Carter Page, the American oil industry consultant who was tangentially and briefly associated with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, is calling out U.S. officials who may have been behind “highly damaging leaks” about him to the news media, alleging the leakers committed “felonies.”
In a letter to the House Select Committee on Intelligence and a follow-up email interview with Breitbart News, Page contended that the leaks come with a silver lining – he charges that the episode will expose the Obama administration’s use of false evidence to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) warrant to monitor his personal communications.
In the exchange with this reporter, Page maintained that “when the falsified FISA warrants against me are eventually revealed, the extent of illegal false evidence will show that there was never any probable cause but rather vindictive personal attacks used to justify the Clinton-Obama-Comey regime’s domestic political intelligence operation.”
On April 11, the Washington Post cited “law enforcement and other U.S. officials” stating that, as part of its investigation into alleged Russian collusion, the FBI obtained a secret FISA court order last summer to monitor Page’s communications.
The Post acknowledged it was reporting on leaked information, highlighting that the officials “spoke about the court order on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of a counterintelligence probe.”
The Post further reported on the court order:
The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.
The newspaper allowed that Page had not been accused of any crimes. It reported that the FISA court renewed the 90-day warrant on Page more than once, according to the officials.
The U.S. government has not responded to a Freedom of Information Act request from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) seeking information on why Page was surveilled.
Page himself has appealed for public disclosure of the justification for what he refers to as the “illegitimate” FISA warrant.
In a letter that he wrote last week to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Page cites the Privacy Act of 1974, which includes provisions that “Grant individuals the right to seek amendment of agency records maintained on themselves upon a showing that the records are not accurate, relevant, timely or complete.”
In April, CNN reported that the controversial 35-page dossier on Trump compiled by a former British intelligence officer served as part of the FBI’s justification for seeking the FISA court’s approval to clandestinely monitor Page.
In his testimony earlier this month before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on FBI oversight, then-FBI Director James B. Comey repeatedly refused to answer questions about his agency’s ties to the dossier, including whether it was used in the Russia probe.
The partially discredited dossier contains wild and unproven claims that the Russians had information on Trump and sordid sexual acts, including the mocked claim that Trump hired prostitutes and had them urinate on a hotel room bed.
The document was authored by former intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who was reportedly paid by Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans to investigate Trump. Last month, Steele conceded in court documents that part of his work still needed to be verified.
The Steele document, which Page refers to as the “Dodgy Dossier,” makes the unsubstantiated claim that Page met with Russian officials as an envoy for the Trump campaign to discuss policy issues and topics related to alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Page has steadfastly denied meeting any of the officials mentioned in Steele’s dossier and he says he never served as an envoy for the Trump campaign.
The Washington Post, meanwhile, cited “U.S. officials” on the contents of the FISA court warrant application:
Among other things, the application cited contacts that [Page] had with a Russian intelligence operative in New York City in 2013, officials said. Those contacts had earlier surfaced in a federal espionage case brought by the Justice Department against the intelligence operative and two other Russian agents. In addition, the application said Page had other contacts with Russian operatives that have not been publicly disclosed, officials said.
That 2013 case resurfaced in news media reports on April 4 when ABC News and BuzzFeed both verified with Page that he was the U.S. citizen identified as “Male-1” in a 2015 court filing regarding the case of three Russian men identified as Russian intelligence agents.
The spy ring was accused of seeking information on U.S. sanctions as well as methods of developing alternate sources of energy.
The filing references a “Male-1” working “as a consultant in New York City” and meeting with Victor Podobnyy, one of the accused Russian spies, who was posing as an executive with the Russian development bank Vnesheconombank, which has a branch in New York.
Page denies any wrongdoing and charges that the documents deliberately framed “Male-1” in a way that would easily identify him.
The FBI court filings describe “the attempted use of Male-1 as an intelligence source for Russia,” but Page was not accused of having been successfully recruited or spying. The court document cites no evidence that “Male-1” knew he was talking with alleged Russian agents.
Page cooperated with the FBI probe, saying that he met with the agency at the Plaza Hotel in New York in June 2013 in support of the investigation. Page was never charged with any crime; rather, he says he was regarded as a witness.
“Consistent with the politically motivated unmasking standards seen in the Obama administration which have recently been exposed, my personal identity and earlier assistance of federal authorities in the 2015 case of USA v. Buryakov, Sporyshev and Podobnyy was framed in an easily identifiable way that amplified the reputational damage against me,” Page told ABC News.
The Post’s article on the FISA court warrant followed a series of other stories on Page in the previous months citing anonymous sources, including a September story by Yahoo! News chief correspondent Michael Isikoff, titled, “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin.”
That story relied on multiple unnamed “sources who have been briefed on the issue” of Page and Russia. Those sources claimed that “U.S. intelligence officials are seeking to determine” whether Page “opened up private communications with senior Russian officials.”
In his letter to the House committee, Page zeroes on what he says are the “timed leaks of damaging material,” particularly the Post story about the FISA warrant and other stories about him based on unnamed sources.
Page writes in the letter: “Although several other crimes by the Clinton/Obama regime during the 2016 election continue to become known over time, the possible leaks of classified information which took place related to the Obama administration’s Intelligence Community Assessment of these matters have thus far included two specific felonies which directly relate to me as outlined in my response to this question.”
Page was answering this broad question from the House committee: “What possible leaks of classified information took place related to the Intelligence Community Assessment of these matters?”
The two “felonies” that Page says were committed by leakers were the FISA warrant leaks and the framing of “Male-1” in court documents in a manner that he says was meant to “unmask” his name.
Page told Breitbart News he believes the alleged leaks “may have been disclosed in order to stir up more unwarranted fear.”
In testimony last Tuesday, former CIA Director John Brennan affirmed that after viewing all of the evidence that was available to him on the Russia probe he is not aware of any collusion between Russia and members of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Page and campaign
Page’s role in Trump’s presidential campaign has long been seemingly exaggerated in the news media.
In an interview with the Post’s editorial board last March, Trump briefly mentioned Page as a member of his foreign policy advisory team. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks clarified that Page’s role was “informal.”
Page has been cited in various news media reports as an “ex-foreign policy adviser” to Trump’s campaign and a “Trump associate.” An article in the New Yorker recently claimed he was a member of Trump’s “inner circle.”
In the letter to the House Intelligence Committee, Page states that he never met Trump and that he was an “informal, unpaid campaign volunteer” and a “very junior member of the Trump movement who didn’t actually have any direct one-on-one discussions or meetings with our candidate.”
Page charges that the news media has been inflating his relationship with Trump’s presidential campaign in an effort to tarnish the U.S. president.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.