Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Carter Page: "I Do Not Deny That."


It was almost magical watching Chris Hayes interrogate Carter Page on his show a few weeks ago. I kept thinking Page must have a death wish. You can watch a little of it n the clip above. Page is another of those fringe characters Trump has catapulted into the national consciousness. The 45 year old Page is a Russian oil industry speculator who-- seemingly out of nowhere-- wound up a Trump foreign policy advisor. He's a known stooge of Putin's and was fired from strategy consulting firm Eurasia Group, after just 3 months, for being too pro-Putin and too "wackadoodle."

Finding out how this third-rate Russian spy wound up as a top Trump foreign policy advisor is going to reveal a lot about Russia's relationship to Trump and his campaign.
The former Merrill Lynch banker, who was relatively unknown in politics before he was touted as being a foreign policy adviser in the Trump campaign, has steadfastly declined to comment on how he got involved in the Republican campaign. He told ABC News on Thursday that he would not disclose the name of the person who recruited him into the campaign because it would fuel conspiracy theories and have their “lives disrupted.”

...Page is the first Trump aide known to have been the subject of a secret surveillance order, known as a Fisa warrant and issued by a secret court, concerning his connections to Russia. The warrant, as revealed by the Washington Post, was issued in summer 2016, around the time the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump-Russia allegations began in late July.

Because Fisa exists to restrict national-security surveillance on Americans, the standards the FBI must meet to obtain one against a specific US citizen are high. They require a certification that probable cause exists that the target of the intended surveillance is an agent of a foreign power.

When the Guardian approached Page, he disputed the factual allegations Bremmer made against him about his departure from the Eurasia Group but said he would not comment for this story.

Page has repeatedly said he wants to testify before the House intelligence committee’s inquiry into Trump-Russia contacts to clear his name. In the interview with ABC News on Thursday, Page initially denied discussing sanctions with Russians during his Moscow trip, but then backtracked under questioning, saying “something may have come up” with unidentified Russian contacts.

“Let’s see what comes out in this Fisa transcript,” Page told the journalist George Stephanopoulos.

One person who knew Page and is familiar with his employment history said the former Trump adviser was not regarded as particularly effective or intelligent-- he was “not smooth or a slick guy”, the source said.

The 2016 Fisa warrant, lasting 90 days and reportedly renewed at least once for another 90-day period, does not mark the first time Page has come under counterintelligence suspicion.

A January 2015 indictment of a Russian spy ring identified Page, under a pseudonym, as a contact of a Russian intelligence operative, Victor Podobnyy. Page confirmed to BuzzFeed that he was Podobnyy’s “Male #1” associate, from whom Podobnyy, operating out of Russia’s UN office, acquired documents about the US energy industry.

“I think he is an idiot and forgot who I am ... He got hooked on Gazprom thinking that if they have a project, he could rise up,” court papers quote Podobnyy as saying about Page.

Page, relatively obscure in US foreign policy circles, was among the most forthrightly pro-Russia advisers to sign on with Trump. In July 2016, Page traveled to Moscow to speak before the Kremlin-connected New Economic School. His speech, reportedly approved by the Trump campaign, lambasted US and western “hypocrisy” in pushing “democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change” while urging “mutual respect” between Moscow and Washington.

In 2015, Page referenced the Kanye West song New Slaves, a meditation on race and wealth, to accuse Barack Obama, the first black US president, of mistreating Russia. Page said the sections on Russia in Obama’s February 2015 national security strategy “closely parallel an 1850 publication that offered guidance to slaveholders on how to produce the ‘ideal slave.’”

Although Trump unveiled Page as a foreign policy adviser in March 2016, the campaign and later the Trump administration disavowed him as marginal, particularly after reports of his ties to Russia surfaced.

In January, following confirmation that Page was among several Trump surrogates to meet with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, said: “Carter Page is an individual who the president-elect does not know, and was put on notice months ago by the campaign.”
If the Carter Page end of Putin-Gate intrigues you at all, Patribotics Blog had a super explanation of why this is an important stranding the venetual impeachment proceedings. This stuffiest pretty hairy, especially the part about Trump being so personally wired in on everything between Page and the Kremlin.

A tiny aside first: yesterday radio syndicator Sinclair Broadcasting announced it had hired Boris Epshteyn, a Russian FSB spy, who once worked for the Palin vice-presidential campaign and was fired from the Trump White House a couple of weeks ago. The main points Patribotics is making is that "intelligence sources say that Page, Manafort and Epshteyn, possibly also with Trump, are on tape discussing how Page should carry a recording of Donald Trump to Moscow, offering his bona fides in exchange for Russia’s help hacking the election; and that the said tape of Trump was played by Page to Russian intelligence, possibly including Mr. Diveykin, the Russian official in charge of hacking the election; and that multiple foreign intelligence services, among them the UK, Germany and Ukraine, have a tape of this; and that finally, in October, the FBI was able to listen to that tape." Impeachable?

Sources with links to the intelligence community say it is believed that Carter Page went to Moscow in early July carrying with him a pre-recorded tape of Donald Trump offering to change American policy if he were to be elected, to make it more favorable to Putin. In exchange, Page was authorized directly by Trump to request the help of the Russian government in hacking the election.

On November 7th I reported that the FBI had been granted a FISA warrant to investigate the activities of two Russian banks, Alfa Bank and Silicoln Valley Bank. I also reported that an earlier attempt to obtain a FISA warrant, in June, had failed in the court because it named Donald Trump himself and three of his associates. In an exclusive at Patribotics, I reported that these named associates were Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Boris Epshteyn.

Sources close to the intelligence community now report that this application was made because a recording exists of all three men discussing the possibility of Page taking the tape of Trump to Moscow as an earnest of good faith. There is a minor dispute over whether Trump himself is also on that tape, as well as the tape that was delivered to Moscow by Carter Page of Trump making this promise.

A separate source with links to the intelligence community reported to me several months ago that Boris Epshteyn, alone of the four men named in the first FISA application, is an actual FSB agent, and, the source said, is the son of two other sleeper agents. Paul Manafort is registering as an agent of a foreign power; Carter Page has admitted, from public reporting, to have met with Russian intelligence agents.

It may therefore be surmised that Page, Manafort and Epshteyn, in this conversation wherein they discussed taking the Trump tape to Moscow, were all acting in concert as agents of the Russian state first and foremost, and Trump staffers second. Because the provision of such a tape to Putin would clearly be the ultimate in kompromat on a future American President (far worse than any sexual blackmail tape).

The FISC judge, as I reported, rejected that application, made in June. Director Comey likely proved to the satisfaction of the court that Page, Manafort and Epshteyn were acting as Russian agents. But he may have felt that Trump, by now the nominee, was just a very stupid patsy. And the planned trip had not taken place.

Director Comey redrew this request and presented FISC with a new warrant application. The Washington Post says that there is a FISA warrant on Page, but it does not say that there is NOT a FISA warrant on the other two men named in the June application. I will therefore assume from now on that the July FISA warrant granted targets Page, Manafort and Epshteyn.

Page had always seemed weirdly confident about his relationship with Trump. He had the tape of Mr. Trump offering to change policy. Sources say that this tape was played in meetings with Russian intelligence officers in Moscow, and that several Western intelligence sources have recordings of the meetings and the tape which they supplied to US intelligence.

The Washington Post does not name the date in July when Director Comey obtained his warrant. It seems likely however that it would not have been before July 5-8, when Page was in Russia. Furthermore, my own story on the separate FISA warrant granted on the two Russian banks states that Director Comey specifically sought permission to examine existing transcripts and intercepts on US persons as they related to this inquiry into money laundering into the Trump campaign.

My November 7th report directly connects the granting of the banking warrant to election hacking of the DNC. It is fair to say that, at the time of writing, I did not understand precisely how these two matters were connected. I now know and have reported that the server was washing databases of DNC hacked materials with voter registration materials. It is clear that, if my sources were correct, Director Comey would not have been able to listen to the recording of Mr. Trump played by Mr. Page in the offices of Russian intelligence in Moscow until he obtained that warrant, in October; his July warrant on Page came too late to affect a trip on July 5-7th.

When Carter Page returned to the RNC in Cleveland, he and Jeff Sessions, who recruited him to Team Trump via the Alfa Bank lobbyist Richard Burt, both met with the Russian spymaster Sergei Kislyak. From public reporting, we know that they not only changed the RNC platform on Ukraine at the behest of Russia, but also discussed lifting sanctions, a violation of the Logan Act.

Mr. Epshteyn was probably also present at that meeting. The reason I say this is that I can personally report that Mr. Epshteyn, whom I had met several times in the green room at Fox News, and I, had a bet on-- I bet him $100 that the Republican Party would not actually nominate the racist and sexist Donald Trump.

I lost that bet and made a point of texting Mr. Epshteyn at the conference to pay up. He was charming. I handed over the $100. He went back to Mr. Trump’s private suite.

I now realize that I was probably giving money directly to a second generation sleeper agent of the FSB. But if I could not hear what Mr. Epshteyn, Mr. Page, Mr. Manafort, and Mr. Kislyak were discussing with the Russian Ambassador behind the door of Donald Trump’s suite, the FBI most certainly could.

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At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Hone said...

Uh, really? How come our country was not protected from this disaster show by our vast intelligence agencies? They appear to be useless while drastically draining our budget and taxpayer dollars. They knew all of this stuff and did nothing to protect our democracy and our electoral process.

What are they good for? Absolutely nothing. In fact, they have failed us miserably.

Comey should be prosecuted. He let all of this unfold while doing nothing but chase Hillary's emails. He blew a whistle on her at the last minute for phony b.s., a big nothing, but let all of this Trump stuff remain quiet. He knew Russian agents were in thick with Trump's campaign and turned a blind eye. He must take responsibility and should have consequences.

The torturously slow move towards impeachment will be way to late to save us. Trump is a horror, a cheat, a criminal, a traitor. A monster of epic proportions. There is nothing good or redeemable about him or his treacherous, complicit family (yes, Ivanka, you fit the real meaning of the word not your Bizarro Superman definition). Comey, you were complicit, too, and helped to put Trump in office.

At 10:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hone, I think if comey had actually disclosed the drumpf info, the orange-utang might have won bigger than he did.

His voters would LOVE the fact that he encouraged putin to hack $hillbillary and may have traded sanctions for the help.
He also may have taken money for his campaign from putin.
There may have been agreements on steel and trump branding in Russia too.

His voters' single issue was hatred (of $hillbillary, liberals, democrats, blacks, latinos, women, lgbtqs, and muslims). But $hillbillary came in first. They would have loved that news.


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