Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch told Congressional lawmakers in closed door testimony that despite the DOJ having approved the FBI warrant and renewals to spy on Carter Page, she did not recall the applications, did not remember the details contained in the applications or the circumstances surrounding conversations about the warrant, according to testimony reviewed by SaraACarter.com.
Lynch “appeared to have amnesia” during her testimony that she delivered in December before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, said one congressional official, who had knowledge of the hearing. The official said Lynch’s closed-door testimony on Page, a former Trump campaign volunteer, left lawmakers with more questions than answers.
Lynch’s testimony has not yet been made public by the committees.
It was during 2016, as well, when Lynch, who was then Attorney General for President Barack Obama, came under fire for her infamous Phoenix airport tarmac meeting with former President Bill Clinton. That meeting took place only days before former FBI Director James Comey made the announcement not to file charges against Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified government emails on a private unsecured server. Lynch has always insisted that the meeting was coincidental and that she and Clinton only discussed grandkids and other “innocuous things,” as reported.
However, it is under questioning during the December hearing where Lynch not only evaded questions regarding the tarmac meeting but failed to disclose any information regarding the DOJ’s approval to allow the FBI to spy on Page.
It may be because Lynch’s then Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates signed off on the FISA application. Others who signed off on the warrant and renewals were former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and the final renewal application on Page that was signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to the House Intelligence Committee’s January, 2018 memo.
Lynch, however, would expect lawmakers to believe that she was never aware that a former member of the Trump campaign was the target of an FBI investigation or a warrant that would allow the bureau to spy on him.
Goodlatte Questions Lynch on Carter Page
Then, under questioning from House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, she listed the standard detailed procedures of what is required from the Attorney General when the FBI files for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Warrant to spy on an American.
“By statute, the Attorney General is the final signatory on the FISA applications,” stated Lynch to the committee. “By regulation, the signatory authority has been delegated – shall I say shared—with the Deputy Attorney General and the head of the national security division as long as the people in those positions are presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed.”
Lynch on Page
i don’t have any recollection of being briefed on the Page application either. And I don’t have a recollection of signing it, said Lynch
So she knows the rules and regulations but when asked in more detail about the process of approving the FBI’s application on Page she freezes.
Goodlatte, who was then the chairman of the committee, asked Lynch: “Is that what happened to the Carter Page case?”
“I wasn’t involved in the processing of the Page FISA and I can outline the process for you but I don’t have personal (knowledge) of it,” she said.
Confounded Goodlatte says “no, no, it is just not clear to me, the Attorney General has a role, you often rely upon others to supplement your work in fulfilling that role. Did you have a role in that or were you briefed?”
“I don’t have any recollection of being briefed on the Page application either. And I don’t have a recollection of signing it,” said Lynch in response.
Goodlatte then asks Lynch if she recalls signing any of the renewal applications to continue spying on Page.
“I don’t have a recollection of being involved in the FISA for Mr. Page at all,” she says.
Goodlatte then goes on to ask: “were you briefed about the relevance of Mr. Page’s FISA warrant with regard to this broader Russia investigation?”
Again, Lynch fails to have any memory of anything Page.
“I don’t have a recollection of a briefing of that type, no,” said Lynch.
Goodlatte then asks: “When did you first hear the name Carter Page?”
Lynch: “Again, it would have to have been like late spring of 2016 or so in this context. I don’t recall I knew of him from other sources or not.”
Lynch, Page and Trump
At the time of the Page warrant, the DOJ was feeling the pressure from the FBI to get the warrants signed, said one U.S. official with knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Page’s warrant.
Page didn’t spark much FBI or public interest prior to Trump’s March 21, 2016, announcement that he was a volunteer on the campaign’s foreign policy team. The FBI took notice right away because Page had been in their bailiwick in the past. He was also a perfect target for anti-Trump FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok saw the opportunity to spy on Page, as an opportunity to go after the Trump campaign.
Shortly after Trump’s announcement – sometime in the late Spring – Lynch, had met with former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Strzok to discuss the news of Page joining the Trump campaign, according to a declassified memorandum.
But according to Lynch’s statements to Congress, she can’t recall anything about Page.
The initial FBI FISA application was granted in late October, 2016 to spy on Page. But the FBI had already opened its investigation into the Trump campaign earlier in the Spring.
Not only were they collecting information from well placed sources within the campaign but former British spy Christopher Steele had been supplying the FBI and DOJ with unverified information he was collecting from sources, some of which were unreliable Russians.
By the summer, the bureau had obtained the dossier through Steele, who was working on behalf of now embattled research firm Fusion GPS. Fusion GPS was paid for the research by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
And it was the unverified dossier that was used as the bulk of evidence to obtain the warrant to spy on Page.
FISA Court Reprimands DOJ and FBI Spying on Americans
It was in April, 2017 that this reporter along with John Solomon first published the declassified and heavily redacted memorandum by signed by Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, who heads the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) court.
Collyer noted in the memorandum that the court had learned in a notice filed Oct. 26, 2016, that National Security Agency analysts had been conducting prohibited queries of databases “with much greater frequency than had previously been disclosed to the court.”
It was also just days after the court had approved the FISA to spy on Page.
The memorandum is vital in understanding to what lengths the NSA and the FBI have taken to spy on American communications.
It was also eye opening and a major reason why the Page FISA warrant is a central cause taken up by the former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Ca.
It was at this same time that Lynch, and the FBI had filed the FISA warrant with the same secret court to spy on Page. However, the court at the time of the Page FISA application, would be relying on the bureau’s own word that the information contained in the FISA was backed by reliable evidence. It was not, according to the final Russia report submitted by Nunes’ committee.
“Very Serious” Constitutional Issue
The court, however, takes the violations that occurred seriously. As noted, the court discovered that the U.S. intelligence agencies had been conducting illegal surveillance on American citizens over a five-year period. It drew sharp criticism from the court, which called the matter a “very serious” constitutional issue.
But what about Page, along with others like him who may never know that a U.S. agency is spying on their communications?
That has yet to be addressed by the secret court or the Department of Justice.
If Collyer’s criticism against the upstream data searches to spy on Americans is any indication, then alleged violations under the law in conducting surveillance on Page based on unproven accusations in a FISA are just as daunting for the FBI and DOJ.
Nunes, told this reporter in an interview last month, that the Page FISA must be thoroughly investigated and laws must change in an effort to protect essential American rights guaranteed by the constitution.
The committee, then under Nunes leadership, revealed that the FBI and DOJ failed to disclose pertinent information to the court when they obtained a FISA and three renewal warrants on Page. Further, the FBI used unsubstantiated information from a dossier put together by Steele and paid for by the opposition.
“The FISC court should take action against the people who misled them,” said Nunes. “It’s impossible for the court to say that they were not misled.”
The FISA Court And DOJ Must Act
Collyer describes the expansive intrusion by the intelligence community “a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.” Because of this, there is no way that the court can ignore what happened to Page.
It is up to the DOJ, now under Attorney General William Barr, to ensure that Lynch, Yates, Comey and others who participated in the targeting of an American citizen be investigated.
The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.
Therefore, Page’s case isn’t just about one person – it’s about everyone’s right to be granted reasonable protection from corrupt officials or intrusive government agencies.