Let’s put it this way: You probably get more questions from the check-out lady at the local grocery store than James Comey’s FBI got from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court about its request to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page for a year.
Judicial Watch, a government watchdog group that has been on the forefront of exposing the Russiagate scandal, submitted a FOIA request to the Justice Department shortly after the release of the February 2018 memo by the House Intelligence Committee that claimed the infamous Christopher Steele dossier had been used as evidence to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Page. The FOIA asked the DOJ for transcripts of any hearings related to the initial application in October 2016 and three subsequent renewals. According to a court filing posted last night, the DOJ does not have any transcripts because no hearing was held: “FOIA staff consulted with knowledgeable subject matter experts in the Office of Intelligence. Those experts confirmed that, as is typical in proceedings before the FISC, no hearings were held with respect to the acknowledged Carter Page FISA applications, and thus no responsive transcripts exist.”
So, here’s how this went down. The FBI accused Carter Page, a Naval Academy graduate and international energy consultant, of being a Russian agent and therefore a threat to national security. In order to access all of his communications, the FBI submitted an application that contained political opposition research funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign that was disguised as legitimate intelligence. That information was not only unverified but collected by a former spy from a foreign country. The application also included a Yahoo News article as evidence and vouched for the credibility of the former spy even after he was fired by the FBI for leaking information to the American media days before the presidential election.
Yet there was no hearing on this dubious request. There is no record of any FISC judge, who are appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States, asking the FBI one question about the veracity of its charges against Page. And this happened not once, but four times. Comey, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and current Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein all signed off on this.
Carter Page has never been charged with a crime but suffered untold damage to his personal and professional life. He’s been mocked and smeared in the media. All because he offered to volunteer on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Page told me today that “what we now know what they did in 2016 is a complete disgrace to American democracy. This needs to be fixed as soon as possible, as the repair of our broken secret court system is long overdue.”
Anyone mad yet?