On Tuesday the Washington Post discovered yet another Trump campaign team member who was being spied on by the Obama administration. This time it was former Trump aide Carter Page, who the FBI sought and gained a FISA warrant, to surveil. While Page was surprised at the revelation he chalked it up to more evidence that the Obama administration was misusing the intelligence community for political reasons. Page told the Post “This confirms all of my suspicions about unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance, I have nothing to hide.”
The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said.
The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.
This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.
WaPo sees this as “evidence” that the FBI had reason to believe that someone on the Trump team was communicating with Russia, but that is simply speculation seeing as we don’t know what “evidence” the FBI showed the FISA court. As we have all learned over the last few months, FISA warrants are incredibly easy to get and require very little actual evidence to be approved.
WaPo themselves seem to express incredulity with the FBI’s efforts in the very next paragraph.
Page has not been accused of any crimes, and it is unclear whether the Justice Department might later seek charges against him or others in connection with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The counterintelligence investigation into Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections began in July, officials have said. Most such investigations don’t result in criminal charges.
Honestly, shouldn’t the question at this time be – if the Obama administration had been surveilling the Trump team for about a year before he took office and the FBI was a part of those investigative efforts and they still haven’t found any evidence of collusion or tampering – shouldn’t we be done with this witch hunt?
Over at HotAir, Ed Morrissey expounds on that front:
Had that warrant produced relevant evidence of a crime, does anyone doubt that it would have emerged by now?
Of course, this doesn’t mean that we know with certainty that collusion didn’t take place, but it’s at least an indication that the DoJ never found any real evidence of it despite using intel resources to surveil the Trump team. This story does give further evidence that the Obama administration was indeed surveilling political opponents, but it doesn’t quite establish whether they did so for legitimate reasons. We are still left with Eli Lake’s advice to remember that it’s quite possible that we have two potential scandals here — and that it’s worth getting to the bottom of both.