One of the questions to emerge from the release of the government’s surveillance warrant applications against Carter Page on Saturday is why the former Trump campaign adviser has not been charged with a crime related to what the FBI has claimed is his clandestine work for the Russian government.
The FBI attested in four separate Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications that Page, an energy consultant, was a foreign agent of the Russian government. The allegation stems mainly from Christopher Steele, a former British spy who investigated the Trump campaign on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC. (RELATED: DOJ Releases Carter Page FISAs)
Page has been the target of intense government surveillance since as early as July 2016. That month, Page made first contact with Stefan Halper, a University of Cambridge professor who served as an FBI informant. Page was under FISA surveillance from Oct. 21, 2016 through late September 2017.
Though Page has been under intense government scrutiny for two years, he said on Monday that he does not expect to be charged as a covert Russian agent.
“Do you expect to be charged for working for the Russian government?” Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked Page in an interview.
“Not only am I not aware of it, Tucker, there’s also the fact that no question I’ve ever been asked by the FBI in terms of any of these fake theories related to the dossier … none of those made any sense whatsoever,” said Page.
“There’s not even a premise by which I could even conceivably be charged. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Page has said he has been interviewed four times by the FBI beginning in March 2017. He has also reportedly testified to a grand jury empaneled by special counsel Robert Mueller, though the former Trump aide has refused to confirm or deny his interactions with Mueller’s team.
Page has previously said that he has been told he is not a target of the government’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
Steele, a former MI-6 officer, alleged in a 35-page dossier that Page met secretly with two sanctioned Kremlin insiders during a July 2016 trip to Moscow. Steele also alleged that Page worked with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to collude with the Russian government. (RELATED: Cambridge Prof With MI6, CIA Ties Met With Trump Campaign Adviser During Campaign, Beyond)
The FBI relied heavily on Steele’s allegations in its four FISA applications to spy on Page.
Page has said in numerous interviews, including in Monday’s interview on Fox, that he has never met the two Kremlin insiders identified in the dossier.
The FBI’s applications for FISA warrants against Page were released on Saturday. The disclosure reignited a debate over whether the bureau was justified in spying on Page. Republicans have criticized the FBI for using an unverified and politically-funded document to obtain the FISA warrants. Democrats have argued that the FBI had enough probable cause that Page was a foreign agent of Russia to justify surveilling him.
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