April 30, 2019 / by emptywheel

 

Useful, but Willful, Idiot: “Page or”

I wanted to draw attention to this passage in the Mueller Report:

In the section concerning whether any of Trump’s flunkies were agents of a foreign power (Flynn: Yes, but for Turkey; Manafort and Gates: Yes, for Ukraine, Manafort Maybe for Russia; Papadopoulos: Maybe for Russia and Israel) it describes the three people it considered charging as agents of Russia: along with Papadopoulos and Manafort, Page.

It then redacts, for personal privacy reasons, a sentence, that explains why — “as a result, the office did not charge [redacted] any other Trump Campaign official with violating FARA or Section 951.

The redaction — which must include a name and “or” — has to be of Page’s name, because of length. That suggests one of two things: either that, of the three people who embraced outreach from Russia, Page was the one against whom there was most evidence. Or, that because of all the publicity surrounding this question, Mueller thought it worthwhile to include one more sentence explaining what happened to Page. Though I would expect if it were the latter, the footnote describing the difference between the standard to get a FISA order and to charge someone criminally is different.

It’s not actually surprising that the office would have found the most evidence against Page. The section on Page (from 96 to 103 and 166-67) provides a lot of evidence, some of which hadn’t previously been in the public record:

  • An earlier period where Page drew down his savings to forge ties with Gazprom
  • Ties to Russian intelligence in 2008, as well as the known ties in 2013
  • The incident where, after he showed up in Evgeny Buryakov’s prosecution documents, Page sought out a Russian official to tell him he “didn’t do anything,” presumably with the FBI
  • Page’s description that his sole goal for working on the campaign was to improve ties to Russia
  • An attempt to get a position in the Administration
  • A second meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich
  • Page’s quote that, “the more immaterial non-public information I give [Russian intelligence officers], the better for this country”

In addition to all those details (and a description of how the campaign responded to the September 23, 2016 Michael Isikoff story that was itself based partly on the Steele dossier), the report revealed that “Page’s activities in Russia–as described in his emails with the Campaign–were not fully explained.”

Admittedly, much of this (particularly the details from Page’s December 2016 trip) is likely in the follow-up applications for Page’s FISA order. Still, it shows that there’s far more implicating Page than has made it into the debate about his FISA application — which may be the point (and which may be why, in spite of Trump’s claims that he’s going to declassify the FISA applications targeting his flunkies, DOJ hasn’t heard anything about that). Which is what a select few members of Congress (Sheldon Whitehouse and Trey Gowdy, among others) have said, but those reports have never broken through the propaganda surrounding this FISA order.

One more point: there’s a redacted discussion on page 194 for why someone considered for — given the redactions protect grand jury information — perjury was not charged (or if the person has been, it has been settled in some way). For a variety of reasons — name length and apparent timing, among other things — Page is a likely candidate for that redaction as well.

As I disclosed last July, 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. 

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Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/2019/04/30/useful-but-willful-idiot-page-or/