That sound you just heard was James Comey filling his pants.
Because it looks like the tide just turned.
Check this out:
From Fox News:
At least two of the FBI’s surveillance applications to secretly monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page lacked probable cause, according to a newly declassified summary of a Justice Department assessment released Thursday by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).
The DOJ's admission essentially means that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant authorizations to surveil Page, when stripped of the FBI's misinformation, did not meet the necessary legal threshold and should never have been issued.
The June 2017 Page FISA warrant renewal, which was among the two deemed invalid by the DOJ, was approved by then-Acting FBI Director (and now CNN contributor) Andrew McCabe, as well as former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The April 2017 warrant renewal was approved by then-FBI Director James Comey.
“Today’s unprecedented court filing represents another step on the road to recovery for America’s deeply damaged judicial system," Page said in a statement to Fox News. "I hope that this latest admission of guilt for these civil rights abuses by the Justice Department marks continued progress towards restoring justice and remedying these reputationally ruinous injuries.”
Added Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, who previously chaired the Judiciary Committee: “It’s about time. It’s about time federal authorities entrusted with our most powerful and intrusive surveillance tools begin to own up to their failures and abuses, and take steps to restore public confidence. ... Time will tell if the department will continue working to fix its errors and restore trust that it won’t disregard Americans’ civil liberties. Its admission and cooperation with the FISC is a step in the right direction."
FISC Presiding Judge James Boasberg, in the Jan. 7 order that was published for the first time Thursday, further required the government to explain in a written statement by Jan. 28 the "FBI's handling of information" obtained through the Page warrants and subsequent renewals.
Boasberg specifically noted the DOJ found "there was insufficient predication to establish probable cause to believe that Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power" because of the "material misstatements and omissions" in the warrant applications.
Although the DOJ assessment technically only covered two of the applications to renew the Page FISA warrant, the DOJ "apparently does not take a position on the validity" on the first two Page FISA applications, Boasberg said, seemingly indicating that the DOJ seemingly did not want to defend their legality either. The government "intends to sequester information acquired pursuant to those" FISA applications "in the same manner as information acquired pursuant to the subsequent dockets," the judge said.
And from NBC:
The Justice Department has concluded that two of the four court orders allowing the FBI to conduct secret national security surveillance on former Trump campaign aide Carter Pagewere not valid because the government made "material misstatements" in obtaining them, according to a newly declassified judicial order.
The disclosure by James Boasberg, the top judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, underscores the extent to which the FBI bungled its handling of a highly sensitive case, a failure that is continuing to have serious policy and political repercussions.
The order says the department told the court it now believes it did not have probable cause to believe that Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, which was required to obtain the surveillance.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The FBI declined to comment.
In December, a scathing report by the Justice Department's inspector general found that the FBI's applications to spy on Page were rife with "factual misstatements and omissions," and in the weeks since, the FISA court has demanded an accounting from the Justice Department on how that happened and what is being done about it.
Politically, the scandal has energized President Donald Trump and his allies on the right who long insisted that the Russia investigation was a bogus exercise. On the policy front, the exposure of FBI wrongdoing has created a momentum for change in the way the bureau obtains authorization to conduct national security surveillance.
The inspector general, Michael Horowitz, found no evidence that political bias played a role in the opening of the Russia probe, which failed to establish that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. But he also said he found no satisfactory alternative explanation when it came to the lies and omissions that led a court to wrongly authorize spying on Page, who was not charged with a crime.
The FBI in December proposed a series of fixes in how it approaches the secret warrants, but an expert appointed by the FISA court, David Kris, said in a brief this month that the proposed reforms do not go far enough. For example, Kris wants a field agent assigned to a case, not an FBI supervisor, to sign any FISA warrant application so that agent will be personally responsible for the warrant's accuracy.
The inspector general's report and its fallout are a blow to House Intelligence Committee Chairman and lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff, who said after reviewing classified documents that the FBI's process for obtaining FISA warrants was solid. Schiff and other Democrats also insisted that the FBI did not rely to a great extent on an opposition research dossier compiled by a former British spy, but the inspector general found that the dossier played a key role in the FBI's decision to obtain the warrants.
And from the Daily Wire:
The Department of Justice says that the FBI under disgraced former Director James Comey should have discontinued its secret surveillance on a member of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election because it had “insufficient predication to establish probable cause.”
“Thanks in large part to the work of the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice, the Court has received notice of material misstatements and omissions in the applications filed by the government in the above-captioned dockets,” the letter stated. “DOJ assesses that with respect to the applications in Docket Numbers 17-375 and 17-679, ‘if not earlier, there was insufficient predication to establish probable cause to believe that [Carter] Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power.'”
Reuters reporter Brad Heath highlighted the newly declassified letter that the DOJ sent the secret court in December, writing: “This is a big deal. The Justice Department is conceding that two of the four FISA applications it used to conduct surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page were not lawful, and it’s not defending the legality of its other two applications.”
“The government further reports that the FBI has agreed ‘to sequester all collection the FBI acquired pursuant to the Court’s authorizations in the above-listed four docket numbers targeting [Carter] Page pending further review of the OIG Report and the outcome of related investigations and any litigation,'” the letter continued. “The government has not described what steps are involved-in-such sequestration or when it will be completed. It has, however, undertaken to ‘provide an update to the Court when the FBI completes the sequestration’ and to ‘update the Court on the disposition of the sequestered collection at the conclusion of related investigations and any litigation.’ To date, no such update has been received.”
“The Court understands the government to have concluded, in view of the material misstatements and omissions, that the Court’s authorizations in Docket Numbers 17-375 and 17- 679 were not valid,” the letter added. “The government apparently does not take a position on the validity of the authorizations in Docket Numbers 16-1182 and 17-52, but intends to sequester information acquired pursuant to those dockets in the same manner as information acquired pursuant to the subsequent dockets.”
Last month, the Department of Justice Inspector General’s (IG) report highlighted a total of 17 “inaccuracies and omissions” that were made by the FBI in applying for FISA applications to surveil the Trump campaign.