On the Carter Page FISA Warrant, Be Careful What You Wish For, Republicans

The latest news to surface on the Trump/Russia story comes from the Washington Post.

The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said.

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.

Placing this in context, the Post goes on to report that the FISA warrant was obtained last summer. It was in early July that Carter Page travelled to Moscow where he gave a speech criticizing American foreign policy and was said to have met with Igor Sechin, president of Russia’s state oil company Rosneft. The Steele dossier says that it was at that meeting that Sechin and Page discussed brokerage for a private sale of up to 19 percent of Rosneft in exchange for the lifting of Russian sanctions. The dossier also says that Page promised that “sanctions on Russia would be lifted” if Trump were elected.

Given that the Post also reports that Page is the only one of Trump’s associates to have been approved for surveillance by the FISA court, it is clear that his 2013 association with a Russian intelligence operative (which had surfaced earlier in a federal espionage case brought by the Justice Department) has made him the main target of this counter-intelligence investigation.

What might prove to be the most interesting part of this story, however, is how Republicans react to this revelation about a FISA warrant. To demonstrate, let’s take a look at what John Hinderacker wrote about it at the PowerLine Blog.

It confirms what has been sporadically reported since late last year, that the Obama administration sought and ultimately received a FISA order to spy on at least one associate of Donald Trump. So Trump’s famous tweets were, in substance, true…

We haven’t heard the last of this story, but for the moment one thing is clear: a great many people, inside and outside of the media, owe President Trump an apology. Assuming that President Obama knew of, and approved, the FISA application–a safe assumption, I think–Trump’s much-reviled tweet was true…

It is time to get to the bottom of the Obama spy scandal.

In case you’d forgotten, Hinderacker quotes one of Trump’s now-famous tweets from March 4th.

My response is: “Bring it on! Let’s get to the bottom of this ‘Obama spy scandal.'”

Hinderacker seems to have completely missed the fact that the FBI had to show probable cause that Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power (i.e., Russia) in order to obtain a FISA warrant. It would be great to find out whether or not that is true.

It strikes me that if Republicans go down this road, they are eventually going to regret it, much as they’ll regret looking for evidence that Susan Rice engaged in some nefarious scheme to unmask Trump associates. That journey is very likely to lead to an answer to our questions about whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election, as well as what they’ve done in the White House to cover it up. After months of trying to block an investigation into those questions, any attempt by Republicans to get to the bottom of all this is more than welcome.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.