New information has been disclosed related to a former top Trump aide in connection with the federal investigation of the Trump campaign and Russia. This is significant information that has been at the heart of a controversy over alleged bias at the FBI. On Saturday, The Justice Department released a previously top-secret set of documents related to the wiretapping of Carter Page.
According to The New York Times:
‘On Saturday evening, those materials — an October 2016 application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to wiretap Mr. Page, along with several renewal applications — were released to The New York Times and other news organizations that had filed Freedom of Information Act lawsuits to obtain them. Mr. Trump had declassified their existence earlier this year.’
The document read:
‘This application targets Carter Page. The F.B.I. believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.’
One line was redacted and the document continued with:
‘undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in violation of U.S. criminal law. Mr. Page is a former foreign policy adviser to a candidate for U.S. president.’
The documents were heavily redacted in other places as well.
Despite the investigation, Carter Page has denied being a Russian agent. The New York Times reported:
‘The spectacle of the release was itself noteworthy, given that wiretapping under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, is normally one of the government’s closest-guarded secrets. No such application materials had apparently become public in the 40 years since Congress enacted that law to regulate the interception of phone calls and other communications on domestic soil in search of spies and terrorists, as opposed to wiretapping for ordinary criminal investigations.’
Portions of the documents that were visible showed significant information regarding what the F.B.I. had told the intelligence court. The F.B.I. told the court that Page:
‘has established relationships with Russian government officials, including Russian intelligence officers’
The documents also said that the bureau believed “the Russian government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with” Mr. Trump’s campaign. Additionally, it revealed that the Trump campaign adviser:
‘has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.’
Controversy centered around the surveillance of Mr. Page due to the fact that the F.B.I. in making their case that Page was a Russian agent, used information from a now-notorious Democratic-funded dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent.
According to The Times:
‘The application cited claims from the dossier that Mr. Page, while on a trip to Moscow in July 2016, had met with two senior Russian representatives and discussed such matters as lifting sanctions imposed on Russia for its intervention in Ukraine and a purported file of compromising information about Mr. Trump that the Russian government had. (Mr. Page has denied those allegations.)’
Republicans have slammed the dossier citing the fact that the F.B.I. used information in their investigation which was funded by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton. Additionally, The Times reported:
‘But Democrats noted that the application also contained evidence against Mr. Page unrelated to the dossier, and an unredacted portion of the application discussed efforts by Russian agents in 2013 to recruit Americans as spies. It has previously been reported that Mr. Page was one of their targets, although any discussion of Mr. Page’s interactions with them is still censored.’
Democrats argued though that the F.B.I. did tell the court that the dossier’s sponsor had the goal of wanting to discredit Mr. Trump’s campaign. However, according to The Times:
‘The application shows that the F.B.I. told the court it believed that the person who hired Mr. Steele was looking for dirt to discredit Mr. Trump. But it added that based on his previous reporting history with the F.B.I., in which he had “provided reliable information,” the bureau believed his information cited in the application “to be credible.”’
Back in February, Trump enabled House Intelligence Committee Republicans, spear-headed by Rep. Devin Nunes (CA) to disclose a three- and-a-half-page memo portraying the surveillance of Mr. Page as scandalous.
Just a year ago, it was learned that a FISA warrant was obtained for Page:
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