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Released FISA Memo Means Rosenstein Must Account for Actions

Released FISA Memo Means Rosenstein Must Account for Actions
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks with U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during the opening ceremony of the summit on Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking at Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. President Donald Trump has been dogged by an unrelenting investigation into his campaign's purported ties to Russia. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

By Tuesday, 06 February 2018 12:37 PM Current | Bio | Archive

In the wake of a declassified memo that begs more questions than it answers, now is the time for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to answer some questions.

For starters, the deputy attorney general should disclose how many Americans, in addition to former Trump Campaign adviser Carter Page, were electronically surveilled based on what the declassified memo describes as, "The 'dossier' compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign."

According to the Associated Press, President Trump "cleared the way — over Rosenstein’s objection — for the release of a GOP memo that alleges misconduct by the Justice Department and the FBI." Prior to publication of the declassified memo, the FBI posted a press release: "With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, . . . we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy."

For those government officials who objected to the memo’s publication, including the deputy attorney general, further unclassified facts should be published, the sooner the better.

Publication of the memo, including its finding that Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein approved "one or more FISA applications" seeking electronic surveillance of Carter Page — and any official rebuttals — help fulfill the constitutional requirement that, "a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time” (U.S. Const., Art. I, §9).

According to the declassified memo, on Oct. 21, 2016, the Department of Justice and FBI sought and received a "probable cause order" under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorizing electronic surveillance of Carter Page: "The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok."

Carter Page served as a volunteer foreign policy adviser from March to September 2016. After graduating with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy and prior to volunteering as a foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign, Page earned a masters’ degree from Georgetown, an MBA from New York University, and a Ph.D. had from the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies. He also served as a professor of global affairs at New York University (NYU), and as a Fellow at the Center for National Policy and Council on Foreign Relations.

On Sept. 14, 2017, Page filed a defamation complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the parent company of Yahoo News, among others.

Page’s complaint alleges, "On Sept. 23, 2016, in perhaps the most dangerous, reckless, irresponsible and historically-instrumental moments in modern-day sensational crime story journalism, . . . Yahoo chose to publish a highly misleading article filled with false allegations, entitled, 'U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin'."

According to the Page complaint, the Yahoo article "included an extensive array of completely false, misrepresented and/or unverified information compiled by Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd., a private company in London, U.K., which made various allegations concerning, among other things, meetings between Dr. Page and two sanctioned Russian officials. In each instance, Dr. Page has never met with either of these [Russian] individuals at any point in his life,  . . . "

Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd., according to Huffington Post (also named in the Page complaint), is run by Christopher Steele, who "has been unmasked as the man behind an explosive dossier about U.S. president-elect Donald Trump."

As a former inspector general, I would respectfully suggest that Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein needs to account promptly to the American people by answering the following questions about his actions identified in the newly declassified memo:

Considering that Rosenstein’s March 7, 2017, Senate confirmation hearing was a week after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his recusal from any presidential-campaign-related investigations, when precisely did Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein approve what the declassified memo described as, "one or more FISA applications" seeking authority for electronic surveillance of Carter Page?

When did Rosenstein learn what FBI Director James B. Comey briefed President Trump in January 2017, according to the recently declassified memo, that the Steele dossier was "unverified," and what Deputy FBI Director McCabe testified in December 2017, that "no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information"?

Finally, when did Rosenstein learn what the newly declassified memo concludes: "material and relevant information was omitted" from "at least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts," and what has he done "to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts"?

We the People are entitled to an accounting of how our government is spending our money.

Joseph E. Schmitz served as a foreign policy and national security advisor to Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. The opinions expressed in this article are his personal opinions. Schmitz served as Inspector General of the Department of Defense from 2002-2005 and is now a Partner in the law firm Schmitz & Socarras LLP. He graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy, earned his J.D. degree from Stanford Law School, and is author of "The Inspector General Handbook: Fraud, Waste, Abuse, and Other Constitutional ‘Enemies, Foreign and Domestic.’" Read more reports from Joseph E. Schmitz — Click Here Now.


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I would respectfully suggest that Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein needs to account promptly to the American people by answering questions about his actions identified in the newly declassified memo.
comey, fbi, fisc
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 12:37 PM
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