One-time adviser of US president-elect Donald Trump Carter Page addresses the audience during a presentation in Moscow, Russia, December 12, 2016. Photograph: (Reuters)
A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge was convinced there was probable cause to believe Carter Page was acting as a Russian agent
The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing law enforcement and other US officials.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting foreign policy adviser 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, the Post said.
Page has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in his dealings with the Trump campaign or Russia, the newspaper reported.
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, according to the Post.
In a statement to Reuters, Page said the court order was evidence that the administration of former President Barack Obama wanted to "suppress dissidents" who opposed its 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 ...," he said.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters, which could not independently confirm the Post story. The White House and FBI declined to comment.
The FBI and congressional committees are investigating whether Russia tried to influence the election in Trump's favour, mostly by hacking Democratic operatives' emails and releasing embarrassing information, or possibly by colluding with Trump associates.
Russia denies the allegations, which Trump also dismisses.
Page has not been accused of any crimes, and it is unclear whether the Justice Department might later seek charges against him or others in connection with Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election, the Post said.