FISA Court was created in 1978 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. A judge issues permissions for US government to engage in a variety of surveillance activities against Americans the US thinks might be foreign spies.
5/19/18, “Senator Chuck Grassley Asks Rod Rosenstein if He Gave Mueller Independent FISA Authority,” tcth, sundance
“Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has sent a letter (full pdf below) [dated May 18, 2018] and list of questions to Asst. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein” with more questions about the Special Counsel.
The primary question within the letter is: under what authority, and within what statute, is the AAG [Asst. Attorney Gen. Rosenstein] authorized to assign a counterintelligence investigation to a special counsel:
“More specifically, section 600.1 states the Attorney General “will appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted.” The omitted regulations do not authorize counterintelligence investigations.”
One of the questions within the letter is additionally interesting. See:
“7. During an all-Senators briefing on May 18, 2017 [approximately one year ago], you were asked by Senator Collins and Judiciary Commmittee staff whether you had delegated the Attorney General’s FISA approval authority to Special Counsel Mueller. Have you delegated FISA approval authority to the Special Counsel? If so, on what date, and was the delegation done in writing? If it was in writing, please provide a copy to the Committee.” [By May 31, 2018, p. 4]
What an odd framework for a question. Did Rod Rosenstein refuse to answer the question on May 18th, 2017 [a year ago]?
Why would Senator Grassley make note of that question, and then ask that exact same question again in this letter?
If Robert Mueller has the independent autonomy to request and receive FISA surveillance warrants; against the backdrop of DOJ and FBI admissions of massive abuse of the FISA(702)(16)(17) database searches; and considering there is an actual OIG investigation into FBI conduct and engagement with the FISA court; such independent authority would be an alarming scope of power granted to the Special Counsel’s office by Rod Rosenstein.
It will be interesting to see how Rosenstein responds. Here’s the full letter.”
Added: Page 4 Grassley letter cites “troubling” refusals to supply information on purported grounds of “national security” even when no legitimate risks have existed or the information was already public:
page 4: “Most troubling, the Department’s close hold of this information arises amidst multiple instances of the Department’s resistance to transparency on the purported grounds of national security, even when the information sought to be restricted did not pose any legitimate security risk, or was already public. 16″
Added: No one knows what alleged crime was committed to cause a Special Counsel to be appointed. Question 3 in Grassley’s letter to Rosenstein addresses this problem: