By Ellen Nakashima, Devlin Barrett and Adam Entous Washington Post April 11, 2017
The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other US officials said.
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.
FBI Director James 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 presidential election.
Comey said this includes investigating the ‘‘nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.’’
The government’s application for the surveillance order targeting Page included a lengthy declaration that laid out investigators’ basis for believing that Page was an agent of the Russian government and knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow, officials said.
Among other things, the application cited contacts that Page 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.