Levin: Landmark Legal Foundation Files Memo Asking Secret Court to Investigate Surveillance Leaks

Michael Morris | April 21, 2017 | 1:29pm EDT
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Nationally syndicated radio talk show host Mark Levin (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

On his nationally syndicated radio talk show Thursday, host Mark Levin announced that his nonprofit the Landmark Legal Foundation had just filed a memorandum asking the secret FISA court to order an investigation of the intelligence surveillance leaks reported on in the media.

“There was a filing made with the FISA court one hour ago,” stated Mark Levin near the start of his show Thursday. “A filing made one hour ago with the FISA court, asking the secret court to order an investigation of the leaks and order an investigation of the departments and agencies that sought a court order or court orders to conduct surveillance.”

Levin’s comments come after numerous intelligence surveillance leaks have been reported on in the media concerning President Trump’s administration, advisors, presidential campaign officials and surrogates.

Below is a transcript of Levin’s remarks:

“There was a filing made with the FISA court one hour ago. A filing made one hour ago with the FISA court, asking the secret court to order an investigation of the leaks and order an investigation of the departments and agencies that sought a court order or court orders to conduct surveillance. This filing with the FISA court, the secret court, was made an hour ago by the Landmark Legal Foundation, and the memo, the filing was signed by Executive Vice President General Counsel Pete Hutchison.

“And here, in part, is what it says:

“‘Amicus Curiae Landmark Legal Foundation (Landmark) respectfully moves this court to exercise its authority pursuant to 50 U.S.C. Section 1803(a)(2)(A) to consider “exceptional matters” en banc, and its inherent authority under the Constitution of the United States, and issue all orders necessary to protect the administration of justice, including an order to direct a full investigation into the leaking of surveillance activity conducted in accordance with the rulings of this court. [Landmark does not seek to join any matter before this Court, but respectfully appears as a friend of the Court.]

“‘A flurry of recent published reports citing numerous anonymous federal intelligence and law enforcement officials has disclosed an enormous amount of classified information, apparently gathered pursuant to orders issued by this Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court. The nature, timing, and volume of classified information’ that had been released ‘indicate a systematic effort to exploit the orders of this Court for political purposes. Landmark respectfully urges the Court to exercise its inherent power to protect the administration of justice and the integrity of the FISA process and direct the federal government to conduct a thorough investigation into these leaks, which include felony violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [(FISA), 50 U.S.C. Section 1809 and pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 798.]

“‘Landmark submits that officials within the Executive Branch have abused the judicial process, placing the integrity of this Court and the constitutional rights of individuals at risk. The Court should exercise its inherent jurisdiction and order the federal government to investigate fully, and the FBI to explain fully, the following questions:

  1. Have this Court’s order or orders been used by intelligence and law enforcement entities of the federal government as a subterfuge to surveil private citizens and at least one United States Senator for political purposes?
  2. Did government officials seek one or more national security surveillance warrants from this Court as a pretext to conduct an investigation for the purpose of affecting an ongoing national presidential campaign and subsequent transition of an incoming president?
  3. When applying to this Court for one or more warrants in this matter, did the FBI inform this Court that it had apparently paid some of the expenses of a former British spy who prepared the dossier reportedly relied on, in whole or part, in its application to convince this Court to issue a warrant, and that it had apparently negotiated to make further payments to the former British spy, which efforts were ultimately unsuccessful?
  4. When applying to this Court for one or more warrants in this matter, did the FBI inform this Court that the dossier it reportedly presented in pursu[it] of one or more warrants had originally been prepared by the former British spy for a Washington research firm conducting opposition research against the Republican nominee for president, candidate Donald Trump?

“‘Landmark respectfully suggests that the Court, sitting en banc, should direct the government to complete its investigation and report its findings to the Court within 90 days. The Court should also consider whether it is appropriate to issue an order to all relevant federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to show cause as to why they should not be held in contempt for failing to protect the secrecy of classified information obtained pursuant to orders of this Court. The Court should then consider whether additional remedial actions, including further investigations, referrals to appropriate ethics authorities, or even referrals for criminal prosecution, are appropriate. The Court may also deem it appropriate to question under oath attorneys and affiants responsible for securing the FISA warrant revealed by leaks to the media chronicled herein. Testimony may also be heard by those responsible for gathering, analyzing, and disseminating information as a result of the relevant warrants.

“‘Landmark respectfully encourages this Court to use the full arsenal of legal powers available to it to resolve this matter.

“Now some background. I can’t read all of it. It’s too lengthy.

“‘In 2016, the FBI investigated the possibility of a Russian role in the American presidential campaign. They scrutinized Donald Trump’s advisors for connections to Russian financial figures and to the hacking of the DNC’s computers. Ultimately, however, they found no direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government. [Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers, “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia,” The New York Times Oct. 31, 2016, (April 18, 2017).] Rather than closing the investigation, the FBI apparently took the highly unusual step of converting the matter into a national security investigation. [Andrew C. McCarthy, “FISA and the Trump Team,” National Review, Jan. 11, 2017, (April 18, 2017).] After reportedly being denied a warrant in June, 2016, which supposedly had named presidential candidate Donald Trump, the FBI sought and was granted “a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.” [Louise Mensch, “Exclusive: FBI ‘Granted FISA Warrant’ Covering Trump Camp’s Ties To Russia,” Heat Street, November 7, 2016, (April 18, 2017).]' … as reported in the media.

“‘In addition, according to The New York Times, in the closing days of the Obama administration, steps were taken to expand the NSA’s authority to distribute certain intelligence information to several other federal departments and agencies,’ and you know the facts and reporting behind that.

“‘The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data.

“‘[Charlie Savage, “N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications,” The New “York Times, Jan. 12, 2017, (April 18, 2017).] The expanded policy was approved in December and became effective January 3, 2017, two weeks before the inauguration of the next president.

“‘Against this backdrop, The New York Times, The Washington Post, McClatchy, Heat Street,’ andthe BBC, and other national and international media outlets have published a series of articles relating to intelligence surveillance conducted in accordance with orders issued by the FISA Court. Details leaked to reporters include the name of a private U.S. citizen subject to a surveillance warrant, namely Carter Page, and speculation about the targeting of former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and Trump surrogate, Roger Stone, and certain information gathered pursuant to one or more warrants. Moreover, information gathered on President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, said to have been gathered “incidental” to the surveillance of the Russian ambassador, and whose identity was “unmasked” by government officials, was unlawfully leaked to the media.

“‘Each leak is potentially criminal and certainly unethical. They also undermine the public’s faith in the credibility of the FISA process. These leaks appear to be part of a systematic, political effort designed to undermine an incoming presidential administration.

“‘Landmark’ Legal Foundation ‘respectfully urges this Court to exercise immediately its authority to direct the federal government to investigate the sources of these pervasive leaks.’

“And then we provide a partial, but significant list, of the news articles, one after another, after another, after another, page after page – as I’m turning them in front of me, in the motion that Landmark filed today with the secret court.


“‘Landmark respectfully urges this Court to exercise’ the ‘full inherent and statutory authority to defend the integrity of the justice system by taking the remedial steps proposed herein.

“‘This is an extremely important matter. Fundamental constitutional rights and civil liberty protections are threatened if unlawful and unethical tactics are used in an abuse of significant governmental power,’ that is, ‘the surveillance of private citizens. Whether this Court’s good faith order or orders were abused by’ the ‘Executive Branch officials for bad faith purposes requires thorough investigation and, if appropriate, the strongest sanctions available to the Court.’

“That was filed one hour ago by Landmark Legal Foundation.”

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