Judge Dismisses Carter Page Lawsuit against DNC, Law Firm Over Steele Dossier

August 18, 2020 Updated: August 18, 2020

A federal judge on Aug. 17 dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by former Trump national security aide Carter Page against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and prominent law firm Perkins Coie, ruling that the court lacked jurisdiction in the case.

U.S. District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber tossed the defamation lawsuit out on Monday, ruling that the efforts by Page were based on “baseless conjecture.”

Page served as an informal foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election, and was accused of being a Russian asset and put under surveillance by FBI agents, who found no evidence of wrongdoing.

The suit alleges that Perkins Coie used its Chicago office to commission the salacious and unverified dossier authored by ex-British spy Christopher Steele concerning the president’s alleged links to Russia. It also accuses the DNC and Perkins Coie of defamation and “effectively destroying his once-private life.”

The dossier was funded by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the DNC through the Perkins Coie law firm, which retained the Fusion GPS firm. That firm retained Steele in April 2016 to produce negative information on then-candidate Trump.

“On its face, the Complaint fails to establish an Illinois connection,” the judge wrote in a court filing obtained by Politico. “Plaintiffs’ claims consist entirely of out-of-state activity by out-of-state actors.”

Leinenweber, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, wrote in his 10-page order that Page’s lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in Illinois, was not filed in the correct venue.

“Although Plaintiffs describe Perkins Coie LLC as an Illinois LLC, it is actually a Delaware LLC managed from Washington, D.C., and registered to do business in Illinois,” Leinenweber said.

“Plaintiffs’ DNC arguments fare no better. Although Plaintiffs admit the DNC is a national committee incorporated and headquartered in Washington D.C., they argue that it is nevertheless ‘at home’ in Illinois,” the judge continued.

Leinenweber said both the law firm and the DNC do not have enough ties to the region to be sued there, and the events related to the defamation lawsuit had essentially no links to Northern Illinois.

“The only potentially helpful claim—that Defendants ‘orchestrated’ their relationship with Fusion GPS through Perkins Coie’s Chicago office—is baseless conjecture,” the judge added.

The Democratic National Committee and Perkins Coie didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

John Page, an attorney for Page in the lawsuit, said he was disappointed by Leinenweber’s ruling.

“This is far from the end of Carter Page’s campaign to hold the DNC and Perkins Coie accountable for their role in what happened to him over the past several years,” Pierce told Politico in a statement.

“We are reviewing the opinion now, and we will be determining our next step soon. Carter Page does not quit, and neither does his legal team. We will not relent until justice is done, and until those who are responsible for the most brazen criminal conspiracy in American political history are brought to justice,” he said.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.