Former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page lost an appeal on Monday in his defamation case.
Page sued Oath, the parent company of Yahoo and HuffPost, and the U.S. Agency for Global Media, a government agency that operates Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Page alleged the media outlets knowingly published false information about him in articles about his alleged collusion with Russian actors. The Trump-Russia theory was shattered by the release of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which established no conspiracy or cooperation between President Donald Trump or his campaign—including Page—and Russia.
Page, a former informant for the FBI, said he received death threats after the articles published about him and claimed he was a victim of terroristic acts by Oath and the global media agency.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously against overturning a lower court’s ruling on the suit.
“Dismissal of a complaint for lack of subject‐matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) is proper ‘when the district court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it,’” the judges wrote (pdf).
“To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint must plead ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’”
“Although Page argues that the district court failed to construe the facts in the light most favorable to him, our review of the district court’s orders persuades us otherwise,” the judges wrote, adding that “Page’s claims were properly dismissed as a matter of law.
Anti‐Terrorism Act claims cannot be made against the United States or a U.S. agency, the panel said, and the claim against Oath was properly dismissed because the articles didn’t constitute “international terrorism” under the act.
“Page failed to allege any facts suggesting that the articles in question were intended to intimidate or coerce civilians, influence government policy, or affect government conduct. Instead, Page focused on different acts by non‐parties to attempt to show that the elements of terrorism were met, but those acts have no bearing on whether Oath intended to intimidate civilians or influence government policy. And Page’s conclusory assertions that defamation and propaganda are acts of terrorism are insufficient to plausibly state a claim under the ATA,” the panel said.
The judges also said that the lower court properly dismissed Page’s Federal Tort Claims Act claims because he “failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.” And the district court did not have diversity jurisdiction against Page’s state-law claims, according to the panel.
The panel was composed of U.S. Circuit Judge Amalya Kearse, an appointee of former President Jimmy Carter, and two appointees of President Donald Trump—U.S. Circuit Judges Richard Sullivan and Michael Park.
Page, who represented himself in the appeal, has not commented on the ruling as of yet.
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Author: Zachary Stieber