that the F.B.I. overhaul the forms used to ask the Justice Department to submit a FISA request or renewal to ensure they identify any information that cuts against suspicions about a target; surface any reasons to be skeptical about an informant whose information is included; and require agents and supervisors to reverify factual assertions repeated from prior applications when they seek renewals.

In a statement issued when the report was released, the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, said he accepted Mr. Horowitz’s findings and embraced the need to make changes. He said he was ordering “concrete changes” to ensure that that FISA process was “more stringent and less susceptible to mistake or inaccuracy.”

Among the other ideas floated by reform proponents, including the American Civil Liberties Union: appointing a third party to critique the government’s cases for wiretapping people, at least in sensitive investigations, or allowing defense lawyers with security clearances to see the government’s evidence presented to the FISA court on those rare occasions when it is used to prosecute a suspect.

Mr. Horowitz has already begun an audit of other, unrelated FISA applications to see whether there is a broader pattern of problems in how the F.B.I. is portraying the evidence about suspects. Another possibility for reform is that going forward, the bureau’s general counsel could oversee recurring audits of a random sampling of FISA applications, so that case agents will always have to take into account that someone may later second-guess their work.

In his report, Mr. Horowitz scrutinized the four applications that the Justice Department submitted between October 2016 and June 2017 to wiretap Mr. Page, whom F.B.I. agents suspected might be a conduit between the Trump campaign and Russia during its covert operation to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.

The review uncovered a deeply dysfunctional and flawed process riddled with inaccuracies and material omissions. Investigators highlighted facts that made Mr. Page look suspicious while failing to mention potentially exculpatory ones, and when they sought to renew the wiretap, they failed to correct earlier statements whose credibility had since come under serious question, the report found.

Justice Department lawyers who deal directly with the FISA court passed that misleading portrait onto the judges. While Mr. Horowitz’s findings placed most of the direct blame on a handful of case agents and their supervisors who worked directly with the raw evidence, his report also blamed senior officials for permitting a culture in which such actions could happen.

The report said Mr. Horowitz’s investigators had found no evidence that political bias against Mr. Trump was behind the problems — as opposed to apolitical confirmation bias, gross incompetence or negligence. But the inspector general said the explanation the F.B.I. offered — that the agents had been busy with other aspects of the Russia investigation, and the Page FISA was a minor part of those responsibilities — was unsatisfactory.

Congress enacted FISA in 1978 to regulate the government’s use of domestic surveillance for national-security investigations — those aimed at monitoring suspected spies and terrorists — as opposed to ordinary criminal cases. The law sets up a special court, made up of 11 sitting district court judges who are selected to serve staggered terms by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, and decide whether the evidence shows a target is probably a foreign agent.

In 2018, government records show, the court only fully denied one of 1,080 final applications submitted under FISA to conduct electronic surveillance. However, the court also demanded unspecified modifications to 119 of those applications before approving them. There were 1,833 targets of FISA orders, including 232 Americans, that year.

National-security wiretaps are more secretive than ordinary criminal ones. When criminal wiretap orders end, their targets are usually notified that their privacy has been invaded. But the targets of FISA orders are usually not told that their phone calls and emails have been monitored, or that their homes or businesses have been searched.

And when people are prosecuted for crimes based on evidence derived from ordinary criminal wiretaps, the defendants and their lawyers are usually allowed to see what the government told judges about them to win approval for that surveillance, giving them the opportunity to argue that investigators made mistakes and the evidence should be suppressed.

But defense lawyers, even those with security clearances, are not shown FISA applications for their clients. As a result, there is no prospect of second-guessing in an adversarial court setting to keep F.B.I. agents scrupulous about how they portray the evidence when seeking to persuade FISA judges to sign off on putting a target under surveillance.

In the absence of that disciplining factor, the Justice Department and F.B.I. have developed internal procedures that are supposed to make sure that the evidence presented in FISA applications is accurate and includes any facts that might undercut the government’s case. But that system failed in the Page wiretaps, Mr. Horowitz’s report showed.

At the Senate hearing, one of the rare areas of agreement between Republicans and Democrats was the need for change to the FISA system. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who has unsuccessfully proposed legislation to tighten restrictions on national-security surveillance in the past, said he welcomed the moment.

“I hope my Republican colleagues who have been so vocal and vehement about the dangers of potential FISA abuses will join me in looking forward and reform of that court,” Mr. Blumenthal said, adding: “I hope that we can come together on a bipartisan basis to reform the FISA process.”

Adam Goldman contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Withering Criticism of F.B.I. as Watchdog Presents Russia Inquiry Findings

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s inspector general on Wednesday painted a bleak portrait of the F.B.I. as a dysfunctional agency that severely mishandled its surveillance powers in the Russia investigation, but told lawmakers he had no evidence that the mistakes were intentional or undertaken out of political bias rather than “gross incompetence and negligence.”

While Democrats emphasized that the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, had debunked President Trump’s accusations that the F.B.I. conspired to overthrow his presidency, Mr. Horowitz insisted that his report was no exoneration, citing the serious errors, omissions and misleading statements he found in court wiretap filings.

“It doesn’t vindicate anybody at the F.B.I. who touched this, including the leadership,” Mr. Horowitz told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

While Democrats and Republicans clung to their political talking points, lawmakers on both sides also agreed that the surveillance problems Mr. Horowitz uncovered were severe. Several suggested that Congress should amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to tighten permissions for national-security wiretapping.

Since it was released on Monday, Mr. Horowitz’s report has largely been interpreted through a political lens. Because it debunked Mr. Trump’s conspiracy theories and concluded that investigators had a legitimate and lawful basis to open the inquiry, some — like the F.B.I. director at the time, James B. Comey — have portrayed it as vindication.

But Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the committee, argued that the most important finding was instead the portrayal of a systemic and cultural failure of accountability at the F.B.I. that permitted grievous mistakes to make their way into filings seeking court permission to wiretap a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.

Mr. Graham opened the hearing by acknowledging that the government of Russia — not Ukraine — sought to interfere with the 2016 election, and he did not quarrel with Mr. Horowitz’s finding that the F.B.I. had a legitimate basis to open a full counterintelligence investigation into links between Russia and people associated with the Trump campaign.

But he portrayed the wiretapping of Mr. Page as dubious and said it should have stopped after January 2017, when the F.B.I. had reason to lose confidence in evidence it used to obtain the initial court order targeting him. Mr. Horowitz’s findings about the wiretap applications should disturb all Americans, no matter their political leanings or the motivations behind the F.B.I. officials’ actions, he said.

“My goal is to make sure that people, when this is over — whether you like Trump, hate Trump, don’t care about Trump — you look at this as more than a few irregularities,” Mr. Graham said. “If this becomes a few irregularities in America, then God help us all.”

The bureau first obtained court permission to wiretap Mr. Page in October 2016, and obtained three extensions of that order in 2017. Mr. Horowitz’s report found lapses in all four filings.

In some cases, F.B.I. officials working on the investigation, called Crossfire Hurricane, selectively cited evidence, telling the Justice Department information that made Mr. Carter look suspicious and omitting materials that cut the other way. The department passed that misleading portrait onto the court.

For example, the filings omitted that Mr. Page had told the C.I.A. about some of his meetings with Russians through the years, disclosures that made those encounters look less suspicious. Mr. Horowitz found that an F.B.I. lawyer misled a colleague as they prepared a wiretap renewal application, altering an email in a way that prevented the court from learning about Mr. Page’s dealings with the C.I.A.

And in January 2017, the F.B.I. interviewed a source for Christopher Steele, the British former intelligence agent who compiled a dossier of unverified claims about Mr. Trump and Russia that was used to win the warrant. The interview raised serious doubts about Mr. Steele’s material, but the bureau left that out of its renewal applications, telling the court only that it had found the source to be cooperative and credible — creating a misleading impression.

“There is no planet on which I think this report indicates that things were O.K. within the F.B.I.,” said Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah.

Republicans also argued that the failings should be viewed through the lens of text messages in which F.B.I. officials expressed political opposition to Mr. Trump, challenging Mr. Horowitz’s conclusion that he had found no documentary or testimonial evidence of an anti-Trump plot at the bureau.

“It looks like they were trying to skate along the edges and get away with something,” said Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, who derisively labeled the investigators the “Misfire Hurricane” team.

“I can’t imagine they did it than any other reason than a political motivation,” he added.

Mr. Horowitz emphasized that while he found no evidence that the errors and omissions in the surveillance materials were intentional, he also said he was unsatisfied with the explanations for the mistakes — such as that officials were busy with other investigative tasks. He noted that he could not read people’s minds to learn their motivations.

Westlake Legal Group fbi-ig-report-document-1575915185139-articleLarge Withering Criticism of F.B.I. as Watchdog Presents Russia Inquiry Findings Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Surveillance of Citizens by Government Steele, Christopher (1964- ) Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2016 Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Federal Bureau of Investigation Espionage and Intelligence Services Durham, John H Comey, James B

Read the Inspector General’s Report on the Russia Investigation

The Justice Department’s inspector general released this report into the early stages of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

Some liberal lawmakers who have long sought to impose tighter controls on government surveillance powers welcomed conservative interest in enacting such legislation. Among them was Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who noted that he introduced an unsuccessful bill to tighten FISA rules in 2013.

“I hope that we can make use of your expertise in this area and I hope my Republican colleagues who have been so vocal and vehement about the dangers of potential FISA abuses will join me looking forward and reform of that court,” he told the inspector general.

Mr. Horowitz also clarified why a prosecutor conducting his own review of the Russia investigation had disputed findings in his report.

The F.B.I. opened the investigation as a “full” counterintelligence inquiry, and John H. Durham, the United States attorney investigating the Russia inquiry at the behest of Attorney General William P. Barr, believed it should have been a “preliminary” one, Mr. Horowitz said.

Mr. Durham had mentioned the disagreement in a highly unusual statement after Mr. Horowitz’s report was released but had not detailed it. Mr. Horowitz said that he stood by his conclusion and that neither Mr. Durham nor Mr. Barr has presented any information that changed his mind.

Mr. Durham did say that the F.B.I. had sufficient information “to support the preliminary investigation,” Mr. Horowitz said.

Under F.B.I. standards, agents can open a preliminary investigation on “any allegation or information” that indicates possible criminal activity or threats to national security. Opening a full investigation requires “an articulable factual basis” that “reasonably indicates” that a crime or security threat exists.

The F.B.I.’s head of counterintelligence at the time, Bill Priestap, opened the Russia investigation in 2016 after WikiLeaks began publishing stolen Democratic emails believed to have been hacked by Russia, and after the bureau learned that a Trump campaign aide suggested that the Russians wanted to coordinate the release of information that could damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Republican senators also expressed alarm at the hearing that an F.B.I. agent collected information about Mr. Trump and Michael T. Flynn, a top adviser at the time, while briefing them on counterintelligence risks to the Trump campaign in August 2016.

The agent thought the briefing would be a good opportunity to make himself familiar with Mr. Flynn, who was one of the four Trump associates under investigation and might need to be questioned later. In the days afterward, the F.B.I. agent wrote a memo based on his observations of Mr. Trump and Mr. Flynn and added it to the Russia investigation file. (Mr. Flynn eventually pleaded guilty to lying months later to the same F.B.I. agent about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time.)

The episode highlighted a key complaint by Trump allies about the Russia inquiry: that investigators improperly intruded on the campaign. Though Mr. Horowitz did not uncover any instances of agents flouting policy in the investigative steps they took, critics have called for the F.B.I. to reconsider its lack of restrictions on opening investigations that involve scrutiny of constitutionally protected activities, such as political campaigns.

Asked whether the move was typical, Mr. Horowitz said there was no policy forbidding it, then mentioned that the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, had insisted that it would “not happen going forward.

“I think it’s pretty clear what his state of mind is on that: This should not have occurred,” Mr. Horowitz said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

We Just Got a Rare Look at National Security Surveillance. It Was Ugly.

Westlake Legal Group 10dc-surveillance-facebookJumbo We Just Got a Rare Look at National Security Surveillance. It Was Ugly. Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Surveillance of Citizens by Government Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Privacy Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Informers Horowitz, Michael E Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Federal Bureau of Investigation Espionage and Intelligence Services Civil Rights and Liberties

WASHINGTON — When a long-awaited inspector general report about the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation became public this week, partisans across the political spectrum mined it to argue about whether President Trump falsely smeared the F.B.I. or was its victim. But the report was also important for reasons that had nothing to do with Mr. Trump.

At more than 400 pages, the study amounted to the most searching look ever at the government’s secretive system for carrying out national-security surveillance on American soil. And what the report showed was not pretty.

While clearing the F.B.I. of acting out of political bias, the Justice Department’s independent inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, and his team uncovered a staggeringly dysfunctional and error-ridden process in how the F.B.I. went about obtaining and renewing court permission under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to wiretap Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.

“The litany of problems with the Carter Page surveillance applications demonstrates how the secrecy shrouding the government’s one-sided FISA approval process breeds abuse,” said Hina Shamsi, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project. “The concerns the inspector general identifies apply to intrusive investigations of others, including especially Muslims, and far better safeguards against abuse are necessary.”

Congress enacted FISA in 1978 to regulate domestic surveillance for national-security investigations — monitoring suspected spies and terrorists, as opposed to ordinary criminals. Investigators must persuade a judge on a special court that a target is probably an agent of a foreign power. In 2018, there were 1,833 targets of such orders, including 232 Americans.

Most of those targets never learn that their privacy has been invaded, but some are sent to prison on the basis of evidence derived from the surveillance. And unlike in ordinary criminal wiretap cases, defendants are not permitted to see what investigators told the court about them to obtain permission to eavesdrop on their calls and emails.

Civil libertarians for years have called the surveillance court a rubber stamp because it only rarely rejects wiretap applications. Out of 1,080 requests by the government in 2018, for example, government records showed that the court fully denied only one.

Defenders of the system have argued that the low rejection rate stems in part from how well the Justice Department self-polices and avoids presenting the court with requests that fall short of the legal standard. They have also stressed that officials obey a heightened duty to be candid and provide any mitigating evidence that might undercut their request.

But the inspector general found major errors, material omissions and unsupported statements about Mr. Page in the materials that went to the court. F.B.I. agents cherry-picked the evidence, telling the Justice Department information that made Mr. Carter look suspicious and omitting material that cut the other way, and the department passed that misleading portrait onto the court.

To give just three examples:

First, when agents initially sought permission for the wiretap, F.B.I. officials scoured information from confidential informants and selectively presented portions that supported their suspicions that Mr. Page might be a conduit between Russia and the Trump campaign’s onetime chairman, Paul Manafort.

But officials did not disclose information that undercut that allegation — such as the fact that Mr. Page had told an informant in August 2016 that he “never met” or “said one word” to Mr. Manafort, who had never returned Mr. Page’s emails. Even if the investigators did not necessarily believe Mr. Page, the court should have been told what he had said.

Second, as the initial court order was nearing its expiration and law-enforcement officials prepared to ask the surveillance court to renew it, the F.B.I. had uncovered information that cast doubt on some of its original assertions. But law enforcement officials never reported that new information to the court.

Specifically, the application included allegations about Mr. Page contained in a dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent whose research was funded by Democrats. In January 2017, the F.B.I. interviewed Mr. Steele’s own primary source, and he contradicted what Mr. Steele had written in the dossier.

The source for Mr. Steele may, of course, have been lying. But either way, officials should have flagged the disconnect for the court. Instead, the F.B.I. reported that its agents had met with the source to “further corroborate” the dossier and found him to be “truthful and cooperative,” leaving a misleading impression in renewal applications.

Finally, the report stressed Mr. Page’s long history of meeting with Russian intelligence officials. But he had also said that he had a relationship with the C.I.A., and it turns out that he had for years told the agency about those meetings — including one that was cited in the wiretap application as a reason to be suspicious of him.

That relationship could have mitigated some suspicions about his history. But the F.B.I. never got to the bottom of it, and the court filings said nothing about Mr. Page’s dealings with the C.I.A.

The inspector general’s report contains many more examples of errors and omissions. Mr. Horowitz largely blamed lower-level F.B.I. agents charged with preparing the evidence, rejecting as “unsatisfactory” the defense that they were busy on the larger Russian investigation and the Page wiretap order was only a small part of their responsibilities.

Still, it is undeniable that the agents and supervisors compiling materials for the Page wiretap application were under far more pressure than in routine counterintelligence investigations. Both in terms of the stakes and the tempo, the early Russia investigation may have had more in common with a counterterrorism investigation.

But that factor also raises the question of what goes into applications for wiretaps in lower-profile cases. Indeed, everyone involved in the Page wiretap knew that what they were working on was likely to come under close scrutiny, yet they still repeatedly failed to follow policies.

Mr. Horowitz also said senior-level supervisors bore responsibility for permitting systemic failures to fester, and his office has begun a broader audit of unrelated FISA applications.

His exposé left some former officials who generally defend government surveillance practices aghast.

“These errors are bad,” said David Kris, an expert in FISA who oversaw the Justice Department’s National Security Division in the Obama administration. “If the broader audit of FISA applications reveals a systematic pattern of errors of this sort that plagued this one, then I would expect very serious consequences and reforms.”

On rare occasions, the public has caught glimpses of problems with the information that goes into FISA applications.

In 2000, the Justice Department confessed to errors in F.B.I. affidavits submitted in 75 surveillance and search applications related to major terrorist attacks, a FISA court opinion disclosed.

The court met “to consider the troubling number of inaccurate F.B.I. affidavits” and barred an unnamed F.B.I. agent from making affidavits before the court. In response, the F.B.I. came up with far more rigorous internal procedures, pledging to ensure the accuracy of FISA affidavits by more carefully reviewing them.

But when Mr. Horowitz’s investigators looked at the underlying files for the Page applications, they found errors and omissions that showed that the F.B.I. had not scrupulously followed those procedures.

The government has fought hard to keep outsiders from seeing what goes into its FISA applications. In 2014, a federal judge in Illinois ordered the government to show a defense lawyer classified materials about the national security surveillance of his client, which would have been the first time a defense lawyer had been given such materials since Congress enacted FISA in 1978.

But the Obama administration appealed, and an appeals court overturned the order, agreeing that letting the defense counsel see the application would create an intolerable risk of disclosing sensitive government secrets.

That stands in contrast to how wiretapping works in ordinary criminal law. Targets are usually told when the surveillance ends. If they are prosecuted based on evidence gathered from the wiretap, they get to see what was in the application so their defense lawyers can argue that the government made a mistake and the evidence should be suppressed.

The prospect of that adversarial second-guessing gives criminal investigators a reason to be scrupulous about what they put into their requests for wiretaps. In the absence of that disciplining factor, the government has developed heightened internal oversight about what goes into FISA applications.

But that system demonstrably failed in the Page wiretap.

The report should call into question the legitimacy of the FISA system “whether you like Trump, hate Trump, don’t care about Trump,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said at a hearing on Wednesday.

“I’d hate to lose the ability of the FISA court to operate at a time probably when we need it the most,” Mr. Graham told Mr. Horowitz. “But after your report, I have serious concerns about whether the FISA court can continue unless there’s fundamental reform.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Russia Inquiry Review Is Said to Criticize F.B.I. but Rebuff Claims of Biased Acts

Westlake Legal Group 22dc-fbi1-facebookJumbo Russia Inquiry Review Is Said to Criticize F.B.I. but Rebuff Claims of Biased Acts Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Surveillance of Citizens by Government Strzok, Peter Steele, Christopher (1964- ) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2016 Page, Carter McCabe, Andrew G Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Federal Bureau of Investigation Espionage and Intelligence Services Comey, James B Classified Information and State Secrets

WASHINGTON — A highly anticipated report by the Justice Department’s inspector general is expected to sharply criticize lower-level F.B.I. officials as well as bureau leaders involved in the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation, but to absolve the top ranks of abusing their powers out of bias against President Trump, according to people briefed on a draft.

Investigators for the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, uncovered errors and omissions in documents related to the wiretapping of a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page — including that a low-level lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, altered an email that officials used to prepare to seek court approval to renew the wiretap, the people said.

Mr. Horowitz referred his findings about Mr. Clinesmith to prosecutors for a potential criminal charge. Mr. Clinesmith left the Russia investigation in February 2018 after the inspector general identified him as one of a handful of F.B.I. officials who expressed animus toward Mr. Trump in text messages and resigned about two months ago, after the inspector general’s team interviewed him.

Though Mr. Trump’s allies have seized on the messages from Mr. Clinesmith and his colleagues as proof of anti-Trump bias, Mr. Clinesmith has not been a prominent figure in the partisan firefight over the investigation. His lawyer declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Mr. Horowitz.

More broadly, Mr. Horowitz’s report, to be made public on Dec. 9, portrays the overall effort to seek the wiretap order and its renewals as sloppy and unprofessional, according to the people familiar with it. He will also sharply criticize as careless one of the F.B.I. case agents in New York handling the matter, they said.

At the same time, however, the report debunks a series of conspiracy theories and insinuations about the F.B.I. that Mr. Trump and his allies have put forward over the past two years, the people said, though they cautioned that the report is not complete. The New York Times has not reviewed the draft, which could contain other significant findings.

In particular, while Mr. Horowitz criticizes F.B.I. leadership for its handling of the highly fraught Russia investigation in some ways, he made no finding of politically biased actions by top officials Mr. Trump has vilified like the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey; Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy who temporarily ran the bureau after the president fired Mr. Comey in 2017; and Peter Strzok, a former top counterintelligence agent.

The early accounts of the report suggest that it is likely to stoke the debate over the investigation without definitively resolving it, by offering both sides different conclusions they can point to as vindication for their rival worldviews.

The wiretap of Mr. Page emerged as a political flash point in early 2018, though it was one relatively narrow aspect of the sprawling inquiry that found that Moscow sought to help Mr. Trump win election and that his campaign expected to benefit, but found insufficient evidence to charge any conspiracy with the Trump campaign.

Rod J. Rosenstein, the former deputy attorney general who oversaw legal matters related to the 2016 election, asked Mr. Horowitz to scrutinize the wiretap and broader issues related to the investigation, absorbing pressure from Mr. Trump and his allies.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court first approved wiretapping Mr. Page, who had close ties to Russia, as a suspected unregistered agent of a foreign power in October 2016, after he had left the campaign.

The Justice Department obtained three renewal orders. The paperwork associated with the renewal applications contained information that should have been left out, and vice versa, the people briefed on the draft report said.

The email Mr. Clinesmith handled was a factor during the wiretap renewal process, according to the people. Mr. Clinesmith took an email from an official at another federal agency that contained several factual assertions, then added material to the bottom that looked like another assertion from the email’s author, when it was instead his own understanding.

Mr. Clinesmith included this altered email in a package that he compiled for another F.B.I. official to read in preparation for signing an affidavit that would be submitted to the court attesting to the facts and analysis in the wiretap application.

The details of the email are apparently classified and may not be made public even when the report is unveiled.

The investigators’ referral of its findings on Mr. Clinesmith went to John H. Durham, a prosecutor assigned by Attorney General William P. Barr to himself re-examine the Russia case and its origins. The referral from Mr. Horowitz’s team appears to be at least in part the basis for the elevation of Mr. Durham’s inquiry from an administrative review to a criminal investigation, the people said.

Additionally, Mr. Clinesmith worked on both the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the Russia investigation. He was among the F.B.I. officials removed by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, after Mr. Horowitz found text messages expressing political animus against Mr. Trump.

Shortly after Mr. Trump’s election victory, for example, Mr. Clinesmith texted another official that “the crazies won finally,” disparaged Mr. Trump’s health care and immigration agendas, and called Vice President Mike Pence “stupid.” In another text, he wrote, in the context of a question about whether he intended to stay in government, “viva la resistance.”

In a June 2018 report by Mr. Horowitz about that and other politically charged texts, which identified him as “F.B.I. Attorney 2,” Mr. Clinesmith said he was expressing his personal views but did not let them affect his official actions.

The inspector general apparently did not assert in the draft report that any of the problems he found were so material that the court would have rejected the Justice Department’s requests to continue surveilling Mr. Page. But the people familiar with the draft were uncertain about whether Mr. Horowitz said the problems were immaterial, or instead avoided taking a position on that question.

CNN first reported that the draft accused a lower-level lawyer of altering a document. Mr. Clinesmith’s identification and details about the findings have not previously been reported.

In a phone call to “Fox & Friends” on Friday, Mr. Trump played up the initial revelations to claim that “they were spying on my campaign and it went right to the top and everybody knows it and now we’re going to find out” and “they tried to overthrow the presidency.” The accounts of Mr. Horowitz’s findings do not support that assertion.

And in other crucial respects, the draft inspector general report is said not to corroborate conspiracy theories and insinuations offered by Mr. Trump and his allies about the early stages of the Russia investigation, before Mr. Mueller was appointed as special counsel and took it over.

For example, the draft report also concludes that the F.B.I. had enough evidence to meet the legal standard for opening the investigation, though Mr. Horowitz emphasized that the bar is low, the people said.

The report is also said to conclude that Joseph Mifsud, a Russia-linked professor who told a Trump campaign official that Russia had damaging information on Mrs. Clinton in the form of hacked Democratic emails — a key fact used to open the investigation — was not an F.B.I. informant. That undercuts an assertion of conservative critics of the inquiry.

None of the evidence used to open the investigation came from the C.I.A. or from a notorious dossier of claims about Trump-Russia ties compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent whose research was funded by Democrats, the report concludes, according to the people briefed on it.

Mr. Trump’s allies have complained about how the Justice Department used information from the Steele dossier in the wiretap applications. Along with evidence from other sources, the filings cited some information from Mr. Steele’s dossier about meetings that Mr. Page was rumored to have had with Kremlin representatives during a trip to Russia that year.

Republicans have criticized any use of political opposition research in applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act wiretaps, which are among the most intrusive tools investigators have and are highly regulated. But the people briefed on the draft said Mr. Horowitz does not criticize them for the basic fact that they used the information.

Still, people familiar with questions asked by Mr. Horowitz’s investigators have suggested that he is likely to conclude that the filings exaggerated Mr. Steele’s track record in terms of the amount of value that the F.B.I. derived from information he supplied in previous investigations. The court filings in the Page wiretap application said his material was “used in criminal proceedings,” but it was never part of an affidavit, search warrant or courtroom evidence.

But it remains unclear what other judgments Mr. Horowitz is preparing to render about related disputes related to the use of Mr. Steele’s information in the surveillance materials.

The wiretap applications contained a lengthy footnote telling the judges that Mr. Steele’s research was believed to have been commissioned by someone seeking information that would damage the Trump campaign. But it did not specifically identify the funders — the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

The original October 2016 application said investigators did not know the identity of Mr. Steele’s patrons. But even in 2017, after they specifically learned that Democrats paid a research firm to unearth material that could hurt Mr. Trump, law enforcement officials did not update the language in the renewal applications.

Defenders of the bureau’s inaction argued that the original footnote was sufficient to alert the surveillance court that Mr. Steele gathered the information in a political context and noted that it is standard practice to keep names of individual Americans or organizations out of such documents.

It also remains unclear what the inspector general concluded about Mr. Steele’s contacts with Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official. Mr. Ohr, an expert on Russian organized crime and himself a frequent target of Mr. Trump, spoke with Mr. Steele several times after the F.B.I. terminated its relationship with him. Mr. Ohr briefed the bureau about those conversations. His wife also worked for the opposition research firm that hired Mr. Steele.

In his comments to Fox on Friday, Mr. Trump appeared to be looking past Mr. Horowitz’s report and potentially anticipating its complex findings. “Perhaps even more importantly,” he said, “you have Durham coming out shortly thereafter.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com