Following the misuse of FISA warrants in the 2016 election which allowed the FBI to spy on Americans, Attorney General Bill Barr has issued a series of reforms to ensure the process for obtaining FISA warrants which target elected officials and campaigns has the proper oversight. Barr said, “What happened to the Trump presidential campaign and his subsequent Administration after the President was duly elected by the American people must never happen again.”
Since 2016, what has been called the Russia hoax, and the Mueller investigation have dominated the news cycle. All of this happened when President Obama’s FBI and DOJ opened an investigation into the Trump campaigns potential link with Russia. Since the Mueller probe found no collusion, AG Bill Barr has been conducting an internal review into the FBI of what exactly happened, how it happened, and ensuring misuse of power is revealed and brought to justice. The result has been an indictment of former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith. Clinesmith plead guilty to altering an email which allowed him to obtain a FISA warrant for continued surveillance of Carter Page.
But now, Barr is putting up guardrails for the FBI to not be able to do this again. This is the latest development in his probe into Crossfire Hurricane. In a statement, Barr said “FISA is a critical tool to ensuring the safety and security of Americans, particularly when it comes to fighting terrorism. However, the American people must have confidence that the United States Government will exercise its surveillance authorities in a manner that protects the civil liberties of Americans, avoids interference in the political process, and complies with the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
Barr has been working with FBI Director Christopher Wray. Since Wray received the Inspector General’s Crossfire Hurricane report, he has “ordered more than 40 corrective actions, including foundational FISA reforms, many of which went beyond those recommend by the Inspector General.” Wray said that what was found in the IG’s report “was unacceptable and unrepresentative of the FBI as an organization.”
The first memorandum, entitled Augmenting the Internal Compliance Fuctions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation deals with the internal compliance program, and establishes the Office of Internal Auditing, and will require “the development of compliance and oversight mechanisms, training, and internal controls to ensure the FBI’s compliance with applicable statutes, policies, procedures, and court orders that govern the FBI’s national security activities.” Most importantly, it will establish routine audits of the FBI’s use of FISA warrants.
The second memorandum, entitled Supplemental Reforms to Enhance Compliance, Oversight, and Accountability with Respect to Certain Foreign Intelligence Activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation builds off of other reforms implemented by Wray, and “are designed to ensure the accuracy and completeness of FISA applications targeting U.S. person.”