A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit brought by Trump 2016 campaign adviser Carter Page, who sued the FBI and Justice Department for damages stemming from the controversial government surveillance he faced due to his Russian ties.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, federal investigators obtained permission from the FISA court to wiretap Page, and the surveillance continued for roughly one year.
While Russia was meddling in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump, investigators wanted to monitor Page because of his web of Russian connections. This included ties to known Russian spies, his past work for Kremlin-controlled Gazprom and a pro-Russia speech that he delivered in Moscow at the height of the campaign.
However, the process that the FBI and DOJ used to secure the warrants was riddled with errors, mistakes and overall sloppiness, according to a DOJ inspector general report. Investigators also relied in part on material from the notorious Trump-Russia dossier, written by a retired British spy, which has since been largely discredited.
Two of the four surveillance warrants granted by the secretive FISA court have since been declared invalid – a major blow to the credibility of the FBI’s early Russia probe.
Page sued the DOJ and FBI and an array of ex-FBI officials, including former Director James Comey, former top counterintelligence official Peter Strzok, and former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who was convicted of doctoring an email related to the FISA application. (Many of these figures deny abusing their powers or acting out of bias.)
In the lawsuit, Page accused the federal agencies and ex-officials of violating his constitutional rights, and demanded $75 million in damages. But District Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected his lawsuit on Thursday. In a 54-page ruling, the Trump appointee said Page’s claims were “troubling” but still decided to throw out the case.
Part of Friedrich’s rationale for tossing the lawsuit is that Page sued the wrong people. The defendants were involved in drafting the court filings that led to the surveillance, and some even greenlit the surveillance, but none of them conducted the surveillance.