Is Carter Page Really a Russian Agent?
Back in the early sixties, Sam Cooke sang about dull Saturday nights. "Another Saturday night and I ain't got nobody." This past Saturday night, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was singing the same song, having found nobody guilty of Trump-Russia collusion despite over a year and millions of dollars spent investigating.
Instead, on this past Saturday night, what we did get was a heavily redacted FISA Court application that allowed spying on Carter Page. The application asserts at the beginning that Carter Page is "[a]n agent of a foreign power," specifically the Russian Federation, and that Page "[k]nowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities for or on behalf of [Russia]."
Was Page really a real-life version of cartoon character Boris Badenov? Or was he appropriated as a tool of the Deep State, the Resistance, used to put a flimsy skirt of legality on a blatant attempt to spy on the Trump campaign?
Without dissecting the hundreds of pages, much of it redacted, in the FISA application, let me pose two potential answers to my question.
Suppose Carter Page was really a foreign agent. What happens to Americans who are discovered to be Russian spies? Ask Robert Hanssen, who is currently a guest at Supermax prison in Colorado. Hanssen is a former FBI agent who spied for the Soviet Union and then the Russian Federation, now currently serving a life sentence without parole.
Instead, Mr. Page was a guest of Jake Tapper on his CNN weekend State of the Union show. Page's Twitter account is active, and he seems to have as much freedom as anyone else making the rounds on cable news shows.
What if, instead, Carter Page was the camel's nose under the tent? Page was a low-level, short-term volunteer foreign policy adviser in the Trump campaign. How did he end up in the Trump campaign? He looked good on paper, but was his presence for more than simply advice?
Regardless of how he got there, due to his energy business ties to Russia and his peripheral role in the Trump campaign, why not label him a spy to justify a FISA warrant?
And not just any FISA warrant, but a Title 1 warrant. The bar is high for this type of warrant.
If the agent of a foreign power is a U.S. person, the government must show that the U.S. person is engaging in espionage, terrorism, or sabotage by or on behalf of a foreign power that involves a violation of a criminal statute.
The FISC decides whether to approve or deny an application based on whether the government has demonstrated probable cause to believe the proposed target is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power, and that the facility or place where the electronic surveillance will be directed is being used by the foreign power or agent of a foreign power.
This type of warrant is reserved for agents of foreign governments knowingly engaging in clandestine intelligence activities, just as the FISA application spelled out. This means that Carter Page was a Russian spy, engaged "in espionage, terrorism, or sabotage." Yet he has not been indicted or charged with anything by the FBI or Team Mueller. Why not?
The FISA application was dated October 2016, after Page left the Trump campaign. If the FBI believed Page to be a foreign agent, at the least, agents should have warned the Trump campaign, which they did not, and he should have been arrested and prosecuted. He would be in a federal prison these days, not a guest on Jake Tapper's CNN show.
The beauty of a Title 1 FISA warrant is that a provision called Section 702 allows "incidental surveillance," including "calls, e-mails, chats, text messages, and other conversations." Anyone Page had contact with then becomes fair game, including those within the Trump campaign and organization, however brief his stint was in the campaign.
This gave the FBI-DOJ the justification to stick its nose into the Trump tent – full access. Or "wiretapping Trump Tower" as President Trump tweeted early last year.
These incidental contacts of Carter Page could be unmasked by Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and others in the Obama administration, placed in the Presidential Daily Brief, not only for President Obama, but also for many others in the White House. Many of these have the Washington Post and New York Times on speed dial, convenient for leaking classified information.
How else to explain the contents of an afternoon phone call between President Trump and a foreign leader surfacing on the evening news that same day? As well as other tidbits designed to fuel the collusion narrative?
Well played by the Obama administration, but quite illegal. It was a clever way to spy on a presidential campaign and new administration, all under the guise of "national security." They used Carter Page as the means to obtain their search warrants in the name of "Russian meddling" in the Trump campaign and election.
Yet in the FISA application itself, DNI James Clapper acknowledges that "Russia has tried to influence US elections since the 1960s during the Cold War and there's a tradition in Russia of interfering with elections, their own and others."
You won't hear this on the news, as it blows up the narrative that the 2016 election was the only one that the Russians meddled in. Instead, it's a convenient excuse to justify a seditious attempt to undermine an election and a constitutionally elected presidential administration.
Meddling doesn't equate to collusion or influence. Not a single vote was affected, said Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein. As of yet, there is no evidence of collusion.
Hopefully, the FISA application will be fully redacted in the near future so the motives and players can be fully revealed. President Trump could order the removal of all redactions and release all documents with a phone call or a stroke of his pen. The question is why he hasn't.
Is he waiting for the inspector general report? Or is this a matter of timing, releasing small amounts at a time, a drip-drip-drip on the heads of the Deep State, teasing them over coming attractions?
Either way, the Carter Page story is a distraction, just as it was to the FISA court – a sneaky and illegal way to spy on the Trump campaign. As the Arab proverb says, "if the camel gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow."