Christopher Steele Probably Saved Carter Page from Prosecution

As I laid out a few weeks ago, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post.

As you no doubt know, the government released the Carter Page FISA materials in response to a slew of FOIAs for it. I’m still at HOPE conference, so will do a quick impression, and follow-up later in the week with real analysis.

I believe that Christopher Steele and his shitty disinformation dossier likely saved Carter Page from being prosecuted. I say that because the four FISA applications strongly suggest that the FBI had reason independent of the dossier to believe Page was happily serving as an agent of Russia, including new information in renewals. Nevertheless, it’s clear that a significant portion of the initial application did rely on Steele.

To be clear, I think most of the treatment of Steele is perfectly appropriate. As I’ve said before, FISA applications rely on a range of human sources, including informants and contractors like Steele. For each, the FBI will assess the source’s credibility, weighing things like his bias or personal animosity and past reliability. The applications did this at length for Steele, noting that he had an established history of quality reporting, explaining that he used subsources for his reporting, describing that this information came as part of politically motivated research, admitting that in follow-up Steele expressed real desperation about Trump, and describing how Steele got cut off for sharing information with the press. Four Republican judges assessed all this and approved these orders, and that seems like a reasonable judgment.

I increasingly believe the Russians started feeding Steele disinformation from the very beginning of his project. So this would represent a case where a previously reliable consultant had, in this instance, proven totally unreliable.  That happens, I’m sure.

The problem, however, is that the FBI couldn’t figure out that the Michael Isikoff report was based on the Steele dossier, something Isikoff has admitted. While the way they use the Isikoff report isn’t about validating the intelligence, it nevertheless should have been scrutinized closely enough to understand it might be downstream of Steele. I’ve laid part of this out here (and I’ll probably flesh out this discussion later when there aren’t hackers to hang out with).

Because of how the government apparently uses FISA reauthorizations, this defect remained in the reauthorizations, even as FBI admitted the problems associated with Steele. That doesn’t mean FBI didn’t have a slew of other reasons to wiretap Page. They obviously were obtaining useful intelligence off the wiretap. I can think of several criminal defendants who had what are surely more problematic stuff in their FISA application, who nevertheless had information downstream of that FISA application used in a prosecution against them. So thus far, it simply reflects what happens when you discover intelligence you had every reason to believe was reliable turned out not to be.

Ideally, however, once it became clear the dossier was a problem, they should have done something like submit a fresh application laying out all the other evidence that led the FBI to believe Page is a happy Russian asset. Not all of the stuff is fruit of the Steele tree (and as I’ve noted repeatedly, virtually none of the most important parts of what I know of the Mueller investigation is fruit of the Page wiretapping).

But that didn’t happen. So everything will now be treated as fruit of a stupid dossier, meaning none of it will be admissible in court. And that, I suspect, means that Page will never be prosecuted in spite of what appears to be a whole bunch of redacted information showing ongoing efforts to help Russia.

Indeed, I suspect that’s why the Steele defenders have fought so hard to claim the dossier has been corroborated: because if it were, then it might still be cool to go after Page, but because so little of it has been corroborated, that likely will never happen.

59 replies
  1. Trip says:

    Aside from the dossier issue, why was Paul Ryan sharing info with Carter Page about releasing a memo (via Nunes) months in advance?

  2. Bob Conyers says:

    Do we have a sense of how often FISA (or regular) warrants are based on only semi-reliable sources? I have to assume it’s fairly frequent. I would imagine any time you use the testimony of some low level dopes in an application, you have to deal with the likelihood that at least some of what they’re saying is lies, either to protect themselves, curry favor with law enforcement, or just because they’re dopes.

    Which probably suggests that more transparency about the process and how lies are filtered, and also more open debate would address some of the potential for problems in specific cases.

    • emptywheel says:

      One of the things that has long been a concern in terrorism cases are some consultants who know very little about Islam or even Arabic. I would expect tons of CT FISA apps include their claims.

  3. jdmckay says:

    This is going to strengthen Trump/Nunes/Hannity’s hand.  Next week’s spin cycle… uuugh.

    • bmaz says:

      Can’t imagine how that is, the applications basically demonstrate that the entire HPSCI ruse has been a sham and a lie.

      • jdmckay says:

        Because entire Nunes/Hannity (every single day) assertion has been FISA app for Page relied mostly on Steele.  This appears to be the case.

        What am I missing?


        • bmaz says:

          There are four separate applications and extremely little is based on Steele and there is more than sufficient bases without Steele. It is a complete red herring. The structure and composition of the material is consistent with exactly what should and is in such applications, and was repeatedly found sufficient by four extremely senior conservative judges. And, in doing so, they validated the warrants. The thought that there is something untoward in the least about these applications and resulting warrants is patently absurd.

        • Desider says:

          You’re missing what Marcy said, that little of the application depended on Steele, so they should have separated the Steele refs out to make it more solid and sustainable. As it is now, it’s political fodder and seems to be going nowhere – even though Page’s malfeasance is well-documented.

  4. pseudonymous in nc says:

    I’m still perplexed as to what Page is other than a doofus, and maybe he really is no more than a doofus, a walking McGuffin.

    This may have been covered before, but what’s your hypothesis on how the disinfo suppliers knew what was being sought out and by whom: from the April hacks, from access to Fusion GPS, or just from generally contaminating Steele’s subsource network in the knowledge that people would be looking for dirt? (Or something else…?) We know that Steele’s work probably led people to misjudge the intent of the hack-and-leak operation, and that he was hired soon after the start of that operation and the outreach to Papadopoulos in London, soooooo….

    And does that apply equally to the US-based emigre sources as the ones in Russia?

    • emptywheel says:

      Not really sure. There are hints Oleg Deripaska was involved in some way. I think it also likely RU mapped out Steele’s network of sources after the FIFA investigation.

    • emptywheel says:

      There’s some reason to think Page continued to be in touch with the Trump camp even after he left. I’m interested in his trip to Russia in December.

      I think he likely did FAR LESS than DOn Jr and others.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Oh, for sure. The activities of various actors who were semi-detached from the campaign — or at least declared so — in the last half of 2016 is still sketchily understood, though I think we’re going to learn more relatively soon.

      • superman says:

        Exactly.  Page making occasional contact with the Trump campaign was critical.  This allowed direct spying on Trump (the point of the whole scheme) via 1 or 2 hops.

        It’s rather funny that so many people committed so many felonies just to spy on the most transparent political figure of our lifetimes.  Why would anyone think spying on Trump would yield any new information?  This is just another sign of how fundamentally the Dems misread Trump.

        • bmaz says:

          What in the living hell are you prattling on about? It was a proper CI investigation of Carter Page, NOT Trump. Don’t wander in here and blow shit up people’s asses. Secondly, your claim of “felonies” being committed is absolute garbage. Legal and appropriate warrants, valid on their face, were issued by four of the most conservative Republican appointed judges imaginable. No “felonies” were committed and your duplicitous comment is not appreciated.

          By the way, is “Superman” really Carter Page, or Carter Page’s mother?

        • Bruce Soileau says:

          If the feds wanted to spy on the Trump campaign they could have done so through Manafortwho was still in touch (much more so than Page) or Gates, who was still in the campaign. The Page FISA warrants were after he left the campaign.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Page might well be a doofus, but he seems connected.  He had potential: Naval Academy, good grad schools, even if he seems to have obtained his PhD through bullying rather than scholarship.  He got onto Trump’s team, but didn’t last.  His continued utility is probably quite low, but a handler and his supervisor could not have predicted that.

      Page would be one of a platoon of possibly useful contacts, knowing and unknowing.  Many of them probably don’t work out.  But a few do.  Just as Burgess, Maclean, Philby, Blunt and Cairncross are unlikely to have been the only English university students recruited by the Soviets in the 1930s.

    • superman says:

      Consider the possibility that facts are real.

      Carter Page’s bio says he worked in Naval Intelligence.  Carter Page said he’s worked with intel community for 20 years.  Carter Page was working with the intel community a few months before this warrant application, capturing Russian spies.  The intel community despised Trump because of his proposed policy shifts (more peace, less war, stop pretending the Soviet Union still exists).  Carter Page sought out a position in the Trump campaign.  Where do those dots lead you?

      Rather than fantasizing that the Deep State is redacting its awesome glory while showing us a bunch of turds, you should consider the reality that is in front of you.

        • bmaz says:

          Listen, I warned you, and now you are back for a little more of your one man troll show. You are done here Mr. Page.

        • Rayne says:

          Dude, I have NO idea what could produce this but whatever you are using please share because coffee isn’t cutting it this particular Monday.

          But seriously — as former prosecutor Cynthia Kouril pointed out on Twitter, surveillance requires a huge amount of resources and it’s not undertaken lightly. Why the fuck would we surveil one of our own team? And if Page isn’t on Team USA, why wouldn’t we surveil him?

          You’re done trolling on this at EW. And I suggest you stop doing recreational drugs.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          Dude. That’s a misreading of the transcript: even with the redactions, it’s pretty clear that Page had a valid residence permit stamped in an expired US passport  (probably Schengen, since the Russian permanent residence permit is a separate document) and so carried both his expired and current passport.

          If it turns out that Page’s doofus act is because he’s a CIA asset, then come back and do a victory dance. Until then, it’s just bullshit.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          That was a slip Page made during that testimony. Gowdy walked it back.

          Page caught his error immediately.

          His slip was that the org he was thinking of is not really LE.

          Let’s leave it at that at this point in time.

          Do not discuss anymore. I get your point as I noted it myself back then.

          No overlap though.

        • Sebastian Dangerfield says:

          Oh, your source is <<puts on reading glasses>> @Missy_America on Twitter. Well, in that case I’m convinced!

  5. SpaceLifeForm says:

    “I increasingly believe the Russians started feeding Steele disinformation from the very beginning of his project.”

    Very well may be the case.  But then, you have to wonder why that happened.  Who knew he was starting the project?  Was Steele already compromised?  Did someone inside US IC tip off Russia so that they could feed misinformation in order to discredit the project?

    • greengiant says:

      Russia and oligarchs would feed total provable false information to Steele to discredit everything even coming close to the dossier at a later time, and for bonus points set one huge time bomb under Clinton if she ever went public with anything from the dossier, same for any government/agency/journalists foolish enough to do the same. Disruption and FIFA revenge are bonuses. It is an old play in the playbook. It is also the first thing suspected when someone DMs Marcy. I wonder what happened to the FSB guys and kaspersky employee Putin arrested around December 2016, the ones involved in a FSB feud over cracking down on malware.
      As SLF implies, who knew Page and Papadopoulos were in play? Team Trump was really in early on the Downer and Stefan Halper reveals.

  6. Willis says:

    I would aver that the Russians had Steele on watch after FIFA, and hacks that haven’t been released contained information that he was a source. Carter Page has probably been a laughing stock in Russia for years. The Russkies handed him to the trump team as a disinformation agent. The logical conclusion then is that Nunes is getting his marching orders from the Russians through Manafort as Marcy has hinted

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      C’mon now, lets not diss Rohrabacher. Nunes is still learning.

      When a reporter asked him about a 2015 meeting with Butina his office confirmed to the OC Register, he retorted, “I think you should be ashamed of yourself for trying to divert attention onto another,” before some crosstalk.

      “Wait a minute. Don’t argue with me,” he said as he pointed to the journalist. “Are you up here doing the press conference?”

      After asking who the man represented, Rohrabacher continued, “They teach you […] to not let someone make his case and interrupt him? Is that what they teach you? Is that what they teach you?Wait a minute.[…] You don’t get a chance to argue with me.”

      [Standard. Interrupt someone when they try to explain but one does not like what they hear. Accuse someone of interrupting when it is the reverse]

      Rohrabacher ended the press conference without answering any questions on the Russia matter or immigration. He is a staunch supporter of the president and called this week’s indictment of Butina “bogus” and “stupid,” the Register reported.

      Orange County GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher met in Russia in 2015 with a woman later charged by federal officials for allegedly acting as an unregistered agent of the Kremlin in a covert endeavor to shape American politics.

      News of the 2015 meeting — confirmed Tuesday by Rohrabacher’s office — came the same day he told Politico that Monday’s indictment of 29-year-old Maria Butina was “bogus” and “stupid,” saying he believes the allegations are part of a larger plot to undermine President Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia.

      [Nunes still learning. He is not as corrupted. Yet]

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Do not believe Manafort around for this:

      Rohrabacher claims he was at the Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968, at another political event when Kennedy was fatally shot, and he went 39 years later to question the convicted assassin about the killing.


      The assassin did not recognize Rohrabacher as a congressman — or even a man, at first — because he went undercover as a woman named “Diana.”


      We never received an answer from Rohrabacher’s office about why he was there, or tapes of the conversation that were made while he was in there. They admitted they were there, but there’s no explanation from Rohrabacher or his aides. He was not there for justice.”

  7. SteveB says:

    @ SLF 1:50.

    Why would the Russians want to seed the Steele dossier with disinfo?

    1 They probably could not thwart it completely even if they wanted to.

    2 Seeding it would give them various active measures opportunities down the line.

    3 They had no idea whether Trump would win.

    4 Creating and / or exploiting conflicts about the legitimacy of the election process tactics and results would serve their purposes very well.

    5 They would expect FBI to be highly interested in Carter Page given his involvement with earlier operation.

    6 Getting the FBI caught up in  competing investigations of the candidates  would be hugely advantageous : it offers opportunities to further undermine the legitimacy and effectiveness of important state organs and infect them further with taints of partisanship.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Because if some in IC where aware of Steele doing the research, and others in IC aware of the former, then maybe the latter would try to discredit the former. See attacks on FBI.

      Spy vs spy.

  8. don says:

    While some of the dossier looks like red herrings and disinfo, especially the Carter Page and Michael Cohen parts, there is much in it that is clearly true and has been borne out by the Mueller investigation, viz, responsibility for the DNC hack and the role of WikiLeaks, the use of real estate deals as carrots (something you have reported on yourself), the larger aim of breaking up NATO and ending Ukraine related sanctions, etc. You could be a little more nuanced in describing it. It is clearly a mixed bag, but one in which there are a few gems.

    • emptywheel says:


      The dossier was ALWAYS well behind public reporting on hacking. If anything, it led the Dems to be complacent.

      I mean, I can write about stuff that already happened too. And a number of people did do so in real time, with more accuracy than Steele.

  9. Michael says:

    The problem I have with the theory that the dossier is disinformation is why would the Russians include information in the dossier that was (a) very difficult to discredit and (b) hostile to their interests. Take the “pee pee tape” story- it would make sense, for example, to include a story about Trump having a tryst with hookers at midnight on June 9, 2013 in Moscow and then when the story became public produce evidence that Trump was in Vladivostok at midnight on June 9, 2013. But the way it worked out the hookers story couldn’t be discredited and made it much more difficult for Trump to make concessions to the Russians. It’s a lot more likely Steele’s sources just made mistakes.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That dog won’t hunt.  Among other things, no one but Trump, apparently, knows what, if any concessions he made.  Not there was any obvious need to make concessions.

      Vlad did get a second meeting in a hurry, in the US, and before the November election.  That sounds like a whopping concession to Vlad.  No one but Trump seems to know why there would be such an immediate follow-up for the two heads of state.  It is highly unusual, even among friendly heads of state.

      The art of discrediting depends on mixing truth and lies.  Anecdotally, the CIA and MI6 seem pretty good at it, but no one seems to be as good as Russian intelligence, except perhaps the Israelis.  The pee tape story is a good example.

      Given the proven stories and rumors of Trump’s decades of sexual activity, his obvious fear and hatred of Obama, and what the Russians knew about Trump’s actual behavior during his visits, the pee tape story is brilliant.  It is salacious, embarrassing, provocative, and plausible.  (Those who regard Trump as fastidious forget that he also seems to prefer having sex with his mistresses without a condom.)

      Making it hard to prove or disprove keeps the story ‘out there’ much longer, causing further chaos, which seems to be Putin’s principal objective – apart from encouraging hard rightwing governments everywhere.

      Lastly, Steele is a former head of MI6’s Russia desk, an important post. He had a good reputation with the FBI for his past work. This dossier, however, seems deficient in key places. A more consistent explanation than that he made mistakes about a place he has spent a career getting to know is that the information he was given was in the wrong tins or past its sell-by date.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Again, it’s worth noting that the earlier memos had a greater mixture of sources based in the US and talking to ex-USSR emigrés with connections to the Family Business and the campaign (perhaps Sater and/or Millian, perhaps others) while the later memos were more focused on Kremlin-adjacent sourcing. I don’t think we can say whether the US side of the source network was more or less vulnerable to disinfo, but it was vulnerable in different ways, not least because Fusion GPS commissioned open-source document work from Ed Baumgartner at the same time.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      “Steele’s sources just made mistakes.”

      I see no difference to just being fed misinformation over time.

      Marcy can relate.

  10. jdmckay says:

    (reply button didn’t work)

    Desider @ July 22, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    “You’re missing what Marcy said, that little of the application depended on Steele,”

    Actually Marcy said:
    ” Nevertheless, it’s clear that a significant portion of the initial application did rely on Steele. ”

    That’s the only reason I asked. I read it this morning, and although highly redacted I thought the same. Somewhat disappointing.

  11. don says:

    Thanks for your reply, Marcy. Couldn’t figure out how to make the reply button work, but you did exactly what I was hoping you would: “well behind reporting at the time” and “less accurate” is much more nuanced than “shitty disinformation dossier”. Love your work!

  12. cat herder says:

    I trust Marcy’s instincts, but I wish I knew whether the contents are complete disinfo, or mostly true facts salted with just enough disinfo that the whole will be dismisssed as fake (“Kerning!!”)

  13. Tracy says:

    Has anyone read Michael Isikoff & David Corn’s book, “Russian Roulette”? B/c in a March interview on MSNBC (below), they discuss at 5:10 min how according to sources, Steele said to associates that he believed that the pee tape had a 50/50 chance of accuracy (Isikoff says “or less”). They report Steele’s standing by the “big picture items,” being “some Russian effort to cultivate & co-opt Trump” – and Corn’s view is that Steele “hit the number on that before others.”

    It seems to me, too, that the dossier acted as an important early-whistleblower, alerting those within U.S. power (Congress, FBI) to investigate further.

    Interestingly, David J. Kramer, who worked for State Department in the Human Rights & Labor section 2008-2009, is both on Putin’s post-summit list of people Putin wants to question, and who John McCain sent to view & collect the dossier from Steele.

    In a “Daily” podcast from the NYTimes (below), Ken Bensinger (Buzzfeed) discusses the FIFA & collusion investigation connection. According to Bensinger, at 11:30 min he discusses how Steele (well connected MI6) passed the investigation to his “new friend” in the FBI, Bob Mueller. At 12:20, Bensinger describes Steele’s going back to Mueller with the information about “collusion between Russia and Trump to undermine American democracy:”

    Steele’s reporting seems valuable in having played a critical “early” role to get the attention of “high-ups” in the U.S. govt, who could do something about it. I feel grateful for Steele and his contacts’ risking their lives to unearth what still holds up as the big-picture truth; the dossier (admittedly imperfect), was a format that got attention.

    Marcy, just wondering what you think of the Fusion GPS transcript of their testimony, saying that already someone was killed over the dossier? Suggests high stakes (CBS article, below, says that several high-ranking Russians died after the 2016 election), thus we ought to honor their courage & what came from those who put their lives on the line.

    Thanks for your work to uncover the truth, I’ve been catching up on your theories – incredible reporting! In my mind, you, Steele, Mueller and countless others do fearless work to expose the truth, because it’s the right thing to do.

    (Excerpted from CBS report)

    “In that [132-page] transcript, [Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn] Simpson attorney Josh Levy tells the committee…: “‘Somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work.’

    “Steele’s dossier was published in full by Buzzfeed in January 2017 after being offered to numerous news outlets. And it has been speculated that Oleg Erovinkin, a former KGB general and chief of staff to Igor Sechin, was one of the primary sources for the document.

    “Sechin, the CEO of state-owned Russian oil giant Rosneft, plays a major role in the dossier, which accuses him of having secret meetings with Trump campaign officials as an intermediary of the Russian government. Erovinkin was found dead in his car in December 2016, according to Russian media. It was later claimed that he died of a heart attack.

    “Conspiracy theorists have long speculated that Erovinkin is the source of the claims involving Sechin. However, there is no evidence that has emerged to back up this assertion. Erovinkin is one of a number of high-profile Russians who died in the months after the 2016 election.”

  14. Frank Probst says:

    You obviously know all of the details a lot better than I do, but it’s hard for me to see anyone from the Trump campaign being prosecuted based on evidence from FISA wiretaps/surveillance. There may be a mechanism to hold a trial out of the public eye, but you just couldn’t use it for something like this. We’d be seeing “SECRET KANGAROO COURT!!!” tweets for years. The evidence has value as part of a CI investigation that we will probably never know much about, at least beyond the broad strokes. I don’t see any of it being usable in open court.
    As for Carter Page being prosecuted AT ALL, however, I think that may still be up in the air. He’s almost as bad as Trump when it comes to telling easily disproven lies. Any jury is going to HATE him. I think he may get hit with charges for something like lying to the FBI about something that won’t require classified intel to prove. I think what’s “protecting” him right now is that he has almost zero value as a witness for Mueller if he flips. He’d have to have supporting documents (or recordings, or something similar) for anything he testifies about. As a potential juror, I’d want a driver’s license or a passport before believing that he’d even gotten his name right. He’s basically a sideshow. He’d be one of the last people I’d indict, probably at the end of the investigation, when I was just tying up loose ends.

  15. x174 says:

    if Steele was worth his salt–which many in the ic believed–i’m sure that he had concerns that part of his dossier material was of questionable value. that is why they call it raw intel. disinformation is part of how the game of intelligence works and Steele doesn’t come across as a naif to me.

  16. Jacked Donkey says:

    It remains unclear to me how you’ve concluded that the entire Steele dossier is disinformation.


    The dossier is a raw human intelligence product, and thus is comprised of both accurate intel and disinformation, the ratio of the two being determined by the person compiling the raw HUMINT.  Steele was among the best, though we don’t know how his Russian contacts have held up since he retired.


    Steele would have rated the credibility of his sources, but even if his product was 80% accurate, the only way to know what is accurate is to run down each lead.  Which is pretty much the job of FBI counterintelligence.  Thus the dossier may be highly useful as an initial HUMINT survey of the battlefield, so to speak, but worse than useless to the public.


    As for the Russians intentionally feeding Steele an entire narrative for his dossier?  They would have to know his entire network of contacts and carefully feed disinformation to each one while not revealing their awareness of Steele’s project.  That stretches belief.  Far more likely, some of Steele’s sources are compromised and the Kremlin feeds those sources a mixed diet of disinformation and real but not very useful intel.  There’s probably also compartmentalized disinformation that’s used by the Kremlin to identify the sources of leaks:  thus the round of cleanup murders that occurred after the Steele dossier was published.




    • bmaz says:

      Excellent comment. I can speak only for myself, but I think your comment/analysis is spot on. Some of the “dossier” has been borne out; some has been conclusively disproven. We may never know exactly where the info/disinfo line really rests. And focusing on that is silly at this point. It sure is not what Bob Mueller is doing.

      Either way, as to the public, the “dossier” is the reddest and largest of herrings ever in play. Anybody who thinks the investigation of Page, Papadopolous and Manafort occurred solely, or even primarily, because of Steele and his “dossier” is nuts. And the four FISA apps do nothing but buttress that beyond real question.

  17. CaliLawyer says:

    I don’t see the dossier as being at all problematic in prosecuting Page. Steele himself estimated that the dossier was 70%-90% accurate, and seeding disinformation into otherwise accurate material is a long time Russian practice – a practice with which Steele would have been very familiar. Law enforcement of all stripes rely on dodgy sources all the time at the investigatory stage – think of paid informants as just one example. There are other reasons to let him twist in the wind – he might incriminate himself in other ways, try to communicate with persons of interest known or unknown, etc. The “fruit of the poisonous tree” isn’t applicable here, in my opinion. It’s more likely they think prosecuting him would reveal sources and methods through the discovery/trial process. Confronting witnesses, etc.

    • bmaz says:

      It is mostly irrelevant to prosecuting Page. The government either will, or won’t, but the “dossier” will likely not be a deciding factor. If they do, I’d expect something closer to Papadopolus and Flynn, just to easily process him. The guy is such a loopy gadfly nutjob though, I do think it would be a public service to take him out of play.

  18. CaliLawyer says:

    He might still get prosecuted, but unlike Manafort, the case against Page would rely on counterintelligence work, unless someone turned on him. The problem with that is that one expect him to flip on someone higher up, not the reverse. His role in all this has always been quite bizarre – he seems to have been in a go-between type of role, but he’s such a weirdo he seems ill-suited for that very role. Manafort basically got sold out by the Ukrainians, and so you can go after him in more traditional ways. The one parallel between the two is that there are certainly natsec-related charges that could’ve been brought against Manafort, but conspicuously were not.

    • bmaz says:

      That is really not true. As I pointed out previously, the CI part (which is not as hard to get around, with smart prosecutors, as people think) does NOT have to come into play. There are a plethora of false statements/perjury charges that could be made as to Page. Remember, it is not just Mueller’s shop Page yakked at, it is also Congress. If the House shifts, those transcripts are coming out.

  19. CaliLawyer says:

    True, there are probably other things they could pin on him as they did with Manafort. I still don’t see it as strange that they aren’t rushing to prosecute him. He has been under surveillance for so long there probably isn’t much they already don’t know. I just disagree with the premise of this particular article, which is as far as I can tell asserts that the reason he hasn’t been prosecuted is because of the raw intelligence nature of the Steele dossier. I’m not a FISA expert but great deference generally is given to judges granting warrants, and they don’t create poisonous fruit issues absent clear-cut wrongdoing by the LE officer making the request, such as lying in the affidavit. There is just no evidence of that here, and so that is not the reason they have yet to prosecute Page. I think they just don’t see it as urgent and maybe see some value in letting him dangle. There might be a PR angle to this as well – waiting on other evidence (such as witness testimony) that incriminates him on the natsec issues that are the center of his case (that wouldn’t endanger sources and methods) would avoid playing into the hands of the “witch hunt” crowd who would immediately claim it as an exoneration the way they did with Flynn. Manafort’s transgressions were so egregious that no one can make a rational argument against prosecution. Manafort also was Page’s superior on the campaign, so Manafort might have more value on the conspiracy questions at the core of the Muller mandate. Shit is about to get seriously real for Manafort. My personal feeling on this is that there is already a sealed indictment on Page, and they feel perfectly comfortable letting Page twist in the wind. He’s a mouse in a corner being batted around by a cat. This has nothing to do with the Steele dossier in my opinion.

    • bmaz says:

      “I still don’t see it as strange that they aren’t rushing to prosecute him. He has been under surveillance for so long there probably isn’t much they already don’t know. I just disagree with the premise of this particular article, which is as far as I can tell asserts that the reason he hasn’t been prosecuted is because of the raw intelligence nature of the Steele dossier.”

      Oh, I agree completely about that. Thought that such was clear from my earlier comments, but things get lost in multiple and long threads (also why I hate these damned nested comment threads, you just cannot drop in and catch things in linear order).

      I too have no idea if they will prosecute Page. But they easily could, and it need not involve the “dossier” in the slightest.

  20. mfarlow says:

    Simply because there may be errors and/or disinformation in the Steele dossier does not mean that either the warrant is invalid or that anything obtained subsequent to the warrant is a fruit of the poisonous tree. When evaluating the validity of a warrant, a court will look (in legal parlance) to the 4 corners of the document (in other words, what is actually contained within the warrant itself) to determine if the information contained within the warrant is sufficient to establish probable cause for the issuance of the warrant. Challenges outside the scope of the 4 corners of the document are limited to whether the applicant knowingly or recklessly used false information, or whether the applicant him or herself knowingly lied within the warrant request.

    If the applicant (or affiant) has knowledge that their source has provided prior valid information, nothing further is necessary at the warrant stage to bolster the credibility of the report. An unknown, or (at the time the warrant is applied for) potentially discredited source would require additional verification.

    Steele was a known quantity and had provided good intel in the past. His dossier was, in and of itself, sufficient to establish PC for the warrant – even if parts of it were later discredited. No error in the issuance of the warrant, and no fruit of the poisonous tree.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Well said. It was enough for a starting point, but not the only starting point, and there would not have been three expanded renewals later if there was nothing to be found.

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