A newly declassified ruling from a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court in June demonstrates that the government lied about its legal basis for spying on former Trump campaign official Carter Page.
The ruling states that the information produced by the FBI’s unlawful investigation into Page was illegally obtained and that it “found violations of the government’s duty of candor in all four applications.” The ruling also orders the government that “it must temporarily retain, and potentially use and disclose, the information collected, largely in the context of ongoing or anticipated litigation.”
Under the court’s 21-page assessment, information obtained by all four of the warrants and applications is invalidated due to its illegal acquisition, unless the Department of Justice is using it “to investigate or prosecute potential crimes relating to the conduct of the Page or Crossfire Hurricane investigations” such as the FBI’s overreach and its violations of FISA.
“The Court is permitting use or disclosure of information obtained from electronic surveillance or physical search of Page only where it has been or can be demonstrated to be necessary to remedy or deter the types of harm,” the ruling states.
It must also be proved that the information is required for a specific need before it can be accessed.
This ruling, declassified on Friday, confirms what the FISA court and the Department of Justice both previously declared in January about the FBI’s investigation: that at least two of the four applications allowing “electronic surveillance and physical search targeting Page” by the FBI were “unlawfully authorized.”
In the January ruling, a FISA judge claimed that the FBI violated protections for U.S. citizens under FISA law because the government “did not have probable cause that Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power.” Under FISA law, the government is not permitted to “secretly spy” on U.S. citizens without probable cause or evidence that a citizen “is unlawfully acting as a foreign agent.”
Before that, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued an order in December of 2019 that acknowledged the FBI’s failure “to include exculpatory evidence in its four successful applications for surveillance warrants.” This order relied heavily on the 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the FBI investigation of Page brought forth by the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz demonstrating the lack of probable cause for the spying.