According to a Wall Street Journal report, Carter Page was on the radar of the FBI since 2013 “when Russian spies made an attempt to recruit him.” However, for some undetermined reason the FBI waited until October 21st, 2016, to apply for Title I surveillance authority through the FISA court.
Additionally, according to their reporting, after FISC approval there were three more renewal applications for a total of four submissions to the FISA court. A source tells the Journal all four FBI requests were reviewed by four different judges:
[…] The memo describes the process by which the government got a secret warrant under the law that governs the secret court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, for Mr. Page.
[…] At least two of those renewals occurred while Mr. Trump was president and at least one was authorized by a Justice Department official he appointed. A person familiar with the matter said that four separate federal judges approved the surveillance of Mr. Page, and all of those judges were appointed by Republican presidents. (link)
If this is factually correct it raises an interesting dynamic because there are not that many FISA Court Judges in Washington DC. [FISA Court Link]
♦Judge Rosemary M Collyer is the presiding FISA judge and was the signatory for the court’s 99-page opinion written, April 2017, in the aftermath of the DOJ, FBI and NSA admissions to violating the FISA-702(16)(17) rules and procedures. [See Here]
♦Judge Rudolph Contreras is a FISA judge and the original DC circuit presiding judge who accepted the Mike Flynn plea (Dec. 1, 2017) and then ‘was recused’ five days later. [See Here]
Accepting there are only three DC circuit judges: Rosemary Collyer, Rudolph Contreras and James Boasberg; and accepting that four different judges approved the DOJ/FBI application and renewals for Title I surveillance of Carter Page; it seems almost certain that Collyer and Contreras were involved in the Justice Department effort to identify Carter Page as an ‘American working on behalf of a foreign government’.
It would be ‘almost’ impossible to have four separate engagements with the FISA court, and gain a different judge on each encounter. It would be entirely impossible to have four separate judges if the original application and all three subsequent renewals went through the same district. (There are only three judges in the DC district – making four separate judges impossible.) Something is entirely fishy about this.
Either the WSJ source is incorrect, or the greater likelihood is the DOJ was strategically approaching a different FISA judge each time.