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FBI doing an internal review of possible misconduct in Trump-Russia probe

By Marshall Cohen

The FBI is conducting an internal review into possible misconduct related to the Trump-Russia investigation, including potentially improper handling of a surveillance warrant that was used early in the investigation, an FBI agent revealed Tuesday in federal court.

FBI supervisory agent Curtis Heide testified that an administrative inquiry is underway, and that multiple FBI agents are being scrutinized, including himself.

Heide said the inquiry is being handled by the FBI’s Inspection Division, which conducts internal audits and can refer any wrongdoing it finds to the Office of Professional Responsibility, which can recommend discipline or even firings.

The testimony came at the trial of Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, who was charged by special counsel John Durham. The revelations aren’t directly tied to the case against Sussmann, but Heide was called as a witness because he was involved in the FBI probe into the Trump-Russia tip that Sussmann brought to the bureau in 2016. Sussmann has pleaded not guilty.

Heide said he was under investigation for “not identifying exculpatory information as it pertained to one of the Crossfire Hurricane investigations,” referring to the FBI codename for the early phases of the Trump-Russia probe, before special counsel Robert Mueller took over in 2017.

He said he was specifically being investigated for potentially withholding material from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees wiretaps against Americans. The material in question was a “recording from one of the subjects” of the FISA applications, Heide said.

Heide denied under oath Tuesday that he intentionally withheld any exculpatory information.

The FISA court is only known to have approved wiretaps against one American related to the Trump-Russia probe, former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. He was investigated as a potential Russian agent, but was never charged with any crimes and denied any wrongdoing.

A comprehensive review by Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz previously found significant problems with the handling of those warrants, and two of the four Page-related warrants were later declared invalid.

The watchdog uncovered that the FBI never told the FISA court that it had a recording of Page telling an informant that he wasn’t working for the Russians, and that it had a recording of another Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, denying that the campaign was involved in the Russian hack-and-leak operation against the Democratic National Committee.

Heide handled the FBI’s investigation into Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts, served 12 days in jail, and was pardoned by President Donald Trump in 2020.

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