A recently declassified document reveals the Justice Department has admitted two warrants approving surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser were not valid.
The disclosure was made by James Boasberg, the top judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in a recently declassified FISC order.
“[T]he Court has received notice of material misstatements and omissions in the applications filed by the government in the above-captioned dockets,” the order from Boasberg read, listing four warrants that allowed surveillance on Carter Page in 2016 and 2017.
The surveillance on Page came as part of the FBI’s efforts to find collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The FBI investigation was the first step of the multiple probes that eventually morphed into the investigation of former special counsel Robert Mueller.
The order said the “DOJ assesses that with respect to the applications in Docket Numbers 17-375 and 17-679, ‘if not earlier, there was insufficient predication to establish probable cause to believe that [Carter] Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power.'”
The numbers are for the final two in the series of four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications for warrants. Both warrants were obtained in 2017.
“The Court understands the government to have concluded, in view of the material misstatements and omissions, that the Court’s authorizations in Docket Numbers 17-375 and 17- 679 were not valid,” the order read.
“The government apparently does not take a position on the validity of the authorizations in Docket Numbers 16-1182 and 17-52, but intends to sequester information acquired pursuant to those dockets in the same manner as information acquired pursuant to the subsequent dockets.”
The order requires that the Justice Department tell the court how it plans to handle information collected from and about Page.
In a blockbuster ruling, the FISA court declared that least two of the four Carter Page spy warrants were illegal, meaning ANY evidence collected from that surveillance is now invalid.
This could have huge implications for every case brought by Mueller. https://t.co/XIIVBKf7XI
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) January 23, 2020
Last month, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General criticized the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign.
Although Inspector General Michael Horowitz said the FBI was not wrong to open its investigation, he criticized the bureau for not adhering to proper protocol in multiple instances.
Attorney General William Barr has said he disagrees with the Horowitz report, because he does not believe there were grounds for opening the investigation.
John Durham, a U.S. Attorney based in Connecticut, is also investigating the opening of the FBI probe.
Meanwhile, House Oversight Committee Republicans are taking the FISC to task over its handling of the FBI’s surveillance of Page.
Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina have written to Boasberg demanding to be told whether the court “bears any responsibility for the FBI’s illegal surveillance of Carter Page.”
The letter also demands to know what “disciplinary action” the FISC will take against attorneys who deceived the court, and also when the court first learned of deficiencies in the Page applications.
Jordan and Meadows want to know if the court has “conducted any internal review to examine the accuracy or validity of information contained in the FBI’s surveillance applications for Carter Page.”
Further, the GOP lawmakers seek to have the FISC tell them “what specific steps the FISC will take to better protect the civil liberties of American citizens who are not represented in ex parte proceedings for electronic surveillance.”
The phrase “ex parte” refers to legal proceedings where one party is not present.
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