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Report: U.S. sought to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page last summer

Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser of President-elect Trump, speaks at a news conference at RIA Novosti news agency in Moscow, Russia on Dec. 12, 2016.

The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of Carter Page, an adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump, because the government had reason to believe Page was acting as a Russian agent, The Washington Post has reported.

Page is among the Trump associates under scrutiny as the FBI and congressional committees investigate whether his presidential campaign had ties to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. Trump has denied any wrongdoing, but the investigations could shadow his presidency for months or even years.

The Post, citing unnamed law enforcement and other U.S. officials, said Tuesday the government surveillance application laid out the basis for believing that Page had knowingly engaged in intelligence activities on Russia’s behalf. The newspaper said the application includes contacts Page had with a Russian intelligence operative in 2013.

Those contacts are detailed in a 2015 court filing involving a case against three men charged in connection with a Cold War-style Russian spying ring. According to the filing, Page provided one of the men documents about the energy industry. He was not charged as part of that case.

An FBI spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment from The Associated Press.

Page, who has denied having improper ties to Russia, told the AP Tuesday he was “happy” that the court order had been revealed and blamed the Obama administration for trying to “suppress dissidents who did not fully support their failed foreign policy.”

“It will be interesting to see what comes out when the unjustified basis for those FISA requests are more fully disclosed over time,” said Page, using an acronym to refer to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The FISA court and its orders are highly secretive. Judges grant permission for surveillance if they agree there’s probable cause that the target is an agent of a foreign power. Though the standard is a high bar to meet, applications are hardly ever denied.