Wednesday, May 22, 2019

UPDATED: Briefly Noted: Why Did The FBI Keep Getting FISAs Against Carter Page?

Carter Page stepped down from his position as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign in September, 2016--a month before the FBI obtained a FISA warrant against him. Not only that, but the FBI got three renewal warrants against Trump. The FISA coverage of Page--which is incredibly comprehensive and intrusive--continued until Team Mueller allowed it to lapse in August 2017. The question is: Why? Why all this intensive spying on someone who had only briefly been associated with the Trump campaign, which spying was justified on the theory of an "enterprise counterintelligence investigation?" (Mueller's "Enterprise" Witchhunt)

Margot Cleveland ran a blog yesterday that sheds light on this question: Carter Page: Obama’s FBI, DOJ May Have Spied On Trump Admin, Not Just Campaign. What emerges from recent statements by Page is that the FBI appears to have been spying on the inmost counsels of the new Trump administation--not just on the candidate, or the transitional President-Elect, but on the post-inauguration new Trump administration.

Over the weekend, Page told The Federalist that after he left the Trump campaign in late September 2016, he continued to communicate with individuals officially connected to the campaign. “Yes, I stayed in touch with them – including during the transition months and after the start of the new administration,” Page said. While Page refused to identify all of the individuals with whom he maintained a relationship in order to protect their privacy, he confirmed that he remained in contact with Steve Bannon. 
Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, served as the chief executive for the Trump campaign beginning in August 2016. Following Trump’s 2016 victory, the president-elect appointed Bannon to serve as his chief strategist and senior counselor. Bannon continued in that role following Trump’s inauguration, until the president fired him in August 2017. 
Although the publicly released Page FISA orders redact the surveillance methods authorized and the modes of communication the FBI could target, it is safe to assume that any communication device Page used would be tapped, including cell phones, text, and email. Thus, the FBI would have access to any text and emails Page exchanged with Bannon or other members of the campaign, transition team, or administration, as well as the ability to eavesdrop on any telephone calls. 
But Page went further, telling The Federalist ... “I can also tell you on the record,” Page said, “that one of the things that the FBI investigators were interested in were my early 2017 text messages with Steve Bannon (irrelevant as they may be).” 
Page refused to expand on the content of his early 2017 text messages with Bannon, but suggested that the subject matter of those texts was unimportant—it was the FBI’s interest in, and probing about, his exchanges with Bannon that proved infinitely more significant. That probing came when the FBI interviewed Page multiple times in March 2017, at a time when James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and Peter Strzok remained in charge of the Russia collusion investigation.

Since Team Mueller later questioned Trump himself as to whether he had tasked Bannon to establish a back channel communication method with Russia, one assumes that that may have been the subject of the questions the FBI posed to Page. The time frame would have been shortly after Michael Flynn had been forced, via illegal leaks, to step down as National Security Adviser. Further, it's important to note that the presumed subject of this probe--back channel communications with Russia--is perfectly legal and normal. Even necessary, or at least highly advisable, to avoid misunderstandings between two nuclear powers. Was the FBI still playing around with Sally Yates' absurd Logan Act theory?

One wonders what the United States Attorney General thought of these goings on? For reference here is a list of the Attorneys General during the first three months of the Trump administration:

Sally Yates (Acting) - January 20, 2017 to January 30, 2017
Dana Boente (Acting) - January 30, 2017 to February 9, 2017
(Currently General Counsel for the FBI, appointed by Chris Wray)
Jeff Sessions - February 9, 2017 to November 7, 2018 
Sessions recused himself from Russia investigation matters on March 2, 2017. Thereafter, 
Rod Rosenstein - March 2, 2017 for purposes of Russian investigation matters.

The working assumption must be that each of these individuals was aware that the FBI was running a FISA that was scooping up communications involving the POTUS' senior adviser(s) and conceivably the POTUS himself. To call this extraordinary hardly begins to adequately describe what was going on. It was justified on the basis of the Russia investigation, which the Mueller Dossier has confirmed to be a hoax--from start to finish.

Question: How does President Trump feel about this? Does he feel betrayed? Is it any surprise that he has lashed out publicly against those who betrayed him in this way?

AG Bill Barr might well want to "get his arms around" all this, get to the bottom of it all.

Does this suggest why Democrats are so desperate to change the conversation these days, before Trump starts declassing things? One assumes that at this point all they can keep mumbling to themselves is that the best defense is a good offense. That can't be much comfort.

UPDATE: Note that Carter Page was being grilled by the FBI, which had the benefit of FISA coverage for all his communications and conversations. Yet Page was never charged with anything, not even a bogus "process" crime. That's the kinda guy I'd like to use as a witness!


  1. The Trump Administration should release the following information about the collection of communications based on the FISA warrants in Hurricane Crossfire.

    * From how many people were communications collected?

    * What are those people's names?

    * How many communication items were collected?

    * Who in the FBI studied those communications?

    * What reports or legal actions were done from those studies?

    * When did the collection and study of such communications end?

    * What is the current status of the communications that were collected?

    In particular, what happened along these lines after the final FISA warrant was approved by Rod Rosenstein?

    1. Absolutely. This is gonna be fascinating.

    2. I assume Mark can answer this--but as I understand it, the FISA surveillance warrant utilizes a two-jump process (or similar jargon). I.e., the surveillance on Page includes everyone Page talks to/communicates with--and everyone they talk to/communicates with. So, if Page was talking to Bannon, the surveillance covers everyone Bannon was talking to. Correct?

    3. Forbes, I was unfamiliar with until this whole Russia Hoax started. The reason was simply this: I retired in 2006 and this practice was started by presidential order under Bush around 2005. It wasn't in the law. This business of "hops" was authorized by Congress in 2008 after they learned what Bush was doing.

      However, it's necessary to understand what we're talking about. We're talking about call detail records (CDRs), metadata. So a FISA on Page gives you the actual content of everyone he is in contact with. The FBI can then use what's called "Section 215" to get the CDRs for everyone two "hops" out from Page, to identify his total network of contacts. That means the FBI would get Bannon's CDRs and another hop, which would presumably include all Trump's CDRs.

      It's too late to go into it further tonight, but here's a good resource: Three FISA Authorities Sunset in December: Here’s What You Need to Know.

      If you have questions, let me know.

    4. Thanks. I wasn't clear on what was covered. Makes sense that it's limited to the CDR metadata. If you need further surveillance on persons of interest, you go back and get a warrant. (Two-hop, two-jump, I couldn't remember the jargon.)

    5. This is actually important for understanding what's going on, and I may try to do something quick to explain it. The reason it's important is because it leads straight to the centrality of the Steele dossier in all this, as well as why Carter Page was so important.

  2. It seems to me there are only 5 people determined to punish Democrats for anti-American activities (Yes, comrades, turning the CIA & FBI into the Stasi is anti-American)
    There is a strain of Vichy Republicanism fearful of Democrats (Sessions, Romney, Ryan, Christie, etc). Our gang of 5 may need our support - Trump, Barr, Guiliani, Meadows, Nunes.

  3. Hats off to the guys in the House--they had to go against the Speaker, Ryan.

  4. I can't second Mike's comment above nearly enough. This should all be publicly disclosed- the entire extent and depth of the surveillance.

    Of course, the answer to why is pretty easy- they were never interested in Carter Page at all- he was simply the means to the end of getting legal access to all Trump Campaign/Administration communications. If they had to get a FISA on a Trump Hotel janitor to get this sort of access, they would have done it.

  5. During Mike Flynn's tenure as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in the Obama Administration, he became aware of the illegal surveillance of US citizens that had been ongoing since at least 2010. The Deep State lived in dire fear that Flynn would spill the beans to Trump, and that is the root of the animus and persecution that he has endured since joining the Trump Campaign. Even worse, all of this was unnecessary because because Mike Rogers had already informed Trump of the secret surveillance shortly after the election, and the cat was already out of the bag. Last, in the Spring of 2017, an advanced EC surveillance capability was brought online in Saudi Arabia and used to watch the watchers. Everything Comey and company collected on Trump and his associates was logged and noted. The Obama Administration created dossiers on tens of millions of US citizens, including most members of Congress.

    1. Funny you should mention Flynn. His next sentencing date--they keep getting pushed back--is coming up. Will be fascinating to see what transpires in light of Judge Sullivan's recent order. Lots going on, but mostly behind the scenes.