In a surprising move on Saturday, the Department of Justice released 412 pages of previously "top secret" documents relating to the government's surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant, and its subsequent renewals, against him.
The documents, whose existence President Donald Trump declassified earlier this year, were released after numerous news organizations filed Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain them.
What are the details?
The warrant makes it clear the government believed Page was actively communicating with Russian intelligence officers and engaged in "clandestine intelligence activities" to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
"This application targets Carter Page. The FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government," the document says. What followed was a little more than a line of redacted text. The application then states: "...undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in violation of U.S. criminal law. Page is a former foreign policy adviser to a candidate for U.S. president."
The application goes on to state that Page "has established relationships with Russian government officials, including Russian intelligence officers" and that the FBI believed the Russian government's efforts to undermine and influence the 2016 election were "being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated" with Trump's campaign.
"The FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government," the document, from Oct. 2016, states. "As discussed above, the FBI believes that Page has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government."
That collaboration, the FBI alleges in the application, included a July 2016 meeting with Igor Nikolayevich Diveykin — who at the time served as a close adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin — to discuss a dossier on Hillary Clinton. The document describes the dossier as "kompromat," a Russian term for compromising material on a public figure used for blackmail.
The infamous "anti-Trump dossier" written by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele is the first piece of evidence cited against Page in the application. FBI officials and House Democrats have said the government did not corroborate most of the dossier, nor did the FISA warrant request heavily rely on the unverified intelligence. However, the FISA application reveals the FBI believed the dossier was "reliable." They also used it to allege the meeting between Page and Diveykin.
The warrant against Page was renewed three times: in January 2017, April 2017, and June 2017. It ultimately expired in September 2017.
More from the New York Times:
The unredacted portions of the original application and the three renewal applications are otherwise largely identical, so it is not visible whether the F.B.I. told the court that it was gaining useful intelligence from the wiretap of Mr. Page as it asked for extensions. But the length of the applications grew significantly each time, indicating that new information was being added: They were 66 pages, 79 pages, 91 pages and 101 pages, respectively.
The materials also revealed which Federal District Court judges signed off on the wiretapping of Mr. Page: Judges Rosemary Collyer, Michael Mosman, Anne C. Conway and Raymond J. Dearie. All were appointed by Republican presidents.
How did Page respond?
He told the Daily Caller Saturday evening: "I’m having trouble finding any small bit of this document that rises above completely ignorance and/or insanity."