In an eight-count complaint filed Friday in the D.C. District Court, Carter Page seeks damages of no less than $75 million from the U.S. government, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and individuals responsible for obtaining four illegal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act orders against Page.
Page’s 59-page complaint lists as defendants a veritable “Who’s Who” of the SpyGate scandal, including former FBI Director James Comey, Assistant Director Andrew McCabe, and the disgraced team of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. Also singled out were Kevin Clinessmith, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to falsifying an email to hide Page’s past service as a source to the CIA, and FBI Agents Joe Pientka, Stephen Somma, and Brian Auten, with additional defendants identified merely as John Doe 1 – 10 and Jane Doe 1 – 10.
The first four counts of his complaint allege claims under FISA, with one count seeking damages for each of the four FISA court orders the defendants obtained against Page. FISA provides a private right of action to allow “an aggrieved person. . . who has been subjected to an electronic surveillance or about whom information obtained by electronic surveillance of such person has been disclosed,” to sue those responsible.
In addition to stating a civil claim for damages under FISA, Page’s attorneys note in the complaint that FISA makes it a criminal offense to illegally “engage in electronic surveillance under color of law.” While only the government can prosecute a criminal violation of FISA, the allegation is a stark reminder that other than Clinesmith, no criminal cases have resulted from the illegal targeting of Page and the Trump campaign—at least not yet.
Page’s fifth cause of action alleges a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act which provides that the United States is liable for civil wrongs “in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances.” In other words, Page can sue the government and its agents for wrongful conduct, just as he could a private person.
This count seeks damages for the individual defendants who “committed an abuse of process because they acted with an ulterior motive in using the FISA warrant process to accomplish an end unintended and not permitted by law, to wit, to spy on the Trump presidential campaign by unlawfully invading the privacy of Dr. Page without probable cause.” And yes, contrary to the corporate media’s continued denial, the Obama-Biden Administration intended to, and did, spy on the Trump campaign, including by obtaining the illegal FISA orders to surveil Page.
In his sixth cause of action, Page alleged what is called a Bivens claim, after the Supreme Court case of the same name. In Bivens, the Supreme Court held that a plaintiff is entitled to damages from the individual government actors responsible for violating the plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, when the defendants act willfully, knowingly, or with a reckless disregard for the truth—which describes precisely what the Crossfire Hurricane team did in submitting the four false and misleading FISA applications to the FISA court.
The final two claims seek a remedy for Page under the federal Privacy Act. The first Privacy Act complaint seeks to force the Department of Justice to update Carter Page’s “individual records” and states that the Department of Justice rejected Page’s request to correct Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report, or even conduct a review as required under the Privacy Act, and accordingly Page seeks an injunction to compel the government to do so. His final claim, also under the Privacy Act, seeks damages for the harm he suffered when “he was falsely portrayed as a traitor to his country,” as well as court costs and attorney fees.
Page’s D.C.-based attorney Leslie McAdoo Gordon, a principal with McAdoo Gordon & Associates, told me, “Carter’s life has been seriously damaged by the false accusation that he was a Russian spy. It is high time that he receives compensation for the gross and deliberate violations of his civil liberties by government officials.”
In addition to McAdoo Gordon’s counsel, Page is represented by John Pierce of Pierce Bainbridge P.C. from Los Angeles, California, K. Lawson Pedigo from the Dallas, Texas firm of Miller Keffer & Pedigo, and Timothy Parlatore, from the Parlatore Law Group in New York.
The next step will be for the defendants to be served with the complaint, for their attorneys to file their appearances, and respond. Then the fun will begin—discovery!
Margot Cleveland is a senior contributor to The Federalist. Cleveland served nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk to a federal appellate judge and is a former full-time faculty member and adjunct instructor at the college of business at the University of Notre Dame.
The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.