In a shocking revelation afforded by the heavily redacted release of hitherto hidden Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court documents provided by the Department of Justice, admission that the so-called “Steele Dossier” was at the heart of the matter was made plain according to Fox News.
Even though the documents were heavily redacted, with some pages being almost entirely blacked out before being released to the media and to the public, they make very clear the case that the FBI believed that the dossier offered up by former British spy Christopher Steele was legitimate and worthy of an evidentiary standard that would allow them to move forward with surveillance on Mr. Carter Page, at the time one of Donald Trump’s advisors on foreign policy. The redacted FISA documents do describe the FBI’s estimation of Page.
“The FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian Government.”
For his part, Page calls the accusations of Russian influence completely absurd according to NPR. Speaking to CNN media figures today, Page described the accusations against him, including the claim that he was targeted by Russians, as “totally unreasonable”, going on to describe the contents of the documents “so ridiculous, it’s beyond words” and “literally, a complete joke.”
In a statement made during an interview with Fox News, Page commented further, saying “I’m having trouble finding any small bit of this document that rises above complete ignorance and/or insanity.”
The allegations contained within the documents hinge on the testimony of Steele and his dossier, which was opposition research paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign for president as well as the larger Democratic National Committee, fronted by Fusion GPS. Despite the contents of the dossier having been largely discredited according to RealClearPolitics branch RealClearInvestigations, they remained and continue to act as a major tentpole of the ongoing special counsel helmed by Robert Mueller.
The FISA records also indicate that a Yahoo News web article was a substantiating factor in approving the surveillance application, a story written by Michael Isikoff. However, London court records reveal that Steele briefed Yahoo News and other punditry outlets in the fall of 2016 at the behest of Fusion GPS, the very same firm funding and pushing the Steele dossier.
The FBI speculates openly in the revealed documents that the Steele dossier was commissioned to damage “Candidate 1”, who is described as Donald Trump. Opposition research is a commonplace tactic in the political arena, however, commissioning a dossier specifically in order to produce evidence for a wiretapping or covert surveillance warrant is highly unusual. Verbatim, the relevant quote contained within the FISA document reads as follows.
“The FBI speculates to the FISA court that the U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit candidate 1’s campaign.”
Fox News states that it believes, based on current information, that the U.S. person in question is none other than Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS.
President Trump weighed in on the matter as well, taking the Democrats to task for, in his words, producing a fake dossier “paid for by Democrats as a hit piece against Trump… Carter Page was just the foot to surveil the Trump campaign… ILLEGAL!”
The fallout from the FISA documents being revealed to the public is not immediately apparent, although the President does have the power to declassify the documents pertinent to the investigation, should he elect to do so.