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FBI defender and Nunes critic picked to help with FISA reform oversight

January 13, 2020

The FISA Court selected a longtime defender of the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation to be its adviser in overseeing the FBI's implementation of reforms following the Justice Department’s watchdog report on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.


David Kris, a former assistant attorney general with the DOJ’s national security division during the Obama administration, is a controversial choice, having spent most of President Trump’s term defending the bureau’s decision-making, including its use of British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s salacious and unverified dossier to obtain surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign associate Carter Page. Kris also defended the FISA Court itself from accusations it hadn’t done its due diligence to ensure the bureau’s investigation was conducted properly.


Kris harshly criticized the FISA memo put together by Republican California Rep. Devin Nunes in early 2018 that alleged "abuses related to the FISA process" by the FBI, though DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report released late last year showed nearly all the claims made by Nunes in his memo were correct, a fact acknowledged even by Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff, who released a competing memo at the time.


Kris claimed “the central irony" of the Nunes memo "is that it tried to deceive the American people in precisely the same way that it falsely accused the FBI of deceiving the FISA Court” and “the key question going forward is whether the memo’s authors and sponsors will face any consequences for their dishonesty” in one of many articles for Lawfare, a website created by fired FBI Director James Comey’s friend, Benjamin Wittes.


Horowitz concluded the FBI’s investigation was flawed and criticized the DOJ and the FBI for 17 “significant errors and omissions” in targeting Page and relying on Steele’s dossier, affirming most of the claims Nunes made almost two years prior and criticizing the bureau’s “entire chain of command.” Horowitz was unable to determine whether the FBI’s screw-ups were due to “gross negligence” or “intentional misconduct.” Horowitz also referred one FBI lawyer to the DOJ for possible criminal prosecution.


“You can’t make this up!” Trump tweeted of Kris on Sunday. “Zero credibility. THE SWAMP!”



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