Paul Sperry On The Effort To Smear Trump By Setting Up Carter Page
Paul Sperry has done a long investigative piece on the Russia Hoax effort to smear Trump by claiming that the hapless Carter Page had connections to Kremlin insiders with access to Vladimir Putin. Those who still follow the Russia Hoax may have read about this earlier in the week:
The FBI treated as suspicious Carter Page's 2016 trip to Moscow involving his speech at the New Economic School, above, where President Obama also once spoke (photo below). But that tip about Page was dismissed by the Washington Post's sources as "bullshit." Later the paper wasn't so skeptical.
The story is that the Washington Post took the elementary step of checking up on the Clinton campaigns narrative by having their Moscow bureau run it past trusted sources. Those sources responded that the entire story was ‘bullshit’.
Sperry goes through all the real collusion—the collusion between the MSM and the Clinton campaign, via Fusion GPS, in considerable detail. It’s a good read, just to rehearse who some of the villains were. However, what caught my attention came at the very end—the dishonest dealings of the FBI with the FISA court.
Regular readers will recall that, back in 2018 or so, I was making a very big deal of the fact that Carter Page had not only been a source for the CIA, he had also been a cooperating witness for the FBI in a very big case. That case got convictions against Russian officials in New York—just before Page joined the Trump campaign. In the world of counterintelligence and diplomacy this was a very big deal. The FBI Director, the AG, the National Security Adviser and, I’m quite sure, Obama himself (if he could be torn away from watching NBA games) were kept pretty fully briefed on the case. The point being that Carter Page was very much a known quantity to the FBI. Moreover, if there was anything about Page that the FBI needed further input on, they could always turn to the CIA. The CIA would also have been totally up to date on what their former source was doing for the FBI in New York.
This is why it was such a big deal to me that the FBI presented Carter Page to the FISA court as probably a Russian agent based on his hobnobbing with Russian intelligence officers in New York. Hobnobbing with Russian intelligence officers is exactly what the FBI wanted Page to do in New York and it was exactly what led to the convictions of those Russian intelligence officers. Now, I’m fully aware of why the FBI was so hacked off at Page for revealing to the Russians his cooperation with the FBI. That the FBI was no longer kindly disposed toward Page is understandable. It’s even understandable that they may have wanted some payback. But, understandable as those feelings may have been, it was no excuse for concealing from the FISA court the full scope of Page’s activities in New York on behalf of the FBI—and it was especially no excuse for concealing from the FISA court that Page had been a cooperating witness for the FBI who had helped them get a very important conviction against Russian intelligence officers. That omission was extraordinarily material to the whole question of whether there was, in fact, any reason to believe that Carter Page was a Russian agent—the only basis on which a FISA could be obtained against Page. It was so material that I’d be willing to bet that, had the FBI been honest with the FISA court, they never would have got the FISA against Page. The FBI knew that, too, which is doubtless why they pulled a fast one on the FISA court.
With that in mind, here are the concluding paragraphs from Sperry’s piece. One thing I should point out is that a key FBI player in all this, Brian Auten, was clearly a true believer—so much so that Strzok and Lisa Page, in texts, mocked Auten for his gullibility and conspiracy spinning.
On Sept. 19, 2016, the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team formally received Steele’s dossier Report 94 alleging Page’s secret Kremlin meetings, according to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who detailed the FBI’s handling of the rumors in a 2019 report. That same day, the team began discussions with department lawyers "to consider Steele's reporting as part of a FISA application targeting Carter Page.”
To me, this tends to confirm that Crossfire Hurricane was always focused on Page—not Papadopoulos.
In an email to attorneys, FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten forwarded an excerpt from Steele's report and asked, "Does this put us at least *that* much closer to a full FISA on [Carter Page]?” The FBI agent handling the case said the rumors from Steele "supplied missing information in terms of what Page may have been doing during his July 2016 visit to Moscow."
Note that there seems to be no question of actually confirming anything that Steele and the Clinton campaign were relaying to the FBI. They were all in from the start.
The attorneys thought it was a "close call" when they first discussed a FISA targeting Page in early August, Horowitz relayed in his report, but the Steele reporting in September "pushed it over" the line in terms of establishing probable cause.
Note that Andrew McCabe said as much in his testimony—no dossier, no FISA. Now, pay close attention to this next bit:
In the run-up to the FBI securing approval for the FISA request in late October 2016, the bureau tasked an undercover informant, Stefan Halper, to question Page about the alleged meetings with Kremlin officials. Halper struck out. In a conversation Halper recorded surreptitiously, Page not only denied huddling with Sechin and Divyekin but said he had never even heard of Divyekin. The FBI decided not to include these inconvenient facts in its FISA warrant application, an omission the Justice Department’s inspector general found striking.
The FBI was duty bound to explain to the FISA court why they trusted the Clinton campaign’s narrative over Page’s recorded statements to a trusted FBI source. Their solution was to simply not tell the FISA court about the latter.
"The application did not contain these denials even though the application relied upon the allegations in Report 94 that Page had secret meetings with both Sechin and Divyekin,” the Horowitz report noted.
OK, here’s what really should be the bombshell in the entire FISA and Carter Page story. Everybody talks about Clinesmith altering the CIA doc regarding Page’s cooperation with the CIA—and, yes, of course that’s an important part of the picture. But far more important with regard to the FISA was Page’s career as a cooperating witness for the FBI itself—a cooperating witness against Russian intelligence officers! How much more relevance could you ask for, when you’re dealing wtih the issue of whether Page was working for the FBI or for Russia? And the FBI decided not to tell the FISA court about this incredibly relevant three year period in Page’s life, which ended only months before the FBI came before the court seeking a FISA.
It wasn’t the only exculpatory evidence the FBI left out of its FISA applications. It also omitted information it possessed showing that Page, who had once worked in Moscow as a Merrill Lynch investment banker, had earlier assisted the FBI in catching a Russian spy, as RealClearInvestigations first reported. The former Navy lieutenant also previously helped the CIA monitor Russia, something an FBI attorney deliberately hid from the FISA court. (The lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, was recently convicted of charges related to his doctoring of a government email documenting Page’s role as a CIA source.)
In early 2017, as the FBI was preparing to reapply for wiretaps on Page, Steele's primary subsource Danchenko told Auten and other FBI officials that he had made it clear to Steele that he had only heard a rumor that such clandestine meetings might take place but not that they actually occurred as Steele wrote in his dossier. The FBI nonetheless omitted from subsequent FISA renewal applications the revelation of Danchenko backing away from the critical piece of information supporting probable cause and admitting it was merely hearsay.
In the end, “The FBI was unable to determine whether a meeting between Sechin and Page took place,” Horowitz wrote in his report.
I’m as big a fan as anyone of what Durham is trying to accomplish. Still, I’d love to chat with him about why only Clinesmith was indicted—and why the FBI’s concealing from the FISA court their full relevant dealings with Page got a pass.