With the floodgates now opening on what had been a slow drip of details in the FBI’s Russia collusion conspiracy/hoax, the concerted effort to smear former Trump adviser Carter Page has come further into focus.
Had it not succeeded, the trap might have been considered desperate or comically inept, seemingly orchestrated by the Keystone Cops of the deep-state, including a man known to those in intelligence circles as “The Walrus,” aka University of Cambridge-based FBI informant Stefan Halper.
Under the shroud of secrecy, corrupt agents were able to cherry-pick details—with little to no oversight or accountability—and thereby fabricate the investigative cause to launch a government-sanctioned surveillance operation against the Republican presidential candidate.
The newly declassified documents, which were released by order of former President Donald Trump as one of his final official acts, show that Halper was tasked with deceptively interrogating Page in order to confirm the claims of the Steele dossier.
However, if Halper’s marching orders were to gin up the evidence on which to predicate an eavesdropping warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, he seems to have failed.
Rather, during a series of interviews, Page provided exculpatory information, saying that he had cooperated with the CIA over his contacts with Russian officials in his capacity as an analyst—and as an academic instructor in international affairs and foreign policy at Bard College and New York University.
He unequivocally rejected the notion that he had been approached by Kremlin operatives who had tried to recruit him.
“The core lie is that I met with these sanctioned Russian officials, several of which I never even met in my entire life, but they said that I met them in July,” Page told Halper during an Oct. 17, 2016 meeting at Halper’s farm in Northern Virginia, according to the FBI transcript.
Page is referred to by “CD,” the initials of his FBI code name, “Crossfire Dragon,” as part of its broader “Crossfire Hurricane” sting operation.
Halper had approached Page under false pretenses claiming simply to be a fellow academic interested in his research.
But as with other interrogations that were later revealed, the FBI sought to disarm Page by putting him in a comfortable, cordial environment where they might catch him off guard.
Likewise, Halper had invited Trump adviser George Papadopoulos to speak at a conference in London, where—according to Papadopoulos’s own account in his book Deep State Target—Halper sought to use a honeypot female assistant to entrap the Trump energy expert, but with no success.
Ironically, during their October interview, Page expressed his personal motivations in terms that might be easy for any radical leftist operative to relate to.
Indicating that the fight against corruption was more a labor of love for him than a paycheck, he explained it was similar the passion of then-Vice President Joe Biden.
“I’ve never had any ambitions to go into government regardless of who won,” Page said, according to the transcript.
“… The analogy I always make is like… Biden when he’s not doing political stuff, his big ambition is to fight cancer,” he continued. “… I’m the same thing, fighting the cancerous foreign policy that’s leading to so many deaths, so this is kind of my mission if you will.”
Halper was coached by the FBI to probe into sensitive subject, some of which had been raised by the now-debunked Steele dossier, such as a move by the Republican National Committee to make its official platform more open to a détente with Russia.
Although the reasons for doing so may have been to counter the increasingly hostile and confrontational attitude of the Obama administration following its failed “reset” of Russia relations, the Hillary Clinton campaign had plotted to use the softened stance to accuse Trump of being a Russian operative.
She sought to blame her opponent for hacks—which some evidence suggests were an inside job—to the Democrat National Committee and campaign servers as a way to deflect from her own FBI criminal investigation.
Page said that due to his ties within Russia, including his role as a CIA informant, he had intentionally recused himself in the policy discussions.
“Well again, totally off the record, but I—members of our team were working on that and you know again in retrospect it’s way better off that I, you know, remained at arms length.”
Despite their failure to get the goods, the FBI forged ahead with its investigation and its FISA warrant application to spy on Page only four days after the interview.
Doing so required that an Australian diplomat misleadingly send a cable claiming that Papadopoulos had confessed to having information about Russian dirt on the Clinton campaign, although foreign minister Alexander Downer later acknowledged that Papadoupoulos had not used so many words in his alleged confession at a London wine bar.
As for Page, in order for the FISA application to be successful, FBI line attorney Kevin Clinesmith was obliged to alter a CIA email confirming the academic’s past cooperation in order to suggest the opposite.
Clinesmith thus far has been the only person involved in the conspiracy to have been indicted as part of Special Counsel John Durham’s probe.
But in another twist, even as the FBI sought to smear Page—whom it had long known to have Russian contacts due to his field of expertise—it openly embraced Russian disinformation from a leftist source that it had previously investigated for being a Russian operative.
Igor Danchenko, an energy expert at the far-left Brookings Institution, was introduced to dossier author Christopher Steele by Fiona Hill, a Russia expert for the National Security Council who would go on to play a key role in the 2019 attempt to impeach then-President Donald Trump over a phone call with Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Danchenko—whom FBI materials revealed had been the subject of his own investigation—became the primary subsource for Steele’s dispatches, which the FBI continued to use even though it was aware of Steele’s less-than-honest intentions.
The now-declassified materials have been a source for other recent disclosures, including a RealClearInvestigations’s discovery that linked top FBI officials to Clinesmith’s altering of the exculpatory evidence against Page.
The watchdog site also compiled a timeline of the Carter Page smear that further exposed the FBI’s many abuses and intentional deceptions.