Secret surveillance court puts pressure on DOJ over Carter Page warrant records

The head of a top secret surveillance court, in an unusual letter to GOP lawmakers, seemed to put pressure on the Justice Department to consider releasing documents related to the 2016 surveillance warrant granted against a Trump campaign aide.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) was responding to requests from the House Intelligence and House Judiciary committees for transcripts of hearings and other documents related to the applications to spy on Trump aide Carter Page.

Republicans claim the Obama FBI relied heavily on the unverified anti-Trump dossier in their application and failed to adequately disclose the document’s Democratic funding.

Schiff says he will sit down with the FBI to go over the rebuttal.

But in two letters from the court Thursday, Judge Rosemary M. Collyer made clear to Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and his House Judiciary Committee counterpart — Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. — that the information would be better obtained from the Justice Department.

“While this analysis is underway, you may note that the Department of Justice possesses (or can easily obtain) the same responsive information the Court might possess, and because of separation of powers considerations, is better positioned than the Court to respond quickly,” Collyer wrote to Nunes.

Collyer added that the court does not object to the Executive Branch giving such information to Congress. She noted in her other letter that Goodlatte already has made such a request to the DOJ and FBI.

What records exist and whether they will be turned over remains to be seen.

After Nunes specifically sought transcripts, Collyer noted that the court does not typically make a “systematic record” of the questions and responses at those sessions. But her letters indicated the FBI and DOJ might have other “responsive materials.”

She said the requests raise “novel and significant questions.”

The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News. A spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee declined to comment on the letters.

The Carter Page warrant was granted just weeks before the 2016 election, and a memo released by Intelligence Committee Republicans this month indicates that allegations included in the Trump dossier were used as the basis for the warrant.

That dossier, penned by former British spy Christopher Steele while working for Fusion GPS, has come under scrutiny not only for its salacious allegations, but its funding by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.


Democrats have described the Nunes memo as misleading.

The transcripts from the application hearings could reveal to what extent the FBI and the DOJ relied on the dossier in its application and to what extent it disclosed Democratic ties.

“The Committee found that the FBI and DOJ failed to disclose the specific political actors paying for uncorroborated information that formed a substantial part of the FISA application, misled the FISC regarding dissemination of this information, and failed to correct these errors in the subsequent renewals,” Nunes wrote in his letter to the court earlier this month.

The court granted the original surveillance warrant on Oct. 21, 2016, and then three subsequent renewals.

Democrats on the intelligence committee are seeking to release their own memo — which so far has been blocked by the White House, amid claims there are details that would harm national security.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and Shannon Bream contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

Courtesy: Fox News

FBI Says It Failed To Act After Receiving Tip About Suspected Florida Shooter

Mollie Reilly



The FBI said Friday that it did not follow protocol after a caller submitted a tip about the Florida shooting suspect earlier this year.

Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old who was previously expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, confessed to opening fire on the school this week. At least 17 people were killed.

Someone contacted the FBI’s public tip line in January to alert it to Cruz’s behavior, according to a statement from the agency. The caller said this behavior included a “desire to kill people” and “the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”

“Under established protocols, the information provided by the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life. The information then should have been forwarded to the FBI Miami field office, where appropriate investigative steps would have been taken,” reads the statement. “We have determined that these protocols were not followed.”

Cruz was charged Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He is being held without bail.

Crosses for victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. 
Crosses for victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida.

The tip earlier this year appears to be the second time the law enforcement agency was alerted to Cruz’s behavior. In September, a Mississippi man reporteda comment that a YouTube user named “nikolas cruz” had left on a video. The comment said, “Im going to be a professional school shooter.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau was still investigating the facts.

“I am committed to getting to the bottom of what happened in this particular matter, as well as reviewing our processes for responding to information that we receive from the public. It’s up to all Americans to be vigilant, and when members of the public contact us with concerns, we must act properly and quickly,” Wray said. “We have spoken with victims and families, and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy. All of the men and women of the FBI are dedicated to keeping the American people safe, and are relentlessly committed to improving all that we do and how we do it.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said it was clear that warning signs were missed and resulted in “tragic consequences.” He promised a review.

“The FBI in conjunction with our state and local partners must act flawlessly to prevent all attacks. This is imperative, and we must do better,” Sessions said. “We will make this a top priority. It has never been more important to encourage every person in every community to spot the warning signs and alert law enforcement.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) called on Wray to resign, calling the bureau’s failure to act “unacceptable.”

“Seventeen innocent people are dead and acknowledging a mistake isn’t going to cut it,” Scott said in a statement. “An apology will never bring these 17 Floridians back to life or comfort the families who are in pain.”

According to police, Cruz legally purchased an AR-15-style rifle in February 2017 after passing a background check that included a review of whether he had been found “mentally defective” by the state.

After the shooting, several of Cruz’s former classmates described him as a troubled individual who had previously exhibited violent tendencies.

“He always had guns on him and stuff like that,” one former classmate told CBS Miami. “Honestly, a lot of people a lot of people were saying it was going to be him.”

This article has been updated with additional information about the shooting, as well as with comment from Scott and Sessions.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

Courtesy: Yahoo News

Plenty of warnings in Florida school shooting suspect’s past, but ‘we missed the signs’

Special Report: Florida investigators update on deadly school shooting
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Former classmates of the suspect in Wednesday’s deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school say they weren’t surprised to discover he was the alleged gunman, but a Broward County commissioner admits officials “missed the signs.”

“I can’t say I was shocked,” Joshua Charo, a 16-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., told the Miami Herald. “From past experiences, he seemed like the kind of kid who would do something like this.”

“I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him,” Dakota Mutchler, a 17-year-old junior at the school, told the Associated Press.

“A lot of people were saying it was going to be him,” Eddie Bonilla, another student, told CBS Miami. “A lot of kids joked around like that, saying that he was going to be the one to shoot up the school. But it turns out everyone predicted it.”

Police say the 19-year-old suspect, Nikolas Cruz, killed 17 people and wounded at least a dozen others in the rampage. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters that Cruz had been expelled from the school for “disciplinary reasons.” Israel said that an “AR-15-style weapon” and “countless magazines” were recovered at the scene. According to the Associated Press, Cruz purchased the weapon legally about a year ago.

“All he would talk about is guns, knives and hunting,” Charo said. “He used to tell me he would shoot rats with his BB gun and he wanted this kind of gun, and how he liked to always shoot for practice.”

Mutchler said Cruz often boasted on Instagram about killing animals and that “he started progressively getting a little more weird.”

“He was that weird kid that you see,” Daniel Huerfano, another former classmate, told the AP. “Like a loner.”

Nikolas Cruz’s booking photo. (Photo: Broward County Jail via AP)

On Thursday, President Trump seemed to suggest that the community failed to report the warning signs to authorities.

“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior,” the president tweeted. “Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”

Broward County Commissioner Beam Furr admitted as much in an interview with NPR.

“We missed the signs,” Furr said. “We should have seen some of the signs.”

Furr told CNN that Cruz had been receiving treatment at a mental health clinic, but stopped going about a year ago.

“It wasn’t like there wasn’t concern for him,” Furr said. “We try to keep our eyes out on those kids who aren’t connected.”

Parents wait for news after reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday. (Photo: Joel Auerbach/AP)

“Most teachers try to steer them toward some kind of connections,” he added. “In this case, we didn’t find a way to connect with this kid.”

Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that he did not know of any threats posed by Cruz to the school.

“Typically you see in these situations that there potentially could have been signs out there,” Runcie said. “I would be speculating at this point if there were, but we didn’t have any warnings. There weren’t any phone calls or threats that we know of that were made.”

But Jim Gard, a math teacher at the school, told the Miami Herald that administrators had identified Cruz as a potential threat.

Gard remembered that the school administration had previously sent out an email warning teachers about Cruz.

“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” Gard said. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”

Israel said that investigators reviewing Cruz’s social media accounts found “disturbing” images of him brandishing weapons.

Police evacuate students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday. (Photo: Mike Stocker/ South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

At a press conference on Thursday morning, Israel urged the public to report changes in behavior to law enforcement.

“Don’t think about it. Call us,” Israel said. “If there’s something in your gut that tells you, ‘Something’s not right with this person — this person has the capabilities in my mind to do this or do that,’ please don’t remain silent.”

According to BuzzFeed, at least one person appears to have reported Cruz to authorities.

The site reports that in September, YouTube user Ben Bennight alerted the FBI that a commenter had posted an alarming remark on one of his videos.

“I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” wrote the commenter, named Nikolas Cruz.

According to Bennight, FBI agents conducted an in-person interview with him the following day.

“They came to my office the next morning and asked me if I knew anything about the person,” Bennight said. “I didn’t. They took a copy of the screenshot and that was the last I heard from them.”

View from inside Florida high school during attack

A chilling look inside a Florida high school as a shooter attacked on Wednesday, February 14.

Courtesy: Yahoo News

FBI says it failed to properly investigate January tip on teen accused in Florida school shooting

FBI says it failed to properly investigate January tip on teen accused in Florida school shooting
People arrive for the funeral of Alyssa Alhadeff at the Star of David Funeral Chapel in North Lauderdale, Fla., Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)


A person close to the teenager accused of killing 17 people at a South Florida high school this week called FBI officials in early January to report concerns about the teen, but the agency failed to properly investigate the warning, the FBI said Friday.

“I am committed to getting to the bottom of what happened in this particular matter, as well as reviewing our processes for responding to information that we receive from the public. It’s up to all Americans to be vigilant, and when members of the public contact us with concerns, we must act properly and quickly,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.


The agency said proper “protocols were not followed” in investigating Nikolas Cruz, who authorities say has confessed to stalking the high school’s hallways, gunning down students and teachers.

A law enforcement official said calls to the tip line are handled at the FBI’s call center in West Virginia. Approximately 2,100 calls a day go to the center.

The caller indicated that Cruz had recently purchased firearms and had threatened a family member, the official said, adding that the caller knew Cruz’s address and said he had been posting disturbing messages on social media accounts and that he had a desire to kill.


“Clearly the person was afraid [he] was going to harm somebody,” said the official, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the investigation.


There was a back-and-forth conversation between the tipster and the FBI employee who took the call, the official said, noting that there were enough specifics provided that the call center employee should have written a report and sent it to the Miami field office for investigation. That didn’t happen.


Wray said the agency has spoken “with victims and families, and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy.”


“All of the men and women of the FBI are dedicated to keeping the American people safe, and are relentlessly committed to improving all that we do and how we do it,” Wray said.

It was the second time the FBI apparently failed to follow up on Cruz.


“Im going to be a professional school shooter,” a YouTube commenter identifying himself as Nikolas Cruz wrote beneath another user’s video in September. The video’s poster, Ben Bennight, who lives in Alabama, called the FBI to warn them. At a news briefing in Florida on Thursday, Robert Lasky, the FBI special agent in charge, confirmed that the bureau had investigated that comment. But he said agents couldn’t identify the person behind the comment and never linked him to South Florida.


Cruz, who was expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year, told investigators that he walked the hallways of the school Wednesday afternoon, shooting students and teachers with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, a report from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said.


On Friday, as survivors and those who lost loved ones in the attack began attending funerals, investigators continued to piece together a timeline of events that took place during one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history.


Cruz, 19, on Thursday was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. A district court judge ordered Cruz held without bond.


Law enforcement has not offered a motive, but has said that Cruz was able to blend in with other students as he fled the school following the shooting. He visited a nearby Subway and McDonald’s before police found him walking on a sidewalk in nearby Coral Springs, Fla.


Sheriff’s officials Friday were escorting students and staff back to the school to retrieve vehicles left in the parking lot as the investigation at the scene continued.


President Trump is scheduled to travel to Florida on Friday and has indicated he plans to meet with victims of the tragedy this weekend while he visits his resort in Palm Beach, which is about 40 miles from Parkland. Trump in recent days has called the gunman “mentally disturbed,” and has offered condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the shooting.


A funeral was held earlier in the day for shooting victim Alyssa Alhadeff, 14. Before their daughter’s funeral, Alhadeff’s parents made impassioned pleas.


“You need to help us now, we need security now for all these children who have to go to school. We need action,” the girl’s mother, Lori Alhadeff, said on CNN, addressing some of her comments to Trump and lawmakers. “What if it was your child that was shot three times in the head, in the heart and the hand?


Ilan Alhadeff, the girl’s father said, “It’s the time to talk about it today and the next day and the day after until this is resolved.”


Before a community vigil that drew hundreds late Thursday, Alhadeff’s mother had appealed to Trump, noting she had just finished making her daughter’s funeral arrangements.


“Please do something! Do something. Action! We need it now! These kids need safety now!” she screamed into a microphone on CNN.


“How do we allow a gunman to come into our children’s school? How do they get through security? What security is there?” Alhadeff yelled. “The gunman — a crazy person — just walks right into the school, knocks down the window of my child’s door and starts shooting. Shooting her! And killing her!”


It was the nation’s deadliest school attack since a gunman targeted an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., more than five years ago.


Speaking at the memorial late Thursday, Fred Guttenberg struggled to come to terms with the loss of his 14-year-old daughter Jaime.


“I sent her to school yesterday,” Guttenberg said. “She was supposed to be safe. My job is to protect my children and I sent my kid to school.”


“What is unfathomable is that Jaime took a bullet and is dead,” he told the crowd. “I don’t know what I do next… We are broken.”


Staff writers Hennessy-Fiske reported from Parkland, Lee from Los Angeles and Tanfani from Washinngton. Staff writer Matt Pearce in Los Angeles contributed to this report.


10:55 a.m.: This article was updated with information from a law enforcement official on the call to the FBI.

9:46 a.m.: This article was updated to report the FBI said it failed to properly investigate a January warning about Nikolas Cruz.

This article was published at 8:25 a.m.

Courtesy: L A Times

Trump breaks silence on domestic violence, says he is ‘totally opposed’

Feb. 14, 2018, 12:04 p.m.


Former Trump advisor Rob Porter left the White House last week.
Former Trump advisor Rob Porter left the White House last week. (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump broke his weeklong silence on spousal abuse Wednesday, but only after declaring that everyone already knows his view on the subject.

“I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind,” Trump said, according to a pool report by Newsday reporter Laura Figueroa. “Everyone knows that and it almost wouldn’t even have to be said.”

It wasn’t said, for more than a week, as his White House has reeled from the resignations of two high-ranking officials accused of violence against former partners. The women told their stories months ago to FBI investigators conducting background checks on White House aides Rob Porter and David Sorenson, but the men did not leave the White House staff until the accounts went public.

Trump surrogates have expressed concern about family violence over the last week, but the president himself tweeted and spoke only about other subjects. Reporters repeatedly asked Trump surrogates why he wasn’t saying so himself in front of cameras. Only on Wednesday did he first say so for himself.

Courtesy: LA Times

‘National security concerns’: Trump returns ‘sensitive’ memo to House Democrats for revision

‘National security concerns’: Trump returns ‘sensitive’ memo to House Democrats for revision
US President Donald Trump has declined to make public a memo written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, saying that it requires additional revisions to remove sensitive and classified information.

The 10-page document, authored by Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), contains “numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages,” says a letter from the White House counsel Don McGahn, sent to the committee on Friday evening.

Trump is “inclined” to declassify the memo, but is “unable to do so at this time,” says the letter, adding that the committee should work with the Department of Justice to revise the memo to mitigate the risks to US law enforcement and intelligence.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

: The President and the White House Counsel have decided NOT to release the Democrat memo at this time… @OANN 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻

The DoJ and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence have identified passages that would create “significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests,” says the letter.

However, the White House has instructed the DoJ to provide personnel that could assist the committee if they wish to revise the document, “given the public interest in transparency.”

Schiff’s memo was written in response to a four-page document compiled by the committee chair, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California) and published last Friday. Democrats on the committee have accused Nunes of misrepresenting and cherry-picking information in order to accuse the FBI and the Justice Department of abusing the rules to obtain and renew a FISA surveillance warrant against a Trump campaign adviser.

Nunes’s memo, published last Friday, accused the FBI and the DoJ of not informing the FISA court that the so-called “Steele dossier” on which the warrant was almost exclusively based was in fact opposition research paid for by the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The dossier was authored by former British spy Christopher Steele, who was working for the Washington DC-based firm Fusion GPS. It later emerged the company’s effort was entirely funded by the Clinton campaign, through the DNC law firm Perkins Coie.

Courtesy: RT

Trump ‘unable’ to declassify key Democrat memo

US President Trump has said he won’t declassify a memo written by Democrats refuting Republican claims the FBI was biased against Trump’s 2016 campaign. Trump called the memo “very political and long.”

USA Donald Trump Rede zur Lage der Nation (Getty Images/W. McNamee)

The White House, citing national security concerns, on Friday notified the House Intelligence Committee that President Donald Trump was “unable” to declassify a key memo drafted by Democrats.

The memo challenges Republican allegations contained in the recent so-called ‘Nunes memo’ of abuse of surveillance powers in the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

White House counsel Don McGahn wrote in a letter to the committee that the Democrats memo contained “numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages” and asked the Democrats to revise the memo with the help of the Justice Department (DoJ).

President Trump meanwhile tweeted that the Democrats had “sent a very political and long response memo” allegedly designed to “blame the White House for lack of transparency” and stressing that the Democrats knew the original document could not be released in full. He added that it would need “to be heavily redacted” before being released in any form.

The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency. Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!

McGahn meanwhile stated earlier that Trump was still “inclined” to release the memo in the interest of transparency if revisions were made.

Watch video05:50

Former FBI assistant director comments on memo release

Trump taking aim at the FBI

The president has recently ratcheted up his criticisms of the FBI’s handling of probes into Hillary Clinton’s email server, and has called the House Intelligence Committee’s investigations into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election a witch hunt.

He has also reportedly been seeking ways to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the only person empowered to dismiss the man undertaking the investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller — and hence derail, or seriously impede, the probe.

Andrew McCabe, a former deputy director of the FBI, for example was reportedly pushed out of the bureau last week, over reported accusations of partiality.

FBI special counsel Robert Mueller (picture-alliance/abaca/O. Douliery)FBI special counsel Robert Mueller

War by memo

The release last week of the ‘Nunes memo’ increased speculation that Trump would try to oust Rosenstein.

Republican House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes’s memo — which was declassified by Trump last week — attacked Rosenstein for his role in obtaining wiretap warrants on a member of the Trump campaign with several Russian contacts. The memo described this as an abuse of power.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan have said it shouldn’t be used to undermine the special counsel.

But Democrats on the committee then produced a memo they said would refute some of the claims made in the Nunes document, which they argue was misleading and sought to undermine the Mueller investigation.

Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand (picture alliance/AP/J.L. Magana)Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand

DoJ No. 3 quits

It comes after reports Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand will leave the DoJ after only nine months on the job. An anonymous source confirmed to The Associated Press later on Friday that the department’s number 3 will join the executive board of Walmart, although this has not been officially confirmed.

National security expert Brand was appointed by Trump in May 2017 and has been working directly below Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from involvement with the Mueller investigation due to his work for the Trump campaign, in effect making Brand next in line if Trump decided to sack Rosenstein.

Watch video01:44

FBI challenge White House over secret Memo

jh/bw (AFP, AP, dpa)


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