The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (also known as FISA Court) released a newly declassified summary of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) assessment of the surveillance warrants obtained by the court to surveil former Donald Trump campaign associate Carter Page, Fox News reports.
According to the summary, two of the four warrants were declared invalid by the DOJ, which continues to shed doubt on the integrity of the FISA application process that was spotlighted in Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Per CNN, the news means that the DOJ believes that the FBI should have stopped surveillance of Page after the second warrant expired in early 2017. According to Fox News, it’s not clear what information the FBI gained from the two invalid warrants and if and when such information was used in subsequent court arguments. Regardless, the DOJ finding would likely rule any such evidence inadmissible.
The DOJ has agreed to sequester all evidence collected under the Page warrants, CBS News reported. The revelation suggests that the other two warrants are also under review and could be rendered invalid at a later date.
As of now, the DOJ has until next week to provide explanations for the four applications, as well as explanations for the “related investigations” that were referenced in the Page investigation.
DOJ told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in December that it now thinks "there was insufficient predication to establish probable cause" to substantiate two of its four applications to wiretap ex-Trump aide Carter Page. pic.twitter.com/DHjR1k12oV— Brad Heath (@bradheath) January 23, 2020
Page addressed the DOJ finding in a statement to Fox News.
“Today’s unprecedented court filing represents another step on the road to recovery for America’s deeply damaged judicial system. I hope that this latest admission of guilt for these civil rights abuses by the Justice Department marks continued progress towards restoring justice and remedying these reputationally ruinous injuries.”
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, former chair of the Judiciary Committee, praised the findings and expressed hope that federal authorities will begin to own up to their failures and abuses and start moving forward to repair public confidence.
“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.”
After Horowitz’s report, FBI Director Christopher Wray reportedly ordered over 40 changes to the agency’s procedure for obtaining secret surveillance warrants, including some that would purportedly make the FISA warrants “less susceptible to mistake or inaccuracy.”
The numerous mistakes in the handling of the Page investigation have given ammunition to Trump and his allies. Recently, the president took aim at John McCain for spreading the claims of Christopher Steele, who provided the controversial dossier used to secure the Page warrants.