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DOJ Springs Surprise Weekend Release of FBI Scandal Docs

Heavy deletions render the materials extremely difficult to fully decipher, but multiple passages offer important insights, clues

Department of Justice (DOJ) officials unexpectedly made public on Saturday 412 pages of previously top-secret documents associated with the FBI’s application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court for permission to surveil Carter Page, a former adviser to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

“These documents are heavily redacted but seem to confirm the FBI and DOJ misled the courts in withholding the material information that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC were behind the ‘intelligence’ used to persuade the court to approve the FISA warrants that targeted the Trump team,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

“Given this corruption, President Trump should intervene and declassify the heavily redacted material,” said Fitton, whose nonprofit government watchdog group filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in February seeking to force the release of the documents.

Under an April court settlement, DOJ was supposed to deliver the documents to Judicial Watch by Monday, but unexpectedly provided the documents via email to major media outlets and the nonprofit on Saturday.

Related: FBI Not Only ‘Obama Agency’ Spying on Trump in 2016

Among the 412 pages are the original FBI application to spy on Page because the bureau believed him to the “subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.” Due to deletions, it cannot be determined if at that point the FBI believed Page had been recruited, but the application seems to describe the purpose of his recruitment as to “undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election …”

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The application then notes that Page was “a former foreign policy adviser to a candidate for U.S. president (Candidate #1).” Candidate #1 was Trump. A few pages later, the application declares that “the FBI believes the Russian government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps others associated with” Trump.

What the application does not explain, however, according to a February 2018 congressional memo made public by Rep. Devon Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Select Permanent Committee on Intelligence, is that the information about Page was based almost entirely on the basis of a dossier compiled by Christopher Steele.

Steele is a former British spy and paid FBI source, who at the time was working for the Fusion GPS opposition research firm. Steele’s work was being funded by Trump’s opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which she controlled, via a cutout, a Washington, D.C., law firm.

The firm is not identified in the released FISA documents but has been identified elsewhere as the Washington, D.C., office of Perkins Coie, which has an extensive practice based on representation of Democratic candidates and entities.

The documents made public Saturday are especially heavily redacted on pages describing the process by which Steele was retained and paid. The FBI told the court only the most general information about the process but speculated that the motive behind Steele’s employment to compile the dossier was to compile “information that could be used to discredit” Trump.

Importantly, the FBI also told the court that it believed “the reporting herein to be credible.” That reporting was mainly based on Steele’s dossier.

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