The New York Times has asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to release warrant application documents on President Donald Trump’s former campaign aide Carter Page. The newspaper is arguing that the president himself has already “lowered the shield of secrecy” by approving release of the controversial Republican memo.
Because the president already agreed to declassify information in the memo concerning the FBI and Justice Department investigation of Page, there is “no longer any reason for the Page warrant orders and application materials to be withheld in their entirety,” states the newspaper’s request Monday for release of the wiretap records. “Continued classification of the entirety of this court’s orders and the warrant application materials is no longer proper in light of President Trump’s declassification of the Nunes memo.”
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) last week released a four-page memo written by GOP staff claiming that the FBI used biased information, paid for by Democrats, in a warrant application for electronic surveillance of Page. The memo said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court was unaware of the political motivation behind the research, which the Democrats have countered is inaccurate and misleading. (Nunes conceded in a Fox News interview that there was a “footnote” by the FBI in its surveillance application that referred to a political entity being behind research used in the FISA request.)
Disclosure beyond the selective information in the Nunes memo also “serves the public interest,” according to the Times. “Publication would contribute to an informed debate about the propriety of the government’s FISA application.”
The memo has “sparked an intense debate over the accuracy of its characterization of the Page warrant applications.” But none of the “accusations ... can be confirmed without access to the records of this court,” the Times noted in its application.
The House Intelligence Committee on Monday voted to release a 10-page memo written by Democrats in response to the Nunes memo. The Democrats’ document would also include some classified information. Trump has five days to decide whether he’ll approve public release of the Democrats’ rebuttal.
The Times’ request specifically asks for all of the court’s order “authorizing surveillance of Carter Page ... together with the application materials and renewal application materials upon which those orders were granted.”