Trump aide's 'Russia ties' alleged in secret USA documents

President Donald Trump's administration remains under scrutiny over potential ties between his associates and Russia in the run-up to the presidential election

President Donald Trump's reaction to the release of the FBI's FISA application to wiretap his former aide Carter Page followed the president's predictable pattern when faced with adverse news. It also argues that it was not the dossier and the Page FISA warrant that prompted the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into Russia, but rather an earlier conversation that former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos had with an Australian diplomat about alleged Russian dirt on Clinton.

"This is so ridiculous, it goes beyond words", Page told Tapper.

Trump spent days trying to reassure the country that he accepts that the longtime foe interfered in the 2016 election after his public undermining of United States intelligence agencies in Helsinki while standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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"The FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government", the initial FBI application says before it is blacked out and continues: "undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in violation of U.S. criminal law".

The release comes in the aftermath of a bitter dispute over the government's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

Trump tweeted: "So President Obama knew about Russian Federation before the Election".

"Congratulations to @JudicialWatch and @TomFitton on being successful in getting the Carter Page FISA documents", he tweeted.

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In a series of tweets on Sunday, Trump said the release confirmed the surveillance of his campaign was a "witch hunt" because some of the information that led to the wiretapping was provided by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who was hired on behalf of the Clinton campaign in 2016.

Trump's laser focus on Steele ignores other facts as well, including that Page had previously lived in Russia and was on the FBI's radar as early as 2013, when it suspected Russian intelligence agents were trying to recruit Americans. It's requested by USA authorities or intelligence agents, and usually signed by the attorney general.

While the documents confirm the Federal Bureau of Investigation relied, in part, on information from Mr Steele to obtain the initial warrant, they also show how the Federal Bureau of Investigation informed the court of his likely motivation. The FBI applied for - and was granted - the FISA against Page because they had observed him interacting with Russian intelligence officers and anxious that he was susceptible to being recruited as a Russian asset.

The documents released Saturday include the FBI's October 2016 request to surveil Page and several renewal applications. "I've never been an agent of a foreign power by any stretch of the imagination". As found in the records, Conway approved a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in April 2017.

The documents offer few clues about the scope of that surveillance.

The application says that a significant goal of the request is to "collect foreign intelligence information as part of the FBI's investigation of this target". In each of those applications, the department said it was providing the court updated information about its investigation, but those details were largely omitted from the materials released Saturday.

"Now we can see that the footnote disclosing Steele's possible bias takes up more than a full page in the applications, so there is literally no way the FISA Court could have missed it", he said. The warrant is usually valid for 12 months. News organizations obtained the documents through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.

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