The Justice Department (DOJ) has acknowledged that it lacked probable cause to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in at least two of four warrant applications – all of which were granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). The extraordinary revelations were referenced in a newly-declassified FISC order requiring DOJ to preserve documents and explain how it will further restrict access to material obtained via the invalid surveillance.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a former chairman and senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Thursday issued the following statement.
“It’s about time. It’s about time federal authorities entrusted with our most powerful and intrusive surveillance tools begin to own up to their failures and abuses, and take steps to restore public confidence.
“For years, the American people were fed false allegations of Russian collusion based on the FBI’s defective FISA warrants. We were forced to endure the nearly-two-year spectacle of the unnecessary special counsel investigation because of the warrants, and then forced to foot the bill for it to the tune of $35 million. And we were left to sift through competing storylines as so many loud voices continued to push the now-debunked claims while the rest of us demanded accountability. And only after the inspector general exposed these failures did the Justice Department begin to take corrective action.
“Time will tell if the department will continue working to fix its errors and restore trust that it won’t disregard Americans’ civil liberties. Its admission and cooperation with the FISC is a step in the right direction,” Grassley said.
Grassley has long been skeptical of the FBI’s justification to spy on Page, including its reliance on the debunked anti-Trump dossier, which was compiled by a former British spy, sub-sourced to Russian officials and paid for by then-candidate Trump’s Democrat political opponents. The DOJ inspector general determined the dossier to be central and essential to the FBI’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant application. The inspector general also determined that the FBI’s applications included at least 17 misstatements or omissions, prompting the FBI to revise its applications after they were approved.
The FISC has since demanded that the FBI detail steps its taking to prevent flawed FISA applications in the future.