In re. Motion for Publication

FBI and DOJ Misconduct Causes Judicial Confidence Crisis

About the Case

Southeastern Legal Foundation filed a Motion for Publication of Records with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) on behalf of award-winning investigative reporter John Solomon and itself, seeking rulings, orders and opinions issued by the Court finding any of the attorneys associated with the Carter Page FISA applications violated rules of the Court or rules governing professional conduct by attorneys.

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Attorneys play an integral role in the execution of our system of laws. As officers of the court, licensed lawyers voluntarily submit to regulatory governance under strict codes of conduct administered by quasi-governmental bodies charged with enforcement of those codes. On top of that, courts maintain and enforce their own rules to protect the integrity of the judicial system. While no rule is more important than another, an attorney’s duty to be open and honest with the court at all times must always remain at the forefront and should guide every action an attorney takes. This is true not only for private attorneys, but especially for our country’s government attorneys. President Bill Clinton’s surrender of his law license on his last day in office, followed by disbarment by the U.S. Supreme Court for his violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, remind us that no one is above the law . . .

On December 9, 2019, the United States Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (OIG) released the IG Report and revealed that we again face a judicial crisis—this time it comes to us courtesy of the FBI and DOJ, and in the form of fraud on this Court. Because of the IG Report, we now know that to obtain permission to conduct surveillance of American citizen Carter Page (and by extension, a major party presidential campaign), our nation’s highest law enforcement officers, national security advisors, and government attorneys lied to, misled, and withheld material facts from this Court. And because of the IG Report, we now know that these misrepresentations amount to professional misconduct, including violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct in the various states where the attorneys are licensed and violations of the FISC Rules.

In a stunning ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), chief judge James E. Boasberg has banned FBI and DOJ officials and attorneys involved in the Carter Page surveillance matter from appearing before or submitting information to the FISC.

“FBI personnel under disciplinary review in relation to their work on FISA applications accordingly should not participate in drafting, verifying, reviewing, or submitting such applications to the Court while the review is pending,” Boasberg wrote. “The same prohibition applies to any DOJ attorney under disciplinary review, as well as any DOJ or FBI personnel who are the subject of a criminal referral related to their work on FISA applications.”

Boasberg also largely approved revisions that the FBI said it would make to its process for seeking wiretaps – in reaction to a damning report from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz that detailed errors and omissions in applications to conduct surveillance on Page in 2016 and 2017.

Among the problems, Boasberg noted, were that the FBI had “omitted or mischaracterized” various “information bearing on [former British spy Christopher] Steele’s personal credibility and professional judgment.”

It was Steele’s unsubstantiated and largely debunked dossier that played a key role in the FBI’s warrants to surveil Page, but the FBI did not advise the FISC of “inconsistencies” in claims made by Steele’s sub-source and assertions made by Steele himself. The bureau also did not clearly disclose that the dossier was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Case Status

Closed

Court

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

Why This Matters

The public has an interest in transparent court proceedings, and this Court has the inherent power to release the requested records.

SLF and Mr. Solomon filed their original motion because facts had come to light surrounding an overall lack of candor by the FBI and DOJ to this Court regarding the series of memorandums known as the “Steele dossier,” which served as the primary basis for the application and renewal requests. We had also learned that DOJ and FBI officials approved the Carter Page applications and renewals, some without even fully reading them. This was despite warnings by multiple persons in the FBI, DOJ, and State Department that the applications and renewals were based largely on unverifiable and debunked information. And rather than address those concerns, the public record showed that the DOJ and FBI presented the already debunked information to this Court as both true and verified. We now know that the instances of alleged misconduct detailed in Movants’ original motion were just the tip of the iceberg, and that there is nothing “alleged” about the FBI and DOJ’s misconduct.”

“We face a serious crisis of public confidence in our judicial system. Our nation’s highest law enforcement officers and government attorneys are suspected of lying, misleading and withholding information from the FISC in order to obtain permission to conduct surveillance on U.S. citizen Carter Page,” said Todd Young, SLF executive director. “If true, even in part, one of the most profound ways to help re-establish public trust in the rule of law is to hold these attorneys professionally and publicly accountable for their alleged grievous violations of the law and public trust.”

Why This Matters

The public has an interest in transparent court proceedings, and this Court has the inherent power to release the requested records.

SLF and Mr. Solomon filed their original motion because facts had come to light surrounding an overall lack of candor by the FBI and DOJ to this Court regarding the series of memorandums known as the “Steele dossier,” which served as the primary basis for the application and renewal requests. We had also learned that DOJ and FBI officials approved the Carter Page applications and renewals, some without even fully reading them. This was despite warnings by multiple persons in the FBI, DOJ, and State Department that the applications and renewals were based largely on unverifiable and debunked information. And rather than address those concerns, the public record showed that the DOJ and FBI presented the already debunked information to this Court as both true and verified. We now know that the instances of alleged misconduct detailed in Movants’ original motion were just the tip of the iceberg, and that there is nothing “alleged” about the FBI and DOJ’s misconduct.”

“We face a serious crisis of public confidence in our judicial system. Our nation’s highest law enforcement officers and government attorneys are suspected of lying, misleading and withholding information from the FISC in order to obtain permission to conduct surveillance on U.S. citizen Carter Page,” said Todd Young, SLF executive director. “If true, even in part, one of the most profound ways to help re-establish public trust in the rule of law is to hold these attorneys professionally and publicly accountable for their alleged grievous violations of the law and public trust.”