Barr hints at stricter procedures for FBI probes into campaigns

Washington — Attorney General William Barr said he and FBI Director Christopher Wray have agreed to implement stricter procedures for opening counterintelligence probes into presidential campaigns, requiring investigators to get approval from both the attorney general and FBI director before moving forward with future investigations.

At a press conference at Justice Department headquarters on Monday, Barr fielded a question about how the FBI would handle investigations involving campaigns in the future, given recent revelations of misconduct by the FBI in its 2016 investigation.

“Well, we’re considering a number of additional things,” Barr said. “Chris Wray and I have discussed a number of possibilities. One of the things we have agreed on is that the opening of a counterintelligence investigation of a presidential campaign would be something the director of the FBI would have to sign off on, and the attorney general would have to sign off on.”

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In a report released in December, the Justice Department’s inspector general detailed 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the bureau’s applications for warrants to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, in 2016. 

Shortly after the report was released, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued a highly unusual public rebuke, admonishing the bureau for misleading the court and demanding Wray provide a plan to ensure the information in future applications is reliable. 

Wray told the court in a filing on Friday that he was taking 40 corrective actions to address the judges’ concerns, 12 of which related directly to the FISA application process. But Barr’s comments on Monday indicate that he and Wray had agreed to establish an additional layer of scrutiny before the FBI targets a presidential campaign.

It was not immediately clear when the department plans to formalize this arrangement. The FBI declined to comment Monday evening.

President Trump and his Republican allies seized on the inspector general’s report as evidence that the counterintelligence investigation into his 2016 campaign was flawed from the start and should have never been opened.

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