FBI officials conducted covert surveillance of a campaign adviser to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump last summer after obtaining a federal surveillance warrant from a judge.
The FBI obtained a Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant from a judge to spy on Trump adviser Carter Page, according to CNN. Federal agents were able to convince a FISA court judge that Page was potentially acting on behalf of a foreign government.
The warrant sought to investigate Page's ties to both the Trump campaign and the Russian government, both of whom have been accused of cooperating with one another to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
This warrant now becomes the clearest evidence that the FBI believes members of the Trump campaign had contact with foreign agents in Moscow. Page was a former investment banker in Moscow.
FBI Director James Comey confirmed in March that the FBI was investigating potential ties between the Trump campaign and the Russians, although he declined to mention the names of potential targets of the investigation, according to The Washington Post.
FISA warrants are some of the most heavily-guarded secrets in U.S. law enforcement, and applications for such warrants are incredibly detailed and comprehensive. All requests for a FISA warrant must be approved by a FISA court judge, but do not have to show evidence of a crime. Criminal charges may stem from approved FISA warrants.
The FISA warrant application showed that the FBI has been looking into the complicated ties between the Russian government and the campaign since July 2016. The Trump campaign team has said Page's role in the campaign was "informal."
"This confirms all of my suspicions about unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance," Page said, according to The Washington Post. "I have nothing to hide."
"But I was so happy to hear that further confirmation is now being revealed," Page told CNN. "It shows how low the Clinton/Obama regime went to destroy our democracy and suppress dissidents who did not fully support their failed foreign policy."
Page claims that, while he did send several memos to the Trump team and requested meetings, he himself never personally briefed Trump. Trump has also said he does not recall ever meeting Page, according to CNN.
Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey cautioned against an assumption of guilt regarding the FISA warrant regarding Page.
"As a former prosecutor, I used to tell my prosecutors all the time that the name of our department was not the Department of Prosecution, it was the Department of Justice," he told CNN according to WJW.
"Our job is to do justice, and justice is about, first and foremost, protecting the individual rights of everybody."