What did Page know and when did he know it?
According to a report by the Washington Post, the FBI obtained a FISA warrant last summer to monitor former Trump adviser, Carter Page. WaPo’s report is based on information provided by anonymous sources not at liberty to discuss the investigation.
The FBI and DOJ believed Page may have been acting as a foreign agent.
So far, this is the closest public evidence that there may have been Trump camp/Russian collaboration, but even at that, obtaining a warrant is not indicative of collusion, simply a suspicion of.
From the WaPo:
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.
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.
Page denies any wrongdoing:
“This confirms all of my suspicions about unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance,” Page said in an interview Tuesday. “I have nothing to hide.” He compared surveillance of him to the eavesdropping that the FBI and Justice Department conducted against civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
And as the WaPo explains it, the process for obtaining a FISA warrant is lengthy and requires a fair amount of evidentiary support:
Applications for FISA warrants, Comey said, are often thicker than his wrists, and that thickness represents all the work Justice Department attorneys and FBI agents have to do to convince a judge that such surveillance is appropriate in an investigation.
The government’s application for the surveillance order targeting Page included a lengthy declaration that laid out investigators’ basis for believing that Page was an agent of the Russian government and knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow, officials said.
Among other things, the application cited contacts that he had with a Russian intelligence operative in New York City in 2013, officials said. Those contacts had earlier surfaced in a federal espionage case brought by the Justice Department against the intelligence operative and two other Russian agents. In addition, the application said Page had other contacts with Russian operatives that have not been publicly disclosed, officials said.
There’s no public evidence Page did anything wrong, just the supposition that he might have. Anti-Trumpers can point to this tidbit as an “Aha! See! There was collusion with Russians!” While Pro-Trumpers can boast that Trump’s “wiretap” suspicions have once again been proved true.
Have you heard of Carter Page? If not, you’re not alone. Page didn’t have a major role in the campaign. From Newsweek:
Page, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, was never more than a bit player. Last March, Trump name-dropped him as one of his advisers and then, as Page’s support for Russia was revealed in the following months, dropped him altogether.
Reporters who went foraging for information on him during the race for the White House found little. Within Trump’s team, no one seemed to know who hired him, or what he did for the campaign. Among U.S. businessmen who had worked in Russia, and the Russians they had worked with, few knew Page’s name. In a scathing Politico article about Page, an unnamed Western investor in Russian energy told the author: “I can poll any number of people involved in energy in Russia about Carter Page and they’ll say, ‘Carter who? You mean Jimmy Carter?’”
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