The former Trump campaign adviser who was spied on by the U.S. government prior to the 2016 election is “very much” in favor of the release of a controversial congressional memo alleging abuses of the surveillance warrant application process.
Carter Page has not publicly weighed in on the debate over the release of the four-page memo, which was crafted by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee and released to all of Congress last week.
But on Thursday he told The Daily Caller that he supports releasing the document, which has become the subject of an intense partisan battle over the last week.
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Page, a New York-based energy consultant, asked the Justice Department back in May to release information regarding a warrant taken out against him under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in September 2016. But the agency has not provided any documents, and Page says the House Intel memo is the best alternative. (RELATED: Battle Over FISA Abuse Memo Heats Up)
“This short summary of the abuses seems to be the next best thing,” he says.
The document, which was compiled by Intel Committee chairman Devin Nunes, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy and Republican staffers, is said to lay out evidence of FBI and Justice Department abuses in the agencies’ handling of the infamous Steele dossier.
Lawmakers who have seen the memo are prohibited from discussing its classified contents, but it has been widely hinted that the document alleges that U.S. officials failed to provide relevant information about the dossier in an application for a FISA warrant on Page, an energy consultant who joined the Trump campaign in March 2016.
Some Republicans who have seen the memo have called its allegations “appalling” and “shocking.”
The existence of a FISA warrant against Page was first reported by The Washington Post in April. It has since been reported that the dossier was used as part of the information to justify the warrant in an application submitted by FBI and DOJ officials.
The application also reportedly included information that Page was targeted for recruitment back in 2013 by Russian government operatives. Page has said that he was unaware that the Russians he spoke with were spies. He also says he cooperated with the FBI in that case, which led to a conviction for one of the Russian agents.
Page pressed for the release the FISA application in a May 14 letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
“If FISA warrants indeed exist as has been extensively reported, wide-ranging false evidence will be inevitably revealed in light of the fact that I have never done anything remotely unlawful in Russia or with any Russian person at any point in my life,” he wrote.
What remains unanswered about the application for the warrant on Page is how heavily it relied on the dossier and whether the FBI and DOJ vetted the allegations made about him by Steele.
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have let the push in Congress to find out that information.
Page has vehemently denied the allegations made against him in the dossier, which was put together by former British spy Christopher Steele, commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and financed by the Clinton campaign and DNC.
In the 35-page dossier, Steele alleges that Page was the Trump campaign’s main backchannel to the Kremlin for the purposes of campaign collusion. Steele claims that Page was working with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and that during a trip to Moscow in July 2016, he met secretly with two Kremlin cronies, Igor Sechin and Igor Diveykin.
The dossier also alleges that it was Page who “conceived and promoted” the idea of having hacked DNC emails released through WikiLeaks in order to swing Bernie Sanders supporters away from Hillary Clinton and into the Trump camp.
Page denies all of the claims. He says he does not know Manafort and has never spoken with Sechin and Diveykin.
Whether the memo gets released to the public remains an open question.
Committee Republicans said this week that a vote would likely be held next week, and the White House signaled it would not try to block the document’s release.
But Democrats have started to cry foul, arguing that the memo is a set of Republican-crafted talking points that distort information about the FBI, DOJ and FISA warrant.
The Justice Department also stepped in on Wednesday, sending a letter to Nunes urging him to reconsider releasing the memo. A Justice Department official said that releasing the document, which contains classified information, would be “unprecedented” and “reckless.”