“Even during normal circumstances, Anderson noted that she did not view it as her primary responsibility to provide any verification or fact-checking of the FISA applications. According to Anderson, FISAs would typically return from DOJ inspection with a cover note that “summarized the FISA,” and unless an issue had been identified by the cover note, she typically wouldn’t read the actual application “because of the time pressures involved and the sort of very-last-stop-in-the-process nature of the review.” Anderson also testified that the only way she would be aware of the legal predicate for probable cause would be through the DOJ cover note.
Anderson told investigators that her direct supervisor, Baker, had personally read and reviewed the Page FISA, lending her additional confidence in the review process. However, according to Baker, he had only read the “factual section” relating to probable cause and had not read or reviewed any other section, including the Woods file.
The Woods file, which provides facts supporting the allegations made in a FISA application, is attached to every application and is provided by the originating FBI agent in each case.
Baker, during questioning as to why the FBI failed to disclose the political motivations of dossier author Steele to the FISC, testified that this fact should have been vetted during lower levels of preparation.
“So the people filing the FISA application and the people who checked the Woods file to verify that the way this works is that they would not have had any information that was derogatory about Source #1 at the time that this was submitted,” Baker said.
“That there might exist in the files of the FBI or in somebody’s memory some interaction that might be derogatory and that it didn’t make it into the files I don’t know that that happened or didn’t happen. That kind of thing in theory, in theory could happen. So, but the people responsible for this FISA should have believed that that was accurate at the time and should have had documentation to support that assertion.”
However, Sally Moyer, who was a unit chief at the Office of General Counsel, told lawmakers that only the originating agent and the supervisory special agent in the field actually look at the Woods file during the preparation of a FISA application:
Mr. Somers: “So you don’t — do you review the Woods’ file?”
Ms. Moyer: “No.”
Mr. Somers: “Did you review the Woods’ file in the Carter Page application?”
Ms. Moyer: “No.”
Mr. Somers: “Okay. So beyond the case agent, who looks at a Woods’ file?”
Ms. Moyer: “The supervisory special agent in the field.”
Mr. Somers: “In the field. But no one else out of the field of that chain looks at a Woods’ file in general?”
Ms. Moyer: “That is correct, except both of those individuals sign the Woods’ form indicating that the facts are true and accurate and that they have documents to support those facts.”
Moyer told investigators that “the person that’s signing the application is relying on the individuals who have signed the Woods form that they have the Woods file.” Moyer stipulated that in some cases, the supervisory special agent at FBI headquarters who is signing off on an application might choose to review the Woods file, but that it was not done for the Page FISA.
Mr. Somers: “Do you know if that happened in the case of the Carter Page?”
Ms. Moyer: “I don’t think it did in this case.”