Some questions are raised from the release of the heavily-redacted Carter Page FISA Applications.
Not the least of which is this:
How did this come to be released in the first place.
FOIA? After defying Congress for months on end?
I think more is at play.
One question is answered. The Dossier was integral to the Page FISA Warrant.
One thing that immediately surprised.
The FISA Applications appear to be copies made directly from the FISA Court’s documents.
Note the Clerk stamp right on page one. This was unexpected.
There is also a March 17, 2017 Court Clerk stamp with handwritten initials on page 83 certifying a “true and correct copy of the original”.
Interestingly, all dates on Court Clerk stamps are redacted on the renewals.
I believe the fact this document is a copy of the FISA documents possessed by the FISA Court is significant.
Recall, Goodlatte had previously sent a January 2018 letter to Rosemary M. Collyer, the presiding judge of the FISA Court requesting materials “about potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act”:
As the Presiding Judge of the FISC, you must be similarly concerned that the Executive Branch allegedly used an unverified dossier as evidence showing probable cause that someone connected with the Trump campaign, Carter Page, was an agent of a foreign power.
Goodlatte also issued a March 22, 2018 subpoena asking for the very documents that were just released.
I’m not prepared to say anything further at this juncture but I suspect more will come of this.
Which brings us to the issue of dates in the FISA documents themselves.
Specific days are redacted in the FISA documents. Months and year are shown.
We know what the actual dates should be from a February 28, 2018 Grassley letter to Inspector General Horowitz:
- October 21, 2016 – Initial FISA Application
- January 12, 2017 – First FISA Renewal. 84 days later – counting the end date.
- April 7, 2017 – Second FISA Renewal. 85 days later – counting end date.
- June 29, 2017 – Third FISA Renewal. 83 days later – counting end date.
It’s notable that IG Horowitz uncovered the existence of the Strzok/Page texts sometime early in July 2017. He may have actually found them in late June.
After finding a number of politically-oriented text messages between Page and Strzok, the OIG sought from the FBI all text messages between Strzok and Page from their FBI-issued phones through November 30, 2016, which covered the entire period of the Clinton e-mail server investigation. The FBI produced these text messages on July 20, 2017.
It’s entirely possible that final FISA Renewal was pushed with knowledge of the Inspector General’s discoveries.
It may amount to nothing, but I find it particularly suspicious that the day in each application is redacted. Why the need to redact what already exists in the public domain?
Unless there’s a problem with the dates…
From the released documents.
The original FISA Application occurred on October [ ], 2016.
It was signed by FISA Judge Rosemary Collyer (page 83), unknown FBI Supervisory Special Agent (page 54), FBI Director James Comey (page 63), Deputy AG Sally Yates (page 65) & fully redacted DOJ representative (page 66).
The first FISA Renewal occurred on January [ ], 2017.
It was signed by FISA Judge Michael Mosman (page 181), unknown FBI Supervisory Special Agent (page 150), FBI Director James Comey (page 159), Deputy AG Sally Yates (page 161) & unknown DOJ Attorney (page 162).
The second FISA Renewal occurred on April [ ], 2017.
It was signed by FISA Judge Anne Conway (page 291), unknown FBI Supervisory Special Agent (page 260), FBI Director James Comey (page 269), Acting AG Dana Boente (page 271) & fully redacted DOJ representative (page 272).
The third FISA Renewal occurred on June [ ], 2017.
It was signed by FISA Judge Raymond Dearie (page 412), unknown FBI Supervisory Special Agent (page 380), Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe (page 389), Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein (page 391) & unknown DOJ Attorney (page 392).
Note: the third FISA Application appears substantively similar to the Initial FISA & other renewals.
Which begs a question. From Rosenstein’s June 28, 2018 House testimony:
Rosenstein: My responsibility at that time was to approve the filing of FISA applications. Because only three people in the department are authorized to sign it: the Attorney General, the Deputy, and the Assistant Attorney General for national security, which was vacant at the time.
…We sit down with a team of attorneys from the Department of Justice. All of whom review that and provide a briefing for us for what’s in it. And I’ve reviewed that one in some detail, and I can tell you the information about that doesn’t match with my understanding of the one that I signed, but I think it’s appropriate to let the Inspector General complete that investigation. These are serious allegations. I don’t do the investigation — I’m not the affiant. I’m reviewing the finished product, sir.
If the Inspector General finds that I did something wrong then I’ll respect that judgment, but I think it is highly, highly unlikely given the way the process works.
So what was Rosenstein being shown – or briefed on…(more here).
Several items of note from the documents.
- Source #1 is Christopher Steele
- Candidate #1 is President Trump.
- Candidate #2 is Hillary Clinton.
The target of this application is Carter W. Page, a U.S. person, and an agent of a foreign power, described in detail below. The status of the target was determined in or about October 2016 from information provided by the U.S. Department of State.
We know that Victoria Nuland at the State Department gave permission for FBI Agent Michael Gaeta to meet with Christopher Steele in London on July 5, 2016.
Gaeta gave Nuland a copy of the Steele documents upon his return. Nuland saw the documents prior to FBI leadership. Per her own comments, she passed the documents on to the FBI. She also gave a copy to John Kerry (more here).
Nuland is on Devin Nunes’ Interview List.
References DNI Clapper and his comments regarding Russia’s intent to influence our elections. Clapper specifically embarked on his Intelligence Community Assessment (including two earlier reports) for precisely this purpose. Clapper provided the Russian backdrop to the Page Warrant.
A short reference that may or may not prove meaningful:
In or about March 2016, George Papadopoulos and Carter Page (the target of this application) were publicly identified by Candidate #1 as part of his/her foreign policy team.
I have no doubt that surveillance of the Trump Team began earlier than July 31, 2016 – the formal date of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Investigation.
But I also don’t think the short segment referenced above proves that. President Trump (Candidate #1) did publicly identify Carter Page as a foreign policy advisor in March 2016.
I would love to uncover a smoking gun proving earlier surveillance. But I don’t see this reference as doing so.
We find the following:
The FBI has reviewed this verified application for accuracy in accordance with its April 5, 2001 procedures…
The 2001 procedures are also known as Woods Procedures. You can read about them here.
Wood Procedures provide for a vetting process of information prior to submission of a FISA Warrant.
The FISA Application makes clear the Steele Dossier was a major component of the FISA Application and subsequent renewals.
Deputy FBI Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.
This is problematic for the FBI.
Lack of corroboration of the Steele Dossier was well known within the FBI. This fact was not disclosed to the FISA Court. From the House Memo:
- Corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the initial Page FISA application – per FBI Counterintelligence Head Bill Priestap.
- Following Steele’s termination by the FBI, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within the FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally corroborated.
- James Comey would later refer to the Steele Dossier as “salacious and unverified” in his written prepared statement before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on June 8, 2017.
DNI James Clapper also verified the lack of corroboration and validation of the Steele Dossier. Per Clapper, the Steele Dossier had not been verified by December 2016.
Wood Procedures were, by definition, ignored. By all the signatories at the DOJ & FBI noted above.
The following is noted in a footnote:
The FBI does not believe that Source #1 directly provided this information to the identified news organization that published the September 23 News Article.
This is in reference to the Michael Isikoff article, U.S. Intel Officials Probe Ties Between Trump Adviser and Kremlin.
The footnote is contained in the third and final FISA Renewal.
And the FBI lied to the FISA Court about it. All the way to through the final FISA Renewal…
Finally, a note on Carter Page.
Page is accused of being an Agent of a Foreign Power in the FISA Application. This is actually a requirement for a Title I FISA Warrant.
FISA Title I and III provisions relate to the conduct of electronic surveillance and physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes of persons, facilities, or property inside the United States.
- FISA Title I provides for electronic surveillance of persons within the United States.
- FISA Title III provides for physical searches of premises or property within the United States.
FISA Title I and Title III surveillance require there be probable cause to believe the proposed target is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power and that the facility (can be a phone number) or place is – or is about to be – used by that target.
There’s a problem with calling Page an Agent of a Foreign Power.
The FISA Application references an FBI Interview with Page. The problem is Page was never interviewed by the FBI regarding his status as a spy.
During testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, the following exchange occurred between Trey Gowdy and Page (transcript):
GOWDY: I’m just wondering if you can recall whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation may have interviewed you in 2016?
PAGE: During that case related to Mr. Podobnyy, where – which was also illegally leaked, that I was indeed Male No. 1, someone leaked that to Politico and ABC News in April – I had a meeting in the U.S. District Court, Southern District in New York – or the U.S. Attorney’s Office there on the criminal side – and I spoke with them about that then.
Page is referring to a March 2016 meeting with the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding the Evgeny Buryakov case.
Page was providing testimony against Podobnyy in the Buryakov case.
Page also spoke with someone from the FBI regarding that case. This was the last time Page would speak with the FBI.
The Buryakov case began in 2012.
From the U.S. Attorney’s press release:
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, announced that EVGENY BURYAKOV, pled guilty today to conspiring to act in the United States as an agent of the Russian Federation.
BURYAKOV worked in New York with at least two other SVR agents, Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy.
The FBI obtained the recordings after Sporyshev attempted to recruit an FBI undercover employee (“UCE-1”), who was posing as an analyst from a New York-based energy company.
An attachment to Page’s Congressional transcript is a September 25, 2016 letter to FBI Director Comey from Page, who is requesting an end to the FBI Inquiry into his 2016 trip to Russia. He closes with this:
Having interacted with members of the U.S. Intelligence Committee including the FBI and CIA for many decades, I appreciate the limitations on your staff’s time and resources. Although I have not been contacted by any member of your team in recent months, I would eagerly await their call to discuss any final questions they might have.
Page was never contacted. Ironically, Page’s letter is actually referenced in the FISA Application (page 25).
On October 21, 2016, the FBI obtained a FISA Title I Warrant listing Page as an “agent of a foreign power”.
Page has never been charged with anything.
In my opinion, Page presented a opportunistic situation for the FBI to obtain a FISA Warrant.
As there was no official intelligence used in opening the July 2016 Investigation, the FBI desperately needed a FISA Warrant.
Page was the pathway to fulfilling that goal.
Quick side note:
Bharara was fired by President Trump. He was also entangled in the FBI’s investigation of the Weiner laptop. My guess is we will hear more on Bharara in the future.
Carlin, who abruptly resigned just prior to the FISA Application, had a pivotal role in FISA Abuse committed by the DOJ’s National Security Division and the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. Without his actions it’s unlikely a FISA warrant would have been granted. For more see here.
The release of these documents is significant. Despite defenses by certain “Blue-checks” on twitter, the majority of Americans see through the nonsense of these applications.
I am somewhat hopeful this release signifies something more underneath the noise. I was genuinely surprised to find this released. Many elements within DOJ & the FBI did not want this to occur.
older post The Carter Page FISA Applications