If the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court grants a New York Times request to unseal documents surrounding federal Russian probe investigators' surveillance of former Trump Campaign adviser Carter Page, it will be the first time such material has been released since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was signed into law 40 years ago.
The surveillance of Page by FBI investigators looking into Russia's interference in the U.S. presidential election and possible collusion by members of the Trump campaign team has become a flashpoint in recent weeks as some GOP lawmakers contend that the government relied on a dossier of oppositional research paid by Hillary Clinton's campaign to secure the FISA warrant on Page.
But Democrats have countered that the warrant on Page, who'd been on the intelligence community's radar for at least five years for his associations with Russian operatives, was obtained legally and ethically.
Intelligence wiretap records are typically tightly guarded, but the Times argued that President Trump opened the door to releasing the FISA documents by declassifying the contents of a four-page memo from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., that summarized material found in the application to spy on Page.
There's no reason “for the Page warrant orders and application materials to be withheld in their entirety,” the Times contended, noting that “disclosure would serve the public interest.” The media outlet asked for the released with “limited redactions as may be essential to preserve information that remains properly classified notwithstanding the declassification and dissemination of the Nunes memorandum."
“Given the overwhelming public interest in assessing the accuracy of the Nunes memorandum and knowing the actual basis for the Page surveillance orders,” The Times's motion says, the court should direct the publication of its orders and the application materials "with only such limited redactions as may be essential to preserve information that remains properly classified notwithstanding the declassification and dissemination of the Nunes memorandum."