Carter Page, the former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who met with and passed documents to a Russian spy in 2013, said that the seizure of a journalist’s personal communications is “minuscule” compared with what happened to him.
Members of the media and advocates for the press have been incensed that the Justice Department seized years’ worth of private correspondence — email and phone records — of New York Times reporter Ali Watkins without her knowledge.
Watkins’ records were seized in an investigation of Senate Intelligence Committee staffer James Wolfe, who pleaded not guilty Wednesday to lying to FBI agents. His indictment cited Watkins’ 2017 story for BuzzFeed News, where she worked at the time, that Page met with and passed documents to a Russian spy in 2013.
Though Page is not named in the indictment, it also said that the adviser had complained twice to the Senate committee that someone had leaked the details of the schedule for his testimony last year to another reporter. Wolfe was not charged with leaking classified information.
“A couple of phone records for her [is] minuscule, compared to every phone conversation you have, every email,” Page told BuzzFeed News in an interview Wednesday night.
“You know, they talk about the hack, right? You know, the Jan. 6 DNI report, of last year — hacking. No one got hacked as much as myself, by these false, these fake FISA, you know, totally fraudulent processes,” he said.
Page also said he knew Wolfe, who ran security for the Senate committee, and that he had in fact complained by email to Wolfe and to other Senate staffers when news of Page's planned appearance before the committee leaked.
According to a Republican memo released in February, a federal judge renewed a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant on Page three times after the initial approval in October 2016.
Warrants granted under FISA, such as the one approved for Page, are valid for only 90 days and can be renewed only if a judge is convinced the warrant has yielded valuable intelligence.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that a Customs and Border Protection agent had approached Watkins about her sourcing last June, and is now being investigated by the agency.
Remy Smidt is a reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Remy Smidt at email@example.com.
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