FBI agents involved in the wiretapping of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page have been blocked, at least temporarily, from appearing before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in regard to other cases, according to a report.
The decision by James E. Boasberg, chief judge of the secretive court created under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), comes as Congress faces a March 15 deadline on whether to renew three FBI national-security surveillance and investigative tools that were enacted after 9/11, The New York Times reported.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FACING CHALLENGE AS FISA COMES UP FOR RENEWAL
In a 19-page ruling, Boasberg also largely approved revisions that the FBI said it would make to its process for seeking wiretaps – in reaction to a damning inspector general report that detailed errors and omissions in applications to conduct surveillance on Page in 2016 and 2017, the Times report said.
Last month, Attorney General William Barr told Senate Republicans he would be taking action to clean up the errors and omissions cited by Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
“I think he’s going to take a lot of what Horowitz did and add his own stamp on it,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said after a lunch meeting with Barr at the time.
Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who has been concerned with FISA warrant abuse, said Barr’s executive changes were “pretty comprehensive [and] very impressive.”
In his December report, Horowitz said four applications submitted to the FISA court, requesting approval to conduct surveillance on Page, presented an incomplete and inaccurate account of the evidence arguing for the surveillance – such as omissions of details that would have raised questions about FBI claims that Page was a Russian agent, according to the Times.
In addition, the Justice Department had failed to tell the FISA court that a source linked to the so-called Steele dossier – a now-discredited collection of claims about the Trump campaign and Russia, reportedly compiled by a former British spy – had contradicted some of the claims the dossier had attributed to him, the Times reported.
The Justice Department later acknowledged that some of the evidence it presented about Page had fallen short of the legal standard required to continue surveilling him, the Times reported.
While many in the intelligence community call the FISA program vital for national security in the post-9/11 world, some in Washington have raised questions about potential encroachments on civil liberties and personal privacy.
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Meanwhile, President Trump met with Republicans on Tuesday night regarding changes that could be included in revised FISA legislation that Trump could sign into law if approved by Congress this month, the Times reported. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., then discussed the proposals on Wednesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the Times reported.
“McCarthy said that he tought he and Nancy Pelosi might come up with a package,” Sen. Graham told reporters Wednesday, according to the Times. “Well, if that happens, that’s a big breakthrough.”
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz and Chad Pergram contributed to this story.