The Justice Department has concluded that it had ‘insufficient predication’ to continue spying on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, according to an order made public Thursday by a secretive intelligence court.
The FBI obtained a warrant during the 2016 campaign to eavesdrop on Page on suspicions that he was secretly a Russian agent. The Justice Department renewed the warrant three times, including during the early months of the Trump administration.
But the Justice Department’s inspector general has harshly criticized the FBI’s handing of those applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
It says the FBI omitted from the court key details that undercut their original premise about Page, who has denied any wrongdoing and was never charged as part of the investigation into ties between
The FBI obtained a warrant during the 2016 campaign to eavesdrop on Page (above) on suspicions that he was secretly a Russian agent – though such claim was never proven
In an order made public Thursday, the court’s chief judge, James Boasberg, says the Justice Department informed the court last month that two of the four applications were invalid because ‘there was insufficient predication to establish probable cause to believe that (Carter) Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power.’
After the inspector general report, the surveillance court issued a rare and extraordinary public order saying the FBI had submitted ‘unsupported’ information when it applied to eavesdrop on Page.
‘The Court understands the government to have concluded, in view of the material misstatements and omissions, that the Court’s authorizations … were not valid,’ Boasberg wrote.
The Justice Department has not concluded whether its prior surveillance of Page was justified, he wrote in an opinion dated January 7.
The FBI evidence in the warrant application and renewals was signed off on by James Comey (left) and later Andrew McCabe (right) after Comey was fired as FBI director
The Justice Department and Page did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The FBI declined to comment. The FBI investigation was taken over in May 2017 by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The court directed the FBI to report back by this month on what steps it was taking to fix the problems.
FBI Director Chris Wray has announced a series of changes designed to improve the thoroughness and accuracy of applications submitted to the surveillance court, which grants secret warrants to the FBI when they can show probable cause that the target of their eavesdropping is an agent of a foreign power, such as a suspected spy or terrorist.