Trump says redacted documents on wiretapping of ex-adviser Carter Page 'misled the courts'

President Donald Trump asserted without evidence Sunday that newly released documents relating to the wiretapping of his onetime campaign adviser Carter Page “confirm with little doubt” that intelligence agencies misled the court that approved the warrant.

Trump tweeted Sunday: “As usual they are ridiculously heavily redacted but confirm with little doubt that the Department of ‘Justice’ and FBI misled the courts. Witch Hunt Rigged, a Scam!”

But lawmakers from both political parties said that the heavily redacted documents, released Saturday under the Freedom of Information Act, don’t show wrongdoing and that they even appear to undermine some previous claims by top Republicans on the basis for obtaining a warrant against Page.

Page has not been charged with a crime, but has been interviewed by the FBI and congressional investigators about his ties to Russia.

White House officials have argued that Page, announced by the president in early 2016 as a foreign policy adviser, played only a minor role in the Trump campaign. Another former campaign policy aide, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty last year to charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller alleging he had lied to the FBI about his Russia contacts. He is now co-operating with Mueller’s expansive probe.

Page denies ties to ‘foreign power’

Page, for his part, spoke on Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, and said in response to a House intelligence committee member’s comments that, “I’ve never been the agent of a foreign power.”

Donald Trump, shown speaking at the White House in May, turned to Twitter on Sunday to criticize newly released documents relating to the wiretapping of his onetime campaign adviser, calling the FBI investigation ‘a scam.’ But others who saw the documents said the investigation is ‘solid.’ (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

In a 2013 letter, Page had described himself as an “informal adviser” to the Kremlin, but now says “it’s really spin” to call him an adviser.

Visible portions of the documents released Saturday show the FBI telling the court that Page “has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.” The agency also told the court that “the FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.”

The documents were part of officials’ application for a warrant to the secretive foreign intelligence surveillance court, which signed off on surveillance of Page.

The release appears to undercut some of the contentions in a memo prepared by House intelligence committee chairman, Devin Nunes, a California Republican representative, earlier this year. Nunes and other Republicans had said that anti-Trump research in a dossier prepared by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele and paid for by Democrats was used inappropriately to obtain the warrant on Page.

While the documents confirm that the FBI relied, in part, on information from Steele to obtain the initial warrant, they also show how the FBI informed the court of his likely motivation.

A page-long footnote in the warrant application lays out the FBI’s assessment of Steele’s history and the likely interest of his backer, adding that, despite the political concern, the bureau believed at least some of his report to be “credible.”

Release of documents a first

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a ranking member on the House intelligence committee, said the documents detail “just why the FBI was so concerned that Carter Page might be acting as an agent of a foreign power.”

“It was a solid application and renewals [were] signed by four different judges appointed by three different Republican presidents,” Schiff said on ABC’s This Week.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also broke with Trump, saying he didn’t think the FBI did anything wrong in obtaining warrants against Page.

“I have a different view on this issue than the president and the White House,” Rubio said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation. “They did not spy on the campaign from anything and everything that I have seen. You have an individual here who has openly bragged about his ties to Russia and Russians.”

The documents released Saturday include the FBI’s October 2016 request to surveil Page and several renewal applications. It marks the first time in the more than 40-year history of the highly secretive court that underlying documents for a warrant have been released.

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