Nothing Happens in a Vacuum: Diplomatic Scuffles and Academic Speeches in Moscow

In front of a brick building one pre-dawn summer morning, a security guard tackled a man as he walked toward the entrance after exiting a cab. The security guard slammed the man onto the building’s concrete steps, choking him as he restrained the man. The man managed to open the door and gain partial egress into the foyer without use of his hands while the guard continued to choke him.

The guard was Russian.

The man was an American.

The building was the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

The two-man scuffle happened June 6, 2016, exactly one month before Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page would view the EUFA Portugal vs. Wales semi-final match at a Morgan Stanley-hosted event in Moscow.

On June 26, WaPo’s Josh Rogin wrote about increasing harassment of U.S diplomats across Europe by Russia. Episodes included breaking into diplomats’ homes and stalking diplomats’ children. Norm Eisen, U.S. ambassador the Czech Republic from 2011 to 2014, called this harassment “gray war.”

On June 29, Rogin wrote about the June 6 scuffle; the American was not identified by name or by employment. He may have been a diplomat or a spy under diplomatic cover; different sources gave different possible explanations.

But the guard who beat up the American was an FSB employee. The American’s shoulder was broken; the severity of his injuries required a flight out of Russia for urgent medical care.

On June 30, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova issued a statement* and claimed WaPo, the U.S. State Department and ‘special services’ had spread false information about the June 6 event. The FSB guard acted when the American didn’t show his ID; further, the “police officer on duty was attacked” and can be seen in surveillance video.

On July 7, Josh Rogin wrote that Congress had begun to investigate the June 6 event, concerned the FSB guard’s actions violated the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. The Obama administration had refused comment though State Department’s John Kirby said the Russian’s statements were “inaccurate” while administration officials quietly briefed members of Congress about the episode.

This same day Carter Page gave a speech at the New Economic School in Moscow, the day after he attended the EUFA semifinals viewing party, meeting Rosneft’s Directer of Investor Relations Andrey Baranov, Gazprom Investproekt’s CEO Oleg Nagovitsyn, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, and members of the Duma. A video of Page’s speech is uploaded that day to YouTube by a think tank.

On July 8, RT (Russia Today) publishes on YouTube a tightly edited excerpt from a surveillance camera videotape which captured the June 6 scuffle. The FSB guard clearly had the upper hand from the moment he slammed the unnamed diplomat to the concrete.

This same day Carter Page would give a commencement speech at the New Economic School; it, too, is captured on video and uploaded to YouTube, though not until months later.

How odd that it took a little over a month for RT to acquire the video and upload it to their YouTube channel.

How odd that RT never asked Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser, what he might recommend to Trump to prevent future “gray war” events like the June 6 scuffle.

How odd that the “gray war” episodes which concerned Republican members of Congress so much are now inert about the sanctions they placed on Russia, with little concern for the effect on NATO.

“The problem is there have been no consequences for Russia,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), who serves as president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. “The administration continues to pursue a false narrative that Russia can be our partner. They clearly don’t want to be our partner, they’ve identified us as an adversary, and we need to prepare for that type of relationship.”

What changed since June 2016 besides the presidency?

* Open with caution; link is to a Russian government site.

 

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

45 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nice list of Russian government figures that Mr. Page seems to have forgotten about for the longest time. Indicates guilty knowledge and that he’s hiding something worth skirting with lying to the FBI about.

    A nit about the press coverage. The routine use by press and government PR types of variations on “war” is lazy, provocative and a disservice to public debate. Russian intimidation, physical harassment and assault might not be as useful as clickbait as descriptions of “war”, but they seem more accurate. Not every conflict is a war. Physical harassment deserves a specific and proportional response, not a “warlike” one.

    • Rayne says:

      I quoted Norm Eisen with regard to “gray war”; I’ll agree to disagree with you about the use of the label containing the word “war.” We’re all pretty comfortable using the phrase, “Cold War,” to describe the period between the end of WWII and the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union. It described a state of conflict which wasn’t realized in guns in the streets and bombs on our homes, but it was conflict nonetheless.

      As noted elsewhere in this thread, the US is fighting a proxy war in Syria (and probably more); the incidents described by diplomats violate a treaty, which could be interpreted as a form of war. Add the ongoing cyber warfare skirmishes and incursions into our election processes. We are not in a state of peace.

      What we’re dealing with, though, is cognitive dissonance. At what point will we grasp we are in a state of active conflict? We didn’t formally declare a Cold War, it just was; we don’t have to declare a war now, we just have to change our awareness. And we’re certainly not going to resolve this conflict with the State Department we have now, though we’re content to cognitively ignore it, too.

      • bmaz says:

        The last real declaration of was was on December 8, 1941. The rest are so called ‘police  actions” in different disguises.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I think the inconsistencies in Page’s background, combined with his proximity to a presidential campaign and Trump’s highly unusual angst about pleasing Russia, scream for an investigation.

      Maybe nothing there but Page and Trump lusting for big daddy Putin.  One would be foolish to assume that without looking into it.  The FBI didn’t, they appear to have done their job.  Three renewals of the FISA application regarding Page suggest it was a good thing they did.  Perhaps there isn’t enough to prosecute him, but there was enough to justify his surveillance.  The harder the Republicans deny that, the more they look like they have guilty knowledge, too.

  2. harpie says:

    A conversation on Twitter, yesterday:

    NeilPHauer: Five Russian Wagner mercenaries now confirmed by @CITeam_en killed by US airstrikes in Syria last week. Increasingly appears this was a deliberate Russian-led attack on Kurdish/US forces.

    Aweisburd [webradius]: As a casual observer of overt and covert Kremlin messaging, it seemed pretty clear to me they were intending to launch just such an attack. Given the scale of the US response, I gather I wasn’t alone in noticing. / I can only assume the plan was to overrun the position & kill the Americans, in the hope that Trump would sound the retreat. Bad call on the Russian side.
     

     

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Syria does seem to be an overt proxy war between Russia and the US.  That’s not the same as assault on the steps of a US embassy in Moscow or elsewhere.  When describing it, even the WaPo predominantly used “intimidation” and “harassment”.  But thanks to Rayne for raising the visibility of an important issue, which makes Trump’s behavior toward Putin curiouser and curiouser.

      • harpie says:

        I agree with what you say about using the word “war” for everything, and I thank Rayne, too, for always bringing such thought provoking discussions. The timing related to Page’s visit  is indeed very interesting!

        I also think that a lack of effective response to the assaults on diplomats might have been a reason for escalation.

        • Trip says:

          The sanctions imposed on Russia by Obama, also included justification due to US diplomat treatment:

          Fri 30 Dec 2016 02.47 EST First published on Thu 29 Dec 2016
          Obama expels 35 Russian diplomats in retaliation for US election hacking
          Starting on Friday at noon, the White House said, Russia will be denied access to compounds in Maryland and New York that have been used for intelligence-related purposes.
          A statement from the state department said the diplomatic expulsions were a response not only to hacking but to “a pattern of harassment of our diplomats overseas, that has increased over the last four years, including a significant increase in the last 12 months”. The statement said the harassment has included “arbitrary police stops, physical assault, and the broadcast on state TV of personal details about our personnel that put them at risk”. For some time, US diplomats in Russia have anecdotally reported being followed and harassed by police.
          In June, a US diplomat was wrestled to the ground by a policeman as he scrambled to get inside the embassy. Russian authorities said the man was a CIA agent operating under diplomatic cover.

          https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/29/barack-obama-sanctions-russia-election-hack

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Good point.  We don’t need a “deterrence” policy, a GOP borrowing from Cold War hypertensions.  We do need effective diplomacy.  We need people who know what’s happening and why, and who can tie together seemingly disparate trends.  Instead, this administration guts its diplomatic staff, resources and morale, making diplomacy nothing more than, “What would Donald do?”

          Meanwhile, it substantially increases spending on a military that has by far the biggest budget in the world.  That reduces our ability to respond to international tensions to, “guns or guns”. They then duplicate that approach domestically, doubling down on racist policies, cruel enforcement practices and more prisons.

          The Democrats do too little either to oppose Trump or to create a vision for what they would do instead. They raise money for the party by simply not being Trump, a cynical, lazy approach sure to backfire at the polls.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The Obama response was directed and proportional: he expelled diplomats under a very friendly timetable.  He didn’t wrestle them to the ground as they tried to enter their places of work or refuge.  Mr. Trump?  He wants to invite the Russians in for shots of vodka and to thank them for reducing his payroll.  How many mulligans does this catastrophe get before he’s deemed to lose the hole and the match?

  3. Trip says:

    It would be interesting for the press to ask Sanders or Trump if Trump “assigned” Putin to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I thought that was Kushner’s job. Maybe they should have also asked Pompeo since, supposedly, Putin ‘knows’ what steps he has taken for the intrusions into the election. No sanctions, but a homework project, instead? Interesting indeed. So Kushner can’t get a security clearance, can’t broker peace deals, but is associated with development in the West Bank. Or let them deny it, and then state that Putin is trolling. That should be fun.

  4. Trip says:

    One more thing:

    In Leaked Chats, WikiLeaks Discusses Preference for GOP Over Clinton, Russia, Trolling, and Feminists They Don’t Like

    https://theintercept.com/2018/02/14/julian-assange-wikileaks-election-clinton-trump/

    https://theintercept.imgix.net/wp-uploads/sites/1/2018/02/wl5-1518631295.jpg

    “Be the Troll You Want to See in the World”
    A major focus of the private Twitter group was strategizing online attack campaigns, including creating false identities, something that Assange explicitly encouraged.
    Assange philosophized on how to approach such activities in conversation with a WikiLeaks supporter who told the group that Scottish Member of Parliament Paul Monaghan had retweeted her. The supporter added that others in the group should tweet at Monaghan as well to try for more retweets. Assange responded, “Exactly what we were hoping for. Be the troll you want to see in the world.”

  5. TarheelDem says:

    The US relationship with Russia after the ratification of the New START Treaty in 2010 has been very curious, and a lot of that curiosity appeared at the time to stem from GOP anti-Russian hawks who sought to undercut President Obama’s initiatives reducing conflict, especially McCain and Graham. For some, the Cold War never ended. Few engaged the Russia issue from its turn under Putin to oligarchic nationalism or neo-tsarism. For the anti-START treaty folks, is was always “soft on communism” redux.

    So then we have this (Wikipedia, “New START”):

    According to a Reuters report on February 9, 2017, in US President Donald Trump’s first 60-minute telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Putin inquired about extending New START. President Trump attacked the treaty, claiming that it favored Russia and was “one of several bad deals negotiated by the Obama administration”

    The US diplomatic position with regard to Russia is still ambiguous, except as a reason to build weapons or sell weapons to others. Russia’s position to the US is less ambiguous if only because its budget revenues are more constrained. I find the prospect of a rapid arms race (the US has already ponied up the budgets) in the midst of this ambiguity alarming even without the election of Trump and the intelligence community opinion that we have somehow been damaged by an information war but we can’t tell you how because of “sources and methods”. With those and with Trump at the helm, I find it even more alarming. And all Democrats can apparently do is flash hand signals that skirt the edges of classification and secrets laws. Only the President has the power to say when and how declassification happens, unless Congress changes that.

    It is clear that the events around Syria and Ukraine triggered this “gray war”. It is clear that Obama’s sanctions are hurting some of the officials they were intended to hurt. It is clear that Russia saw Clinton as making Obama’s policies much worse. Does Trump measurably improve things for Putin at all? What is the purported payoff beyond the easing of the sanctions (er, non-enforcement of the sanctions)? What is the Putin-Trump relationship all about?

    I grasp that the Vienna Treaty provisions would find the actions of the FSB contrary regardless of the identity of the man who was trying to enter the US Embassy in Moscow. Amirite?

    Morgan-Stanley seems to be positioned much as it was in the inter-war years–sympathetic for autocratic or oligarchic fascism. And that seems to be how the US business community has reacted to Trump’s election. Nothing happens in a vacuum here as well.

    We have a misinformation war that results from the vulnerability that US media’s misinformation culture has created in the US through cable-TV-and-internet weaponized profit-seeking narrowcasting. And we have no idea of what kind of misinformation has be spread in the name of the US taxpayer nor by what means or where. A misinformation war is a war that corrupts its coverage by design.

    I find it a breath of fresh are when someone pulls back to a bigger view and doubly refreshing when that view is buttressed with some specific facts.

    Too much discussion has gone on around the opinions sewn by the two national propaganda ministries engaged in the misinformation about what specifically is going on. And to their stenographers and repeaters.

    As important as Carter Page is to Mueller’s investigation, more important is that we understand that this “gray war” has significant national security implications that the US media are taking much too cavalierly in their toleration of the continued partisan split in what Americans know about the news. But for the right-wing, that is a feature, not a vulnerability. Increasingly, one wonders why that is and why the GOP in Congress is so fork-tongued on Russia.

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t think we can look at US-Russia relations solely from the perspective of the START treaty or nuclear weapons. As I wrote, nothing happens in a vacuum. The “gray war” consisting of minor hostile actions against diplomats began before 2010 and may have been more closely aligned with tensions over Ukraine and Crimea, but specifically with regard to the transit of gas and oil through Crimea and Ukraine.

      16% of Europe’s natural gas travels through Ukraine (it used to be far more but the Nord Stream pipeline running directly from Vyborg, Russia to Greifswald, Germany, reduced the demand through Ukraine). There have long been pipeline disputes between Ukraine and Russia, amounting to a massive amount of money. And Putin may have a more personal interest in this since at one point in his career he was stationed at the German end of a pipeline transiting Ukraine; he knows how the shakedown works by throttling the pipeline. The US’ interests are those of EU-NATO states and disruption to businesses caused by any disruption to gas/oil.

      Which brings us back to Carter Page and George Papadopoulos and what they were doing for the Trump campaign — or Russia — with regard to changing US’ foreign policy on fossil fuels. I’m sure they aren’t looking at changing the Ukraine-Crimea situation given Rosneft’s role and the opening of the arctic for drilling; but the money needed to finance development must come from somewhere, and the Ukraine-Crimea pipelines are sunk costs, fully operational, generating cash as long as Europe doesn’t transition to alternative energy.

      (Nuts. One of these days I’m going to have to finish my long-dormant post on Ukraine-Russia.)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Please do finish it.  Putin’s ability to throttle supply would seem to be a big part of his economic and political leverage, and a reason he would want to sow discord within the EU and between the US and Europe.  It would further enhance his leverage.

      • TarheelDem says:

        I agree that we cannot look at US-Russia relations solely from the perspective of nuclear disarmament, but that is the dynamic that can turn pipeline issues into existential threats very quickly.  And too many people are already pushing the existential threat labels about the gray war that’s gone on for the past, if 2010, eight years.

        The difficulty from the US view is that the Bush administration squandered the position that the American Century left the US in with a war response to 9/11, elevating the power of insurgent and mercenary non-state actors.  One would think that nation-states like the US and Russia have an interest in rolling back that lapse of US support for Westphalian sovereignty that Bush’s wars of choice let loose.

        There is, in fact, no fundamental reason that disagreements over pipeline agreements should be driven as casusi belli.

        The reality is that Eurasia is finally amassed enough investment capital to develop continental infrastructure, like North American in the immediate post-Civil War era.  This is occurring as militaries have anxieties over post-peak-oil supply-demand situations with regard to the fossil fuels that form the basis of all current militaries and support the military industries in the military supply chain.

        If you intend to analyze the European fossil fuel conflicts from that perspective and not just the potential for extortion of civilian markets, you need to get it out pronto.

        Economic conflicts become high-stakes political when a nation has the illusion of vulnerability as a result of the change in economic standing.  The US is beset with many of these illusions that are the result of our own poor economic and energy policy.  So is Russia.

        An important point to consider in this analysis is the effect of China’s One Belt-One Road Initative agreements on diverting Russian fossil fuel production and the effect of distribution by sea as the Arctic Ocean melts.  There a lots of non-market assumptions being made about who wins and who loses from these trends.  And then there is future of the distribution of Middle East and Central Asian fossil fuels.

        Does Ukraine have an economic future just on the markets under these trends, or has it lost its gatekeeping and bypass power over foreign fossil fuels?

        It seems to me that we are rapidly entering a new fossil fuel reality as regards its markets. tanker routes, and pipelines;  most of the points of conflict now seem a bit foolish as far as the way development is moving.

        • matt says:

          You nailed it!  Everybody in America should read this post and comments.  I might add that pipeline geopolitics are intimately connected to either protecting or unseating the US Dollar as the world’s reserve currency.  At this point, I don’t know how long America can protect its dollar hegemony, and if we can militarily at what cost to the taxpayer and to our world standing?

  6. cat herder says:

    Granted, I only know how embassies usually work from what I’ve seen in movies, but is it common for the armed guards out front to be working for the host country? That seems… potentially counterproductive to why you have an embassy in the first place.

    • Rayne says:

      I know it seems odd, but Article 22 of the Vienna Convention says the host country is responsible for external security. Same article says the host country may not enter another country’s diplomatic mission, which the FSB guard did during the scuffle with the unnamed American diplomat.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Guarding areas outside of an embassy or consulate is normally the responsibility of the host country.  It would be both required and normal that there be host country police or military.  It is part of their job to protect the embassy. Embassy guards, such as US Marines, are responsible for security internal to an embassy, that is, inside the gates or compound.

      Local guards are not meant to impede the normal flow of legitimate traffic, such as foreign nationals visiting their embassy, although they might routinely ask for identification to verify a visitor’s claimed nationality and status.  The rigidity of those checks would depend on the relations between the foreign and host governments.  Local police do, of course, enforce their own laws and could stop a private citizen from visiting a diplomatic compound were she accused of violating host country laws.

      Those with diplomatic status, named on a roster submitted to a host government, have the benefit of special treaty processes.  Physically assaulting a foreign national with diplomatic status from visiting his own embassy would be right out.  The normal course when outing a diplomat accused of spying is to declare them persona non grata for actions outside the scope of their diplomatic duties and demand their prompt expulsion.

      Spying is routine and tolerated within limits set by informal rules. Reciprocity is key.  Counter-spying is just as routine.  The Russian behavior was abnormal.

  7. Godfree Roberts says:

    Both men in the video are trained, experienced grapplers. Both behaved professionally during the scuffle. The guard used his superior size to get on top but the smaller man–likely a Russian citizen whom the guard was expecting–was more resourceful and skillful.

    I’ve watched the videos several times and have never seen the new arrival show his ID, as he is require to do. Indeed, he seems to expect the guard to seize him and reacts promptly, without surprise.

  8. Bjorn Jensen says:

    The Strange Logic of Carter Page

    A sudden case of brain freeze swept over me as I tried to read the letter(s) from Carter Page on May 22, 2017 in response to a letter the HPSCI committee sent to him on May 9th. I understood exactly how his doctoral (viva) examiners must have felt- confused, bewildered and numb.

    He wants his testimony to be made public by either live stream or C-SPAN so ” the American public have an opportunity to hear the truth following the outrageous allegations made against me on behalf of the Clinton campaign.” Then there are the footnotes to comb over. And his chart. Page puts himself at the center of everything . The most important man in the room.
    The letter to Director Comey is pretty strange on a first reading. If anyone here has any further insight as to what Page is getting at in this letter please chime in.
    It seems that Page sees himself as some sort of a victim in a vast left wing criminal Obama/Clinton conspiracy out to get him.

    I struggled whether or not to post this (length)and what value it had to the discourse around Page here.

    I’ve decided to do it anyway because Carter Page is a physical metaphor of the soulless desolation of the Trump administration (what do they administer besides chaos, lies, and destruction? ) and a comic book spy wannabe. Out of the cast of characters in this horror show – he has to be one of the weirdest and most fascinating to watch: ” Carter Page, PhD” – as Donald Trump proudly announced his newly minted foreign policy advisor.

    Like any eager litigant in person, Page is all over the place, with no focus, as was the case with his PhD thesis. He just can’t stop talking and has plenty of accusations to sprinkle around. Page defends himself furiously yet has been charged with nothing.

    As I read the cross-ex, cum interview – the issue of whether or not Page met Trump jumped out. His elastic logic was just loose enough to provide some clues into his personality yet not loose enough to establish any real clues to his patterns of behavior.

    Here goes:

    [Editor note: Your comment was excessively long though it did have merit. I will break it up into smaller portions and re-post as replies here, but I must stress this is a one-time deal. In the future, please aim for concision; the perfect comment is generally 100-300 words at most. A longer piece like this you have shared with us is better suited to a blog post at a site of your own with an excerpt here and a link to the post itself. Thank you and welcome to emptywheel. / ~Rayne]

    • Rayne says:

      by Bjorn Jensen

      (contd-1) Page 11: Carter Page HPSCI interview November 2, 2017

      Mr. Rooney: Did you ever meet Mr. Trump?

      Mr. Page: I have never met him in my life. I’ve been in a lot of meetings with him but never met him face-to-face.

      Carter Page plies equivocation.I have been in a lot of meetings with “him”. I have never referred to Trump only to ” him” . So Trump was not “there” in the meetings, but “him” was. Page therefore did meet “him ” but not the “Trump” because the identity of “him” is not revealed. So the anecdotal false equivalence of the meeting depends on the definition of meeting in Page’s offering in the order of magnitude between the subject of the meeting and what a meeting is in the first instance. He dodges a bullet.

      In Carter Page logic this could either mean that Page was included in a video conference or or that he watched Trump speeches on his laptop from his kitchen table and considered that as “meetings” with his hero via the Internet while the “Trump” spewed forth Trumpisms arousing interest somehow in the mind of Page and that this constituted a “meeting” to him and was therefore real ; or maybe he dreamt it all in a lush fantasy as he tumbled through the fifth dimension; or maybe he was hiding in a West Wing cupboard where he was able to sneak in on White House meetings disguised as a cleaner.

      However, his asymmetrical logic obviously contributed to his internal world in a strong connection to Trump ( the movement as he describes it) , and of his reality to his relationship to the “Trump” which seems little more than a teenage fan’s identification with a rock/pop star – an identification that seems so real to the fan that in their mind they feel they know know and love this stranger. It’s worship. And it is blind. The dangers of extreme fan worship have played out historically to great tragedy. Additionally, these very same traits of attribution to the “Trump ” and his
      ” magical powers” befall the Christian evangelicals who believe he was sent by God. Yes -this is in evidence in the public domain.

      The now infamous photo in the Oval Office of the cultish Christians laying hands on the spirutallly bereft Trump testifies to this.

      So maybe Page is simply just a very complex fan and nothing more, with Trump memorabilia adorning his bedroom, his odd interviews on TV, the interest in him within the news cycle, his life and his connections to the campaign and all things Trump. All of this attention (unwanted he says) keeps the fan flame burning and the umbilical connection to his object of worship alive.

      Mr Rooney carries on pressing Page if he met any Russian officials during his guest speaker role at a reception for graduates from the New Economic School in Moscow. Page fesses up in a circular defensive fashion.

      Then Trey Gowdy takes his turn to question Page continuing this line of inquiry – whether or not Page had ever met or had any personal interactions with Trump.

    • Rayne says:

      by Bjorn Jensen

      (contd-2) Page 14.

      Mr. Gowdy: How many conversations have you had with candidate and/or President Trump?

      Mr. Page: I have never spoken with him at any time directly in my life. I spent many hours listening to him in great rallies ( me: was he there physically? The rock arena comparison comes to mind). I’ve listened to him on TV. I understand kind of the concepts – (me: build a wall, lock her up, make America great again, ban Muslims, and other such great concepts)- …but I — no direct personal relationship in any way.

      Mr. Gowdy: Well, Dr. Page, let me tell you what the lawyers hear when they hear that answer. They focus on the word “directly”.

      Mr. Page: Yes.

      Mr. Gowdy: I’m not aware how you can speak to someone other than directly. So why did you use the word “directly”?

      Mr. Page: I’m just being careful. You know, I’m a pro se litigant to try to fix some of these problems in another case in Southern District of New York, and I’m learning sort of being perfectly clear….

      Page 15:

      Mr.Gowdy: …I’m just trying to figure right now on what you actually know. And if I understand your testimony correctly you know that you have never spoken with candidate or President Trump?

      Mr. Page: That is correct sir.

      Mr.Gowdy: Have you ever emailed either candidate Trump or President Trump?

      Mr.Page: No. I–no.

      Mr. Gowdy : Text message.

      Mr. Page: Never.

      Mr. Gowdy : Any form of communication?

      Mr. Page: No.

      They carry on with this word carousel as Trey Gowdy tries to extract an answer from Page regarding Trump, the DNC hack, and so forth while Page deftly dodges Gowdy’s questions with circuitous evasion, rarely providing a direct answer, but an answer nonetheless in an effort to somehow appear to be truthful and genuine, all the while hiding his connection to Trump either real or evangelical.

      Gowdy, vainly tries again like a headmaster attempting to extract information from a naughty schoolboy. Page slithers out of it.
      He presses him:

    • Rayne says:

      by Bjorn Jensen

      (contd-3) Page 17.

      Trey Gowdy asks Page if he met any Russian officials and he presses him hard as the academic hairsplitter narrowly defines meet to mean how one would greet a bus driver, cab driver, attendant in the tube, sales person or someone you’ve never known or had a meeting with but with whom you only greet , shake their hand as in a hello/goodbye passing handshake.

      Mr. Gowdy : You went to Russia in July 2016. Is that right?

      Mr. Page: Yes, sir.

      Mr. Gowdy : You said you met, if I wrote right, Russian officials.

      Mr. Page: I said hello to– I’m cautious. Again, in terms of defining terms I’ve argued with various people that are attacking me from the media, there’s a differential between a meeting per se and a meeting versus a greeting. Met, if you greet someone, you shake their hand briefly; I consider that having met that person. Again, being careful in terms of actual meeting. In terms of actual meeting–

      Gowdy comes back with a withering “rebut” and you can almost see the smoke coming out of his ears:

      Mr. Gowdy: Let me tell you how I want to be careful Dr. Page. I’m more interested in the content as opposed to the duration. I really don’t care how long the handshake took.

      The Ignoratio elenchi ploy: Page knows he is required to answer to a certain conclusion extracted from his testimony but chooses to focus on what a meeting means rather than if a meeting took place. If he proves his belief in what a meeting is not, he can deny what did not place in the non existent meeting.

      And the roundabout carries on as to how Page came to be involved in the Trump campaign and who invited him to the July 16th gig in Moscow. His non answers are exhausting to read.

    • Rayne says:

      by Bjorn Jensen

      (contd-4) Pgs. 19-20

      Mr. Gowdy: Okay. I want to ask you about three words: collusion, coordination and conspiracy. Do those words have appreciably the same meaning to you, or do they have different meanings?

      Mr. Page: They all — the common denominator between those three is that I hear them a lot and it’s quite confusing. All I know is anything even close to any of those particular definitions , I’ve never done, you know, as per my — per correct biography.

      Mr. Gowdy : I got to make sure you and I have the the same understanding of those words before we can make the next leap. So, do those words have appreciably the same meaning , or do they have the same meaning to you, collision, conspiracy, coordination?

      Mr. Page: The common denominator I see in terms of what I hear is there are things you shouldn’t be doing. I don’t do things that I should not be doing both legally and ethically.

      Mr. Gowdy: Well, you can coordinate lunch. There’s nothing wrong with that word . So coordination is not an inherently malignant word.

      Trey Gowdy, satisfied that Page is playing semantical footsie and fully understands the distinction between the three C’s, takes his questioning to whether or not Page had any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. What follows is pretty fascinating. I intend to read the entire text when time permits to begin comparing the majority line of questioning with that of the minority.

    • Rayne says:

      by Bjorn Jensen

      (contd-5) The Art of the Lie.

      Fascinating and horrifying in equal measure. Sean Spicer was hilariously awful at it while Sarah Huckabee Sanders is an adept expert.

      The question remains: Did Carter Page meet Donald Trump?

      Page says he did and here it is on camera, in his words , at the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency to a Russian reporter in the audience asking the question. Also present is a CNN reporter and an MSNBC reporter. Broadcast: December 12, 2016, on RT – 29:07 minutes in.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MEmg4DNVFSE

      If you want to listen to him speak to a group of pretty unenthusiastic Russians, judging by the thin applause, watch from the beginning . It is a strange presentation/lecture entitled ‘Departing from hypocrisy: potential strategies in the era of global economic stagnation security threats and fake news’
      and peppered with simplistic PowerPoint slides with pedestrian proposals for better U.S. Russian relations, the dangers of fake news and his persecution by Hillary Clinton. Very odd. He is not a confident speaker with “ya know” interjections punctuating his directionless, rambling speech and he certainly does not come across as a doctoral expert in anything at all.

      He says in response to the reporter’s question on whether or not he met Trump:

      ” I’ve certainly been in a number of meetings with him and I’ve learned tremendous amounts from him. ”

      This vaguely echoed the response he gave to Mr Rooney on pg. 11 but with an almost lawyerly take:

      Mr. Rooney: Did you ever meet Mr. Trump?

      Mr. Page: I have never met him in my life. I’ve been in a lot of meetings with him, and I’ve learned a lot from him, but never actually met him face-to-face.

      27:00 into the clip a reporter asks if Page has met anyone from Rosneft.

      In the clip, Page admits to meeting an executive from Rosneft- whom he does not name. He does not name Igor Sechin.

      On Page 24 of the transcript Page is adamant that everything in the ” dodgy dossier” are lies including the accusation that he met with Igor Sechin, CEO of Rosneft and a Mr. Diveykin.

    • Rayne says:

      by Bjorn Jensen

      (contd-6)

      So, this oddball “academic”who apparently lectures worldwide on the university and college circuit while also meeting with high-ranking U.S. military officials (presumably with nothing better to do than meet up with this guy), ran an investment company with a fancy name, Global Energy Capital LLC, an investment banker in Russia advising on a range of economic policy, a former CEO of the Energy & Power Group at Merrill Lynch. Then, until 2007, a Deputy Branch Manager of the bank’s representative office in Moscow- and more ! What a busy guy – one wonders how he found the time to sit an MA, M.B.A and somehow research , propose and eventually (two fails) – complete a PhD – and – oh yea- foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trump who probably can’t name three middle eastern countries
      ( besides the one that projected his mug on the sides of buildings) or three African nations and couldn’t possibly locate Kazakhstan on a map. Page then offers himself for free to Trump’s campaign to presumably advise him on his map reading skills. (NB: All of the above was from Page’s biography attached to the transcript.)

      What could possibly have attracted Page to Trump and to become part of the “movement”? This is what I find so interesting about this guy. Why Trump? Why the adulation?

      What did Page find so compelling about this incompetent, sadistic, and chaotic campaign – and in that individual candidate who shared those same horrible qualities? How quickly he readily identified with all of it and ultimately joined the “movement”. It’s a bizarre journey. A bizarre guy. What was in it for him? Money? Status?

      Here Anderson Cooper tries to nail Page’s flag to the mast. Cooper is relentless and Page ducks and dives. Cooper, frustrated says, “I’ve only got an undergraduate degree. I’m not as educated as you- you’ve got a PhD right ? ” It matters not with this man. It is excruciating to watch. Logic chasing the illogical:

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=82ZcZ7s-3O8

      4:34 in: Cooper asks him.
      ” Did you ever meet him?” (Trump)
      Page:” I never shook his hand. I’ve been in many rallies with him from Arizona to North Dakota.

      What follows in this part of the segment , Cooper not unlike Trey Gowdy , presses him to explain all the statements Page has made about ” meeting ” Trump. Rather bizarrely, Page goes completely off-piste and tries to explain away his close encounters with the “Trump” by using the Russian definition of meeting! Have you ever tried arguing with a nine year old? You can never win.

      Carter Page had to submit his doctoral thesis three times.

      Perhaps his doctoral viva examiners can provide a clue:

      Professor Gregory Andrusz and Dr Peter Duncan examined his thesis in his viva at UCL (SOAS) Initially, Professor Andrusz thought it would be easy to pass Page. He said it actually took “days and days” to wade through Page’s work. Page “knew next to nothing” about social science and seemed “unfamiliar with basic concepts like Marxism or state capitalism”.

      Andrusz said, “Page seemed to think that if he talked enough, people would think he was well-informed. In fact it was the reverse.”

      Both men are international Russia experts in their field with decades of experience and they failed him twice .

      Page accused them of bias when he did not pass, likening his treatment by them as akin to an oligarch that was jailed by Vladimir Putin in Siberia.

      His thesis was “vague”and “verbose” and unpublishable by any academic journal of repute.

      After he failed his resubmissions both men formally resigned as Carter Page’s examiners .

      Professor Andrusz could not understand why Page wanted to pursue a career in academia. He observed,

      “Carter Page wanted to become a rich man. He hinted at having contacts in high places in Russia who were his informants,” Andrusz observed. The professor – who taught at Middlesex and Birmingham universities – said during his three decades as a lecturer he failed just one PhD student twice: Page.”

      https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/22/trump-carter-page-phd-thesis-trump

      Maybe Carter Page is more Walter Mitty than an international man of mystery. Or maybe a bit of both . Whatever his story is, I get the feeling there is more to come. He seems like he has something to hide.

      # # #

      • Silence Hand says:

        Page appears to be a miswired naif, a semi-lucid Walter Mitty indeed.  Hard to imagine SVR passing on a potential asset – until you see Page in action.  My guess is that they wanted at least a few useful idiots screwing things up for us.

      • Trip says:

        He also sounds vaguely like a cult-adherent.  Maybe while wandering aimlessly in search of success and likemindedness, he found his Jesus. Is it possible that he really didn’t have much interaction with Trump, but admired him from afar, like any other over zealous celebrity worshiper?

  9. Silence Hand says:

    Wow, Rayne et al.; this is a really well-reasoned and informative article and comment thread.  Nothing to add here other than appreciation.

    Echoing Earl, very interested in perspectives on current Ukraine – Russia.  My personal impression is that Ukraine is deeply attracted to the West, but deeply wired for malignant connection to Moscow.  Among other things, the endemic corruption of its police and justice system is improving at a glacial pace. These are channels through which Putin’s dark waters can and probably will flood.

  10. Bjorn Jensen says:

    Hello Rayne,
    Per editors note- the direct reply didn’t work for me to respond to you.
    I hope it is acceptable to reply this way.
    Thank you for accepting the comment/post. Suggestions duly noted. Apologies for exceeding the word count, but appreciation in taking up your time to post my lengthy comment in an acceptable format.
    Thank you for your assistance to this end and for the welcome.

    Cheers,
    BJ

    • Rayne says:

      I appreciate that you took the time to work your way through Page’s very trying testimony. He may be a Walter Mitty, or he may play at being a Walter Mitty. It looks like he knows full well he is being evasive, though. We won’t know whether he is Mitty/NotMitty until some time in the future if his communications gathered by surveillance are released, perhaps within a court filing. Best, ~R.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Page might be obtuse and slippery, a braggart and name dropper, imagining success beyond his performance.  I would not peg him as Walter Mitty.  Danny Kaye he’s not.

        He has something hard inside: he survived four years at Annapolis and made top ten percent.  That suggests physical and mental toughness, at least in a controlled environment, that he must hide.  I would guess he needs external discipline and structure to thrive and feels adrift without it.  Compare his coursework degrees to his floundering at his research work.  He covers lack of performance with bluster.  Perfect for Trump.

        I suspect he’s too anxious to please the right authority figure, which makes him playable.  He would use his loyalty to them as support when confronted with an opposing authority figure like Bob Mueller, working toward different objectives.  I think the English phrase is too clever by half.

        • Rayne says:

          There’s something in the last section of Bjorn Jensen’s comment — the observation Page was such a busy guy — that deserves closer examination. You say he’s got something hard in him to achieve his degrees, but were these achievements legitimate if his thesis was rejected multiple times?

          And how did he manage to find time to volunteer for political campaigns like McCain’s if he was so busy?

          Something just doesn’t compute about the guy, yet both the Trump campaign and the Russians managed to find a use for him

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I think his PhD is questionable; its award suggests the possibility someone with juice put in a good word.  That would be 2011.  The examiners who failed him in 2008 and 2010 were unusually direct about his failings and his personal attacks on them.  SOAS’s degrees web site has a standard interface that includes data, such as supervisor and examiners, that in Page’s case has been left blank.  Nor is his dissertation available to review.  SOAS says it’s a privacy thing, but its standard interface suggests it’s a choice.

            Page’s performance at Annapolis, however, would have been hard to fake.  It’s pretty relentless, with frequent fitness evaluations.  It doesn’t mean he was one of the guys, had been marked for high command, or would have survived more than his first tour of duty. It might have been the opposite.  But he succeeded academically, learned most of the written and unwritten rules, and was physically capable.  Ditto for his work at  NYU and Georgetown.

            His job performance at Merrill was uninspiring, in the words of his former boss and  colleagues in Moscow.  Yet he survives as a small consultant in a brutal business, apparently due to his Russian clients, with time and money on his hands to volunteer for national political campaigns.  If he were a fish, I’d take him back to the market, not save him for Friday night dinner.

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