In a blistering letter to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, two Republicans on the House Oversight Committee slammed the choice of a former Obama-era Justice Department official to oversee FBI reforms.
Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina criticized the court’s appointment of David Kris, who has defended the FBI’s decision-making in the Russia investigation.
Mr. Kris was appointed in the wake of a damning report by the Justice Department Inspector General, which concluded the FBI made at least 17 errors in its application to wiretap former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
In a letter obtained by The Washington Times, the Republican lawmakers said Mr. Kris is the wrong choice to serve as “amicus curiae,” or adviser to the court.
“If the FISC’s goal is to hold the FBI accountable for its serious misconduct, Mr. Kris does not appear to be an objective — or likely effective — amicus curiae for several reasons,” they wrote. “At a minimum, the selection of Mr. Kris creates a perception that he is too personally invested on the side of the FBI to ensure it effectuates meaningful reform.”
The FISC last week picked Mr. Kris to oversee the FBI’s implementation a 12-step plan to avoid future bungling of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process.
President Trump and his allies raged against the FBI, claiming the surveillance of Mr. Page, the continuation of the spying, and the public and in-court defenses of them constituted a deep-state effort to undermine his presidency.
But Mr. Kris defended the FBI’s handling of the Russia probe on multiple talk shows, including MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
In one public appearance, Mr. Kris said he had “high confidence” the FBI provided the court with enough information to assess the credibility of British ex-spy Christopher Steele. The Page wiretap application was based, in part, on accusations made by Mr. Steele in a salacious and unverified anti-Trump dossier.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz concluded the FBI withheld from the court evidence that raised questions about the reliability of Mr. Steele’s information.
“Mr. Kris was wrong,” Mr. Jordan and Mr. Meadows wrote about that matter.
Mr. Kris had also inaccurately predicted that Mr. Page could face legal hot water after portions of the FBI’s wiretap application were released last year.
Mr. Page has not been charged with a crime and the Republican lawmakers say the statement is proof Mr. Kris prejudged the case.
The two lawmakers asked the FISC to explain to Congress why it chose Mr. Kris to oversee the FBI’s reforms. They also demanded to know the names of all the other attorneys considered for the position and anyone reviewed Mr. Kris’s statements about the Page FISA.
The Republican lawmakers requested a response by Jan. 30.
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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