Key to the Carter Page probe: How Trump handled it
John Hinderaker at Powerline has an excellent must-read analysis (and don't miss the summary at the end) of the whole sordid operation by the Obama administration to turn the intelligence organs of the U.S. toward domestic political purposes, the latest being the ordering of spying on Trump campaign operatives.
The latest illegal leak from the Deep State is that the FBI had a warrant over the summer, renewed at least once, to spy on Trump adviser Carter Page, a former Merrill Lynch investment banker who spent time in Russia, got involved with Russia's secretive gas giant Gazprom, and came out with many pro-Russia statements afterward.
It might have been a legitimate association and his statements simply the views of someone who had had a good experience in that country. Many U.S. businessmen have, actually. In fact, it could be argued that having people with real experience in Russia on Team Trump would be a significant asset, given all the Beltway jockeys in intelligence with zero on-the-ground experience in that country.
The leaks for sure were illegal, as Hinderaker points out. But was the Page investigation all that illegitimate? Was it done solely for political motivation?
In Page's case, I am not so sure. It might have been a legitimate garden-variety investigation into someone they really might have had information on as a Russian agent. According to the Intercept, federal lawmen were looking into whether Page had a mission to persuade Trump to drop sanctions on Russia. In the cases of Page, and, for that matter, former Trump adviser Paul Manafort, who also had business ties to Russia, fabulous fortunes were being made, which is worth scrutinizing. These weren't mere grubby spy payoffs, but gigantic financial stakes creating gigantic fortunes, quite comparable to those John Podesta was involved in with his stake in the Russian-financed investment operation Joule.
With Page and Manafort making reportedly large sums of money, and then singing the Kremlin's praises, it might have been reasonable for the feds to take a look at the possible issue of business interests taking precedence over national interests. That may not be a crime, depending on the specifics of the law, but given that the men were advising Trump, there needed to be some daylight.
There's also the matter of Page having ties to Gazprom – reports contradict one another, either he was an investor or an adviser, or founded a joint venture with Gazprom called Global Energy Capital. What leaps out at me is that the player was Gazprom. Ask yourself if just any ordinary American can waltz in and get some sort of job or consulting contract at Gazprom, the ultra-secret Russian global energy behemoth at the heart of Putin's plan to control global energy supplies. It's the near-monopoly with closest of ties to the Putin administration and the Kremlin itself. Its parent company is Rosneft, which is headed by the most powerful of all Russia's oligarchs, Igor Sechin. Just getting in the doors of a place like that would require the highest levels of trust. Why would Page have been that trusted?
It's true that Page was in Moscow during the pirate-capitalism heyday of the 1990s, when fabulous fortunes were being made by freebooter bankers and gangsters turned oligarchs on Russian state assets being sold for pennies on the dollar, a horrific exploitation of resources that left Russia's people impoverished, tricked out of their shares and embittered that capitalism was such a criminal racket that worked against them, benefiting only the most cunning and ruthless. Well, Page was part of that – and not at the sharp end. He might have gotten trust that way. But what could he have done to gain such trust from such scary oligarchs?
All of this is just inference, of course, and to Page's credit, he has offered to clear the air by testifying before Congress, asserting his innocence, which may be the case.
But what's significant to me is that Trump cut ties with both Page and Manafort as news of these ties began filtering through. There was an amazing amount of back-and-forth described in this report, and this one, while Glenn Greenwald's Intercept points out that Page's role on behalf of the Russians may have been to lobby Trump to drop sanctions.
The bottom line is this: Trump cut all associations. That would signal a campaign not in the throes of Putinism, but, on the contrary, very sensitive to keeping undue foreign influence at bay – and perhaps even the appearance of such influence, given that Page may be innocent.
With that the case, the Democrat claims of Trump being a Russian patsy fall apart even harder than they have already. The more they look at Trump, the more they see an independent patriot.