FBI monitored Trump aide for Russia links

WASHINGTON • The FBI investigated Trump campaign adviser Carter Page last year over worries he could have been working for Russia, the Washington Post has reported.

In the first confirmation that the government conducted surveillance on President Donald Trump's team, the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained a rare warrant to monitor Mr Page's communications from the top secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Post said on Tuesday.

The so-called Fisa warrant was issued after the FBI told the court there was probable cause to believe the former Moscow-based banker was working for Russia. Fisa warrants are almost never made public, and the Post cited unnamed law enforcement and other officials in its report. The FBI did not respond to requests to comment on the report.

The warrant was granted as the FBI conducted a counter-intelligence investigation into Russian interference in the election, an operation that US intelligence later concluded was ultimately designed to help Mr Trump to victory.

The FBI began its probe, which is also examining if there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow, in July.

In March last year, Mr Trump named Mr Page as one of his small team of foreign policy advisers. Mr Page then attended the Republican convention in July, where he and others met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

But months later, Mr Page was disavowed by the campaign, apparently in part because of the attention drawn by his trips to Moscow, which he said were for private business.

His name surfaced in a dossier or reports on links between the Trump operation and Russia compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

Mr Page told the Post he had "nothing to hide". "This confirms all of my suspicions about unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance," he said.

Meanwhile, CNN reported on Tuesday that recent intelligence reports brought to light by Republican Congressman Devin Nunes did not show, as Mr Nunes alleged, that the Obama administration had combed intelligence intercepts to find information about Mr Trump and his team.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2017, with the headline 'FBI monitored Trump aide for Russia links'. Print Edition | Subscribe