“As usual they are ridiculously heavily redacted but confirm with little doubt that the Department of ‘Justice’ and FBI misled the courts,” Trump said…
(Mark Niquette, Bloomberg News) President Donald Trump used the release of an application to conduct surveillance on an adviser during his 2016 campaign to renew his claims of a “rigged” FBI investigation, even as a Republican senator said the request to a foreign intelligence court was legitimate.
In response to public-records lawsuits, the government Saturday released a heavily redacted version of the document that was used to apply for a wiretap on campaign adviser Carter Page. Trump and other Republicans have attacked the FBI and Justice Department for relying partly on a dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele, partly financed by Democrats, in the application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
“As usual they are ridiculously heavily redacted but confirm with little doubt that the Department of ‘Justice’ and FBI misled the courts,” Trump said in a Twitter post Sunday. “Witch Hunt Rigged, a Scam!”
In another post, Trump said, “Looking more & more like the Trump Campaign for President was illegally being spied upon (surveillance).”
But Democrats have said other information besides the Steele report was used to obtain renewals of the warrant on Page, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that the FBI did nothing wrong in seeking the surveillance.
“I have a different view on this issue than the president and the White House,” Rubio of Florida said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “They did not spy on the campaign from anything and everything that I have seen.”
The warrant request to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in October 2016 called Page “an agent of a foreign power” and said “the FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government,” according to the document as released Saturday by the advocacy group Judicial Watch. Referring to Trump as “Candidate #1,” the application also said “the FBI believes that the Russian Government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with Candidate #1’s campaign.”
Page said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that while he had conversations with Russian officials, he wasn’t an agent of the Russian government.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said on “Fox News Sunday” that Page “is more like Inspector Gadget than he is Jason Bourne or James Bond,” a reference to two fictional spies.
Gowdy said “we will never know” if the FBI had enough information to put Page under surveillance using only information that excluded the Steele dossier. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said on Fox that the redacted version that was issued doesn’t support the issuing of a warrant.
But the materials released Saturday “underscore the legitimate concern” the FBI had about Page’s activities, said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
“While I’m pleased that these conspiracy theories are finally being put to rest, the release of these materials during a pending investigation should not have happened,” Schiff said in a statement blaming Trump for the initial decision to order the Justice Department to release a “distorted” Republican version of what the application contained while special counsel Robert Mueller continues to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In a Twitter post, Schiff referred to approval of the original surveillance application and extensions by four different judges, writing, “Looking more and more like the President cannot separate fact from fiction” and “If the president isn’t compromised, why does he continue to act this way?”
One continuing dispute has been over the contention by House Republicans that the surveillance application on Page didn’t properly reveal that Democrats, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign, underwrote the Steele dossier, referring to that partisan connection only obliquely in a footnote.
(Miles Weiss and Larry Liebert contributed to this report.)
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