MANHATTAN (CN) – President Donald Trump’s former adviser Carter Page cannot sue news outlets that said his suspected ties to senior Russian officials drew the attention of U.S. intelligence agents, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Yahoo News investigative reporter Michael Isikoff was the first to file the report in September 2016, saying that officials had been probing whether Page discussed lifting economic sanctions against Russia in the event that then-candidate Trump would be elected. The article was later republished by the Huffington Post.
Page sued their parent company Oath and its board of directors roughly a year later in a quirky federal lawsuit that accused the companies of more than just defamation.
Acting as his own attorney in a pro se suit, 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 found Page’s lawsuit unsalvageable.
“The court believes that any effort to replead a federal claim against Oath or its subsidiaries would be futile,” she wrote in a 9-page ruling, nonetheless inviting him to do so.
Page, who is not an attorney, is not deterred.
“Similar to the slick maneuvers by Comey & McCabe in the FISC over recent years, clever lawyers for powerful entities often manage to briefly pull the wool over the eyes of busy district court judges,” Page tweeted, citing the conspiracy theory that FBI’s former officials spied on the Trump campaign through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Quoting anonymous officials, Yahoo News published that U.S. intelligence officials received reports that Page met with two associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin: Igor Sechin, an executive chairman of the country’s leading oil company Rosneft, and Igor Diveykin, Russia’s deputy chief for internal policy.
Schofield noted that the report had been carefully qualified.
“The article does not say that plaintiff actually met with the two Russians, but rather that U.S. officials had received reports of such meetings,” she wrote. “The substance and even headline of the article express uncertainty about the occurrence and substance of any such meetings. That some readers may have assumed that the meetings occurred does not constitute fraud by the article’s publisher.”
Oath’s attorney James Rosenfeld, from the firm Davis Wright Tremaine, declined to comment, citing a policy concerning pending litigation.