A closer look at Carter Page, the Trump associate who was under FBI scrutiny

The Washington Post reported the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to monitor Page.

ByABC News
April 12, 2017, 3:51 PM

— -- Carter Page can't stop making headlines.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor Donald Trump's former foreign policy adviser because they suspected he might be working with the Russians. Law enforcement officials presented enough evidence, the Post reported, to convince a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge to authorize electronic surveillance of his communication.

Approval of a FISA warrant, according to John Carlin, the former assistant attorney general for national security and an ABC News contributor, requires extensive evidence.

"You have to lay out a series of facts that show that there's probable cause to believe that someone is an agent of a foreign power," Carlin said, speaking in general and not about any specific case. "It's secret because it's designed for foreign agents."

Page has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, but the Post's report is the clearest indication that his ties to Russia are a key element of the FBI's ongoing investigation into "links" between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential race. FBI Director James Comey confirmed that his office was engaged in a probe of Russia's attempts to meddle in the election on Trump's behalf when he appeared before Congress in March, though he did not specify who those individuals might be.

"The FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election," Comey told lawmakers. "And that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts."

The White House, the FBI and the Justice Department have all declined to comment on the Post's report.

Page, however, appears to be going on the offensive, casting its revelations as confirmation that he had been targeted by the Obama administration because, he says, he was a "dissident."

"There had been prior reports, but I was so happy to hear that further confirmation is now being revealed," Page told ABC News. "It shows how low the Clinton/Obama regime went to destroy our democracy and suppress dissidents who did not fully support their failed foreign policy. It will be interesting to see what comes out when the unjustified basis for those FISA requests are more fully disclosed over time, including potentially the Dodgy Dossier -- a document that clearly is false evidence, which could represent yet another potential crime."

Before aligning himself with Trump, Page lived in Moscow for three years while working on energy projects for Merrill Lynch and then started his own investment firm, Global Energy Capital, with former Gazprom executive Sergei Yatsenko. He joined the Trump campaign as a foriegn policy adviser in March of 2016, and in July he traveled to Moscow to deliver a speech at the New Economic School, where he was critical of the Obama administration's policies on Russia and advocated for a "mutual respect" between the two countries.

“Yet, ironically, Washington and other Western powers have impeded potential progress through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change,” Page said.

After concerns were raised about the nature of the trip, the Trump campaign attempted to distance their candidate from Page, characterizing his role as "informal" and his contributions as minimal, though Trump himself had previously identified page as a key member of his foreign policy team.

While Page's role in the campaign was over, his role in the drama was just beginning, and the new administration continues to face questions about Page and his activities.

The unverified dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and published by Buzzfeed in Janaury also described contacts between Page and Kremlin officials, claims Page dismissed as "ridiculous" in a rare on-camera interview with ABC News in February.

“It would have been an honor to meet [Russian oil executive and Putin ally] Igor Ivanovich [Sechin], but I never had that opportunity,” said Page. "Never happened."

Last week, ABC News reported that Page had been targeted for recruitment as an intelligence source in 2013 by Russian spies gathering "economic intelligence" about the United States. Page acknowledged that he is the anonymous "Male-1" identified in an unsealed FBI complaint detailing the activities of a spy trio operating in New York that attempted to draw Page into their operation by promising favors in exchange for business opportunities in Russia.

Page, who cooperated in the FBI investigation that led to the arrest and imprisonment of one of the spies, said their efforts were unsuccessful, telling ABC News that he gave them only "immaterial" information.

“Any information I could give is, again, immaterial and all public information,” he said.

ABC News' Jack Date, Matthew Mosk, and Cho Park contributed to this report.

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