DOJ says surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Page lacked evidence

The Justice Department has concluded that the evidence underlying multiple warrants authorizing the surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page failed to show Page was a foreign agent, as the law requires.

The department delivered its conclusion in a December letter to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the secretive federal body that approved the department’s four surveillance applications of the Trump aide.

A Justice Department assessment found that in at least two applications “there was insufficient predication to establish probable cause to believe that Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power,” states a court document quoting the department’s review.

The new revelation comes from a recently declassified FISC order and follows the court’s admonishment last month to FBI agents accused of creating a misleading impression as they sought approval to monitor Page.

“The court understands the government to have concluded, in view of the material misstatements and omissions, that the court’s authorizations in [two applications] were not valid,” wrote Judge James Emanuel Boasberg, a federal district judge in Washington who also serves on the FISC, in the court’s latest order.

The Justice Department said it was undertaking a review of the evidentiary basis of the two other Page surveillance applications, Boasberg said.

The judge set a Jan. 28 deadline for the government to provide information about steps taken to minimize access to information gleaned from the Page surveillance and other safeguards.

The order comes after the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report last month on its investigation into the Trump campaign and the 2016 election, with Inspector General Michael Horowitz detailing a series of missteps taken during the probe.

In response to the watchdog report, the FBI said it would take more than 40 “corrective steps.”

The surveillance court previously expressed alarm over the inspector general’s findings, saying they documented “troubling instances” in which FBI agents gave information to the Justice Department that was “unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession.”

Horowitz’s findings have been heralded by President Trump and his allies, who have forcefully attacked the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election as improper and politically motivated. Horowitz concluded, however, that FBI agents were not biased in their decisions to open the investigations into four Trump campaign associates, including Page, and that the bureau had an adequate predicate.

Attorney General William Barr has disagreed with the finding that the probes were adequately predicated, saying the investigation was launched on the “thinnest of suspicions” insufficient to justify the investigative steps taken.

Tags Carter Page Donald Trump FISA Justice Department Special Counsel investigation William Barr

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