Is the FBI Really Addressing the FISA Abuse? Trump Weighs In, People Ask Where Is Joe Pientka?

President Donald Trump sits with FBI Director Christopher Wray during the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony, Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, in Quantico, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

 

As we reported on Saturday, FBI Director Chris Wray apologized for the FISA abuse and said that there would be additional “training” for agents using the Carter Page case as an example of what not to do.

But he didn’t say anything about punishment for the multiple agents and officials who were involved in signing off on the problematic FISA applications. Indeed, even Wray’s response to the FISA court about what they would be doing was signed by FBI General Counsel Dana Boente, who himself had signed at least one of the problematic FISA applications.

One thing that didn’t bode well we reported on Saturday: the appointment the new FISA court head judge, James Boasberg, made to assess the FBI FISA reforms — David Kris, a former Obama official in the DOJ. He was a former assistant attorney general for national security who worked at the DOJ under Obama from 2009 to 2011, and for a few years before that between 2000 and 2003 under Bush.

People have now blasted that choice because Kris had appeared on Rachel Maddow, written for the left-wing Lawfare blog and expressed support for the FBI’s surveillance practices despite the questions that had been raised at the time. He attacked the Nunes memo calling it false and suggesting in July 2018 typical liberal language that he suspected Mueller’s next steps would have the “walls closing in” on Trump.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) called Kris’ choice “shocking” and “inexplicable,” according to Fox.

“It’s hard to imagine a worse person the FISC could have chosen outside [James] Comey, [Andy] McCabe, or [Adam] Schiff,” Nunes said. Speaking to Fox News contributor Sara Carter, Nunes added: “It’s a ridiculous choice. The FBI lied to the FISC, and to help make sure that doesn’t happen again, the FISC chose an FBI apologist who denied and defended those lies. The FISC is setting its own credibility on fire.”

On Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Nunes reminded anchor Maria Bartiromo that Kris had panned the now-vindicated 2018 memo produced by Nunes’ panel, which asserted a series of surveillance abuses by the FBI against former Trump aide Carter Page. DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz later substantiated Nunes’ claims, noting that the FBI had made numerous materially false representations to the FISC.

“Of all the people in the swamp … this is the guy that you come up with?” Nunes asked. “The guy that was accusing me of federal crimes? The guy that was defending the dirty cops at the FBI? … The court must be trying to abolish itself. There is long-term damage.”

The President was also troubled by the choice.

While there are reports of an investigation of the FBI lawyer who lied about Carter Page not being a CIA asset to assist in getting a warrant against him, it’s not clear there’s any action proceeding against anyone else.

Horowitz found a lot of oversights and errors by multiple FBI officials. So where are the actions against them?

For example, an unidentified FBI supervisory special agent (SSA) mentioned in the IG report was responsible for ensuring that the bureau’s “Woods Procedures” were followed in the Page warrant application.

According to the procedures, factual assertions need to be independently verified, and information contradicting those assertions must be presented to the court. But Horowitz found several instances in which the procedures were not followed.

Horowitz’s report leaves little doubt that the unnamed SSA is Joe Pientka — a current bureau employee. Pientka briefly appeared on the FBI’s website as an “Assistant Special Agent in Charge” of the San Francisco field office late last year, according to the Internet archive Wayback Machine — although Pientka no longer appears on any FBI website. Twitter user Techno Fog first flagged the Wayback Machine’s archive of the page.

The FBI did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for clarification on Pientka’s status.

As far as we can tell, Congress has still not gotten access to Pientka.