James Clapper and Sally Yates
© AP Photo/ Pablo Martinez Monsivais
A former top Justice Department official admitted she would not have signed off on two Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications targeting Trump campaign associate Carter Page if she knew then what she knows now.

Sally Yates, the deputy attorney general under President Barack Obama who briefly served as acting attorney general during the first 10 days of Trump's presidency, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee via video link on Wednesday as part of its investigation into the origins of the FBI's counterintelligence inquiry into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.

Yates said that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz unearthed a host of glaring problems with the process of obtaining warrants to wiretap Page and said that she would not have approved the first application in October 2016 or the first renewal in January 2017 if these issues had been disclosed at the time.

"I wouldn't sign anything that I knew to contain errors or omissions," she told Chairman Lindsey Graham during his line of questioning.

Recent revelations include that British ex-spy Christopher Steele's dossier relied on a subsource who employed shady Russian subsources and who contradicted allegations within and undermined the credibility of Steele's research.

When Graham, a South Carolina Republican, asked Yates if she was saying the FISA applications contained errors and omissions, she said yes.

"I believe you didn't know that what you signed was wrong. The question is, if you had known, you wouldn't have signed it. Is that correct?" Graham asked.

"No. If I had known it contained incorrect information, I certainly wouldn't have signed it," Yates testified, after which Graham asked: "And do you agree with me it did contain incorrect information?"

Yates said she knows that now "based on the Horowitz report." Yates said she was "shocked" by the independent watchdog's findings and said that "the conduct that was reflected there was terrible."

Pointing to "errors and omissions," Yates testified, "I believe that the Department of Justice and the FBI have a duty of candor with the FISA court that was not met."

Yates testified that "not only was it unacceptable, I have great concern about how this impacts the department's credibility, both with the FISA court and otherwise."

Horowitz's December report criticized the DOJ and the FBI for 17 "significant errors and omissions" related to the FISA warrants against Page and for the bureau's reliance on Steele, who put his research together at the behest of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS funded by Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the Perkins Coie law firm.

A total of four FISA applications and renewals against Page, who has denied wrongdoing and was not charged with a crime, were signed off on by FBI and DOJ leadership and approved by the FISA court.

Yates and now-fired FBI Director James Comey greenlighted the initial October 2016 FISA application as well as the January 2017 FISA warrant renewal. Comey signed the April 2017 FISA warrant renewal for the FBI, and the DOJ's signatory that time was Dana Boente, who was the acting attorney general following Yates's firing in late January 2017 and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions's recusal from Russia-related investigative matters. Now-fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe approved the fourth and final FISA warrant for the FBI in June 2017 after Comey was fired that May, and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whose memo on Comey was used by Trump to justify Comey's firing and who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller in May 2017, signed off on the June 2017 FISA request for the DOJ.

Rosenstein, the first witness to testify for Graham's investigation in June, also said that he would not have signed off on the Page FISA warrant if he knew then what he knows now.

Horowitz called the FBI's explanations "unsatisfactory across the board" and testified that he wasn't sure if the errors were "gross incompetence" or "intentional."

Declassified footnotes from Horowitz's report indicate the bureau became aware that Steele's dossier may have been compromised by Russian disinformation. In January, the DOJ determined that the final two of four Page FISA warrants "were not valid."

The FBI told the court it was working to "sequester" all the information from the Page wiretaps, and Christopher Wray testified to Congress he was working to "claw back" that intelligence. The FBI director testified that the bureau likely illegally surveilled Page.

The FISA court criticized the handling of the Page applications by the DOJ and the FBI as "antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above" and also ordered a review of all FISA filings handled by Kevin Clinesmith, the FBI lawyer who altered a key document about Page in the third renewal process. He came under criminal investigation by U.S. Attorney John Durham, who was tasked by Attorney General William Barr with investigating the Russia inquiry.