According to The Justice Department, there were no court hearings held on the FISA Warrant that was obtained to spy on Carter Page.
Judicial Watch today announced that in response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, the Justice Department (DOJ) admitted in a court filing last night that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held no hearings on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) spy warrant applications targeting Carter Page, a former Trump campaign part-time advisor who was the subject of four controversial FISA warrants.
In the filing the Justice Department finally revealed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held no hearings on the Page FISA spy warrants, first issued in 2016 and subsequently renewed three times:
[National Security Division] FOIA consulted [Office of Intelligence] … to identify and locate records responsive to [Judicial Watch’s] FOIA request…. [Office of Intelligence] determined … that there were no records, electronic or paper, responsive to [Judicial Watch’s] FOIA request with regard to Carter Page. [Office of Intelligence] further confirmed that the [Foreign Surveillance Court] considered the Page warrant applications based upon written submissions and did not hold any hearings.
The Department of Justice previously released to Judicial Watch the heavily redacted Page warrant applications. The initial Page FISA warrant was granted just weeks before the 2016 election.
The DOJ filing is in response to a Judicial Watch lawsuit for the FISA transcripts (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-01050)).
In February, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a memo criticizing the FISA targeting of Carter Page. The memo details how the “minimally corroborated” Clinton-DNC dossier was an essential part of the FBI and DOJ’s applications for surveillance warrants to spy on Page.
Judicial Watch recently filed a request with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking the transcripts of all hearings related to the surveillance of Carter Page.
“It is disturbing that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance courts rubber-stamped the Carter Page spy warrants and held not one hearing on these extraordinary requests to spy on the Trump team,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Perhaps the court can now hold hearings on how justice was corrupted by material omissions that Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the DNC, a conflicted Bruce Ohr, a compromised Christopher Steele, and anti-Trumper Peter Strzok were all behind the ‘intelligence’ used to persuade the courts to approve the FISA warrants that targeted the Trump team.”
However, some are skeptical that this is something out of the ordinary:
Folks, there generally are no hearings on warrants, and you don’t want there to be because the four corners of the warrant application must state the probable cause. If they don’t, the judge should reject the application, not hold a hearing.
— Andrew C. McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) September 1, 2018