New documents show that one month before the 2016 elections, the Federal Bureau of Investigation sought permission to surveil Carter Page, the one-time foreign policy adviser to the campaign of Donald Trump, because they alleged he had been recruited by the Russian government.
The Justice Department late Saturday released documents related to surveillance warrants on Page.
The FISA application cites evidence in the Steele dossier, believed to have been compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, that Page engaged in "clandestine intelligence activities", on behalf of a foreign power and "influence activities", pertaining to the 2016 election.
It added Page "has established relationships with Russian Government officials, including Russian intelligence officers". He distanced himself from the Trump campaign in September 2016 while under scrutiny.
That section cites information from "Source #1" who alleged that during a trip to Moscow in July 2016, Page met secretly with two sanctioned Kremlin insiders, Igor Sechin and Igor Diveykin, as part of a collusion scheme involving the Trump campaign. There is redacted line followed by "undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 USA presidential election in violation of US criminal law".
"House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Saturday that 'these documents provide clear evidence of 'Russia's coordination with Carter Page, ' a high-ranking Trump campaign official, 'to undermine and improperly and illegally influence the 2016 US presidential election".
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Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee waged a fierce campaign to discredit the FBI's and DOJ's surveillance process this spring, alleging that the agencies abused their authority when seeking the warrant against Page.
Democrats also argue the FBI's interest in Page predated its knowledge of the opposition research dossier and say it was not the dossier and the Page FISA warrant that prompted the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into Russia, but rather an earlier conversation that former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos had with an Australian diplomat about alleged Russian dirt on Clinton.
The documents released include applications and renewal warrants filed in 2017 after Mr Trump took office.
How does this fit into the wider picture?
The charges form part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into United States intelligence findings that Russians conspired to tilt the election in Mr Trump's favour, and whether any of his campaign aides colluded. "This Democrat excuse for losing the '16 Election never ends!" Mr Trump has labelled the investigation a "witch hunt".
Earlier this year, 13 other Russians and three Russian companies were indicted on charges of conspiring to interfere with the election.
Mr Coats, who was speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, was filmed laughing, before saying "that's going to be special".