"If it is true ..."
Fox News Channel’s Andrew Napolitano cast doubt on a Washington Post report Thursday that claimed the FBI had obtained a FISA warrant to monitor the communications of Carter Page, a former Trump adviser who has been suspected of having contact with Russian officials.
“I’m skeptical of it for a couple of reasons,” Napolitano said. “If it is true or partially true, President Trump is confronted yet again third or fourth time in his presidency with intelligence leaks intended to embarrass, humiliate or manipulate him.”
The Post reported that the FBI obtained a secret court order last summer that gave the bureau permission to monitor Page’s communications based on a “probable cause” that Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power.
Napolitano explained the reason for his doubt, saying, “the FISA court does not issue warrants for individuals,” adding that Page may be caught up as a pawn in a broader investigation.
“That’s the way the intelligence community works,” said the former Superior Court judge. “They don’t want to reveal who they are looking for. If they are looking for Carter Page, they will not tell anyone they’re looking for him, not even the court.”
Page, a self-described oil industry consultant and U.S. Naval Academy midshipman, largely stayed out of the spotlight in his role as an adviser on Trump’s team. That is, until he left the campaign in September 2016 due to stories that “kept coming out based on the dodgy dossier,” Page said.
Page’s suspected connection to Russia, largely based on alleged meetings and communications with Russian officials, has been a talking point for a number of lawmakers and pundits. Allegations that Page worked with the Russians to interfere in the 2016 election were lambasted by Page as a “fake narrative.”
“Absolutely not,” he told Fox News Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge in March. “I did nothing that could even possibly be viewed as helping them in any way.”
Speaking with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Page denied reports that he’d met with a litany of Russian officials, including Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin. He called the reports a “joke” that is “beyond words.”
“I’m not going to deny that I talked to him [Kislyak],” Page said, maintaining that he’d never met with the ambassador outside of June’s Republican National Convention. “I will say that I never met him anywhere outside of Cleveland. Let’s just say that much.”
According to The Post, Page has not been accused of any crimes, though it remains uncertain if the Justice Department will seek charges against him for a role in meddling with the election.
Napolitano, for his part, is no stranger to controversial claims. Last month, he made several on-air statements advancing the White House narrative that former president Barack Obama spearheaded surveillance of Trump Team conversations.
Napolitano in March said on Fox & Friends that he spoke with three intelligence sources who said Obama “went outside the chain of command” to conduct secret surveillance on Trump.
Specifically, the judge said Obama went through Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ, to remove any possibility of “American fingerprints” on the operation.
GCHQ denied the claim, with one spokesperson saying “no part of this story is true.” Napolitano, however, held his ground during during his first appearance on America’s Newsroom after a brief suspension.
“The American public needs to know more about this rather than less because a lot of the government surveillance authorities will expire in the Fall and there’ll be a great debate on how much authority we want the government to have to surveil us, and the more the American public knows the more informed there and Congress’s decisions will be,” he told Fox’s Bill Hemmer.