The FISA court applications on Carter Page have been released. They’re heavily redacted but you can look at them here and get some informed analysis on what they mean here. Because of the redactions, this disclosure doesn’t advance our knowledge much, but there’s enough information there to thoroughly (further) discredit Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Contrary to Nunes prior assertions, the applications are very clear that the information coming from Christopher Steele was collected as part of a contract to dig up dirt on Donald Trump and discredit his campaign. Nonetheless, the FBI asserted that they found Steele and his information credible largely because they had found him to be reliable in the past.
It appears that the FBI incorrectly asserted their belief that Steele was not a source for an article Michael Isikoff wrote in September 2016 for Yahoo News, but there’s no indication that this was anything other than an honest misjudgment. When they later learned that Steele had in fact talked to reporters, they ended their relationship with him and disclosed this to the court. Nonetheless, they continued to assess that Steele and his information were credible.
This renders past Republican talking points inoperable. The FBI did not mislead the court about the dossier and they corrected a mistake in judgment they made to the court at their first opportunity.
There are pages and pages of information about Carter Page and the Trump campaign that are completely blacked out, so we cannot know anything close to the full picture. We don’t know what kind of information they gathered before or during their surveillance or why the application was renewed repeatedly before being discontinued.
We don’t know why Page has not been charged with a crime or whether or not he is still likely to be charged with a crime. One thing that is clear from the applications is that the FBI suspected Trump himself of changing his policies towards Russia during the campaign and was willing to suggest that the influence of advisers and campaign workers with Russian connections (including Carter Page) might be the explanation.
Pretty much anyone who saw what just happened in Helsinki would have to agree that the FBI was certainly hot on the trail of something real.