University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name In re Carter W. Page: A U.S. Person [FISA dockets 16-1182, 17-52, 17-375, 17-679] NS-DC-0127
Docket / Court 16-1182 ( FISC )
Additional Docket(s) 17-52  [ 17-52 ]  Foreign Intel. Surveillance Ct.
17-375  [ 17-375 ]  Foreign Intel. Surveillance Ct.
17-679  [ 17-679 ]  Foreign Intel. Surveillance Ct.
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) National Security
Special Collection Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- All Matters
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- Internet Metadata
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- Telephony Metadata
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Case Summary
In 2016, the FBI sought and obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against Trump 2016 campaign foreign policy advisor Carter Page. The warrant applications against Page alleged that he had contact with Russian officials to collect compromising information on Trump's 2016 ... read more >
In 2016, the FBI sought and obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against Trump 2016 campaign foreign policy advisor Carter Page. The warrant applications against Page alleged that he had contact with Russian officials to collect compromising information on Trump's 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.

After substantial litigation, these classified FISA warrants and related documents were disclosed. This Clearinghouse entry includes those underlying applications and renewals. There are 4, each with a different Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) docket number:
• 16-1182: the initial order, October 2016
• 17-52: the first renewal, January 2017
• 17-375: the second renewal, April 2017
• 17-679: the third renewal, June 2017
This entry will also discuss efforts by the FISC to protect the classified information contained in the warrants. These filings appear on docket 16-1182.

For more information on the litigation in the FISC and U.S. District Courts to release these documents, see this link. For more information on reform of the overall FISA warrant process inspired by the Carter Page case, see this link.

FISA requires the government to obtain a warrant from the FISC before it may conduct any domestic electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information. The warrant applications are made ex parte and must include a sworn statement by a federal officer of the facts and circumstances relied upon to justify the government's belief that the target of surveillance is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. Once a FISC judge receives a warrant application, the judge can order approval of the surveillance only if the judge finds that there is probable cause to believe that the target of the electronic surveillance is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. Because the orders only authorize surveillance up to 90 days, the government must file an application for an extension that meets the same requirements as the initial warrant application and obtain a renewal order from the FISC for continued surveillance. For the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse collection of FISA matters, see our special collection.

I. The Contents of the Warrants

On July 21, 2018, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released the FISA warrant applications related to the surveillance of Trump campaign advisor Carter Page. The New York Times, which filed the FOIA request, released the documents in an article published on the same day; the FISC did not release the warrants.

Although the documents are heavily redacted, they revealed that in October 2016, the FBI submitted an application to the FISC to wiretap Page because the FBI believed that Page had been the "subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government . . . [redacted] undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election in violation of U.S. criminal law." The FBI believed that Page had "established relationships with Russian government officials, including Russian intelligence officers" and that "the Russian government's efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with" then-presidential candidate Trump.

According to the FBI, Page had traveled to Russia in July 2016 to deliver a commencement address at a school. During that trip, Page also met with at least two Russian officials. The FBI asserted that one of its confidential informants, who had a history of reliability, reported that Page "had a secret meeting with Igor Sechin," who is "a close associate to Russian President Putin." The FBI's confidential informant also relayed that Page had secretly met with Igor Divyekin, a Russian official who is believed by U.S. officials to have responsibility for intelligence collected by Russian agencies about the U.S. election, and that "their agenda for the meeting included Divyekin raising a dossier or 'kompromat' that the Kremlin possessed on" Hillary Clinton and the "possibility of it being released" to presidential candidate Trump.

Sometime in October 2016, FISC judge Rosemary M. Collyer found that on "the basis of the facts submitted in the verified application, there is probable cause to believe" that Page "is an agent of Russia." This is the initial warrant, docketed as 16-1182. She authorized the warrant, which was to expire sometime in January 2017.

In January 2017, the FBI renewed its warrant application, which FISC judge Michael Mosman granted later that month under docket 17-52. The renewal was set to expire sometime in April 2017.

In April 2017, the FBI submitted a second renewal application, which FISC judge Anne C. Conway granted later that month under docket 17-375. This second renewal was set to expire sometime in June 2017.

In June 2017, the FBI submitted a third renewal application, which FISC judge Raymond J. Dearie granted later that month under docket 17-679. This third renewal expired sometime in September 2017.

The non-redacted portions of the original warrant application and the three renewal applications were largely identical. Due to the redacted nature of the applications, it is unclear whether the FBI provided the FISC courts with additional intelligence, gained from its original wiretap, in support of its renewals.

II. Protecting the Information in the Warrants

On December 9, 2019, the FBI Office of the Inspector General (OIG) published the “Crossfire Hurricane” Report, named after the FBI’s codename for its investigation into Page. The report found that there had been "material misstatements and omissions" in the FISA warrant applications that led to the four orders listed above. For more information on the Crossfire Hurricane report, see NS-DC-0138 in this Clearinghouse.

In response to the Crossfire Hurricane report, Judge James E. Boasberg issued an order on docket 16-1182 requesting government comment on the four Carter Page surveillance warrants on January 7, 2020. This order was filed under docket 16-1182. Judge Boasberg's order directed the government to produce a disclosure detailing the steps it had already taken to protect the information in the four warrants and future steps to protect the information by January 28, 2020. On January 23, 2020, the Government requested additional time to respond to FISC's order. Judge Boasberg approved the request, and the new deadline became February 5, 2020.

The disclosure was not publicly released to the docket. Subsequent filings reveal that the government provided two supplemental responses to the January 7 order on February 28 and April 17, though neither were publicly released.

Judge Boasberg released an opinion and order on June 25, 2020 responding to the Government filings and discussing future situations where disclosure might be necessary. Judge Boasberg noted that FISA sections 1807 and 1827 forbid the government from releasing illegally obtained information, like the information in the Page FISA warrants, but highlighted an exception from a 2010 FISC opinion for "actions that are necessary to mitigate or prevent the very harms at which [that section] is addressed" (emphasis in original), as long as minimization procedures are followed. He discussed how these tensions play out in five situations where disclosure may be necessary:
• Third-Party FOIA Cases: the government noted that two nonprofits were seeking minimized information from the Page FISA warrants in FOIA suits before the District Court for the District of Columbia. To prevent an effective freeze on FOIA litigation on this subject, Judge Boasberg permitted disclosure on these dockets "insofar as necessary for the good-faith conduct" of FOIA litigation, even if it does not directly remedy the injustice of wrongly collected information.
• Page's Civil Litigation: by the time this opinion was released, Page already filed a FOIA complaint seeking information on the warrants against him (NS-DC-0143 in this Clearinghouse), and was threatening to file a damages complaint (he eventually did—see NS-DC-0144 in this Clearinghouse). Judge Boasberg applied the same logic to the previous FOIA case to this one, adding that this case may also be authorized under the theory that it directly remedies injuries against the target of the unauthorized surveillance, but left it to the District Courts to officially decide the issue. He added that the civil nature of Page's complaint was not a barrier to relief, either.
• Review of FBI Personnel Conduct: Judge Boasberg allowed the FBI to use the Page FISA warrant materials to conduct personnel reviews of the people that completed them because these were narrow enough parameters to allow release. He was hesitant to allow broader use of the warrants outside of remedying conduct of specific individuals, though.
• DOJ Inspector General Oversight: the DOJ Inspector General was using parts of the Page warrants to oversee implementation of FISA warrant request reform. Judge Boasberg noted that most of this oversight was systemic and not related to specific information in the Page warrants, and he forbade disclosure in these settings. However, he allowed disclosure only for FBI agents investigating misconduct by personnel working on the warrants, similar to the situation in the previous bullet.
• Criminal Investigation and Prosecution: U.S. Attorneys in Connecticut were "review[ing...] intelligence activities relating to campaigns in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election," and sought access to the warrants. Judge Boasberg noted that, while the Page warrants could be useful for specific claims, he would not let the U.S. Attorneys have access to the files on the broad grounds they've described.
Subsequent files noted that the government filed another responsive report on October 21, 2020, though it was not publicized.

On November 23, 2020, Judge Boasberg issued an order permitting disclosure of the warrants to attorneys in the U.S. Attorney's office in the Eastern District of Missouri and the District of the District of Columbia. He expressed confidence in both offices' abilities to protect confidential information in the warrants after hearing their responses to questioning in a November 6 hearing. These disclosures likely were linked to an investigation these offices were conducting into the Page warrants specifically.

As of December 15, 2020, the FISC has not released more information on disclosures of the Page warrants to other sources. The case is still ongoing.

Lisa Limb - 02/13/2019
Ellen Aldin - 12/16/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
General
Confidentiality
Courts
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Search policies
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Special Case Type
Warrant or subpoena application
Causes of Action FISA Title I Warrant (Electronic Surveillance), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1812
FISA Title VII targeting order (Sections 702, 703, 704), 50 U.S.C. 1881a, 1881b, 1881c
Defendant(s) Carter W. Page
Plaintiff Description The U.S. Department of Justice
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Warrant/Order allowing surveillance
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2016 - 2017
Filed 10/01/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing NS-DC-0138 : In re Accuracy Concerns Regarding FBI Matters Submitted to the FISC (FISC)
NS-DC-0126 : FISA Court Matters relating to disclosure of Carter Page surveillance records: Four FISC cases [FISC Misc. 18-01, Misc. 18-02, Misc. 18-03, and Misc. 19-01] (FISC)
NS-NY-0024 : N.Y. Times Co. v. United States DOJ (S.D.N.Y.)
NS-DC-0131 : Judicial Watch, Inc. v. United States DOJ (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0143 : Page v. U.S. Department of Justice (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0144 : Page v. Comey (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0146 : James Madison Project v. U.S. Department of Justice (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0147 : Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Justice (D.D.C.)
Additional Resources
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  Carter Page FISA Documents Are Released by Justice Department
Date: Jul. 21, 2018
By: Charlie Savage (The New York Times)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
FISC
10/01/2016
Verified Application
NS-DC-0127-0001.pdf | Detail
FISC
10/15/2016
Primary Order and Warrant
NS-DC-0127-0002.pdf | Detail
FISC
01/01/2017
Verified Application (First Renewal)
NS-DC-0127-0003.pdf | Detail
FISC
01/15/2017
Primary Order and Warrant (First Renewal)
NS-DC-0127-0004.pdf | Detail
FISC
04/01/2017
Verified Application (Second Renewal)
NS-DC-0127-0005.pdf | Detail
FISC
04/15/2017
Primary Order and Warrant (Second Renewal)
NS-DC-0127-0006.pdf | Detail
FISC
06/01/2017
Verified Application (Third Renewal)
NS-DC-0127-0007.pdf | Detail
FISC
06/15/2017
Primary Order and Warrant (Third Renewal)
NS-DC-0127-0008.pdf | Detail
FISC
06/25/2020
Opinion and Order Regarding Use and Disclosure of Information
NS-DC-0127-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
FISC
08/28/2020
Untitled
NS-DC-0127-0012.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
FISC
11/03/2020
Notice of Potential Use Or Disclosure of FISA Information Subject to the Court's Order Dated June 25, 2020
NS-DC-0127-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
FISC
11/23/2020
Order Regarding Further Disclosures of Information
NS-DC-0127-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
show all people docs
Judges Boasberg, James Emanuel (FISC, D.D.C.) show/hide docs
NS-DC-0127-0009 | NS-DC-0127-0011
Collyer, Rosemary M. (FISC, D.D.C.) show/hide docs
NS-DC-0127-0002
Conway, Anne C. (M.D. Fla.) show/hide docs
NS-DC-0127-0006
Dearie, Raymond Joseph (D.D.C., E.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
NS-DC-0127-0008
Plaintiff's Lawyers Boente, Dana J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
NS-DC-0127-0005
O'Connell, Kevin J. (Maryland) show/hide docs
NS-DC-0127-0012
Rosenstein, Rod J. (Maryland) show/hide docs
NS-DC-0127-0007
Yates, Sally Quillian (Georgia) show/hide docs
NS-DC-0127-0001 | NS-DC-0127-0003
Defendant's Lawyers MacTough, Melissa (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
NS-DC-0127-0010
Other Lawyers Mosman, Michael W. (Oregon) show/hide docs
NS-DC-0127-0004

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