In a December letter to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Justice Department officially determined that at least half of the secret surveillance applications the FBI sought to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page were illegal.
The last two of the the four FISA warrant requests were not valid based on the “material misstatements omissions” detailed in the DOJ Inspector General’s report, the Justice Dept. found.
The Justice Department said the FBI should have discontinued its secret surveillance of Page far earlier than it did because “there was insufficient predication to establish probable cause to believe that [Carter] Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power.”
The DOJ’s letter was revealed in a January 7 court filing unsealed on Thursday.
“Thanks in large part to the work of the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice, the Court has received notice of material misstatements and omissions in the applications filed by the government in the above-captioned dockets,” the letter states. “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 Court understands the government to have concluded, in view of the material misstatements and omissions, that the Court’s authorizations in [FISA order 3 & 4] WERE NOT VALID.”
The government further reports that the FBI has agreed ”to sequester all collection the FBI acquired pursuant to the Court’s authorizations in the above-listed four docket numbers targeting [Carter] Page pending further review of the OIG Report and the outcome of related investigations and any litigation.” The government has not described what steps are involved-in-such sequestration or when it will be completed. It has,-however, undertaken to “provide an_ up.date to the Court when the FBI completes the sequestration and to “update the Court on the disposition of the sequestered collection at the conclusion of related investigations and any litigation.” To date, no such update has been received.
“This is a big deal,” wrote Reuters reporter Brad Heath on Twitter. “The Justice Department is conceding that two of the four FISA applications it used to conduct surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page were not lawful, and it’s not defending the legality of its other two applications.”
This is a big deal. The Justice Department is conceding that two of the four FISA applications it used to conduct surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page were not lawful, and it's not defending the legality of its other two applications. pic.twitter.com/sa6Sg35iJB
— Brad Heath (@bradheath) January 23, 2020
The “sequestration” also suggests “the FBI/DOJ is firewalling off all of the data and information collected via the Page FISA’s, likely because they realize that if illegal, all the info collected is ‘fruit of the poisonous tree'” explained noted Twitter legal eagle “Undercover Huber.”
Also this "sequestration" is a HUGE deal. It suggests the FBI/DOJ is firewalling off all of the data and information collected via the Page FISA's, likely because they realize that if illegal, all the info collected is "fruit of the poisonous tree" pic.twitter.com/f3gWWwudT1
— Undercover Huber (@JohnWHuber) January 23, 2020
The FBI under former FBI Director James Comey began surveillance of Page in late 2016, after he left the Trump campaign. It obtained a warrant and three subsequent renewals, allowing the government to continuing spying on the Trump associate well into 2017.