by Sharon Rondeau

(Jun. 27, 2019) — On Thursday night’s “Hannity,” investigative journalist Sara A. Carter told host Sean Hannity that classified documents provided to the so-called “Gang of Eight” in Congress “changed everybody’s mind” regarding the purpose and methods behind surveillance warrant applications submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) by FBI and DOJ officials on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page between October 2016 and June 2017.

“So once they saw the information that was in there, the highly-classified information that dealt with the exculpatory evidence, that’s what was so essential in changing the minds of people like Paul Ryan and Trey Gowdy, who actually saw what was withheld form the court,” Sara Carter said.

Federal law requires that exculpatory evidence be submitted to the prosecutor in criminal proceedings against a defendant and to the FISC including when the government applies for a warrant to monitor the individual’s communications.

Ryan (R-WI) served as Speaker of the House in the 115th Congress and announced in early 2018 that he would not seek re-election.  Gowdy, a four-term Republican from South Carolina, made a similarly-timed announcement and since leaving Congress, became a Fox News contributor.

In recent interviews, Gowdy has said that one classified document, in particular, convinced him that the basis for the Russia collusion investigation was questionable.

The “Gang of Eight” comprises the four highest-ranking Republican and Democrat party leaders from the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, who former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said were informed about the Russia “collusion” probe in early 2017 and “No one objected.”

The counterintelligence probe into the campaign was reportedly opened on July 31, 2016, although members of Congress involved in their on investigations into its origins have reported that it began much earlier.

Thursday night’s discussion began with Fox News Legal Analyst Gregg Jarrett and Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton having claimed that the FBI has not been forthcoming about releasing requested documents through FOIA and having violated a 2009 executive order issued by Barack Hussein Obama regarding agency transparency.

“Transparency” was pledged by the Obama regime, although emails and text messages reviewed by John Solomon of The Hill in recent days show Obama officials deeply involved in an effort to discredit the incoming Trump administration and perpetrating surveillance on the Trump campaign.

Fitton stated that the FBI is continuing to stonewall text messages in response to a FOIA lawsuit, one of many the watchdog organization has filed to obtain documents on the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the Trump-Russia “collusion” investigation.

Jarrett and Hannity stressed that “exculpatory evidence” was withheld from the FISC which would have shown that Carter Page and another Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, were “telling the truth” when they said there was no coordination between the campaign and the Kremlin.

Despite having been described as an “agent of a foreign power” in the initial FISA application, Page was never charged with a crime.  However, Papadopoulos was accused of lying to the FBI and obstruction of justice for which he was threatened with 25 years in prison, he wrote in his book, “Deep State Target.”  As a result, Papadopoulos wrote, he accepted a plea deal on one count of lying for which he served 12 days in federal prison, performed community service and paid a $9,500 fine.

In the book Papadopoulos claimed his attorneys were not presented with transcripts from his FBI interviews, rendering him unable to identify and correct any inconsistencies in his statements.

In May 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was hired to conclude the probe begun by the FBI. After 22 months and $35 million spent, Mueller’s team of 19 prosecutors found no evidence of “collusion.”

“This is what the FBI does…secrecy breeds corruption, and it leads to immense power,” Jarrett said at 9:46 p.m., faulting FBI Director and Trump nominee Christopher Wray for failing to release the requested documentation.  Fitton reminded the audience that the FBI claimed earlier this year, in response to the lawsuit, that text messages do not constitute “government records” under FOIA.

Last month, Trump authorized Attorney General William Barr to declassify an unknown quantity of documents associated with the Russia probe.  Over the last two weeks, Papadopoulos and several congressmen have declared document releases to be impending, but to the public’s knowledge, nothing new has yet been released publicly.

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