The DOJ has now admitted that there was no “probable cause,” in the insurance of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against 2016 Trump campaign operative, Carter Paige.
According to a newly declassified summary of a Justice Department assessment, at least two of the FBI’s surveillance applications to secretly monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page lacked probable cause.
The DOJ’s admission essentially means that the FISA warrant authorizations to surveil Page, when stripped of the FBI’s misinformation, did not meet the necessary legal threshold and should never have been issued in the first place!
The June 2017 FISA warrant renewal on Page, which was among the two deemed invalid by the DOJ, was approved by then-Acting FBI Director (and now CNN contributor) Andrew McCabe, as well as former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The April 2017 warrant renewal was approved by then-FBI Director James Comey.
“Today’s unprecedented court filing represents another step on the road to recovery for America’s deeply damaged judicial system,” Page said in a statement to the press, for published by Fox News. “I hope that this latest admission of guilt for these civil rights abuses by the Justice Department marks continued progress towards restoring justice and remedying these reputationally ruinous injuries.”
Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, who previously chaired the Judiciary Committee added to the statement, “It’s about time. It’s about time federal authorities entrusted with our most powerful and intrusive surveillance tools begin to own up to their failures and abuses, and take steps to restore public confidence. … Time will tell if the department will continue working to fix its errors and restore trust that it won’t disregard Americans’ civil liberties. Its admission and cooperation with the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)] is a step in the right direction.”
FISC Presiding Judge James Boasberg, in the Jan. 7 order that was published for the first time when declassified on Thursday Jan. 23, further required the government to explain in a written statement by Jan. 28 the “FBI’s handling of information” obtained through the Page warrants and subsequent renewals.
In the order, Boasberg specifically noted that the DOJ found “there was insufficient predication to establish probable cause to believe that Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power” because of the “material misstatements and omissions” in the warrant applications.
Boasberg also noted that it is illegal for the government to intentionally disclose or use “information obtained under color of law by electronic surveillance, knowing or having any reason to know that the information was obtained through electronic surveillance not authorized.” A lawful FISA warrant, when approved by the FISC, allows the FBI to surveil not only the target of the warrant, but also individuals who communicate with the target and the target’s associates.
These revelations were yet another embarrassment for the FBI, which DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has found made repeated errors and misrepresentations — and, in one case, deliberately falsified evidence — before the FISC, as the bureau sought to surveil Page in 2016 and 2017.