The release of heavily redacted versions of the FBI’s applications for surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page has generated speculation about what’s behind the black boxes that cover up a significant portion of the government documents.
But House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes claimed in an interview that aired Thursday that what’s behind the redactions is “really bad” in terms of showing the FBI relied on flimsy evidence to obtain the spy warrants on Page.
“What’s in the redactions is equally bad, some would probably say worse than what the American people can see today,” Nunes said in an interview with Hill.TV’s Buck Sexton.
“I would argue that what’s left in there is really bad, if not worse, but also what’s not in there is even worse than what people can see, what people can’t see.”
The Department of Justice on Friday released heavily redacted versions of four applications the FBI submitted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in order to obtain warrants to spy on Page, an energy consultant who joined the Trump campaign in March 2016. (RELATED: DOJ Releases Carter Page FISAs)
The unredacted sections of the applications showed the FBI relied on the unverified Steele dossier to make the case that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as a foreign agent of Russia. The documents have touched off an intense partisan debate over whether the FBI misled surveillance court judges by relying on the dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC.
Page has vehemently denied the allegations in the dossier. In the 35-page document, former British spy Christopher Steele alleged Page met secretly with two sanctioned Kremlin insiders during a trip to Moscow in July 2016. He also alleged that Page was the Trump campaign’s contact to the Kremlin for an alleged collusion conspiracy.
The FISA applications sought against Page also relied on a Sept. 23, 2016, Yahoo! News article that was based heavily on Steele’s allegations. But the applications showed that the FBI did not disclose that Steele was a source for the article. The FBI erroneously stated that investigators did not believe that Steele was a source for the article.
Democrats have pushed back against Nunes and other Republicans, arguing the unredacted information met the probable cause standard required for FISA warrants. Some pundits also argued the redacted portions of the FISA applications likely included additional information that supported the FBI’s case that Page was acting as a clandestine agent of the Kremlin.
A few Republicans have disputed Nunes’s characterization of the FISA applications. Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr said on Tuesday that the FISA court’s decisions to grant the warrants were “sound.”
Whether or not the FBI’s applications rose to the probable cause standard, there are indications that House Intel Republicans believe that the remaining redacted portions of the FISA applications will reflect poorly on the FBI.
GOP members of the committee asked President Donald Trump on June 14 to declassify and release 21 pages from the fourth and final FISA application. The bulk of the pages fall under a section of the application with the sub-heading: “Page’s Coordination with Russian Government Officials on 2016 U.S. Presidential Election Influence Activities.” (RELATED: House Intel Republicans Want To Declassify These 21 Pages From The Carter Page FISAs)
Nunes came under heavy criticism Wednesday after it was revealed he was not one of the 31 lawmakers who have reviewed less-redacted versions of the Page FISA applications. Nineteen members of the House Intelligence Committee have seen the documents.
But a committee source says Nunes and all other Republicans on the panel know what information is in the applications.
“Every Republican on the Intelligence Committee knows exactly what’s in the FISA warrant, which is why Members are united in requesting further declassification of it,” the source told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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