Republicans on the House intelligence committee asked President Trump last month to declassify key sections of the surveillance warrant application for ex-campaign aide Carter Page, according to a letter obtained by Fox News.
The heavily-redacted application outlining the justifications for surveiling Page, which was approved and renewed several times by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), was released over the weekend after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
“Because DOJ (Department of Justice) and FBI continue to obstruct the Committee's investigation, it is time to put the facts in the public domain,” the letter, dated June 14, states.
The 13 Republicans on the committee, including committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., state in the letter that the declassification should be consistent “with the need to protect intelligence sources and methods,” adding that the declassification will “enable the public to understand the DOJ's and FBI's basis for obtaining the FISA warrant and three subsequent renewals.”
The Republicans highlight two sections of the document as key to understanding whether FBI and Department of Justice followed proper procedures when they obtained the authority to surveil Page on October 2016.
A key part of the government's application to the FISC to surveil Page was an unverified dossier containing salacious allegations about President Trump. The dossier was opposition research paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign.
“... [W]e respectfully request that you declassify and release publicly, and in unredacted form, pages 10-12 and 17-34, along with all associated footnotes, of the third renewal of the FISA application on Mr. Page," the letter states. "That renewal was filed in June 2017 and signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein."
The letter states, that on its face, the bureau’s reliance on the dossier appears to violate strict, internal FBI rules.
“The Committee's investigative findings include DOJ's and FBI's use of an unverified dossier of memoranda that was not subjected to proper U.S. government verification and was not handled according to FBI procedures," the letter says.
It adds: “The FBI’s own Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (known as the DIOG) prohibits the FBI from using unverified material to obtain a warrant under FISA. The unverified allegations in the dossier were nevertheless presented to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to obtain a FISA warrant and three renewals on Mr. Page. DOJ also presented a news article that was sourced from the author of the dossier.”
That is an apparent reference to a September 2016 Yahoo News article about intelligence officials probing Page as a possible Russian operative.
Based on the weekend document release, the Yahoo News article was presented to the surveillance court as an independent intelligence stream justifying the surveillance of Page.
But London court records show that contrary to the FBI's assessments that were presented to the FISC, ex-spy Christopher Steele briefed Yahoo News and other reporters in the fall of 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS -- the opposition research firm behind the dossier.
The lawmakers also advised the President they have requested the senior judge who oversees the FISA surveillance court “to conduct an investigation into DOJ's conduct in obtaining the FISA warrant and renewals."
The Justice Department and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Fox News about the letter or whether the president is considering or has rejected the request. The FBI declined to comment.
Earlier this year, the House intelligence committee also called on Trump to declassify their FISA memo summarizing the warrant application for Page and subsequent renewals, which he did.
Democrats, who later released their own memo, called the declassification a danger to national security at the time, with the FBI issuing a rare public statement that the bureau had grave concerns about material omissions, they believed, impacted the memo’s accuracy.
Rosenstein also voiced reservations on the basis of endangering sources and methods.