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Carter Page’s nightmare began exactly two years ago this week.
On July 26, 2016, a reporter with the Wall Street Journal sent him a text, asking the then-Trump campaign advisor about his ties to Russia, including alleged meetings with Kremlin officials: he responded that the suggestion was “ridiculous.” But other media calls followed. Page, a Ph.D. and Naval Academy graduate, rebuffed the inquiries and continued to go about his business as a global energy financier.
What Page did not know at the time is that—aside from unwittingly becoming the latest human slab tossed into the Clinton machine’s meat grinder—his own government was already watching him, perhaps even setting him up. As Team Clinton, the DNC, and the Obama White House ratcheted up the Trump-Russia collusion fairy tale before the presidential election, Page emerged as the villain. In October 2016, at the behest of Jim Comey’s FBI, a secret court gave the government permission to spy on Page. The surveillance lasted one year, during which time his personal and professional life imploded; he was the target of persistent media harassment and even death threats.
Now, thanks to the partial release of documents submitted by the Justice Department to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2016 and 2017, we know that Page is far from a villain: He was framed by Democratic Party operatives (with their own ties to Russia); had his constitutional rights stripped away by the government; was forced to testify before Congress, and to submit to questioning from the FBI and perhaps a special counsel; and endured painful, humiliating public scrutiny while most of the media ignored—even cheered—his plight.
Crimes Against Democracy
Two years later, he has not been charged with any crime.
“This has been a big step forward for me,” Page told me by phone Monday night. “There’s a lot more transparency. But it now opens up additional questions about the crimes committed against American democracy.”
That’s how Page, 47, approaches this saga. To him, the crux of the scandal isn’t how it has damaged him personally, but how top government officials violated the trust of the American people and compromised the constitutional foundation of the country.
“I’m a big boy, I can take it,” he said. “But the bigger damage has been done to the country, the administration, the president, and the people around him. As an extension of these crimes against our country, this whole Russia hoax has significantly constrained U.S. foreign policy.”
Now that the truth is emerging, Page sounds like a different man. When I first spoke with him in May, he sounded guarded. This week, he seems more confident and at ease. He’s opening up in media interviews and the public is now forced to re-evaluate the case against a man many assumed was guilty, but who actually was railroaded by the government, the media, and the Democratic political apparatus. Throughout the ordeal, Page—an unmarried man with no children—has appeared to take the egregious, politically motivated intrusion on his private life in stride.
As Fox News host Tucker Carlson said to Page during an interview Monday, “you’re a lot more forgiving than I would be.”
That’s true for most Americans.
The “Dodgy Dossier”
Let’s recap what happened to Page: His name appeared in a sloppy, shady piece of political opposition research where third-party, unknown “sources” claimed that Page met with allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin in July 2016. (Here is one laughable citation: “An official close to [the] Presidential Administration Head . . . confided in a compatriot that a senior colleague . . . also met secretly with Page.”) The so-called dossier was authored by Christopher Steele, a British investigator hired by Fusion GPS, which was, in turn, being paid by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee to dig up Russia-related dirt on Donald Trump.
Fusion’s founder, Glenn Simpson, is a former journalist well-known in the D.C. media claque. Simpson then reached out to his journo-pals in the summer of 2016 to pitch the dossier as legitimate intelligence and Steele as a credible source. (Hence the July 2016 text from a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, where Simpson once worked.) Page now knows those first media inquiries were based on what he calls the “Dodgy Dossier.”
Finally, in September 2016, a reporter took the bait: Yahoo News writer Michael Isikoff met with Simpson and Steele in a D.C. restaurant to discuss Page’s ties to Russia and explain that the FBI was looking into the Trump aide. Isikoff, without confirming anything with Page, wrote his infamous September 23, 2016 article, “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin.” Referring to a “well-placed Western intelligence source”—Steele—Isikoff claimed the FBI and congressional leaders were concerned about Page’s Russian dealings.
Despite Page denying the charges and offering to speak with the FBI in person about the allegations, James Comey instead signed the FISA application in October 2016, citing both the dossier and the Yahoo News article as key evidence that Carter Page was a Russian agent: “The FBI believes that Page has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government. The FBI submits that there is probable cause to believe that Page . . . knowingly engage in clandestine intelligence activities (other than intelligence gathering activities) for or on behalf of such foreign power, or knowingly conspires with other persons to engage in such activities, and there, is an agent of a foreign power.”
In other words, Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who also signed the initial application, told a federal judge in a secret court that Carter Page essentially is a traitor to his country.
Even after Steele was discredited, fired by the FBI as a source around the same time the Page application was first filed, the government continued to cite his work in subsequent renewals. As Steele was being sued for defamation by a company named in his dossier—admitting in a British court in April 2017 that his brief dossier was “unsolicited,” “raw” intelligence that “needed to be further investigated,” the U.S. government still pursued Page. (That same month, the Washington Post used illegally leaked information to break the story that Page was under FISA surveillance.)
“They Were Out to Get Trump, Not Me”
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein signed a FISA application renewal in June 2017 as the dossier story was falling apart; Rosenstein suggested in a recent congressional hearing that he did not read the full application before signing it. The surveillance ended in September 2017. Nearly a year later, Page is a free man and confident he will not face any charges.
“At the end of the day, they were out to get Trump, not me,” Page said. The president, whom Page has never met, referred to him in a tweet over the weekend, saying the application proved the Justice Department and the FBI misled the courts in service of a “witch hunt.”
“Hopefully this will start to fix the damage done to other people and it will all flush out in due course,” Page told me.
Unfortunately, the Trump-Russia accomplices in the media have little sympathy for Page. Many reporters and pundits are echoing the phony narrative that the dossier and Yahoo News article were not used as the primary evidence; some are even calling for House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) to step down or be punished, claiming his February 2018 memo contradicts the application. (It does not.) Despite evidence of government corruption that was set in motion under the previous administration to target an innocent U.S. citizen in order to smear a presidential candidate and help another, major news outlets refuse to see the truth.
Which proves Page is right. This is a crusade to destroy Trump—and the media, Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans won’t let any facts detract from their mission. And they don’t care who is hurt or what constitutional protections are torched in the process.
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