Washington D. C. [USA], Apr 12 (ANI): The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) obtained a secret court order last year to monitor the communications of Carter Page, an advisor to President Donald Trump during the election campaign, as part of its investigation of Russia's role in the 2016 presidential campaign.
The Washington Post, citing law enforcement and other U.S. officials, reported that the FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Page's communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) judge that there was probable cause to believe that he was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia.
This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe that a Trump campaign advisor was in touch with Russian agents during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether Russia meddled in last year's presidential election to swing it in Trump's favor.
Page has not been accused of any crimes, and it is unclear whether the Justice Department might later seek charges against him or others in connection with the case.
During an interview last year, Trump had identified Page, who had previously been an investment banker in Moscow, as a foreign policy advisor in his campaign. Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks later described Page's role as "informal."
Page has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in his dealings with the Trump campaign or Russia.
"This confirms all of my suspicions about unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance. I have nothing to hide," Page said in an interview Tuesday as he compared surveillance of him to the eavesdropping that the FBI and Justice Department conducted against civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
FBI Director James B. Comey disclosed in public testimony to the House Intelligence Committee last month that the bureau is investigating efforts by the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
However, Comey declined to comment during the hearing about any individuals, including Page.
Since the 90-day warrant was first issued, it has been renewed more than once by the FISA court, the officials said.
Page's role as an advisor to the Trump campaign drew alarm because of his effusive praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his criticism of U.S. sanctions over Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine.
In July, Page traveled to Moscow, where he delivered a speech harshly critical of the United States' policy toward Russia.
While there, Page allegedly met with Igor Sechin, a Putin confidant and chief executive of the energy company Rosneft, according to a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence officer and cited at a congressional hearing by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
The officials said some of the information in the dossier has been verified by U.S. intelligence agencies, and some of it hasn't, while other parts are unlikely to ever be proved or disproved.
On Tuesday, Page dismissed what he called "the dodgy dossier" of false allegations.
Page has denied such a meeting occurred, saying he has never met Sechin in his life and that he wants to testify before Congress to clear his name. (ANI)