Exclusive: Former FBI lawyer under investigation after allegedly altering document in 2016 Russia probe

An FBI official is under criminal investigation after allegedly altering a document related to 2016 surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser, several people briefed on the matter told CNN. CNN's Evan Perez reports.

Posted: Nov 22, 2019 11:00 AM
Updated: Nov 22, 2019 11:00 AM

A former FBI lawyer is under criminal investigation after allegedly altering a document related to 2016 surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser, several people briefed on the matter told CNN.

The possibility of a substantive change to an investigative document is likely to fuel accusations from President Donald Trump and his allies that the FBI committed wrongdoing in its investigation of connections between Russian election meddling and the Trump campaign. After CNN first reported on the investigation, the Washington Post reported that the inspector general concluded the alteration did not change the validity of the surveillance application.

The finding is expected to be part of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's review of the FBI's effort to obtain warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide. Horowitz will release the report next month.

Horowitz turned over evidence on the allegedly altered document to John Durham, the federal prosecutor appointed early this year by Attorney General William Barr to conduct a broad investigation of intelligence gathered for the Russia probe by the CIA and other agencies, including the FBI. The altered document is also at least one focus of Durham's criminal probe.

It's unknown how significant a role the altered document played in the FBI's investigation of Page. The alterations were significant enough to have shifted the document's meaning and came up during a part of Horowitz's FISA review where details were classified, according to the sources. According to the Washington Post, it did not change Horowitz's finding that the FISA application had a legal basis.

Some witnesses who have been interviewed in Horowitz's investigation have said they expect the inspector general to find mistakes in the FBI's handling of the FISA process, but that those mistakes do not undermine the premise for the FBI's investigation.

American intelligence agencies and the Justice Department have not swayed from their finding that Russia interfered in the 2016 election by hacking the Democrats and spreading pro-Trump propaganda online. And even former top Trump campaign officials have corroborated special counsel Robert Mueller's finding that the Trump campaign planned some of its strategy around the Russian hacks, and had multiple contacts with Kremlin-linked individuals in 2016.

Horowitz's investigators conducted more than 100 witness interviews in their review. During one of interviews this year, they confronted the witness about the document. The witness admitted to the change, the sources said.

The lawyer, who was a line attorney, is no longer working at the bureau, said a person familiar with the matter. A line attorney is a lower level lawyer within the FBI.

No charges that could reflect the situation have been filed publicly in court.

The Justice Department and inspector general's office declined to comment.

Horowitz report

Horowitz is expected to release his report on December 9 and testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee two days later.

The internal, independent investigator so far, over several reports, has criticized top members of the FBI for their actions leading up to and during the Russia investigation. Those IG reports have looked at situations including former FBI Director James Comey's handling of his personal memos about meetings with the President and former official Peter Strzok's anti-Trump text messages.

A finding of alleged wrongdoing from Horowitz could further fuel Republican criticism and conspiracies about previous investigators' targeting of Trump associates. It could also provide them a political boost at a moment where Democrats' impeachment investigation into Trump's political quid pro quo with Ukraine has battered the President.

The report is said to cover the FBI's approach to foreign surveillance during the Russia investigation, including of warrants used to wiretap Page, who had advised the Trump campaign in 2016. Witnesses are currently reviewing Horowitz's findings.

Horowitz has shared information from his review with Durham, CNN previously reported.

The Justice Department has been tight-lipped on outlining exactly what Durham has been looking at. But the attorney general himself said soon after appointing him that he was concerned officials acted inappropriately as they oversaw the counterintelligence probe of the 2016 Trump campaign.

Barr's embrace of these theories aligns with Trump's chief grievance that he was the victim of a "deep state" spy operation that has clouded his presidency.

The New York Times, CNN and other outlets have reported that Durham's investigation had become a criminal investigation.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect the official is a lawyer who is no longer with the FBI. It has also been updated with information later reported by The Washington Post about the impact of the matter under investigation.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 92100

Reported Deaths: 2037
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin26264926
Ramsey10635318
Dakota7280125
Anoka5870132
Stearns386524
Washington365255
Scott248733
Olmsted234627
Nobles194316
Blue Earth16326
Wright15537
St. Louis145138
Carver13757
Clay131640
Rice13118
Mower13085
Sherburne111414
Kandiyohi9552
Winona85518
Lyon6614
Waseca5668
Steele5302
Freeborn5293
Benton5223
Nicollet51516
Watonwan5144
Todd4832
McLeod4702
Chisago4661
Crow Wing46418
Le Sueur4464
Otter Tail4074
Beltrami3885
Martin35710
Goodhue3449
Pine3070
Itasca29914
Polk2944
Douglas2782
Isanti2710
Becker2572
Carlton2461
Cottonwood2190
Unassigned21852
Morrison2161
Pipestone21610
Dodge2140
Chippewa2031
Meeker1892
Sibley1893
Brown1822
Wabasha1800
Yellow Medicine1692
Rock1620
Murray1562
Mille Lacs1533
Redwood1511
Cass1423
Jackson1371
Renville1367
Faribault1320
Swift1231
Houston1170
Koochiching1173
Roseau1170
Kanabec1168
Pennington1151
Fillmore1110
Lincoln1050
Stevens941
Pope900
Hubbard881
Aitkin741
Big Stone730
Wadena670
Grant594
Wilkin583
Lake570
Norman520
Marshall501
Lac qui Parle471
Mahnomen461
Red Lake401
Traverse290
Clearwater260
Lake of the Woods211
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 82537

Reported Deaths: 1289
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15571261
Woodbury517363
Johnson507327
Black Hawk442188
Linn3878109
Story336917
Dubuque298541
Scott287528
Dallas274138
Pottawattamie203338
Buena Vista195912
Marshall176834
Sioux14693
Wapello129657
Webster121314
Clinton109220
Plymouth109120
Muscatine109054
Crawford10425
Cerro Gordo101721
Warren9456
Jasper80232
Des Moines7517
Marion7465
Tama69931
Henry6554
Carroll6505
Lee6137
Wright5701
Dickinson5036
Boone4938
Bremer4757
Washington44911
Louisa42615
Mahaska36819
Delaware3653
Franklin34618
Hamilton3233
Jackson3173
Winneshiek3156
Floyd3103
Clay3094
Benton3021
Hardin2931
Winnebago28413
Lyon2804
Poweshiek2708
Butler2652
Buchanan2621
Clarke2623
Jones2583
Emmet25410
Allamakee2526
Shelby2501
Kossuth2490
Chickasaw2400
Guthrie2406
Clayton2373
Cedar2331
Sac2320
Cherokee2222
Grundy2183
Madison2092
Fayette2052
Iowa1971
Harrison1962
Mitchell1860
Howard1856
Humboldt1833
Calhoun1792
Hancock1772
Mills1731
Palo Alto1720
Pocahontas1562
Lucas1536
Monroe15310
Page1500
Cass1482
Osceola1460
Monona1441
Jefferson1351
Appanoose1293
Taylor1271
Union1263
Davis1224
Van Buren1121
Ida1100
Fremont1040
Worth1040
Keokuk1011
Greene990
Montgomery905
Wayne842
Audubon741
Adair681
Decatur660
Ringgold482
Adams330
Unassigned40
Rochester
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 67°
Mason City
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 72°
Albert Lea
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 66°
Austin
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 68°
Charles City
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 66°
Tracking more warmth before cooler weather arrives for the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

RPL announces new curbside pickup services

Image

How does a victim get justice when the defendant dies?

Image

Sara's Evening Forecast - Thursday

Image

Ramp project for Vietnam Vet

Image

Farmer Safety Week

Image

Mayowood Fall Follies Celebration

Image

Mercy Day 5k being held virtually

Image

Crashes involving deer

Image

Election Cybersecurity Concerns

Image

Rochester Mayor reflects on Breonna Taylor case

Community Events