An official responsible for overseeing the nation’s intelligence community conceded a federal law enforcement agency committed a major abuse of power while monitoring a campaign adviser to a presidential candidate back in 2016.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has admitted the FBI made an error of judgment when it repeatedly extended 90-day search warrants through the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in order to conduct surveillance on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign adviser, Carter Page.
“There were nonetheless very serious abuses of [the] Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which were not apparent two years ago but which have become apparent now,” he told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace on Dec. 15.
Schiff seemed to try to avoid blame for not taking action against the FBI sooner by explaining he only discovered the abuse of power after 170 witnesses were interviewed and Inspector General Michael Horowitz reviewed about 2 million documents.
“I’m certainly willing to admit that the inspector general found serious abuses of FISA that I was unaware of,” Schiff said. “Had I known of them, Chris, yes I would have called out the FBI at the same time but I think it’s only fair to judge what we know at the time, not what would be revealed two years later.”
He also tried to defend the FBI for its actions by describing the investigation as a necessary part of their duties to the country. He also wished Horowitz would be able to disprove any suggestion there was a deep state conspiracy, spying on the Trump campaign, and some form of political bias against the president.
“It would be negligent for them not to conduct this investigation,” Schiff said. “[It is important] the IG debunks these claims by the president [and] by [Rep. Devin] Nunes (R-Calif.) and others of this deep state conspiracy, this improper investigation.”
After realizing he was responsible for preventing further abuse of power, Schiff finally admitted the FBI’s mistake and promised there would not be a repeat.
“Yes, there were very serious abuses of the FISA process, they need to be corrected, we need to make sure they never happen again,” he said. “Corrective steps will be taken in terms of the FISA process.”
He also claimed to be pleased with Horowitz’s recommendations and once again stressed he did not know the FBI had abused FISA at the time.
“I am glad that the IG made the recommendations that he made and the FBI is going to follow them but that was not apparent to us two years ago,” Schiff said.