The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Saturday released a highly redacted copy of the application made by the bureau to a special intelligence court, asking to establish surveillance in the fall of 2016 on Carter Page, a one-time foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump’s campaign, showing officials feared that Page was working with Russia to undermine the Presidential election.
“The FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian Government,” the document states – interrupted by redactions – but then continues, “undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election in violation of criminal law.”
At one point, the 412 page document states that “the FBI believes that the Russian Government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with Candidate #1’s campaign.”
“Page has established relationships with Russian Government officials, including Russian intelligence officers,” the documents states, before additional evidence was redacted, in order to protect intelligence sources and classified information.
The FISA application for surveillance of Page has been consistently criticized by Republicans, who argue it was spurred by information from the Steele Dossier, and not any hard evidence that Page had links to the Russian Government, or any plans for Russia to interfere in the U.S. elections.
“Source #1” in the document appears to be Michael Steele, the former British Intelligence officer who provided information to Fusion GPS, a firm which had been hired by a law firm with allegiances to the Democratic Party.
While some of the explanation is blacked out, the FBI makes clear that it believes the information had not been gathered for anything other than political purposes.
“The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #1’s campaign,” the FISA application states, as the FBI acknowledged that ‘notwithstanding’ the reasons for why the research was conducted, “the FBI believes Source #1’s reporting herein to be credible.”
The document goes through what are now very familiar story lines about the FBI investigation into questions of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, as the feds detailed for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that according to Source #1 (Steele), Page had been told that the Kremlin had ‘kompromat’ on Candidate #2 – who would presumably be Hillary Clinton – and there was the ‘possibility of it being released to Candidate #1’s campaign.”
At the time of this document’s filing, Page was no longer working as a foreign policy adviser for the Trump Campaign; Page had left in late September, when news reports raised questions about his ties to Russian figures under U.S. sanctions.
The FISA application includes a note that Page wrote a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey denying any wrongdoing, and labeling the stories, ‘completely false media reports.’
But the FBI saw things differently:
“As indicated by the facts set forth herein, the FBI is seeking foreign intelligence information that relates and is necessary to the ability of the United States to protect against clandestine intelligence activities by an intelligence service or network of this foreign power,” the FBI states.
Much of the document is heavily redacted, with entire pages blacked out, along with the exact date of the submission of the FISA request (some time in October of 2016), and the name of the Supervisory Special Agent of the FBI who approved it.
Included in the documents released by the FBI was a copy of the order from the special FISC intelligence court approving the first 90 days surveillance warrant for Carter Page – though most of that approval is redacted.
The 412 page document also includes the renewal applications for the Page FISA warrant – one written in January 2017 by the FBI says the “status of the target was determined in or about December 2016 from information provided by the Department of State.”
The April 2017 renewal application includes new denials from Page, who contacted the FBI several times to raise his objections to stories in the press which claimed he had conspired with Russians against the Hillary Clinton campaign, as Page was quoted by the FBI as saying that “lies were completely fabricated by Candidate #2’s paid consultants and private investigators.”
Also included is the June 2017 renewal application – because of the extensive redactions, it is not possible to assess what kind of evidence had been developed and presented to the FISA court for review in the Page investigation, as those renewals were considered by the secret intelligence court.
All of the FISA applications were approved by judges who had been nominated by Republican Presidents.
There was no immediate comment from the White House about the document, though at about the same time that news reports emerged about the FBI’s public release of the redacted FISA warrant, President Trump issued two tweets which brimmed with frustration about the Russia investigation.