The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the court created to oversee its implementation are going to be in the news quite a bit in the upcoming weeks.
This is because the FISA court plays a central role in the ongoing “Spygate” scandal, which is only the biggest political scandal in the history of the United States, dwarfing even the Nixon Watergate scandal.
New evidence has surfaced that it wasn’t only former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page who was the subject of FISA court hearings during the 2016 presidential campaign. At least three other persons in the Trump campaign were targets of FISA court hearings, according to a member of Congress who sits on the House Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) helpfully revealed that during her questioning of former Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a closed-door hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 19, 2018.
While questioning Lynch, Jackson Lee made the following assertion:
“I want to talk about the spring, summer, and autumn of 2016. Carter Page, at the time, was suspected of being a Russian asset; George Papadopoulos had told the Australian ambassador that Russians had Hillary [Clinton] emails; Paul Manafort had been named Trump campaign manager; Michael Flynn was Trump’s chief national security adviser and foreign policy adviser and, just yesterday, had a continuance in his sentencing.
“One thing that all of these persons had in common was that each was the subject of a FISA court investigation, which we now know, and all were directly connected to Trump. As attorney general, you had the authority to oversee the FISA application process. Is that correct?”
Lynch replied, “Yes.”
Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyer Bradley Weinsheimer then objected to Jackson Lee’s question, saying it “potentially gets into possibly classified information, and also equities in an ongoing investigation.”
The fact that the DOJ lawyer there to observe Lynch’s testimony at this closed-door hearing instantly jumped in to try to end that line of questioning by Jackson Lee is revealing.
While there were never any charges filed against Page, and it appears there are no ongoing investigations of him—and that Manafort and Papadopoulos are likewise not involved in any ongoing matters—it’s become clear in recent weeks that Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is still cooperating in at least two ongoing cases at the DOJ, both of which clearly involve illegal foreign lobbying and lying to government investigators.
Daily Caller reporter Chuck Ross wondered on Twitter whose identity it could possibly be that’s still redacted in a recent Flynn case filing.
Ross wrote, “Wondering whose name is behind the black box in the less-redacted Michael Flynn court filing.”
The section of the new filing that Ross screenshot for his tweet states:
“The defendant [Flynn] has provided substantial assistance in a criminal investigation of Bijan Rafiekian, Ekim Alptekin [name redacted] being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia (“EDVA”) and the DOJ National Security Division (“NSD”) for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”), acting as agents of a foreign government without notifying the Attorney General (18 U.S.C. Section 951) and making materially false statements to the federal government (18 U.S.C. Section 1001).”
Wondering whose name is behind the black box in the less-redacted Michael Flynn court filing. pic.twitter.com/02jc5IN0LQ
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) May 17, 2019
One of the reasons Weinsheimer was so quick to try to end that line of questioning was to protect ongoing cases still being investigated that involve Flynn.
There is another reason, however, that Weinsheimer wanted to get Jackson Lee off this subject as quickly as possible: Since the news about the FISA warrant on Page broke in April 2017, there has been furious speculation about whether there were other FISA warrants issued by the court on any other persons associated with the 2016 Trump campaign.
For almost two years, there’s been no official acknowledgment that there were any other FISA warrants issued targeting Trump campaign personnel.
All of the real reporters and researchers digging into Spygate have seen some evidence that there was a whole lot more than just one single FISA warrant on Page, but much of that evidence was indirect and circumstantial. No DOJ or FBI or intelligence official would publicly state anything that would verify the existence of any such warrants.
Papadopoulos has been claiming for months that he was the subject of a FISA warrant, both on his personal Twitter account and in numerous media interviews. As with Page, Papadopoulos would have no direct knowledge of this, as the government doesn’t inform people it is spying on that they are, you know, spying on them. But the former Trump campaign adviser says he has seen plenty of evidence that he was put under U.S. intelligence agency surveillance during the election campaign.
While news of the Page FISA warrant became public in April 2017, and was renewed for the last time by then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein two months later in June, any public admission of there being FISA warrants for other Trump campaign-related persons has been never been made by any law enforcement or intelligence official. Ever.
Then, this transcript was released on May 20, and it includes Jackson Lee stating as a fact that she knows four people in the Trump campaign were subjects of FISA court investigations:
- Carter Page
- Paul Manafort
- George Papadopoulos
- Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
This admission coupled with the fact that President Donald Trump just gave Attorney General William Barr the authority to declassify FISA-related documents as a part of his investigation into surveillance of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, I believe any existing FISA court warrants besides the Page warrant that the Spygate plotters have managed to keep submerged from public view are going to soon be exposed.
During his testimony to Congress on April 9, Barr stated that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s long-anticipated report on his investigation into the FISA court activities involving the Trump campaign should be ready for public release in “May or June.”
It’s now nearing the end of May, which means the release of Horowitz’s report is closer than ever. The only question is, which comes first: the declassification by Barr of the first batch of FISA surveillance documents, or the Horowitz report?
Brian Cates is a writer based in South Texas and author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Twitter at @drawandstrike.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.