What Happened to Carter Page?

I miss Carter Page. It seems like years since I have heard anything about the American businessman who briefly volunteered at Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

You remember Carter Page. He was, along with the micturating prostitutes, one of the stars of The Dossier™, the as-told-to novella by Christopher Steele, the leakin’-lyin’ former British spook who was commissioned by Glenn Simpson at Fusion GPS to compose this gritty fantasy.

It had been a long time since Steele had been to Russia. But he knew people who knew people who had been told things by people who were close to people who had the same name as someone who used to work for Vladimir Putin. Slam dunk. Fusion, and therefore Steele, was paid in part through the law firm of Perkins Coie—it took a while to find that out—which in turn was paid by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. It took a while to find that out, too.

Just about all major political campaigns engage in opposition research. It’s not nice. But it is business as usual. The great thing about being a Democrat, though, is that you can surreptitiously pay for opposition research on your opponent and then, even when the “research” is only hearsay—what would your history teacher say, Mr. Steele?

Sources, sources!—even if it’s just made-up gossip, you can encourage your friends in the CIA and other intelligence services to vouch for it and get the FBI to petition for and receive multiple secret court warrants to spy on American citizens who just happen to be connected with your political rival, thus giving you access to your rival’s communications and setting up a pretext for investigating him later on. Nicely done!

And the great thing was, no one was supposed to know about the origin of The Dossier™. That is, we, the public, weren’t supposed to know that 1) Hillary Clinton paid for it or 2) that it was the only substantive basis for the warrant to spy on Carter Page.

Had Hillary Clinton been elected president—I feel a little queasy even saying that, like the characters in the Harry Potter novels who avoid uttering the name “Voldemort”—if she-who-will-not-be-named had been elected, we would never have known about these shenanigans. Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak would have covered the entire saga and Hillary would have gone about her business destroying America. Amazing.

It’s great being a Democrat. What can you not do with impunity? Drive a girl off a bridge into the water, leave her to suffocate, while you try to get an aide to take the rap and you wait 10 hours before telling the police what happened? No problem. Been there, done that.

How about running the State Department out of an unsecure server in your suburban house, then lying about it and erasing the server and some 30,000 emails the authorities had subpoenaed? Easy as pie. The FBI likes you, so you can get your own people to search the server and declare it A-OK. You don’t have to answer questions under oath and your top aides get to sit in on your interview with the FBI and keep their laptops and smartphones.

But if you’re a Republican? Ask Mrs. Paul Manafort how she liked being rudely awakened in the wee hours by FBI agents who had broken into her house and, waving their guns, patted her down in case she was concealing a Kalashnikov in her night dress. The actual charge was bank fraud from 2005, but as with Carter Page The Dossier™ had other lurid takes to tell:

Speaking in confidence to a compatriot in late July 2016, Source B, an ethnic Russian close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP, admitted that there was a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between them and the Russian leadership. This was managed on the TRUMP side by the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Paul MANAFORT, who was using foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE, and others as intermediaries. The two sides had a mutual interest in defeating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, whom President PUTIN apparently both hated and feared.

Pathetic, or rather PATHETIC, isn’t it? I think my favorite part of The Dossier™ that concerns Carter Page is towards the end when Page is accused of colluding (remember the word “colluding”? It was so popular for a while) with a Russian energy magnate. The deal was that if Donald Trump were elected, Carter Page would get a commission of “up to 19 percent” from the sale of the gas giant Rosneft and he and President Trump would then lift sanctions on Russia. I am not sure how many millions of dollars that 19 percent would amount to, but it would certainly qualify as one of the biggest payoffs in history.

We haven’t heard much about Carter Page recently because, after more than a year of sleuthing, Robert Mueller and his pack of bloodhounds have turned up—nothing. Nada. Riens. Nihil. Instead they have been sniffing around Stormy Daniels, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, and anyone else who might have something, anything, compromising about the president.

This illegal partisan witch hunt had a few off-Broadway moments before Carter Page stepped on to the stage, but his story was at the center of the first prime-time episode. Where did he go? He was the pretext for mobilizing the leviathan that is the police power of the United States of America against private citizens. All those G-men and wiretaps and raids and subpoenas. It all revolved around a beta-minus actor in this drama who never had anything other than a tenuous relationship to Donald Trump or his campaign and who was certainly not making multi-million dollar deals with highly placed Russians. The Narrative has moved on from Carter Page. There was nothing there.

Let me employ another pop culture analogy. The Rosenstein-Mueller witch hunt is like that deep-space probe at the beginning of “The Empire Strikes Back.” Thousands of scary-looking droids have been deployed around the galaxy. So far, they’ve all come back empty. Maybe one will discover some rebels in a frozen Siberian tundra. I wouldn’t count on it, though. More likely is that the next installment of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on Justice Department malfeasance—due any moment—will do for Mueller’s investigation what the Death Star did to the planet Alderaan.

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Photo credit:  Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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