by WorldTribune Staff, March 20, 2020
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is seeking to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed against it by 2016 Trump campaign associate Carter Page, claiming that the “gist” of accusations in the narrative against Page made in ex-British spy Christopher Steele’s unverified dossier were true.
In the January lawsuit, Page alleged the DNC, the Perkins Coie law firm and its lawyers Marc Elias and Michael Sussmann maliciously engaged in a defamatory conspiracy in 2016 that impugned his character and interfered with his ability to make a living.
“The Defendants are private actors who used false information, misrepresentations, and other misconduct to direct the power of the international intelligence apparatus and the media industry against a private individual, Plaintiff Carter Page, to further their political agenda,” Page’s 23-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois read.
The legal team for the DNC and Perkins Coie, which includes a number of Obama White House lawyers, filed a 43-page motion asking that the case be dismissed, insisting “the allegedly defamatory statements” against Page “were substantially true” and “are capable of an innocent construction.”
“Here, the ‘gist’ of the complained-of statements — that Page coordinated with Russian government contacts as an adviser to the Trump campaign — aligns with Page’s own description of his conduct,” the DNC’s legal team said. “Page’s own allegations demonstrate the substantial truth of statements that Page traveled to Russia and met with associates of the Russian government. Plaintiffs’ defamation claims should be dismissed based on that basis alone.”
Page has never been charged with wrongdoing in the Trump-Russia investigations. None of the charges made in the Steele dossier have ever been proven.
In its motion to dismiss Page’s lawsuit, the DNC legal team claimed: “The statements at issue in this case are not merely susceptible of an innocent construction — they relate to business and political contacts that Page himself undisputedly cultivated in Russia.” The legal team consists of five lawyers from Latham & Watkins, including lead counsel Terra Reynolds, former Obama deputy White House counsel Nicholas McQuaid, and former Obama White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler,
Steele’s dossier claimed there was “a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and the Russians, which was “managed” by Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort by “using … Page and others as intermediaries” with the Russians. The dossier also claimed that, in the summer of 2016, Page held “secret meetings” with Rosneft chairman Igor Sechin and Putin’s deputy chief Igor Divyekin during which Sechin mentioned “lifting Western sanctions against Russia” and Divyekin discussed releasing a “Russian dossier of kompromat” on Hillary Clinton. These claims were echoed in Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff’s article citing a “Western intelligence source”: Steele.
Page’s lawsuit stated he “did not and has not met with those individuals” and that “Page’s life and businesses were devastated by the false accusations that he was secretly meeting with sanctioned Russian officials.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report “identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign” but “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government.”
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report noted the FBI found no evidence that Page had met with either of Russians mentioned in the dossier and criticized the bureau for concealing Page’s repeated denials from the FISA court.
Steele was hired by Fusion GPS in 2016 to compile the bogus dossier. Fusion GPS was funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC through the Perkins Coie law firm. Perkins Coie was paid more than $12 million between 2016 and 2017 for its work representing Clinton and the DNC. Fusion GPS was paid $50,000 per month from Perkins Coie, and Steele was paid $168,000 by Fusion GPS.
“The DNC, through Perkins Coie, Elias, and Sussman, hired Fusion GPS not to report the truth but to create dirt,” Page alleged in his lawsuit. “And they forged ahead with disseminating the defamatory information produced by Fusion GPS to further Defendants’ own political ambitions.”
Elias heads Perkins Coie’s political law group and was the Clinton campaign’s former general counsel. Clinton’s former presidential campaign manager Robby Mook said he authorized Elias to hire an outside firm to dig up dirt on Trump’s connections with Russia. Mook said Elias was receiving information from Fusion GPS and periodically briefed the Clinton campaign about the findings.
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