President-elect Donald Trump continues to deny all allegations that he has ties to Russia, but even the FBI believed it to be true at one point and even requested a warrant to investigate it.
The Guardian reports:
The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The FISA court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.
Despite FISA courts almost always approving warrants, the FBI had theirs rejected and they were told to narrow their focus.
This isn’t the first time the FBI has requested a FISA warrant to investigate Trump. In June, the FBI had their warrant denied, but in October, the FBI was granted a separate warrant by a FISA court to investigate Trump after they presented evidence about a possible server linked to the Trump campaign.
The warrant that was granted was to be used to investigate the connection between the server and two banks, SVB Bank and Alfa Bank. In addition, many believe it was granted because of the involvement of Vladimir Putin’s own daughters, one of which is married to a senior official at Gazprom, where Carter Page and Paul Manafort have alleged holdings, and the other to Kirill Shamalov, a banking official.
In June, when the warrant was denied, the FBI was interested in investigating Trump after Carter Page’s trip to Moscow and meetings with Russian officials. At the time, US intelligence agencies notified both presidential candidates about the hack. However, Trump later told viewers at the third debate that American intelligence didn’t know who carried out the hack.
National security lawyer Bradley P. Moss spoke about the situation, saying, “If a FISA warrant was issued, it does not necessarily mean that the court considered any U.S. persons as literal ‘spies.’”
“I can imagine an argument having been made that there was probable cause to believe they were ‘agents of influence’ who were unwittingly being influenced by a foreign power,” he said. “If the operation concerns suspected money laundering involving a foreign government, the FISA warrant could theoretically encompass U.S. persons in that limited context. A FISA warrant is authorization to collect evidence, not to arrest.”