“We identified at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications, and many additional errors in the Woods Procedures,” the report states, referring to the procedures guiding the verification of claims in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications.
“These errors and omissions resulted from case agents providing wrong or incomplete information to OI and failing to flag important issues for discussion,” the report continues, referring to the Office of Intelligence and the National Security Division at the FBI.
Horowitz concluded that the errors and other failures constitute “serious performance failures by the supervisory and non-supervisory agents.”
In late October 2016, the FBI secured a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil Trump-campaign associate Carter Page. The bureau renewed the warrant three times, surveilling Page for a total of twelve months.
The FISA warrant application featured claims from an unverified dossier of opposition research on Trump. Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele compiled the dossier by using second- and third-hand sources with ties to the Kremlin.
“Steele himself was not the originating source of any of the factual information in his reporting. Steele instead relied on a Primary Sub-source for information, who used his/her network of sub-sources to gather information that was then passed to Steele,” the report said.
The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee ultimately paid for Steele’s work, a fact the FBI did not disclose in the warrant application.
While the extent of the surveillance granted in Page’s case remains classified, FISA warrants allow for some of the most intrusive spying under the law. Under the so-called “two-hop” rule, investigators could collect the communications of every person Page interacted with as well every person who communicated with Page’s contacts. As a result, it is possible that the FBI obtained the communications of the entire Trump campaign, both retroactively and in real-time.
A number of FBI officials directly involved in preparing and signing the FISA warrants have all either left or been fired from the bureau, including Director James Comey, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok.
The scandal surrounding the surveillance warrants was amplified by the discovery of biased text messages between Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page, with whom Strzok was having an extramarital affair. Strzok and Page vented their hatred of Trump, spoke of his slim chances of winning the election, committed to stopping him from being elected, discussed an “insurance policy” in the unlikely event of a Trump victory and mulled “impeachment” once around the time they joined special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
Strzok led the investigation of the Trump campaign and the probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of an unauthorized private email server for government work. In a report on the review of the Clinton-email probe, Horowitz concluded that Strzok and Page’s biased messages “cast a cloud” over the investigation, but was unable to find evidence to support the claim that the bias had an effect on any investigative decisions.
Horowitz formally announced the investigation into the Carter Page FISA in March 2018. He submitted a draft report to the DOJ in September. Horowitz said at the time that his team reviewed more than 1 million documents and interviewed more than 100 witnesses.