Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said Wednesday that she would not have signed an application to conduct surveillance against former Trump aide Carter Page had she known it contained inaccurate information.
“If I had known that it contained incorrect information, I certainly wouldn’t have signed it,” Yates said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Yates signed an application to continue surveillance against Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on Jan. 17, 2017, just days before the start of the Trump administration. The FBI and Justice Department obtained the initial FISA order on Page on Oct. 21, 2016.
The Justice Department’s inspector general issued a scathing report of the FBI’s investigation and the FISA orders Dec. 9, 2019.
The IG report said that the FBI withheld evidence that undermined the reliability of the Steele dossier, which the bureau cited extensively to assert that Page operated as an agent of Russia.
Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier, claimed that Page was part of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Kremlin and Trump campaign.
The IG report also said that FBI agents withheld information that undermined the theory that Page was acting as a covert agent of Russia. One of the FBI’s case agents failed to disclose that Page had served as an “operational contact” for the CIA through at least 2013, according to the IG report.
Yates told Sen. Lindsey Graham at Wednesday’s hearing that she was “shocked” by the revelations in the IG report. But she also defended the basis for the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. The bureau opened the probe, Crossfire Hurricane, on July 31, 2016 based on information from the Australian government regarding George Papadopoulos, another Trump campaign adviser.
The special counsel’s office ultimately determined that there was no evidence of a conspiracy between Trump associates and the Russian government regarding the 2016 election. A report from the special counsel also said there was no evidence that anyone on the Trump campaign acted as an agent of Russia.
Rod Rosenstein, who succeeded Yates as deputy attorney general, told the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 3 that he also would not have signed a FISA renewal against Page. Rosenstein, who oversaw the special counsel’s probe, signed the fourth and final FISA warrant in June 2017.
The Justice Department deemed two of the four Carter Page FISAs to be invalid because of all of the errors and omissions in the surveillance applications.