The FBI believed Donald Trump’s foreign policy aide Carter Page had “been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government” during the 2016 election campaign, according to newly released documents.
Mr Page’s relationships with Russian intelligence officials are highlighted in court applications which led to him being put under surveillance.
Mr Page is an energy industry consultant with longstanding ties to Russia. He first reached out to the Trump campaign in 2015 before meeting Mr Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, in January 2016.
By March 2016, Mr Trump identified Mr Page as one of a handful of campaign foreign policy advisers.
However, after allegations emerged in the so-called Trump dossier that he served as an intermediary between Russian officials and the president’s campaign as they worked to advance Mr Trump’s presidential efforts, Mr Page resigned from his role.
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!
Looking more & more like the Trump Campaign for President was illegally being spied upon (surveillance) for the political gain of Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC. Ask her how that worked out – she did better with Crazy Bernie. Republicans must get tough now. An illegal Scam!
In two tweets, sent early on Sunday morning, he says the “ridiculously heavily redacted” documents “confirm with little doubt that the Department of ‘Justice’ and FBI misled the courts” – criticising his own agencies.
It is unclear how he reached this conclusion. However, he is backed by Tom Fitton – the president of Judicial Watch which fought to have the documents released – who said in a tweet “they seem to confirm the FBI and DoJ misled the courts in withholding info about Clinton-DNC being behind the info used to get the Fisa warrant”.
Democrat House leader Nancy Pelosi has come to a different conclusion.
In a statement, she said: “Despite President Trump’s repeated claims, these documents provide clear evidence of ‘Russia’s co-ordination with Carter Page,’ a high-ranking Trump campaign official, ‘to undermine and improperly and illegally influence the 2016 US presidential election’.”
She added: “The GOP (Republican Party) must cease their attacks on our law enforcement and intelligence communities, and finally decide where their loyalty lies.”
The charges form part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into US intelligence findings that Russians conspired to tilt the election in Mr Trump’s favour, and whether any of his campaign aides colluded. Mr Trump has labelled the investigation a “witch hunt”.
So far, the inquiry has indicted 32 people – mostly Russian nationals in absentia – as well as three companies and four former Trump advisers.
Just days later, Mr Trump met his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at a summit in Helsinki and was asked by reporters whether he believed Russia had meddled in the 2016 election,
“President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be,” he replied, appearing to back the Russians over his own agencies.
The next day, following widespread outrage, he read a pre-prepared statement, saying he actually meant “wouldn’t”.