Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates told a Senate committee Wednesday that she would not have signed an application to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page had she known it contained errors and omissions.
“If I had known it had incorrect information, I certainly wouldn’t have signed it,” she said in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Ms. Yates, in October 2016, had signed the first application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to wiretap Mr. Page, who was suspected of conspiring with Russians to influence the 2016 election.
She also signed a second application in January 2017.
Mr. Page was never charged with a crime and no public evidence ever emerged linking him to Russian election meddling.
Ms. Yates testified that she had read the FISA application, but regrets that it was submitted to the FISA court with so many mistakes. She assured senators her approval was based entirely on the information presented to her.
“I certainly regret that the Justice Department submitted FBI FISA applications that were inaccurate,” she said. “I think it is antithetical to our responsibility to the FISA Court. I think it is also inconsistent with what my experience with the FBI had been in terms of their preparation of affidavits and their accuracy.”
Republicans erupted, assailing her for failing to fact check the Page warrant application.
“She has no idea that these applications that she signed materially mislead a federal court. Nobody appears to know anything in this government and, yet, somehow a federal court was deliberately and systematically misled so severely that they can’t trust anything the FBI did,” said Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican. “If this doesn’t call for a cleaning of house of the FBI and DOJ, I don’t know what does.”
The panel’s ranking Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California, accused Mr. Hawley of “inflammatory remarks.” But committee chairman Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, jumped to his colleague’s defense.
“What the hell is going on over there?” Mr. Graham said of the Justice Department and FBI. “Everybody’s to blame and no one’s to blame. That is the problem we have.”
The Justice Department Inspector General concluded last year the applications to wiretap Mr. Page were riddled with “errors and omissions,” including withholding potentially exculpatory evidence.
The inspector general also uncovered that an FBI lawyer had doctored evidence against Mr. Page.
Ms. Yates said she was unaware the application had errors and misinformation until the inspector general’s report was released.
Earlier this year, ex-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who renewed the Page warrant application, also told the Senate Judiciary Committee he would not have signed it had he known of the errors.