Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says he believes there were “sound reasons” for judges to approve the FISA warrant on former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. Burr denies that the FISA application filed by the Justice Department “came up short.”
It seems to me that there are two distinct questions raised by the FISA application. First, did it provide sufficient basis, on its face, to justify the issuance of the warrant? Second, was it an honest document filed in good faith?
The first question pertains to the judges who approved the applications. The second pertains to the Justice Department lawyers who sought them. Even if the answer to the second question is “no,” the answer to the first question might be “yes.” The judges might have made a defensible ruling given the information before them. Yet the government might have deceived or misled the judges and/or sought the warrant for improper reasons (e.g., to spy on the Trump campaign).
As reported here by CNN, Burr’s comment goes to the first question — the merit of the judges’ rulings. Unless Burr said more than what is reported by CNN, his comment does not reach the second question.
I take no position yet on judges’ decisions. For what it’s worth, I will note that the four judges in question reportedly are Republican nominees.
On the second question, I believe the government was not fully honest with the FISA court and that there’s a good chance it sought the warrant for political reasons.