by Tom Fitton –
A year ago, on July 19, 2017, we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Justice Department for copies of the applications it made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for warrants regarding alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
As you might have expected, Justice didn’t comply – in fact, DOJ refused to confirm or deny any such documents even existed. But then, earlier this year, President Trump declassified the “Nunes Memo” which discussed the Carter Page Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants abuses. And we quickly sued as the FISA material could now be made public. In April the DOJ told the court that it would have something by July 20, last Friday. That day passed, but late the next day, late on Saturday, Justice released a heavily redacted 412-page document.
Despite the fact that most of the pages were blacked out, they seemed to confirm that the FBI and DOJ misled the courts in withholding the information that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC were behind the “intelligence” used to persuade the courts to approve the FISA warrants that targeted the Trump team.
The FISA court was never told that the key information justifying the warrant requests came from a “dossier” that was created by Fusion GPS, a paid agent of the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee. The initial Carter Page warrant was granted just weeks before the 2016 election. Page is the former Trump campaign part-time advisor who was the subject of four controversial FISA warrants from the DOJ.
Little wonder, then, that Justice took a year to deliver and then waited until a Saturday evening to release the materials.
The documents support criticisms by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee who released the Nunes memo that criticized the FISA targeting. 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.
Our work was widely acclaimed and was noted five times by President Trump, who tweeted:
Congratulations to @JudicialWatch and @TomFitton on being successful in getting the Carter Page FISA documents. As usual they are ridiculously heavily redacted but confirm with little doubt that the Department of “Justice” and FBI misled the courts. Witch Hunt Rigged, a Scam!
Given the corruption made evident by the document, President Trump should intervene and declassify the heavily redacted material, as I call for here. The Obama/Deep State’s abuses now lie partially exposed, and it’s important for Americans to see the full evidence.
Judicial Watch asks FISA Court for Transcripts Tied to Targeting of Team Team
A court set up to protect Americans has been seriously abused, and we’re not going to let it go.
We filed a motion in the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking the transcripts of all hearings related to the surveillance of Carter Page.
The heavily redacted warrants released to Judicial Watch last week provide evidence that the FISA court was never told that the key information justifying the requests came from a minimally-corroborated “dossier” that was created by Fusion GPS, a paid agent of the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.
We initially sent a FOIA request to the DOJ and then filed suit seeking the FISA transcripts (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-01050)). In a June 2018 letter, the Justice Department told us it had no Page FISA court hearing transcripts.
Now we are directly asking the court for copies of the Page transcripts:
Since the Justice Department does not have possession of any transcripts of hearings related to Page and because such transcripts would provide the public with a complete and unbiased look at the role of this Court, Judicial Watch respectfully requests this Court make public all transcripts of hearings regarding applications for or renewal of FISA warrants related to Page.
The warrants released to JW show the “minimally corroborated” Clinton-DNC dossier was an essential part of the FBI and DOJ’s applications for surveillance warrants to spy on Page.
On February 7, 2018, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes wrote a letter to Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, the presiding judge at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) requesting transcripts of “any relevant FISC hearings associated with the initial FISA application or subsequent renewals related to electronic surveillance of Carter Page.”
On February 15, Judge Collyer replied that the FBI and DOJ “possess most, if not all, of the responsive materials the Court might possess, and we have previously made clear to the Department, both formally and informally, that we do not object to any decision by the Executive Branch to release any such FISA materials to Congress.”
The Committee also asked the court to confirm the existence of transcripts of hearings regarding applications for the renewal of FISA warrants related to Page. We point out that Presiding Judge Rosemary M. Collyer seemed to do so, stating:
[Y]ou may note that the Department of Justice possesses (or can easily obtain) the same responsive information the Court might possess, and because of separation of powers considerations, is better positioned than the Court to respond quickly. (We have previously made clear to the Department, both formally and informally, that we do not object to any decision by the Executive Branch to convey to Congress any such information.)
In our motion, we point out that “to date, no transcripts of hearings regarding applications for or renewal of FISA warrants related to Page have been released to the public.” And, we argue that potential concerns about classified information are likely unwarranted, since the president has declassified the congressional memo, and the FBI has released the FISA warrant applications, application renewals, and court orders related to Page: “Therefore, most – if not all – of the information contained in the transcripts likely has been declassified.”
Our lawsuit helped expose that the FISA court warrants that were dishonestly used to gain FISA court approval for search warrants targeting the Trump team. Court hearing transcripts about these FISA warrants should be released quickly so the public can have full information and accountability for any misuse of FISA warrants to target the Trump team.
The Open Borders Crime Crisis
What do you think it will take to convince the open borders crowd that their obsession makes us all less safe? A chain saw attack? Perhaps not even that. Our Corruption Chronicles blog has the gruesome story:
As the separation of families pouring in from Mexico dominates the airwaves several disturbing cases involving illegal aliens shift the focus back to the devastating impact of America’s poorly guarded southern border. In the last few days alone, an illegal immigrant who had been deported eleven times attacked his wife with a chainsaw in front of their children, another got charged with a series of violent rapes and dozens were arrested for operating a major human and drug smuggling enterprise in a major U.S. city.
The gruesome chainsaw attack occurred in Los Angeles County, which has long offered illegal immigrants sanctuary. A man named Alejandro Alvarez-Villegas, deported to his native Mexico 11 times since 2005, tried to kill his wife with a chainsaw. In local media reports, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) refers to him as a “serial immigration violator,” but the agency fails to explain how that could possibly occur. Alvarez-Villegas has been charged with seven felonies and is being held without bail. One California newspaper worries that the assailant’s immigration status will fuel calls for a big wall on the border with Mexico and spark “illegal immigration foes to point to the U.S. immigration system as a failure in need of revamping.” The piece also quotes open borders advocates saying that domestic violence happens among Americans citizens too and that it’s not an “undocumented” problem.
Several hundred miles north in San Francisco, an illegal immigrant from Peru recently got charged with rape by force or violence and other crimes. The 37-year-old, Orlando Vilchez Lazo, was a driver for the ride-sharing company Lyft who somehow passed a background check. Lazo faces life in prison and is being held in jail in San Francisco on $4.2 million bail. San Francisco has long provided illegal aliens with sanctuary and forbids it law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration officials. Judicial Watch has sued the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department (SFSD) to prevent the use of taxpayer funds on policies that prohibit department personnel from cooperating with federal immigration law enforcement officials. Back in 2008, Judicial Watch investigated the SFSD’s handling of an illegal alien (Edwin Ramos) charged with the triple murder of three innocent American citizens. Ramos, who had been arrested on three prior occasions and convicted with two felonies, was never turned over to federal immigration authorities for removal to his native El Salvador under San Francisco’s sanctuary policies.
In the other recent case involving serious illegal immigrant criminal activity, 18 human smugglers and 117 illegal aliens got arrested in three stash houses in the area surrounding El Paso, Texas and southern New Mexico. Most of the illegal aliens—93—are from Mexico and the rest from Guatemala (12), Honduras (6), Brazil (3), El Salvador (2) and Peru (1). At least three of the illegal immigrants have serious criminal records, according to information released by ICE. A 32-year-old Mexican man busted in the ring has convictions for child endangerment and driving while intoxicated as well as being arrested for illegally re-entering the U.S. after being deported. A 30-year-old Mexican has ties to a drug cartel and was previously arrested for fraud and misuse of visas. A 34-year-old Guatemalan has an outstanding warrant in Florida for driving under the influence and has also been charged with illegally re-entering the U.S. after deportation, according to the feds.
Besides arresting the criminal elements, the feds also seized more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana in the El Paso bust, large amounts of U.S. and Mexican cash, nine vehicles and three tractor-trailers. Two American citizens were nabbed in the operation, including a 42-year-old man with prior convictions for aggravated stalking, kidnaping, possessing a deadly weapon and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute. The other U.S. citizen, a 25-year-old man, has prior convictions for escape from custody, possessing marijuana, assault and driving while intoxicated. While all this is going on, the overwhelming majority of immigration-related media coverage continues to focus on children being separated from their parents. A new national poll reveals that most Americans consider immigration the most important problem facing the nation.
In this face of the illegal immigration crisis, Judicial Watch stands fast for the rule of law – whether it be monitoring the border or suing to stop dangerous and illegal sanctuary policies in places like San Francisco.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton