Federal Judge Amit P. Mehta demanded the Department of Justice explain why the release of the House Intelligence Committee’s so-called Nunes memo shouldn’t force investigators to acknowledge the existence of more records related to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”)
USA Today reporter Brad Heath tweets that Judge Mehta wants the Justice Department to explain whether it will continue to argue that it cannot confirm or deny the existence of FISA records related to Trump associates:
Judge Mehta wants DOJ to explain whether it will continue to argue that it cannot confirm or deny the existence of FISA records related to Trump associates. pic.twitter.com/p1XSlp8PsN
— Brad Heath (@bradheath) February 3, 2018
The Justice Department previously said it couldn’t confirm or deny the existence of foreign surveillance-related records regarding Donald Trump and his business and campaign associates. According to CNN, the FBI has claimed that such a disclosure would hurt national security and could interfere with the special counsel Mueller’s never ending probe into alleged Russian collusion and the 2016 election.
Judge Mehta acted after the Nunes memo was released on Friday. The memo describes FISA Court actions that allowed federal authorities to monitor former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page in 2016 and 2017.
A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, filed by the James Madison Project and USA Today reporter Brad Heath in April, is before Judge Mehta in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The suit seeks records from the FBI about FISA applications and authorizations for surveillance of the Trump Organization, President Donald J Trump and his campaign
A filing from USA Today’s lawyers Friday pointed out that the late October 2016 issuance of the FISA warrant on Page matched the month that Trump claims the Obama administration started wiretapping his phones at Trump Tower in New York. President Trump tweeted about President “tapping” Trump’s phones in March:
I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Judge Mehta gave the Department of Justice’s until Valentine’s Day to respond.