Carter Page: Steele Dossier Poses Legal Problem for DOJ Beyond FISA Warrant Application

Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page is accusing the U.S. government of breaking the law in their use of Christopher Steele‘s dossier, but not for the reason one might expect. Page posted a cryptic tweet that appeared to accuse attorneys of breaking the law, supposedly regarding his personal situation involving the FBI using a FISA warrant to monitor him.

“Looks like the government shutdown may teach some legal concepts to professionals in the Bar which they should have practiced years ago!” Page said in a Thursday tweet, citing 31 U.S.C. § 1342, also known as the Antideficiency Act. That law prohibits federal or D.C. government officers or employees from accepting “voluntary services for either government or employ personal services exceeding that authorized by law except for emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

So what does this have to do with Page, or the government shutdown for that matter?

Apparently, Page was looking at a report by the Congressional Research Service titled, “Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects.” Updated on December 10, soon before the current shutdown, the report cites the Antideficiency Act in discussing how government agencies can’t function without appropriations because they’re forbidden from making outside arrangements. Page cited this report in an email to Law&Crime, apparently figuring that Justice Department attorneys involved in his case may have noticed it and connected the same dots he did to his own situation.

“Beginning in the months preceding the 2016 election,” Page said, “certain political organizations and their servants were providing voluntary services to the DOJ, FBI and other government agencies in the form of their Dodgy Dossier, which they were then feeding into the U.S. Intelligence Community.”

Page is referring to the unverified dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, which ended up in the FBI’s hands. Page and his supporters have accused the FBI of improperly relying on the unverified document as evidence in support of applications for a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor him.

While Steele had been an FBI source at one point, the dossier was not the result of voluntary work done at the government’s behest, nor was the company who hired him contracted by the government. Steele was working for FusionGPS as part of opposition research funded by the Clinton campaign. As far as the FBI getting the dossier, that would be analogous to any tip law enforcement receives from any source.

Republicans have pointed to DOJ official Bruce Ohr being married to a FusionGPS employee as a sign of foul play, but even that criticism has not been in the form of allegations that anyone violated the Antideficiency Act.

[Image via The Hill screengrab]

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