Denial and Deception: Did Trump Really Hire and Fire the Suspected Russian Assets on His Campaign?

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.

Recent developments in both the investigations into Carter Page and Paul Manafort have focused attention on a question I’ve been wondering about for some time: how any investigation will prove whether suspected Russian assets on the Trump campaign were ever with the campaign or really got fired.

Carter Page’s alleged denial and deception that he did what a potentially disinformation-filled dossier says he did

First, consider the Carter Page FISA applications. As I’ve said repeatedly, I actually think the FBI should be held accountable for their inclusion of the September 23, 2016 Michael Isikoff article based off of Steele’s work given their credulity that that reporting wasn’t downstream from Steele, particularly their continued inclusion of it after such time as Isikoff had made it clear the report relied on Steele. To be clear — given that they include this from the start, I’m not suggesting bad faith on the part of the FBI; I’m arguing it reflects an inability to properly read journalism that gets integrated into secret affidavits (this is something almost certainly repeated in the Keith Gartenlaub case). If you’re going to use public reporting in affidavits that will never see the light of day, learn how to read journalistic sourcing, goddamnit.

The Page application defenders argue that the inclusion of Isikoff in the Page application is not big deal because it didn’t serve to corroborate the Steele dossier on which it was based. That’s generally true. Instead, Isikoff is used in a section titled, “Page’s Denial of Cooperation with the Russian Government to Influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.” The section serves, I think, to show that Page was engaging in clandestine support of a Russian effort to undermine the election. The application claims FBI had probable cause that Page was an agent of a foreign power because he met clause E, someone who aids, abets, or conspires with someone engaging in clandestine activities, including sabotaging the election.

(A) knowingly engages in clandestine intelligence gathering activities for or on behalf of a foreign power, which activities involve or may involve a violation of the criminal statutes of the United States;

(B) pursuant to the direction of an intelligence service or network of a foreign power, knowingly engages in any other clandestine intelligence activities for or on behalf of such foreign power, which activities involve or are about to involve a violation of the criminal statutes of the United States;

(C) knowingly engages in sabotage or international terrorism, or activities that are in preparation therefor, for or on behalf of a foreign power;


(E) knowingly aids or abets any person in the conduct of activities described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) or knowingly conspires with any person to engage in activities described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C).

To prove this is all clandestine, the FBI needs to show Page and his alleged co-conspirators were hiding it, in spite of the public reporting on it.

The FBI cites this Josh Rogin interview with Page as well as a letter he sent to Jim Comey, to show that Page was denying that he was conspiring with Russians.

“All of these accusations are just complete garbage,” Page said about attacks on him by top officials in the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and unnamed intelligence officials, who have suggested that on a July trip to Moscow, Page met with “highly-sanctioned individuals” and perhaps even discussed an unholy alliance between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

As far as Page’s denials, he was specifically denying meeting with Igor Sechin and Igor Diveykin. He was definitely downplaying the likelihood that he got the invitation to Moscow because he was associated with Trump’s campaign, and he was not fulsome about having a quick exchange with other high ranking Russians.

But to this day, there is no evidence that Page did meet with Sechin and Diveykin (in the Schiff memo, he points to Page’s dodges about meeting other Russians as proof but it’s not). So citing Page’s denials to Rogin and Comey that he had had these meetings worked a lot like Saddam’s denials leading up to the Iraq War. Sometimes, when someone denies something, it’s true, and not proof of deception.

A similar structure appears to be repeated when what appears to be the section describing ongoing intelligence collection, starting with the third application (see PDF 340-1) excerpts a letter Page wrote in February 2017 attacking Hillary for “false evidence” that he met with Sechin and Diyevkin; as batshit as the letter sounds, as far as we know that specific claim is not true, and therefore this attack should only be treated as deception and denial if FBI has corroboration for other claims he denies here.

In other words, because the specific claims in the Steele dossier were the form of the accusations against Page, rather than the years-long effort the Russians made to recruit him, his willingness to play along, his interest in cuddling up to Russia, and his potential involvement in ensuring that Trump’s policy would be more pro-Russian than it otherwise might, Page’s specific denials of being an agent of Russia may well have been true even if in fact he was or at least reasonably looked like one based off other facts.

But was the Trump campaign deceiving about his departure from the campaign?

The applications don’t just show Page denying (correctly, as far as we know) that he met with Sechin and Diveykin. They also show great interest in the terms of his departure from the Trump campaign. Here’s part of what the application says about the Isikoff article:

Based on statements in the September 23rd News Article, as well as in other articles published by identified news organizations, Candidate #1’s campaign repeatedly made public statements in an attempt to distance Candidate #1 from Page. For example, the September 23rd News Article noted that Page’s precise role in Candidate #1’s campaign is unclear. According to the article, a spokesperson for Candidate #1’s campaign called Page an “informal foreign advisor” who” does not speak for [Candidate #1] or the campaign.” In addition, another spokesperson for Candidate #1’s campaign said that Page “has no role” and added “[w]e are not aware of his activities, past or present.” However, the article stated that the campaign spokesperson did not respond when asked why Candidate #1 had previously described Page as an advisor. In addition, on or about September 25, 2016, an identified news organization published an article that was based primarily on an interview with Candidate #1’s then campaign manager. During the interview, the campaign manager stated, “[Page is] not part of the campaign I’m running.” The campaign manager added that Page has not been part of Candidate #1’s national security or foreign policy briefings since he/she became campaign manager. In response to a question to a question from the interviewer regarding reports that Page was meeting with Russian officials to essentially attempt to conduct diplomatic negotiations with the Russian Government, the campaign manager responded, “If [Page is] doing that, he’s certainly not doing it with the permission or knowledge of the campaign . . . “

That passage is followed by three lines redacted under FOIA’s “techniques and procedures” (7E) and “enforcement proceedings” (7A) exemptions.

Again, this section seems dedicated to proving that Page and his conspirators are attempting to operate clandestinely — that they’re denying this ongoing operation. And the FBI treats Page’s and the campaign’s denials of any association as proof of deception.

To this day, of course, President Trump considers the Page FISA to be an investigation into his campaign.

Sure, the continued conflation of the Page FISA with his campaign serves a sustained strategy to confuse his base and discredit the investigation. But by willingly conflating the two, Trump only adds to the basis for which FBI might treat the conflicting admissions and denials of Page’s past and ongoing role in the campaign in fall 2016 as part of an effort to deceive.

Which is to say that while Page’s denials of meeting with Igor Sechin might be bogus analysis, the competing claims from the campaign — while they were likely at least partly incompetent efforts to limit damage during a campaign — might (especially as they persist) more justifiably be taken as proof of deception.

Steve Bannon got picked up on Page’s wiretaps in January 2017

All the more so given that Steve Bannon reached out to Page — via communication channels that were almost surely wiretapped — in early 2017 to prevent him from publicly appearing and reminding of his role on the campaign. As Page explained in his testimony to HPSCI:

MR. SCHIFF: Have you had any interaction with Steve Bannon?

MR. PAGE: We — we had a brief conversation in January, and we shared some text messages. That’s about it.

MR. SCHIFF: January of this year?

MR. PAGE: Yes.

MR. SCHIFF: What was the nature of your text message exchange?

MR. PAGE: It was — he had heard I was going to be on I believe it was an MSNBC event. And he just said it’s probably not a good idea. So —

MR. SCHIFF: And he heard this from?

MR. PAGE: I am not sure, but —

MR. SCHIFF: So he was telling you not to go on MSNBC?

MR. PAGE: Yes.

MR. SCHIFF: And he texted this to you?

MR. PAGE: He called me. It was right when I was — it was in mid-January, so —

MR. SCHIFF: And how did he have your number?

MR. PAGE: Well, I mean, I think there is the campaign had my number. He probably got it from the campaign, if I had to guess. I don’t know.

MR. SCHIFF: And did Mr. Bannon tell you why he didn’t want you to go on MSNBC?

MR. PAGE: No. But it turns out, I mean, I saw eventually the same day and in the same hour slot in the “Meet the Press” daily, it was Vice President Pence. And this is kind of a week after the dodgy dossier was fully released. And so I can understand, you know, given reality, why it might not be a good idea when he heard, probably from the producer — somehow the word got back via the producers that I would be on there, so —

MR. SCHIFF: I am not sure that I follow that, but in any event, apart from your speculating about it, what did he communicate as to why he thought you should not go on MSNBC?

MR. PAGE: I can’t recall the specifics.

MR. SCHIFF: Did he tell you he thought it would be hurtful to the President?

MR. PAGE: Not specifically, although there was a — I had received — we had some — letter exchanges perviously, kind of sharing — between Jones Day and myself, just saying — I forget the exact terminology, but — you know, the overall message was: Don’t give the wrong impression. Or my interpretation of the message was: Don’t give the wrong impression that you’re part of the administration or the Trump campaign.

And my response to that was, of course, I’m not. The only reason I ever talked to the media is to try to clear up this massive mess which has been created about my name.


MR. SCHIFF: So, when Mr. Bannon called you to ask you not to go on, did he make any reference to the correspondence from the campaign?

MR. PAGE: I can’t recall. Again, I had just gotten off a 14-hour flight from Abu Dhabi.

MR. SCHIFF: He just made it clear he didn’t want you to do the interview?

MR. PAGE: That’s all I recall, yeah.

MR. SCHIFF: And what did you tell him?

MR. PAGE: I told him: I won’t do it. That’s fine. No big deal.

In the wake of the release of the Steele dossier, Trump’s top political advisor Steve Bannon (who, we now know, was in the loop on some discussions of a back channel to Russia) called up Carter Page on a wiretapped phone and told him not to go on MSNBC to try to rebut the Steele dossier.

I can get why that’d be sound judgment, from a political standpoint. But the attempt to quash a Page appearance and/or present any link to Pence during a period when he was pushing back about Mike Flynn and when Bannon was setting up back channels with Russians sure seems like an attempt to dissociate from Page as the visible symbol of conspiring with Russia all while continuing that conspiracy.

Speaking of Paul Manafort’s many conspiracies

Which brings me, finally, to a filing the government submitted in Paul Manafort’s DC trial yesterday.

Every time people claim that neither of the Manafort indictments relate to conspiring with Russia, I point out (in part) that Manafort sought to hide his long-term tie with Viktor Yanukovych and the Russian oligarchs paying his bills in an attempt to limit damage such associations would have to the ongoing Trump campaign. Effectively, when those ties became clear, Manafort stepped down and allegedly engaged in a conspiracy to hide those ties, all while remaining among Trump’s advisors.

In response to Manafort’s effort to preclude any mention of the Trump campaign in the DC case, the Mueller team argued they might discuss it if Manafort raises it in an attempt to impeach Rick Gates.

Manafort’s role in the Trump campaign, however, is relevant to the false-statement offenses charged in Counts 4 and 5 of the indictment. Indeed, Manafort’s position as chairman of the Trump campaign and his incentive to keep that position are relevant to his strong interest in distancing himself from former Ukrainian President Yanukovych, the subject of the false statements that he then reiterated to his FARA attorney to convey to the Department of Justice. In particular, the press reports described in paragraphs 26 and 27 of the indictment prompted Manafort and Gates to develop their scheme to conceal their lobbying. Dkt. 318 ¶¶ 26-27.

For example, on August 15, 2016, a member of the press e-mailed Manafort and copied a spokesperson for the Trump campaign to solicit a comment for a forthcoming story describing his lobbying. Gates corresponded with Manafort about this outreach and explained that he “provided” the journalist “information on background and then agreed that we would provide these answers to his questions on record.” He then proposed a series of answers to the journalist’s questions and asked Manafort to “review the below and let me know if anything else is needed,” to which Manafort replied, in part, “These answers look fine.” Gates sent a materially identical message to one of the principals of Company B approximately an hour later and “per our conversation.” The proposed answers Gates conveyed to Manafort, the press, and Company B are those excerpted in the indictment in paragraph 26.

An article by this member of the press associating Manafort with undisclosed lobbying on behalf of Ukraine was published shortly after Gates circulated the Manafort-approved false narrative to Company B and the member of the press. Manafort, Gates, and an associate of Manafort’s corresponded about how to respond to this article, including the publication of an article to “punch back” that contended that Manafort had in fact pushed President Yanukovych to join the European Union. Gates responded to the punch-back article that “[w]e need to get this out to as many places as possible. I will see if I can get it to some people,” and Manafort thanked the author by writing “I love you! Thank you.” Manafort resigned his position as chairman of the Trump campaign within days of the press article disclosing his lobbying for Ukraine.

Manafort’s role with the Trump campaign is thus relevant to his motive for undertaking the charged scheme to conceal his lobbying activities on behalf of Ukraine. Here, it would be difficult for the jury to understand why Manafort and Gates began crafting and disseminating a false story regarding their Ukrainian lobbying work nearly two years after that work ceased—but before any inquiry by the FARA Unit—without being made aware of the reason why public scrutiny of Manafort’s work intensified in mid-2016. Nor would Manafort’s motives for continuing to convey that false information to the FARA Unit make sense: having disseminated a false narrative to the press while his position on the Trump campaign was in peril, Manafort either had to admit these falsehoods publicly or continue telling the lie. [my emphasis]

Finally, Mueller is making this argument. The reason Manafort went to significant lengths in 2016 to avoid registering for all this Ukraine work, Mueller has finally argued, is because of his actions to deny the ties in an effort to remain on the Trump campaign and his effort to limit fallout afterwards.

This argument, of course, is unrelated to the competing stories that Trump told about why he fired Manafort (or whether, for example, Roger Stone was formally affiliated with the campaign during the period when he was reaching out to WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0). But since at least fall 2016 the FBI has been documenting efforts to lie about Trump’s willing ties to a bunch of people with close ties to Russians helping to steal the election and/or set up Trump as a Russian patsy.

And while the evidence that Page was lying when denying the specifics about the accusations against him in the dossier remains weak (at least as far as the unredacted sections are concerned), the evidence that the campaign has been involved in denial and deception since they got rid of first Manafort and then Page is not.

Carter Page’s incoherent ramblings may not actually be denial and deception. But Donald Trump’s sure look to be.

32 replies
  1. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Here, it would be difficult for the jury to understand why Manafort and Gates began crafting and disseminating a false story regarding their Ukrainian lobbying work nearly two years after that work ceased—but before any inquiry by the FARA Unit—without being made aware of the reason why public scrutiny of Manafort’s work intensified in mid-2016.

    This is where the EDVA and DC cases dovetail in an interesting way. Greg Andres said yesterday that the prosecution in EDVA would mention Manafort’s campaign role only as it relates to the apparent quid pro quo with Steve Calk and TFSB in late July / early August. Based on the exhibit list, there’s some discussion with loan officers and a senior VP over the application, Manafort puts in a request for Calk’s resume / professional bio, a few days later Calk is named to the campaign’s economic advisory board, and eventually TFSB grants the loan.

    So at the same time Paulie the Rug is scrabbling for liquidity and running up $300k on his Amex, while relying on Gates’s l33t PDF2Word sk1llz to make the the lobbying work appear more lucrative than it really is, the two of them are also trying to minimize the impact of their previous lobbying work on the campaign (and perhaps any FARA exposure). And then the black-ledger story comes out, Bannon is brought officially on board, and Paulie gets the boot.

    The EDVA case is basically a paper trial, so Gates’s credibility is less of an issue, especially given that the witnesses with use immunity are the paper-wranglers. But the narrative of Paulie scrabbling to prove to underwriters that he’s flush with assets and totally legit income — while working on the campaign for free! — is going to create an interesting foundation for the DC trial.

    Of course DC jurors won’t be allowed to take EDVA into consideration, and voir dire will do its job, but you can see why Team Rug wanted the DC trial first.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      “The EDVA case is basically a paper trial.”

      Trial, or Trail?

      Suspect EDVA trial will be delayed further.

      Memo to Mueller, Freeny

      Based upon ‘stuff’ that I recently learned of, please treat any FinCEN data you recently received with Kid Gloves.

      Recall the the missing SARs in the FinCEN database.

      • bmaz says:

        No, it will go on this date. And those SARS were never “missing” at all, they were merely cordoned off from normal inquiry because of law enforcement purposes.

      • emptywheel says:

        “Paper trial” is lawyer jargon for a trial that relies primarily on documents (often financial ones). That means they’re less dependent on the reliability of witnesses.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Right. So, what paper might come out in EDVA that then can used in DC? For good or bad. Or for appeal purposes?

          What if FinCEN doc dump is tainted with misinformation?

          I’m only talking about ‘thirty thousand pages’.

          • bmaz says:

            What kind of hallucinogenics are you on to come up with the FinCen conspiracy theory?

            And 30,000 pages is not even that large a set for a document case. Not at all.

          • bmaz says:

            Because you have to get the documents into evidence. You do that through the various custodians of records for the places the records came from. Then a few other witnesses, including law enforcement to tie the story together. It adds up.

          • pseudonymous in nc says:

            Also, if it is just a ‘paper trial’, then why are there to be 30 witnesses, with already 5 given use immunity?

            The use-immunity witnesses are going to testify about cooking the books and/or turning a blind eye to cooked books; they’ll verify the documentary exhibits, and generally provide context, though the exhibits will speak for themselves.

            You don’t get to cross-examine a tax return or a fake invoice or a loan application to see if it has a hazy recollection of the numbers.

            I agree that the Calk stuff is probably the most explosive, though probably the weirdest in legal terms: if the bank signs off on a loan even though its senior executives know the application is fraudulent, it’s no less of a crime under 18 U.S.C. § 1344. There was a local news report that the FBI interviewed Calk late last year, but that’s all.

  2. bmaz says:

    As to the last paragraph, that is unless Manafort takes the stand and testifies inconsistently with the evidence adduced in EDVA. In the unlikely event that happens, things could get interesting.

  3. CaliLawyer says:

    I don’t recall the exact timeline of when Isikoff admitted that Steele was his source but it could well be FBI practice in FISA cases to simply add to the application as new information is discovered rather than revise the previous application’s info – it’s a clearer record of the case history as new agents come on board and previous ones move on. Regardless, probable cause is a pretty easy bar to clear, since it requires reasonable likelihood but not “more likely than not” likelihood – something in the 30%-40% range of certainty. Claims by those with far less reputation and experience than Steele establish probable cause everyday in every jurisdiction of the country, including for warrants more invasive than FISA – i.e., kicking down someone’s front door, not just tapping their communications. If anything, based on the amount of documentation demanded, the FISA applications are significantly more rigorous than a typical criminal search warrant (which also may include electronic surveillance.) Furthermore, if Page met with Sechin’s right hand man instead of Sechin himself, that would in no way invalidate the probable cause underlying the warrant. Good luck appealing that probable cause ruling. Finally, the FBI counterintelligence agents would be well aware that the dossier contained some measure of Russian disinformation, and would proceed accordingly to vet the new leads.

    The Steele dossier at this point has some historical interest, as parts continue to get verified or debunked (Cohen in/near Prague apparently had some verification from a friendly intel service), but it in no way will invalidate the initial warrant (still waiting for Hannity to claim the FBI was in cahoots with the Russians to plant disinformation in a British dossier to help get Trump canned after getting him elected). The investigations are so far beyond the dossier now that it’s nothing but historical curiosity.

    As Marcy has noted, an obvious comparison is the Clinton Cash book, which was oppo work with serious retractions and still led to a major FBI investigation.

  4. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Sure still smells like a DOJ leak problem.

    Starting in early spring 2018, the users, one of which maintained an account on Wikipedia’s Russian-language site, made a series of edits to bios for Maria Butina, a Russian national accused of conspiracy and illegal foreign influence, and Paul Erickson, a Republican political activist whom Butina allegedly roped into her espionage campaign and with whom she allegedly traded sex for political access as a “necessary aspect of her activities.”

    The edits sought to discredit reporting on the FBI investigation into one of Butina’s alleged co-conspirators, and to scrub details of Erickson’s and Butina’s business history. It also downplayed attempts by Erickson to arrange a meeting between Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, allegations of fraud against Erickson, and Butina’s ties to a Russian political figure instrumental in her efforts to ingratiate herself with prominent political groups including the National Rifle Association (NRA).

    A spokesman for American University confirmed that the IP addresses were associated with the school’s network, but declined to comment further, citing student privacy concerns.

    [Student privacy? BS. If the spokesman had a brain, he would have said ‘based upon ongoing investigation’. Clueless. More likely coverup. Likely profs, not students]

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Why Profs?

      Why Russian Spies Really Like American Universities

      If the charges against Butina are accurate, she’s only the latest in a long line of Russian agents to infiltrate U.S. universities.

      Beyond the university, Butina wooed gun-rights activists and influential conservatives. Shortly after Clinton called Trump to concede defeat on the morning of Nov. 9, 2016, Butina sent a direct Twitter message to a Russian official: “I am ready for further orders.”

    • SteveB says:

      “Sure still smells like a DOJ leak problem”

      Eh? What I have read suggests Butina (with help) did the Wiki edits herself

      • SteveB says:

        From the article you quote:

        ” e editing campaign raised red flags in the eyes of Bill Beutler, the president of digital consulting firm Beutler Ink. “Caroline456 seems very likely to be a paid agent, most likely of Erickson, and while it’s impossible to tell, I’d say they are not quite as wiki-savvy as they imagine themselves to be,” Beutler, a longtime Wikipedia contributor who edits the site The Wikipedian, told The Daily Beast. “They made no efforts to cover their tracks. The account edited basically three pages: Erickson’s, Butina’s, and their own talk page defending their actions.”

        Throughout its dozens of edits, Caroline456 denied any personal connection with Butina or Erickson. “I do not have any close relations with any of this characters,” the user wrote in response to an inquisitive Wikipedia editor who questioned the user’s impartiality.”

    • greengiant says:

      Wikipedia edit IPs are available to all. Typical false flag operatives or op-sec nubs using neither TOR nor VPN etc. Discount this is a DOJ leak, because Butina knew she was in play and in the past wikipedia edits have been red flags leading to mal actors, wikipedia cults and Jimbo don’t give a damn. All in my forecast of wikipedia lies, libel suits, mug shots etc. Admittedly I did not forecast EW’s retweet of the tidy whiteys as I stuck with junk shots.

        • greengiant says:

          That would because she was outed by the NYTimes March 12 2018, in play, and someone made a wikipedia entry for her. This is simple stuff as long as it isn’t corrupted, American University IP edits March 23, followed same day by caroline456. So if you are saying DOJ is leaking, lay it on the NYTimes. My humble guess is more likely it is and vaunted joint defense agreement team directing operatives and media spinners.

        • greengiant says:

          Well maybe you have bread crumbs. Number of the dossier players are in on Butina, Ioffe in 2012, Mother Jones, from wikipedia links. My correction NYTimes link was article 3 December 2017. Interesting reading the initial wikipedia page March 13, 2018. Much foreshadowing there.

          Ioffe, Julia (November 15, 2012). “The Rise of Russia’s Gun Nuts”. The New Republic. Archived from the original on July 17, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.

          “Bice: Sen. Tammy Baldwin says Sheriff David Clarke is being ‘groomed’ for Senate bid”. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. March 13, 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-12-28.

          Fandos, Nicholas (December 3, 2017). “Operative Offered Trump Campaign ‘Kremlin Connection’ Using N.R.A. Ties”. The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 3, 2017.

          Mak, Tim (March 1, 2018). “Depth Of Russian Politician’s Cultivation Of NRA Ties Revealed”. NPR. Archived from the original on 2018-07-15.

          March 9, 2018). “Trump Spoke to a Russian Activist About Ending Sanctions – Just Weeks After Launching His Campaign”. Mother Jones. Archived from the original on 2018-05-17.

          March 13, Wikipedia page started, with link to NYTimes article December 2017.. etc. including Butina activity in 2015.

          “Bice: Sen. Tammy Baldwin says Sheriff David Clarke is being ‘groomed’ for Senate bid”. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. March 13, 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-12-28.

    • SteveB says:

      Due diligence 101: cover your ass after the fact.

      Cox is interesting : he ought to have had some savvy based on his history and contacts. Carter Page’s rise without a trace is a bit of a puzzle.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I would guess he had his patrons lined up by the time he started his PhD in London.  Several years later, on his third attempt to pass his oral exams and have his dissertation approved, he managed it with what appears to be a little help from his friends.

        He did it on his third attempt, after formally and loudly complaining about the examiners who had failed him twice for poor writing and for not knowing the basics of his subject.  That’s not normally a way to improve one’s chances of getting the degree.  Oddly, he was given a new, undisclosed committee who accepted his work, but have kept it confidential.

  5. Rusharuse says:

    Carter Page Jumo! Just like those wot crammed into Jnr’s office.
    (Thank you Steve Bannon for that really cool word)

    JU-nior M-oscow O-fficer
    Urban Dictionary

  6. Mitch Neher says:

    I seem to remember [?] that it was, at one time, claimed that the Isikoff article was cited in the FISA application for Carter Page to show that Page was likely to be aware that the FBI was investigating him and, therefore, more likely to engage in clandestine communications with both the Russians and the Trump campaign. Is that no longer a valid interpretation of the reasons for citing the Isikoff article in the FISA applications?

  7. Rapier says:

    I don’t think the normal understanding of hired and fired really applied to the Trump campaign.  Fruitcakes and grifters, and some being both, swarmed to Trump and flew around his orbit. Continuing to do what conservative fruitcakes and grifters do.  Passing inside and out of the Dons notice, and the Boys notice and Jared’s and Bannon’s. Nobody ever quite sure what the king wanted. Like courtiers at court.

    That’s how I imagine it.

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