Former Trump adviser Page says he welcomes FISA warrant against him – Politico

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“There had been prior reports, but I was so happy to hear that further confirmation is now being revealed,” Carter Page said. | AP Photo

A former foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump’s campaign says a report that the FBI obtained a secret court order to monitor his communications last summer are “very encouraging,” because it shows he is being made a political scapegoat in the ongoing investigations into potential ties between Trump associates and the Russian government.

Carter Page told POLITICO on Tuesday evening that “further confirmation is now being revealed” about how he has been the subject of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA, warrant against him. When pressed for details, he backed away from having any specific knowledge of the secret order, saying, “I don’t know anything. I’m just following what’s in the media.”

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FISA warrants are highly classified, and issued in secret by a special Justice Department court.

Targets of them are, by rule, not notified of them. And they rank among the most closely held secrets in government.

The Washington Post, citing anonymous sources,

Page acknowledged the report in a statement to POLITICO, saying, “There had been prior reports, but I was so happy to hear that further confirmation is now being revealed.”

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Page said Tuesday evening that he was being investigated, at least in part, for remarks he has made – including during a July 2016 speech in Russia – that were highly critical of U.S. energy policy.

The FISA court was created after a series of embarrassing disclosures about how the U.S. government improperly spied on dissenters. Despite claims by Page and others that FISA warrants have been used to gather intelligence for political reasons, the application process has built into it numerous layers of oversight to prevent that from happening, both at the FBI and at the Justice Department, which is known to reject an application several times before approving it for consideration by the secret court of specially tapped federal judges.

In recent remarks, FBI Director James Comey provided rare insight into the FISA process, saying that it was virtually impervious to politics. He also told a House intelligence panel investigating Russian meddling in the U.S. election that FISA warrants include an encyclopedic amount of information needed to show that there is probable cause that someone is acting as an agent of a foreign power, which is a requirement for approval of the warrants. Most are approved for 90 days, at which time the probable cause must be re-established.

Even though many of the FISA judges are Republican appointees, “Each application for one of these surveillance warrants … is made before an individual judge of the court.” Nearly all the applications formally presented to the court are approved, but current and former Justice Department officials say that’s because some are withdrawn or reworked after being sent to judges for informal review.

When asked Tuesday evening why he believed the court would approve a FISA warrant against him, Page again — as he has in the past — blamed unnamed Obama administration officials and allies of former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Page said these unnamed officials were trying to suppress dissent.