It’s not surprising to watch as the Trump clan tries to spin the release of hundreds of pages of Justice Department documents related to the surveillance warrant on Carter Page as something that vindicates the president and members of his former campaign.
Trump certainly hasn’t read the more than 400 pages of documents, which were released on Saturday through Freedom of Information Act requests by Gizmodo Media Group (GMG), Splinter’s parent company, and other media and political organizations. And he’s banking on the fact that his supporters won’t, either. And if they do, Trump’s gaslighting experts at Fox News will tell them exactly how to interpret that information.
Trump turned to Fox News Sunday morning to figure out what to tweet about the documents. In the first of four tweets so far about the Carter Page FISA document release, Trump said they left “little doubt that the Department of ‘Justice’ and FBI misled the courts. Witch Hunt Rigged, a Scam!”
In the next tweet, Trump said, “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,” which clearly is a lie.
Then, he cited Fox News commentator Andrew McCarthy, who criticized the Republican-appointed judges who signed off on the FISA warrant and its subsequent renewals: “This is so bad that they should be looking at the judges who signed off on this stuff, not just the people who gave it. It is so bad it screams out at you.” (Trump again tweeted “Witch Hunt!”)
By now, most of America is aware that the four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges were appointed by Republican presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush (which is not to say that judges appointed by Democratic presidents are any less credible).
Trump then cited the insufferable Pete Hegseth, who repeated the lie that the warrant’s main source was the “Dirty Dossier” by former British spy and Russian expert Christopher Steele. (Hey, Pete: Read the documents.) Trump called the warrant (in all-caps) “ILLEGAL!”—yet another lie.
For his part, the target of the documents and this fraction of the Russia probe, Carter Page, appeared on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper Sunday morning to predictably further the “Witch Hunt!” argument, including referring to the Steele dossier as the “dodgy dossier.” He called the investigation into his activities in Russia a “smear campaign.”
“It’s just absolutely preposterous,” Page said when asked if he had discussed compromising material on then-candidate Hillary Clinton with any Russian officials.
“Did anyone, at any time, any Russian government official at any time in 2016 talk to you about either lifting the sanctions or compromising material that they claimed to have on Hillary Clinton?” Tapper asked.
“On compromising material, not one word. I was hearing about things when you were hearing about things in the mainstream media,” Page responded, before immediately contradicting himself—as Page often does—by admitting that, “a few people, uh, brought it up in passing…there may have been a loose conversation. I’m very careful in terms of, you know, making sure that there’s a clear record, uh, there was nothing in terms of any nefarious behavior.”
Page also spent a good amount of time dodging Tapper’s question about whether he had any relationships with any Russian officials:
A couple key points can be discerned from these documents: First, authorities did have enough reason to believe that Carter Page could have been working for the Russians, and an investigation is not the same thing as “spying.” Second, the effort by Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes back in February to discredit the investigation with his sideshow “memo” is now a confirmed fraud. And third, Team Trump will continue lying about all of this, even when the information is clearly out in the open.