Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Another puzzle piece in the Trump/Russia story today from the Washington Post on the board today, and it's a key one.  Surveillance of Russian nationals ensnared members of the Trump campaign, but so far we didn't have a exact identity on who, if anyone, that NSA surveillance led to on the Trump side. Today we now know that the FBI used that surveillance to get a FISA warrant to investigate former Trump adviser Carter Page.

The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said. 
The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials
This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor
Page has not been accused of any crimes, and it is unclear whether the Justice Department might later seek charges against him or others in connection with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The counterintelligence investigation into Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections began in July, officials have said. Most such investigations don’t result in criminal charges. 
The officials spoke about the court order on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of a counterintelligence probe.

This is pretty big.  NSA surveillance of foreign nationals leading to a FISA warrant on a US citizen is no small matter, which means whatever Carter Page was saying to the Russians at the time was of strong enough interest to the FBI to go to a judge and get the ball rolling on an investigation into Page being a foreign agent possibly at the time he was working for Trump. If that last part is true, this thing just got deadly serious (if it wasn't somehow deadly serious before.)

Again, the very curious defense of Trump by the right continues to be "If there were any actual criminal wrongdoing here, it would have leaked months ago!" which conveniently ignores the existing Trump/Russian connections with Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn as irrelevant.  That rings especially hollow coming from the party that spent literally years on Hillary Clinton's emails, and then had those emails...wait for it...leaked by multiple sources over those years.

We'll see where this goes, but at this point we have at least one Trump campaign adviser under investigation as a foreign agent.  My guess is we'll find out that FBI investigation is much larger than Page.

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