The four affidavits filed with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court by the FBI to spy on 2016 Trump campaign aide Carter Page never listed as part of his professional life the fact that he was a loyal American and CIA operative, according to a Justice Department inspector general’s report released Monday shows.
Rather, the FBI depicted Page as a potential Russian asset when it filed applications with the secretive court, leading critics to conclude that the omission was part of a plot to ensnare Page on false pretenses just to justify surveilling a major party campaign during an election cycle.
The 476-page history detailing how the FBI began targeting the Trump campaign contains more than a dozen examples in which the FBI was in violation of its own rules by including unverified information and inaccuracies in the FISA court applications.
The report also notes that the FBI hid exculpatory evidence from the court in order to obtain a total of four surveillance warrants.
As the surveillance warrants were being drafted in 2016 and 2017, the CIA confirmed to FBI officials that Page, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Bethesda, Md., and energy investor who joined the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser, served as an informant between 2008 and 2013.
But that fact never made it into any FISA court affidavits.
In 2017, the CIA sent an email to FBI officials reminding them of the fact that Page had been an asset. But FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, who isn’t named in the IG’s report, changed the email to make it say that Page was not an asset.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, identified Clinesmith Wednesday during a hearing featuring the DoJ IG Michael Horowitz.
He gave a theory as to why he believes Clinesmith “lied.”
“What does that matter?” Graham asked. “Because if the court had known, then there is a lawful reason for Mr. Page to be talking to the Russian guy.
“He wasn’t working against his country. He was working with his country, which undercuts the idea he is a foreign agent,” Graham continued. “That’s why Clinesmith lied: because he didn’t want to stop this investigation.”
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) identified Clinesmith in 2018 as one of five FBI officials who spoke ill publicly of President Trump.