Page: Was spying on him justified?
Now we know for sure, said Andrew McCarthy in NationalReview.com. The unverified Steele dossier, paid for by the Clinton campaign, “was the driving force” behind the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. The Justice Department finally released last week 412 pages of documents related to the surveillance warrant FISA judges issued to surveil Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser suspected of “coordinating with the Russian government” to influence the 2016 election. Despite heavy redactions, it’s now “crystal clear” that the FBI obtained the warrant using evidence gathered by Christopher Steele, a British ex-spy working for a firm commissioned by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “At some point,” said Mollie Hemingway in TheFederalist.com, the FBI realized Steele’s dossier was unreliable, “yet they continued to swear to the court otherwise.” In other words, the Trump-Russia investigation was built on a lie.
That’s “plainly” untrue, said Charlie Savage in The New York Times. In February, House Republicans released a memo written for Rep. Devin Nunes accusing the FBI of relying on “politically motivated or questionable sources” to obtain a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But as this document dump proves, the FBI began watching Page in 2013 while investigating a Russian spy ring that was recruiting Americans. Page subsequently met with “Russian intelligence officers,” described himself as “an informal adviser to the staff of the Kremlin,” and traveled to Moscow. As for Republicans’ claim that the FBI deceived the four Republican-appointed FISA judges about the origin of the Steele dossier, said David Kris in WashingtonPost.com, that’s “demonstrably false.” The FISA application included a full page describing Steele as “likely looking for information that could be used to discredit [Trump’s] campaign.” Remember, a FISA warrant only requires “probable cause” that the surveillance target is an “agent of a foreign power.” It’s undeniably true that Page had “extensive contact” with Kremlin-connected Russians.
Even with a FISA warrant application now public for the first time in history, said Brian Barrett in Wired.com, the process of obtaining warrants to surveil Americans remains “an inscrutable mess.” Though the heavily redacted documents do not vindicate President Trump, as he and Nunes claim, their “complexity and opacity” allow them to continue to make “bad faith arguments.”