A former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser said Sunday that a top-secret application to surveil him in 2016 was a “complete joke,” even as most observers, including many Republicans, have called the surveillance justified.
The heavily redacted application, submitted in October 2016 under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and released to the public on Saturday, accuses Page of “collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government” in a way that might rise to the level of a crime.
“This is so ridiculous, it’s just beyond words,” Page said on CNN’s State of the Union. “It’s literally a complete joke. And it only continues. It’s just really sad.”
Page denied that he was an “agent of a foreign power” or that he ever advised the Kremlin, claiming instead that he only “sat in on some meetings.” He also denied, as was stated in the FISA application, that he “has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.”
“I’ve never been an agent of a foreign power by any stretch of the imagination,” Page said. “I may have, back in the G-20 when they were getting ready to do that in St. Petersburg, I might have participated in a few meetings that a lot of people—including people from the Obama administration—were sitting in on ... but I've never been anywhere near what’s being described herein.”
Some congressional Republicans have pounced on the FISA application as evidence that the FBI was unfairly targeting the Trump campaign. President Donald Trump echoed a similar message Sunday morning on Twitter, accusing the FBI of spying on his campaign in order to help Hillary Clinton. But the federal government’s surveillance of Page only began after he left the Trump campaign.
In another tweet, Trump said the documents “confirm with little doubt that the Department of ‘Justice’ and FBI misled the courts.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, refuted the president’s characterization of the 400-page FISA application and noted that the FBI had Page on its radar well before he joined Trump’s presidential campaign.
“I don’t think they did anything wrong. I think they went to the court, they got the judges to approve it. They laid out all of the information,” Rubio said on State of the Union, adding that Page “went around the world bragging about his connections in Russia.”