MANHATTAN (CN) — Accusing a digital-media giant of defamation as well as terrorism, former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page argued Friday before the Second Circuit that so-called fake news about him puts his personal safety at risk.
“My life has never been the same,” 48-year-old Page told the appeals panel Friday, referring to death threats he says flooded in after Yahoo published a report in September 2016 that said the FBI was investigating his role in coordinating with Russia to lift economic sanctions should then-candidate Trump win the election.
The article was later republished by the Huffington Post, which like Yahoo is a subsidiary of a media conglomerate called Oath Inc. In 2017, the same year Verizon bought Oath, Page sued the company and its board of directors pro se.
Alleging more than mere defamation, however, Page claimed that the reports interfered with his business relations and violated the Anti-Terrorism Act by inspiring death threats against him.
U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield tossed the suit in March 2018. Finding Page’s claims beyond salvageable — “The court believes that any effort to replead a federal claim against Oath or its subsidiaries would be futile,” Schofield wrote — the judge said Page would have to write a letter to the court if he still wished to amend.
Page instead appealed to the Second Circuit, once again acting as his own counsel.
Before a three-judge panel Friday, the former financial executive insisted that he had been denied a fair hearing and denied leave to amend.
“There was a lot of additional potential claims which I had defined, and unfortunately I was very limited,” Page told reporters Friday morning. “If you look at the laws of this court and the Supreme Court, definitely within that precedent I think that there’s definitely a great reason for remand,” Page added.
Before the appellate panel meanwhile, Page likened the hostile blowback he faced from stories published online to the same definition of terrorism that the Southern District of New York applied in the case of Akayed Ullah, a would-be subway bomber who faces a life sentence for a nonfatal bomb explosion in a Port Authority transit tunnel.
Page argued death threats against him would be included under the same federal definition of terrorism, which covers dangerous acts that appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.
The Ullah case was litigated before U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan, who sat on Page’s three-judge appellate panel today by designation.
Sullivan, a Trump-appointee, was joined by U.S. Circuit Judges Amalya Kearse and Michael Park.
David Parker, an attorney for Oath with the firm Hunton Andrews Kurth in Richmond, Virginia, called Page's appeal "frivolous on its face."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Seungkun Cha-Kim briefly addressed the panel as well, arguing for Oath’s Broadcasting Board of Governors. Kim called Page’s claims meritless and said they do not rise to the level of terrorism as claimed.
The panel did not indicate when they will rule.
Page appeared encouraged by reports that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to release a report on Dec. 9 that will purportedly say a former FBI lawyer is suspected of altering a document related to the agency surveillance warrant in 2016 to monitor Page’s communications
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants obtained on Page, which were renewed several times and approved by different judges in 2016 and early 2017, have been one of the most factious elements of the FBI's Russia investigation, inspiring dueling memos last year issued by Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.
"They got my warrant — a fraudulent warrant, I believe — to spy on myself as a way of getting into the Trump campaign," Page said in a Friday morning interview on Maria Bartiromo's Fox Business program "Mornings With Maria."
"There has been a continued cover-up to this day," Page continued. "We still don't have the truth, but hopefully, we'll get that soon.”
Page previously claimed in 2018 federal suit filed in Oklahoma that the Democratic National Committee and its law firm Perkins Coie defamed him by distributing an infamous dossier stating he communicated with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.