Show an ad over header. AMP

Justice Department issues new rules on FBI surveillance of political campaigns

The Justice Department on Tuesday announced a series of reforms to ensure oversight and accountability over the FBI's process for applying for warrants to conduct surveillance on elected officials and political campaigns.

The big picture: The changes come months after the DOJ inspector general flagged "significant inaccuracies and omissions" in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications used for 2016 Trump campaign official Carter Page during the FBI's Russia investigation.


  • Allies of President Trump have pointed to the abuses to further allegations that the Russia probe was a politically motivated hit job, but the inspector general did not find evidence of political bias.
  • A former FBI lawyer pleaded guilty last month to altering an email later used to obtain a warrant on Page, who was never charged with wrongdoing. U.S. Attorney John Durham is conducting a broader investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.

Details: FBI agents will be required to get permission from the attorney general to surveil elected officials, declared candidates and their staff before submitting applications to FISA courts, which decide whether to grant the bureau permission to conduct wiretaps, according to a memo issued by Barr.

  • FBI personnel must review the applications "for accuracy and completeness" and submit the reviews to top DOJ officials, including the attorney general.
  • The rules also require that the FBI consider briefing an elected official or member of a campaign that they are being targeted by foreign actors before seeking a wiretap warrant.
  • In addition, wiretap warrants will be limited to 60 days, and FBI officials must brief the FISA courts every 30 days on the results of the surveillance.

Another memo issued by Barr authorizes a new Office of Internal Auditing at the FBI "to overcome a gap in auditing capability" at the bureau. The bureau will also be required to "perform robust auditing functions" of its compliance with its own procedures.

What they're saying: "FISA is a critical tool to ensuring the safety and security of Americans, particularly when it comes to fighting terrorism," Barr said in a statement.

  • "However, the American people must have confidence that the United States Government will exercise its surveillance authorities in a manner that protects the civil liberties of Americans, avoids interference in the political process, and complies with the Constitution and laws of the United States."
  • "What happened to the Trump presidential campaign and his subsequent Administration after the President was duly elected by the American people must never happen again."

FBI Director Christopher Wray added: "Since the Inspector General’s Crossfire Hurricane report was issued last December, I have made clear that it describes conduct that was unacceptable and unrepresentative of the FBI as an organization."

  • "FISA is an indispensable tool that the FBI uses to protect our country from national security threats, and Americans can rest assured that the FBI remains dedicated to continuously strengthening our FISA compliance efforts and ensuring that our FISA authorities are exercised in a responsible manner."

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

Keep reading... Show less

GOP party leaders face internal revolt for failing to stand up for Trump

The GOP is getting torn apartby a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Keep reading... Show less

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

Keep reading... Show less

Why made-for-TV moments like Amanda Gorman matter during the pandemic

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.

Keep reading... Show less

Russian police arrest over 3,000 protesters demanding Navalny's release

Russian police on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations that began in the eastern regions of Russia spread west to more than 60 cities. At least 3,324 of people were detained and tens of thousands of others protested into the night despite the presence of law enforcement and extremely low temperatures, per the OVD-Info group, which monitors political arrests.

Keep reading... Show less

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and Jeff Flake

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump, per AZCentral.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of Trump loyalist Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.

Keep reading... Show less

DOJ: Capitol rioter threatened to "assassinate" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

A Texas man who has be charged with storming the U.S. Capitol in the deadly Jan. 6 siege posted death threats against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Department of Justice said.

The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”

Keep reading... Show less

Schumer calls for IG probe into alleged plan by Trump, DOJ lawyer to oust acting AG

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Saturday called for the Justice Department inspector general to investigate an alleged plan by former President Trump and a DOJ lawyer to remove the acting attorney general and replace him with someone more willing to investigate unfounded claims of election fraud.

Driving the news: The New York Times first reported Friday that the lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, allegedly devised "ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. [Jeffrey] Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark."

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories