DNC seeks to have Carter Page suit thrown out

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Thursday, 22 November 2018

DNC seeks to have Carter Page suit thrown out


DNC-seeks-to-have-Carter-Page-suit-thrown-out



DNC seeks to have Carter Page suit thrown out

The Democratic National Committee and two of its top lawyers have asked a federal judge to toss out a lawsuit former Trump adviser Carter Page filed last month claiming the attorneys and the party libeled him through opposition research painting him as an agent of Russia.


In a motion filed Wednesday in federal court in Oklahoma City, the DNC, attorneys Marc Elias and Michael Sussman and their law firm, Perkins Coie, unleashed a fusillade of technical and substantive attacks on Page’s lawsuit.


The 46-page filing also seeks to shoot down some of Page’s more extreme claims, like an assertion that he is the victim of “terrorism” and that the conduct of the DNC, Elias and Sussman amounted to racketeering under federal law.


However, the main thrust of the defense motion is that Page’s suit is fatally flawed, particularly because he filed it in Oklahoma, and none of the parties appear to have strong ties to the state.


“Defendants deny the baseless allegations set forth in the Complaint. But Defendants need not address Page’s bizarre and speculative narrative here because even if Page could state a viable legal claim based on the vague facts alleged, this decidedly is not the appropriate forum in which to do so,” wrote the defense team, headed by former Obama White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler.


Page’s suit alleges that Elias and Sussman — acting on behalf of the Democratic National Committee — gave reporters information that led to the publication of a September 2016 Yahoo News article calling attention to Page’s dealings with Russia as an energy consultant. The suit also blames the DNC, the attorneys and their firm for BuzzFeed’s public release in January 2017 of a so-called dossier on alleged links between Russia and various figures in Donald Trump’s camp.


The DNC argues that Page’s claims of damages to his business are dubious because he has repeatedly acknowledged and boasted about extensive connections in the energy sector in Russia.


“As Page makes clear throughout his Complaint, Page has significant business and political ties to Russia,” the DNC lawyers wrote. “Far from believing such Russian contacts were embarrassing or defamatory, Page believed they were an “honor,” and sought out and cultivated these connections. That these ties to Russia were also of significant interest to media publications and law enforcement due to the allegations (and conclusions) of Russian hacking does not — of themselves — make them defamatory.”


Page did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.


The DNC’s formal response to the litigation says that Oklahoma is not the place to sue over the Yahoo and BuzzFeed stories, even if they were readily available to readers there via the internet.


“Nothing in the record demonstrates that Defendants were aware of Page’s tenuous connection to Oklahoma, and … there are no facts alleged to suggest that Oklahoma was the ‘focal point’ of either the story or of the harm Page purportedly suffered,” wrote the DNC attorneys.


Page previously filed a similar suit in federal court in Manhattan, naming as defendants Yahoo’s parent company, Oath, and the entity that runs the Voice of America, the Broadcasting Board of Governors. A judge dismissed that suit in March.


“Page attempts to re-package the same deficient claims and assert them against different parties. But his allegations fare no better, and the same outcome — dismissal with prejudice — is appropriate in this case,” the DNC lawyers wrote.


The suit is assigned to Chief U.S. District Court Judge Joe Heaton, a George W. Bush appointee. He has yet to schedule a hearing in the case.


Page has become kind of cause celebre for some GOP lawmakers, who view him as a victim of a politicized process to gather intelligence on Trump allies in advance of the 2016 election. In February, Trump declassified a House report detailing surveillance Page was put under through court orders obtained by the FBI. In July, highly sensitive court applications the FBI made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act were made public.


The unusual releases led to heated charges and counter-charges about whether the FBI properly disclosed all it knew about the political origins of some of the allegations behind the complaint.



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