July 22, 2018


FBI releases FISA records on Carter Page surveillance (Brad Heath, July 21, 2018, USA Today)

Four federal judges separately approved the surveillance requests, each time saying the government had shown "probable cause" that Page was acting as an agent of the Russian government. Two of the four surveillance requests had been approved by top Trump appointees in the Justice Department, including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The records released Saturday confirm that the FBI based its surveillance requests in part on the work of Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer hired by a research firm working for Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton, who compiled the now-infamous "dossier" alleging links between Russia and the Trump campaign. The FBI said in the application that Steele wasn't told who had hired him to conduct that work, but that Steele "was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit" Trump's campaign. The FBI said it believed Steele's work to be "credible."

But the records also show the FBI harbored broader suspicions - and broader evidence - about Page's possible ties to the Russian government. In applying for permission to wiretap him, investigators wrote that Page "has relationships with Russian Government officials, including Russian intelligence officers."

More: Trump campaign adviser Carter Page acknowledges meeting with senior Russian officials: transcript

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee and one of a handful of lawmakers who has previously reviewed the surveillance orders, said the records "affirm that our nation faced a profound counterintelligence threat prior to the 2016 election, and the Department of Justice and FBI took appropriate steps to investigate whether any U.S. persons were acting as an agent of a foreign power."

Pity the poor True-believers who endlessly repeated every talking point Devin & Donald fed them.

What to Make of the Carter Page FISA Applications (David Kris, July 21, 2018, LawFare)

[F]or those who don't remember, the controversy about these FISA applications first arose in February when House intelligence committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes released a memo claiming that the FBI misled the FISA Court about Christopher Steele, the former British secret agent who compiled the "dossier" on Trump-Russia ties and who was a source of information in the FISA applications on Page. The main complaint in the Nunes memo was that FBI whitewashed Steele--that the FISA applications did not "disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele's efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior and FBI officials."

In response to the Nunes memo, the Democrats on the committee released their own memo. That memo quoted from parts of the FISA applications, including a footnote in which the FBI explained that Steele was hired to "conduct research regarding Candidate #1," Donald Trump, and Trump's "ties to Russia," and that the man who hired him was "likely looking for information that could be used to discredit [Trump's] campaign."

Based on this back and forth between the HPSCI partisans, I wrote on Lawfare at the time that the FBI's disclosures on Steele "amply satisfie[d] the requirements" for FISA applications, and that the central irony of the Nunes memo was that it "tried to deceive the American people in precisely the same way that it falsely accused the FBI of deceiving the FISA Court." The Nunes memo accused the FBI of dishonesty in failing to disclose information about Steele, but in fact the Nunes memo itself was dishonest in failing to disclose what the FBI disclosed. I said then, and I still believe, that the "Nunes memo was dishonest. And if it is allowed to stand, we risk significant collateral damage to essential elements of our democracy."

Now we have some additional information in the form of the redacted FISA applications themselves, and the Nunes memo looks even worse.

Posted by at July 22, 2018 3:50 AM