Trump Advisor’s Lawsuit Dismissed Despite FBI Warrant Errors
WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Trump administration advisor Carter Page after he was investigated by the FBI for alleged illegal ties to the Russian government.
The investigation included tapping his phone, which a later inspector general’s report concluded was done without proper legal authorization.
“I’ve been the victim of one of the most horrendous civil rights violations in recent U.S. election history,” Page told CNN during an April 2017 televised interview.
He claimed $75 million in damages against the Justice Department and FBI for violations of his Fourth Amendment rights to privacy.
The surveillance “violated federal statutes enacted to prevent unlawful spying on United States persons, as well as the Constitution,” Page’s lawsuit said.
District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich agreed in her 54-page ruling that Page raised “troubling” questions about how the FBI handled the investigation but they did not rise to the violation Page claimed.
The FBI began investigating Page shortly after he gave a speech critical of U.S. policy toward Russia in July 2016 at a university in Moscow.
Before he became a foreign policy advisor to Donald Trump, Page was a petroleum industry consultant. His work included contracts with Russian government-controlled oil and gas company Gazprom.
FBI agents sought a warrant to wiretap Page before a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court. The special federal court is authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to oversee requests for surveillance warrants against foreign spies.
The FBI agents said they were concerned Page cooperated with Russian intelligence services that were trying to influence the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.
Page was one of several Trump associates the FBI investigated during Operation Crossfire Hurricane, which was the code name for a nearly yearlong investigation into numerous links between Russian officials and the Trump presidential campaign.
The Justice Department inspector general’s report said the FBI’s procedure for getting a wiretap warrant on Page was riddled with errors and sloppy work.
It included drawing evidence from a discredited dossier written by a retired British spy. There also were omissions of fact and false statements, the inspector general reported.
Two of the four FISA warrants the FBI obtained were declared invalid by a different federal court in 2019.
Regardless of the mistakes, Friedrich said Page failed to prove the damages he claimed.
One reason his lawsuit failed was because Page sued the wrong people, the judge said. The named defendants helped draft court filings for the surveillance warrant but did not participate in investigating Page.
“To the extent these allegations are true, there is little question that many individual defendants, as well as the agency as a whole, engaged in wrongdoing,” Friedrich wrote. “Even so, Page has brought no actionable claim against any individual defendant or against the United States.”
Friedrich issued her ruling on the same day President Joe Biden denounced Trump and his supporters during a prime-time television presentation. He said they were trying to “promote authoritarian leaders.”