The FISA warrants obtained to spy on the 2016 Trump campaign have been the focus of attention ever since the inspector general (IG) at the Department of Justice revealed massive abuse on the part of the FBI throughout the process.
Now, Attorney General Bill Barr’s DOJ has shocked the establishment by declaring invalid the justification used to obtain two of the four FISA warrants used to spy on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Breaking the rules
For some reason, even with widespread abuse of the FISA laws throughout the entire FBI probe into Carter Page, the IG did not go so far as to rule that the investigation was rooted in political bias.
There were more than a dozen “significant errors and omissions” made in the process of surveilling Page, all inuring to the benefit of the government and not to its target, so that decision by the IG is frustrating to many.
Now that the IG investigation is over, however, the DOJ is doing its own digging into the matter.
As a result of looking deeper into those FISA warrants, the DOJ found “there was insufficient predication to establish probable cause to believe that Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power.”
As such, the final two FISA warrants that were issued were deemed to be invalid. FISA Judge James Boasberg found “in view of the material misstatements and omissions, that the court’s authorizations…were not valid.”
What about the initial investigation?
While the DOJ has ruled on the final two FISA warrants, no such declaration was made about the origin of the Russia collusion investigation and whether or not that investigation in itself was warranted.
The IG earlier ruled that based on an assessment of the threshhold requirements that must be met in order to launch an investigation and a review of the information that was available to the agencies at the start of the process, the FBI made a justifiable decision to move forward with its probe. However, the IG also admitted that the threshhold for initiating an investigation is very low, and therefore that finding in and of itself, is not terribly informative.
The real problem everyone has with all of this is the fact the FBI knew that Page was an American intelligence asset, yet he was repeatedly portrayed as a possible Russian agent in the FISA warrant requests.
We also know that the now-debunked Steele dossier was relied upon heavily in the early stages of that investigation to secure the early FISA warrants, so it would only make sense to conclude that all such authorizations were similarly tainted.
Now, we must wait to see what Barr does with this information and if then-FBI director James Comey will be held responsible for the clear abuses he allowed to take place during his tenure at the helm of the agency.