Durham Interviewing Former NSA Director Who Helped Expose FISA Flaws

U.S. Attorney John Durham is speaking with former National Security Agency director and retired Adm. Michael Rogers. who alerted the court of FISA abuses.

Per TheIntercept, Rogers has met the prosecutor leading the probe, Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, on multiple occasions, according to two people familiar with Rogers’s cooperation. While the substance of those meetings is not clear, Rogers has cooperated voluntarily, several people with knowledge of the matter said.

WashingtonExaminer reports the former director of the National Security Agency is the latest to sit down with U.S. Attorney John Durham in the widening inquiry into the origins and conduct of the Trump-Russia investigation.

Adm. Mike Rogers, who retired in 2018 after four years as NSA chief and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, has met with Durham, who is working at the behest of Attorney General William Barr, multiple times and is cooperating voluntarily in Durham’s deep dive into the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation related to the Trump campaign and the Russian government, according to the Intercept.

Rogers is likely being talked to because of his key intelligence perch, experiences uncovering Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act violations, and his role in the intelligence community’s assessment of Russian interference.

The December report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on FISA abuses by the DOJ and the FBI criticized the bureau’s reliance on British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s unverified dossier in pursuing electronic surveillance against Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

In 2016, Rogers helped expose FISA flaws of a different kind by the NSA and the FBI. That October, as the bureau received its first Page surveillance warrant, Rogers notified the FISA Court of an NSA inspector general report that found the agency was pulling data directly from the internet and improperly searching it for information related to Americans in violation of FISA laws dealing with foreigners outside the United States targeted by U.S. intelligence agencies.

A FISA Court ruling from April 2017 revealed the high volume of violations, and that month the NSA announced it ended all searches where the foreign intelligence target was neither the sender nor receiver of a communication but was mentioned within it.

“That in doing this we were going to lose some intelligence value, but my concern was I just felt it was important — we needed to be able to show that we are fully compliant with the law,” Rogers told the Senate in 2017.

The same FISA Court ruling stated that, by early 2016, the DOJ learned the FBI gave contractors access to massive amounts of FISA information well beyond what was necessary to respond to FBI requests. Another recently declassified October 2018 FISA Court ruling stemming from the court’s inquiry into these FISA abuses found the bureau violated constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Horowitz’s report also detailed how Rogers and the NSA viewed Steele’s dossier with skepticism, pushing back against efforts by then-FBI Director James Comey and then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to include information from it in the high-profile January 2017 assessment on Russian election interference put together by the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA.

Rogers and Comey, along with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan, who is being scrutinized by Durham, briefed President-elect Trump about their findings at Trump Tower. Comey stayed to tell Trump about some of the dossier’s more salacious allegations.

Read more here.