On Friday, Lin Wood, the attorney representing a Kentucky teenager in a number of defamation lawsuits against major media outlets, announced a settlement with the Washington Post. The terms of the agreement between the family of Nicholas Sandmann—the Covington Catholic High School student accused of disrespecting a “native elder” while wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat during the January 2019 March for Life—remain secret.
Wood and Sandmann settled a similar lawsuit against CNN earlier this year. Cases still are pending against NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Gannett.
On Sunday, Wood confirmed he will represent another innocent person maligned and defamed by the American news media: Carter Page, the Trump campaign associate who James Comey’s FBI accused of acting as an agent of Russia.
Page was the target of four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants. The most powerful, invasive government tools—usually reserved for suspected foreign terrorists—were unleashed against Page as a way to infiltrate and spy on Team Trump.
But the FISAs were only part of Page’s personal hell. Tipped off by Democratic operatives as a way to seed the concocted Trump-Russia collusion hoax before the presidential election, journalists started harassing Page in the summer of 2016.
His first call, Page told me in 2018, was from a Wall Street Journal reporter hounding Page about an alleged meeting with a “senior Kremlin official” and the existence of compromising material that Russia allegedly had on Trump and Hillary Clinton. (Fusion GPS chief Glenn Simpson was a Journal reporter for years.)
In an interview with Page in 2018, he told me that his real nightmare began in September 2016 after Michael Isikoff, a veteran political journalist and writer for Yahoo News, reported that Page was under federal investigation for his ties to the Kremlin.
“U.S. intelligence officials are seeking to determine whether an American businessman identified by Donald Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials—including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president,” Isikoff disclosed on September 23, 2016. “The activities of Trump adviser Carter Page, who has extensive business interests in Russia, have been discussed with senior members of Congress during recent briefings about suspected efforts by Moscow to influence the presidential election.”
Isikoff later confessed that he had met with Glenn Simpson and Christopher Steele, the author of the so-called “dossier” that mentioned Page several times, that same month for a private briefing in a Washington, D.C. restaurant.
Isikoff’s bombshell story went viral, changing Page’s life forever. Team Trump quickly distanced itself from the foreign policy advisor and he stepped away from the campaign. One month later, James Comey and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates signed the initial FISA application to surveil Page; Isikoff’s article was cited in the document as evidence of Page’s alleged traitorousness.
Now, four long years later, Page might finally get the exoneration—and payday—he deserves.
“Late last year, I planned to ‘semi-retire’ to write & focus on @NickSandmann cases,” Wood tweeted Sunday. “Things have changed in past few months. @Yahoo, @HuffPost & @Isikoff falsely accused @carterwpage of being a traitor & tried to ruin him. I have agreed to represent Dr. Carter Page. #FightBack.”
As someone who has followed Page’s ordeal for more than two years, I applaud Wood’s involvement and hope for justice for Page. I would, however, respectfully add to Wood’s list of legal targets:
- The Washington Post: In April 2017, Post reporters and collusion propagandists Devlin Barrett, Adam Entous, and Ellen Nakashima disclosed the FISA warrant against Page. The article was based on illegally leaked classified information; the leakers have never been identified or charged with the crime. “This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump associate was in touch with Russian agents,” they wrote. “Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.” Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed the following month to investigate imaginary Russian collusion.
- The Washington Free Beacon and National Review: As I reported last year, NeverTrump “conservative” outlets were the first peddlers of Trump-Russia collusion. The Beacon hired Fusion at the end of 2015 to dig up dirt on Trump; the first known hit piece on Page was published in the Beacon in early 2016. “Trump’s selection of Page may indicate the reality-star-cum-politician’s opposition to U.S. policies that counter Russian interests in key global theaters,” Lachlan Markay wrote on March 23, 2016. Robert Zubrin, writing for National Review the next month, cribbed much of Markay’s Fusion-sourced talking points. “Carter Page is an out-and-out Putinite,” Zubrin wrote in April 2016. “Page is tight with the Kremlin’s foreign-policy apparatus and has served as a vehement propagandist for it.”
- James Comey, Sally Yates, Andrew McCabe, Dana Boente, Rod Rosenstein: They all signed the applications that successfully convinced a secret court Page was a Russian agent. Those warrants were the subject of a lengthy investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general; the presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court recently concluded two of the four warrants were illegal. Wood might want to sue FISC, too.
- Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.): For nearly three years, Schiff, the Democratic lawmaker most responsible for legitimizing the collusion hoax, has made numerous false accusations against Page. In his opening statement during a March 2017 hearing held by the House Intelligence Committee, of which he was ranking member at the time, Schiff read aloud now-debunked claims contained in the Steele dossier to smear Page. Schiff continued his defamatory comments about Page for years; when asked in December 2019, after the release of the inspector general report, whether he had any sympathy for Page, the California congressman said he did not and continued to repeat lies about Page.
- Fusion GPS: Paid by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign to dig up dirt on Trump, Fusion GPS was central to the smear campaign against Page. Simpson leveraged his pals in the news media to write damaging stories about Page; without the bogus dossier, the FISAs would not have been approved. Simpson should pay.
While the American public, Donald Trump—and Carter Page—await some sort of justice in court for the travesty of the Russian collusion hoax, forcing a few partisan journalists and dishonest lawmakers to own up to their complicity would be a decent consolation prize.