The Federal Bureau of Investigations asked for and received a secret court order last summer to eavesdrop on communications between Carter Page, then a campaign adviser to candidate Donald Trump, as part of the FBI's investigation into connections between Team Trump and Russia.
The Washington Post reported the news Tuesday, citing multiple unnamed sources.
In the government's application for the Carter Page surveillance order, investigators said they believed Page was an agent of Putin's Russian government, and that Page was involved in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow.
"This confirms all of my suspicions about unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance," Page told a reporter today. "I have nothing to hide."
Page then compared his predicament to when the FBI and Justice Department spied on the black civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
From the Washington Post:
The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page's communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.
This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election 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 Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The counterintelligence investigation into Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections began in July, officials have said. Most such investigations don't result in criminal charges.
The officials spoke about the court order on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of a counterintelligence probe.
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, officials said.
Photo: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters.