“Multiple Trump campaign officials were the subjects of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act investigations, a Democratic lawmaker said in a closed-door hearing late last year.
If what Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, says is true, the scope of the FBI’s FISA efforts for its counterintelligence investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign and its ties to Russia span far wider than previously known. So far, it is only confirmed that the FBI obtained FISA warrants targeting onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
During a hearing on Dec. 19 with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the transcript of which was released on Monday, Jackson Lee mentioned three other individuals.
“I want to talk about the spring, summer, and autumn of 2016. Carter Page, at the time, was suspected of being a Russian asset; George Papadopoulos had told the Australian ambassador that Russians had Hillary [Clinton] emails; Paul Manafort had been named Trump campaign manager; Michael Flynn was Trump’s chief national security adviser and foreign policy adviser and, just yesterday, had a continuance in his sentencing,” Jackson Lee said. “One thing that all of these persons had in common was that each was the subject of a FISA Court investigation, which we now know, and all were directly connected to Trump. As attorney general, you had the authority to oversee FISA application process. Is that correct?”
Lynch replied “yes,” after which Justice Department lawyer Bradley Weinsheimer cut in to say Jackson Lee’s question “potentially gets into possibly classified information and also equities in an ongoing investigation.
(…) There has been talk in recent weeks about further steps taken to record members of Trump’s campaign, including Papadopoulos. Former Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said on Sunday that the FBI withheld “game changer” transcript material about Papadopoulos from the surveillance court when filing applications targeting Page.
In an interview Friday, former FBI general counsel James Baker, who claims to have taken a leading role in overseeing the Page FISA warrant applications, was asked point-blank if the bureau used an unverified dossier to surveil anyone else. Claiming to be unfamiliar with what the government has revealed, Baker opted not to confirm nor deny it.
“I don’t think I should comment on that. I don’t know what else the government has confirmed,” Baker said on MSNBC. “I don’t want to confirm or deny anything about other potential FISA applications.” (Read more: Washington Examiner, 5/21/2019)