EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court against the Democratic National Committee, law firm Perkins Coie and its partners tied to the funding of the unverified dossier that served as the basis for highly controversial surveillance warrants against him.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois’ Eastern Division Thursday morning, and was described by his attorneys as the “first of multiple actions in the wake of historic” Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse.
“This is a first step to ensure that the full extent of the FISA abuse that has occurred during the last few years is exposed and remedied,” attorney John Pierce said Thursday. “Defendants and those they worked with inside the federal government did not and will not succeed in making America a surveillance state.”
He added: “This is only the first salvo. We will follow the evidence wherever it leads, no matter how high. … The rule of law will prevail.”
Page first filed a defamation suit on his own against the parties in October 2018 in federal court in Oklahoma, but that suit was dismissed in January 2019 after the judge ruled the court lacked jurisdiction over the case because neither Page nor the DNC had strong enough ties to the state.
Page is now represented by Pierce, the global managing partner of Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP. They filed in Illinois because they allege the relationship with the firm behind the dossier, Fusion GPS, was “orchestrated” through law firm Perkins Coie’s Chicago office. The suit also claims the DNC “has a historical pattern” of making Chicago its principal place of business.
Pierce called the suit the first in a “campaign to restore Dr. Page’s name and hold those who targeted him accountable.”
Page’s lawsuit does not specify the amount sought, instead seeking “compensatory, special and punitive damages in appropriate amounts to be established at trial.”
The suit alleges that the DNC, Perkins Coie and partners Marc Elias and Michael Sussman “used false information, misrepresentations and other misconduct to direct the power of the international intelligence apparatus and the media industry against” Page “to further their political agenda.”
The dossier in question was filled with salacious claims about Trump and his associates and has been the subject of fierce controversy ever since its public emergence around the time of President Trump’s inauguration. The document was authored by ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and funded by the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign through law firm Perkins Coie.
In December, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued a long-awaited report finding that the FBI made repeated errors and misrepresentations before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as the FBI sought to monitor Page in 2016 and 2017.
Horowitz confirmed that the FBI’s FISA applications to monitor Page heavily relied on the dossier and news reports rooted in Steele’s unverified research.
Just last week, the FISC released a newly declassified summary of a Justice Department assessment revealing at least two of the FBI’s surveillance applications to monitor Page lacked probable cause.
“In connection with an effort to counter the Trump campaign, Defendants undertook to develop opposition research regarding Trump and his campaign, including persons associated with that campaign,” the new lawsuit states. “As part of this effort, Defendants developed a dossier replete with falsehoods about numerous individuals associated with the Trump campaign—especially Dr. Page. Defendants then sought to tarnish the Trump campaign and its affiliates (including Dr. Page) by publicizing this false information.”
The suit goes on to allege the parties named “misrepresented Dr. Page’s connections to and interactions with certain foreign nationals in order to create the false impression that Dr. Page —a law-abiding American citizen who served his country honorably in the United States Navy and in the private sector—was in fact an agent of a foreign power, Russia.”
The suit states: “Defendants leveraged these fabrications within the Federal Bureau of Investigation (‘FBI’) and the United States Department of Justice (‘DOJ’), leading these agencies to present false applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (‘FISC’).”
The suit alleges Page was then “wrongfully and covertly surveilled” and “has seen his reputation ruined and his personal safety threatened.”
Page was a central figure in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election. Mueller did not find any wrongdoing by Page and was unable to substantiate the dossier’s claims about him.
Pierce’s firm also represents 2020 presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, who sued Hillary Clinton last week for defamation.