AG Barr: Probes Into Presidential Campaigns Will Require DOJ and FBI Approval
Attorney General William Barr announced that investigations involving a U.S. presidential candidate or campaign will have to be approved by the leaders of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department in the future, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“The opening of a counterintelligence investigation of a presidential campaign would be something that the director of the FBI would have to sign off on and the Attorney General would have to sign off on,” Barr said on Monday at a press conference.
The Justice Department’s move follows criticism about how a counterintelligence probe into links between the Trump campaign and Russia was handled.
The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, found “serious performance failures” in a December report and discovered that the FBI had withheld exculpatory material about Carter Page, a one-time foreign policy adviser to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Regular, run-of-the-mill investigations require the approval of a mid-level supervisor while particularly sensitive investigations need to be reviewed by an FBI attorney and approved by a higher-level supervisor. The investigation into Mr. Trump’s aides had the approval of the head of the FBI counterintelligence division.
Horowitz concluded: “We were concerned, however, that Department and FBI policies do not require that a senior Department official be notified prior to the opening of a particularly sensitive case such as this one.”
The FBI said last month that it would impose more supervision on sensitive investigations and zeroed in last week to decide it would make changes to the way it sought surveillance warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The court operates in near total secrecy because it approves secret surveillance of people suspected of spying and terrorism. It rarely makes its filings or orders public.