The application to target Page laid out the basis for investigators to claim that he “was an agent of the Russian government and knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow,” according to unnamed officials sourced by the Post.
“Among other things, the application cited contacts that he 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 another Russian agent. In addition, the application said Page had other contacts with Russian operatives that have not been publicly disclosed,” the officials told the newspaper.
The Post noted that Page has not been accused of a crime, and there is nothing indicating whether the Justice Department plans to file any charges. Evidence of a crime is not required to obtain the surveillance, but information found through eavesdropping may be used for prosecution. All they need to prove is that information may be obtained that is related to foreign intelligence.
Page, who had been informally brought onto the campaign team as a foreign policy adviser, had previously worked as an investment banker in Moscow.
“Page’s role as an adviser to the Trump campaign drew alarm last year from more-established foreign policy experts in part because of Page’s effusive praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his criticism of US sanctions over Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine,” the Post reported. There was also alarm after Page delivered a speech in Moscow in July, where he criticized the attitude and policies of the US towards Russia, saying that the nation has a "hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption, and regime change."
Officials told the Post that “Page is the only American to have had his communications directly targeted with a FISA warrant in 2016 as part of the Russia probe.”
The conversations of Michael Flynn that were captured, and leaked to the press, were part of routine monitoring of Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Last month, FBI Director James B. Comey confirmed that an investigation into Russian ties is ongoing. He did not comment about any individuals who were being targeted for the spying.
“This confirms all of my suspicions about unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance,” Page told the Post in an interview about the surveillance. “I have nothing to hide.”
The Post added that he compared the surveillance on him to “the eavesdropping that the FBI and Justice Department conducted against civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.”
Page has asked to testify before Congress to clear his name.
Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the 2016 US presidential election, or untoward connections with the Trump team.