FISA: Motion Filed, John Solomon - Public Trust in Justice; Follow-Up FOIAs Filed with DOJ, FBI

UPDATE: (March 5, 2020): 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. In 2019, SLF filed motions with the FISC seeking exactly this kind of accountability rulings made by the court on behalf of investigative journalist John Solomon.

As FOX News reports, "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.

"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)."

UPDATE (Dec. 18, 2019): In light of new evidence made public by the US DOJ Inspector General Horowitz and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), Southeastern Legal Foundation today filed a supplemental Motion with the FISC to seek publication of disciplinary actions taken by the FISC citing attorney wrongdoing with the FBI and DOJ - documents sought in SLF's initial Motion in May this year on behalf of award-winning investigative journalist John Solomon.

Following are key excerpts from today's filing:

"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 . . .

Movants file this notice because 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.

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

Click here for SLF/Solomon Supplemental Motion to FISC


UPDATE (July 16-30, 2019) ATLANTA, GA: In its continued efforts to hold attorneys accountable for misconduct before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Southeastern Legal Foundation filed federal lawsuits against the FBI and Department of Justice for refusing to produce records regarding alleged lying, misleading, and withholding of information from the FISC to obtain the warrants to spy on the Trump campaign. The lawsuits are filed just as SLF’s client John Solomon’s breaking story revealed that DOJ and FBI attorneys not only knew that the Steele Dossier was questionable, but had in fact debunked nearly every assertion made by Steele and knew that the dossier contained unverifiable and false information.

Click here for updated filings

Click here for more updated filings

UPDATE (May 24, 2019) WASHINGTON, DC: Southeastern Legal Foundation and award-winning investigative reporter John Solomon today filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests as necessary follow-up to the critical Motion for Publication of Records with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) filed on Tuesday this week.

"Disclosure of orders and rulings from from the FISC on attorney misconduct and discipline for alleged lying, misleading and withholding information from the court is absolutely vital to re-establish the damaged public trust in the American system of justice," said Kimberly Hermann, SLF general counsel. "The FOIA requests filed today are necessary to help circle the square of information that we believe exists that the FISC may have warned powerful government attorneys in positions of high trust that their actions during the FISA warrant applications related to Carter Page and other American citizens." More to follow.

Click here for FOIA request to DOJ

Click here for FOIA request to FBI

(May 22, 2019) WASHINGTON, DC: 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.

Southeastern Legal Foundation successfully pursued Bar sanctions against sitting President Bill Clinton, ultimately resulting in the surrender of his law license on the last day in office and disbarment by the U.S. Supreme Court (1998-2001) as part of the Agreed Order of Discipline from Independent Counsel Robert Ray. Click here for more information on the Clinton matter.

"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."

Click here for file stamped copy of FISC Motion for Publication (May 22, 2019)

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