The DOJ has turned over additional FISA records to Republicans, and former intelligence officials say the implications could be 'catastrophic'

 

The Department of Justice has turned over additional surveillance records of President Donald Trump's associates that were collected under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to House Republicans, according to two congressional sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

The surveillance was conducted as part of the department's Russia-related investigation, which is examining whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the 2016 presidential election in his favor.

The news was first reported by CNN, which said the DOJ also provided lawmakers with other FBI records related to the Russia probe and the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.

See AlsoSouth Carolina congressional candidate seriously injured in fatal car crash

The move comes as House Republicans and the White House continue pressuring the DOJ and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein to comply with subpoena requests for classified information.

While Republicans say the requests are part of their congressional oversight responsibility, Democrats accuse their colleagues across the aisle of using classified information to play politics and compromise the Russia investigation.

Leading the Republican charge are House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, and House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy.

Nunes has been under the spotlight since last year, when it surfaced that he traveled to the White House to brief administration officials on classified information about the Russia probe before informing his colleagues on the panel. He has since been conducting a separate investigation into what he characterizes as surveillance abuses by the DOJ and FBI.

Earlier this year, Nunes drew scrutiny for publicly disclosing FISA information about the former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. And in April, the DOJ turned over the document that first prompted the FBI to launch the Russia probe to House Republicans.

33 PHOTOS
Trump's tweets about the Mueller Russia probe
See Gallery
Trump's tweets about the Mueller Russia probe
So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were “leaked” to the media. No questions on Col… https://t.co/T2n7SAWgJp
There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap). What there i… https://t.co/WU8JFuWLJi
House Intelligence Committee rules that there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump Campaign and Russia. As I have bee… https://t.co/n4809kuVx3
Just Out: House Intelligence Committee Report released. “No evidence” that the Trump Campaign “colluded, coordinate… https://t.co/3erasoPL4N
This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion an… https://t.co/GPYj4JbKgN
It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!
You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history - led by some very bad and conflicted people! #MAGA
“Russians had no compromising information on Donald Trump” @FoxNews Of course not, because there is none, and neve… https://t.co/R9sniNq1ar
Congratulations to @ABC News for suspending Brian Ross for his horrendously inaccurate and dishonest report on the… https://t.co/wEVP4iGN6n
The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was base… https://t.co/oMCKEA7WmJ
The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in… https://t.co/W32TtSNOrw
A must watch: Legal Scholar Alan Dershowitz was just on @foxandfriends talking of what is going on with respect to… https://t.co/EZ7cdgtUUo
A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!
A complete Witch Hunt!
The Russia Witch Hunt is rapidly losing credibility. House Intelligence Committee found No Collusion, Coordination… https://t.co/MMfLEunjG6
The single greatest Witch Hunt in American history continues. There was no collusion, everybody including the Dems… https://t.co/j7rc1QKCLw
James Comey Memos just out and show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION. Also, he leaked classif… https://t.co/YfMYBrTkza
As the phony Russian Witch Hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold, Democrats and Russians!
...case against him & now wants to clear his name by showing "the false or misleading testimony by James Comey, John Brennan..." Witch Hunt!
The MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN agenda is doing very well despite the distraction of the Witch Hunt. Many new jobs, high business enthusiasm,..
Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians. Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!
When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?
My son Donald did a good job last night. He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!
Despite the phony Witch Hunt going on in America, the economic & jobs numbers are great. Regulations way down, jobs and enthusiasm way up!
A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!
Is this Phony Witch Hunt going to go on even longer so it wrongfully impacts the Mid-Term Elections, which is what… https://t.co/7LtsbGyV80
The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was base… https://t.co/oMCKEA7WmJ
Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democr… https://t.co/eA1AtTPv49
“Special Council is told to find crimes, whether a crime exists or not. I was opposed to the selection of Mueller t… https://t.co/KYsOPqiVBG
I have agreed with the historically cooperative, disciplined approach that we have engaged in with Robert Mueller (… https://t.co/yjSuYhmzJb
Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? An… https://t.co/wKNAVhWJcz
If I wanted to fire Robert Mueller in December, as reported by the Failing New York Times, I would have fired him.… https://t.co/wi7FDNjqK7
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The implications could be 'catastrophic'

Asked about lawmakers obtaining additional FISA records related to the Russia investigation, one former senior FBI official said it was "hard to put into words" how "damaging it could to be to national security if details about the US's most sensitive intelligence-gathering process leaked out."

"It would be catastrophic," they added. "Look at the damage that's already been done."

The immediate concern, said former CIA operative Glenn Carle, is that turning over information related to FISA records could compromise sources and methods.

"Congressional oversight is not operational control, it's policy control," Carle said. "So it's not really appropriate for an oversight body and its members to have detailed knowledge of sources and methods, because they are not trained in how to handle that."

See AlsoMike Huckabee seems to equate kids torn from parents with MS-13

Republicans said Friday that the DOJ still has not complied with all their requests and indicated that they would be open to using all tools at their disposal to compel document production.

Addressing the matter this week, House Speaker Paul Ryan said "we expect compliance." Ryan met with Goodlatte, Nunes, and Gowdy on Friday morning, CNN reported.

Nunes said there would be "hell to pay" if the DOJ does not comply with all document requests.

A spokesperson for GOP Rep. Mark Meadows, the head of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, said in a statement to Business Insider that "if the Deputy Attorney General continues withholding documents and denying Congressional requests for oversight, there need to be consequences."

"Contempt is certainly an option on the table," the spokesperson added.

Carle said it was telling that subpoena and document requests for intelligence related to the Russia and Clinton investigations have come from the Republican side of the aisle.

See AlsoRestaurant bombarded with Yelp reviews after refusing to serve Sarah Huckabee Sanders

"If something is coming from an entire committee, rather than a party, then the government is speaking through that committee," he said. "If it's coming from one party, that indicates political bias and could skew the outcome and fly in the face of the oversight function itself."

Meanwhile, Republican threats to penalize Rosenstein have attracted significant media coverage and speculation about what it could mean for the DOJ if its No. 2 official is held in contempt.

In all likelihood, it would mean very little.

When either chamber of Congress votes to hold an official in contempt, the case goes to the US attorney's office in Washington, DC for criminal prosecution.

See AlsoICE seeks up to 15,000 additional beds for detained immigrant families

In other words, if the House votes to hold the deputy attorney general in contempt, "they'd essentially be referring Rosenstein to himself for prosecution," said Jeffrey Cramer, a longtime former federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the DOJ.

The last time any executive branch official was prosecuted for contempt was in 1983, when Rita Lavelle, who worked for the Environmental Protection Agency, was indicted on perjury charges.

In the event that Rosenstein is referred to the DOJ for prosecution and the department does not pursue the case — which, in all likelihood, it won't — then congressional Republicans could pursue civil charges against him.

But as of now, Cramer said, "They're just shaking their fists and making a lot of noise."

Read Full Story