An outspoken Republican lawmaker said over the weekend that if someone is not punished over Obama-era abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain a warrant to improperly spy on Trump campaign officials the American justice system — and trust in our institutions — will be destroyed.
In an interview with Fox News host Judge Jeannine Pirro, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said that “somebody has to go to jail” over the FISA court abuses “or our system is over.”
Gohmert, a former state court judge, said he has personally seen the results of holding court officers responsible for illegal behavior.
“I found out as a felony judge when I put one lawyer in jail for contempt, people get the message,” he said.
Gohmert was referencing the so-called FISA memo released by the House Intelligence Committee last week, a four-page document that detailed how the FBI used the unverified, uncorroborated “Trump dossier” — an opposition research document — to obtain a warrant from the secretive court so authorities could spy on former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.
Republicans in Congress noted that FBI officials seeking the FISA warrant misrepresented the dossier as intelligence; it’s not clear if the judge granting the warrant knew the dossier was unsubstantiated opposition research.
“You don’t come in and misrepresent. You do what is appropriate in court,” Gohmert said. “I’m shocked, really shocked, that no FISA judge put anybody in jail yet. Yet we have found total disregard for propriety before the FISA court. And somebody should have been in jail long before now over the improprieties that were submitted to the court.”
The Texas Republican went on to note that the FISA court’s proceedings are secret and that the subjects who are to be put under surveillance do not have the chance to defend themselves.
That’s not a problem when the subject is a foreign agent or diplomat, but that can be a problem when the person is an American; the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution says, among other things, that you have the right to know who your accusers are and to see the nature of the charges and evidence against you.
So, Gohmert noted further, the onus is on government officials to be honest and present evidence fairly to the FISA court.
“A bunch of us signed a letter to our (Judiciary Committee) chairman,” Gohmert said. “And we know he has a heart like we do to get to the bottom of what happened in the FISA court. I talked to Chairman (Bob) Goodlatte about it. He is going to get to the bottom of what was said and what was done.
“There is a chance, there may not be some transcripts,” the congressman continued. “In which case you go totally by the four corners of the documents that were there. In which case we know people should go to jail.” (Related: Rep. Gohmert: The Trump conspiracy isn’t Russia, it’s at the Justice Department.)
Pirro pressed Gohmert further and asked if anyone actually would go to jail.
“Somebody has to go to jail or our system is over,” he insisted.
Pirro has also called for people to be “walked out” of the FBI and Justice Department “in handcuffs” for their alleged roles in inappropriately spying on the Trump campaign, something many believe (as I do) to be the biggest political scandal in our country’s history.
“There is a cleansing needed in our FBI and department of justice– it needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired. But who needs to be taken out in cuffs,” she said on her program in December.
“There have been times in our history where corruption and lawlessness were so pervasive, that examples had to be made,” Pirro said. “This is one of those times.”
J.D. Heyes is also editor-in-chief of The National Sentinel.