On Saturday, the Department of Justice released 412 pages of documents regarding the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrants used to collect information on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch obtained the documents, and Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton released the following statement:
“These documents are heavily redacted but seem to confirm the FBI and DOJ misled the courts in withholding the material information that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC were behind the “intelligence” used to persuade the courts to approve the FISA warrants that targeted the Trump team. Given this corruption, President Trump should intervene and declassify the heavily redacted material.”
Here are five things we learned about the Trump-Russia probe from these documents.
1. The Page warrants rely almost totally on the discredited Christopher Steele/Fusion GPS dossier.
Department of Justice officials leaked parts of the Christopher Steele/Fusion GPS dossier to friendly sources, then cited those leaks as further evidence in front of the FISA court. This is known in the law as a “self-licking ice cream cone.” To disguise the fact that the Steele dossier was basically the only source for the warrant application, the DOJ cited other places where the Steele dossier was cited, such as a press release by then-Senator Harry Reid. However, Reid received his information from the DOJ in the first place.
2. The FBI gave the FISA court a full page listing Steele’s possible biases, though not the fact that the dossier was paid for by the Democratic National Committee.
The warrant application lists terms such as “Candidate #1” or “Party #1,” but does not give clear guidance that the DNC paid for the Steele dossier. And while some of Steele’s biases are listed, the application does not mention Steele’s connection to the DNC.
3. Steele complained in October 2016 that then-FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that he was re-opening the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation could cost her the election.
This expands what we previously knew about Comey’s decision to update the public 11 days before the election.
4. The Nunes Memo is basically accurate.
Left-wing groups are seizing on small differences (see item #3 above) to supposedly “prove” that the memo was wrong. Critics can nit-pick some of the more-subjective parts of the memo. Nevertheless, if one were to examine the memo in depth, one would find no material inaccuracy. The central point of the Nunes Memo is still as true as ever: the FBI was overly reliant on the Steele dossier and thus should have been turned down by the FISA court.
5. Then-President Barack Obama pushed for the investigation into Page, which led to the ongoing probe of President Donald Trump.
In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admitted, “If it weren’t for President Obama, we might not have done the intelligence community assessment that we did that set off a whole sequence of events which are still unfolding today — notably, special counsel [Robert] Mueller’s investigation.”
Obama’s role in the Trump/Russia collusion saga has received little attention, but Clapper’s admission, combined with the release of the Page memos, may open a new line of inquiry.