The final curtain just never seems to drop on the tragicomedy that is Carter Page’s public life.
He wanted to work for the Russian government, but the spies who attempted to recruit him thought he was an “idiot” and interested only in money. He joined the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser, and was praised by Trump himself, until something spooked the president, who soon dumped him.
Page then went on a tour of TV news talk shows to defend himself with bizarre, often disconnected ramblings about conspiracies against him by the Hillary Clinton campaign. He even testified before Congress without a lawyer.
You may have thought you’d seen the last of Page, but he turned up again this week at the center of a Republican effort to undermine Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, along with the FBI and the entire Justice Department, with the now–infamous Nunes memo.
The memo, released Friday and spearheaded by Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, weakly sets out to claim that several FISA surveillance warrants issued for Page were the result of a Democratic plan to defeat Trump. The misleading claims it sets forth as a result of cherry–picked intelligence from the FISA warrant application are notably similar to the arguments Page laid out while proclaiming his innocence to anyone who would listen.
Page is not a Russian hack, nor was he a mole in the Trump campaign, he claims, despite his admitted interactions with Russian spies, his trips to Moscow, and his alleged meetings with Kremlin officials close to Putin. Instead, he says he’s the victim of an FBI vendetta because he was snarky with agents who came to warn him that Russian spy recruiters were after him, according to Time. We want to believe Carter Page, because he is such a weak, tragic figure in a miserable tale of betrayal and deceit.
But then stuff like this happens: This weekend, Time reported that it had obtained a letter Page wrote in 2013 to an academic press in which he claimed to be an adviser to the Kremlin. Page was trying to publish a book on Russia in which his views were “notably different from other scholars,” according to the editor. Page sent the letter, dated Aug. 25, 2013, in response to disputes over edits.
It stated: “Over the past half year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for their Presidency of the G-20 Summit next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda.”
He sent the letter two months after FBI agents interviewed him about his Russia contacts and told him they believed Russian spies were trying to recruit him, according to Time.
The magazine added:
The letter to the manuscript reviewer is not the first example of Page touting his relationship with Russia. McClatchy reported last year that in 2008, the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan sent a cable to the U.S. State Department describing how Page had met with government officials in the country, which was formerly part of the Soviet Union, about possibly working for their oil companies. The cable described how he touted his work with the Russian-run company Gazprom.
Whether or not Page actually was an adviser to the Kremlin, as he claims, remains to be seen. Whether he worked on behalf of the Russian government while at the Trump campaign is for Mueller’s team of investigators to determine. But two things are clear: Firstly, if there is an ideal target for a FISA warrant, it’s Carter Page. Secondly, the Nunes memo is now officially dead in the water.
And it’s time to bring this Carter Page show to an end.