Page’s Intelligence Officers, Plural, Versus His Serial Willingness to Be Recruited

One last post on the John Durham Criminal Information charging Kevin Clinesmith with one count of false statements (for making and using a false document). It appears that John Durham, DOJ IG, and CIA are placing a different emphasis on Carter Page’s ties with the CIA than the FBI did, based on a differential focus on a number of contacts Page had versus Page’s willingness to be recruited.

The FISA applications for Carter Page refer to three different interactions with Russians to establish probable cause that Page was willing to be recruited by Russian intelligence officers:

  • A year long relationship with Aleksandr Bulatov (2007 to 2008), during which Bulatov used Page to network and in at least one case obtain non-public information
  • A longer relationship with Victor Podobnyy (lasting at least from January 2013 to April 2014), during which Page again provided information and networking leads
  • A 2015 exchange, after the complaint against Podobnyy was unsealed, during which Page told a Russian Minister he was the person referenced in the complaint, seeming to confirm that Page knew he was being recruited

On quick read, the DOJ IG Report and the Criminal Information seem to suggest that on August 17, 2016, CIA informed FBI that they knew of both these relationships with Page and were collecting information through him. That’s because DOJ IG Report and the Information say that the CIA informed FBI that Page had shared information about “certain Russian intelligence officers.”

Here’s how it appears in the Information.

On August 17, 2016, prior to the approval of FISA #1, the OGA provided certain members of the Crossfire Hurricane team a memorandum (“August 17 Memorandum”) indicating that Individual #1 had been approved as an “operational contact” for the OGA from 2008 to 2013 and detailing information that Individual #1 had provided to the OGA concerning Individual #1’s prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers. [my emphasis]

That’s nearly a direct quotation from the DOJ IG Report.

On or about August 17, 2016, the Crossfire Hurricane team received a memorandum from the other U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Carter Page, including that Page had been approved as an operational contact for the other agency from 2008 to 2013 and information that Page had provided to the other agency concerning Page’s prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers.

In other words, a quick read of both would suggest that those plural Russian intelligence officers are Bulatov and Podobnyy.

Except that’s not right. Indeed, logically that means Page was providing information on more known or suspected Russian intelligence officers in the years immediately after he returned from Moscow. It’s also the case that Page has provided at least three different stories about Bulatov, and that he does not appear to have (indeed, arguably could not have) told CIA about Podobnyy.

Partly in an interest in challenging some of the misinformation on this point, I’ve put a timeline of Page’s known interactions with CIA, FBI, and Russian intelligence officers below. That shows, first of all, that while the CIA continued to treat Page as an approved “operational contact” until 2013, the last time CIA spoke to him was in July 2011.

That means Page couldn’t have told them about Podobnyy, because he didn’t meed Podobnyy until 2013.

Indeed, the DOJ IG twice says, subtly, that the CIA did not provide any evidence that they knew about Page’s tie with Podobnyy.

The other agency did not provide the FBI with information indicating it had knowledge of Page’s reported contacts with another particular intelligence officer. The FBI also relied on Page’s contacts with this intelligence officer in the FISA application.


As further described in Chapter Five, the other agency’s memorandum did not provide the FBI with information indicating it had knowledge of Page’s reported contacts with another particular intelligence officer. The FBI also relied on Page’s contacts with this intelligence officer in the FISA application.

But that means there must be other suspected Russian spooks about whom Page provided information in that earlier period. Indeed, in one place the DOJ IG Report appears to confirm that, too.

Page had disclosed to the other agency contacts that he had with Intelligence Officer 1 and certain other individuals,

There’s a reference in one of Page’s FBI interviews to his NYU students, whom he likened to Podobnyy, so perhaps that’s related.

In any case, as I noted, Page told at least three different stories about Bulatov, the person about whom he shared information with both FBI and CIA. According to the DOJ IG Report, CIA only knew (so presumably got told) that his ties extended back only to 2008. The FBI maintains, however, that his relationship with Bulatov extends back to 2007. In a March 2017 interview, in addition to obfuscating about telling the Russian Minister he was Male-1, Page claimed to not even remember Bulatov, even when pushed, claimed he had only met Bulatov for lunch once, even though in one of his earlier interviews with the FBI, he said he had contact with Bulatov after he had returned to Moscow in 2008. A few weeks later, Page still affirmed that he thought “the more immaterial non-public information I give them, the better for this country,” even while resisting when an FBI agent observed that this basically was a source-handler relationship.

I don’t necessarily think Page was lying (though on his later FISA applications, FBI pointed to this discrepancy). By March 2017, Page had been driven mostly nuts by this process. I think it possible he really misremembered his earlier, acknowledged ties by then.

Still, even on the one topic that overlapped — Bulatov — Page’s stories appear inconsistent (or at least had become inconsistent after the pressure of 2017).

Ultimately, one thing that appears to have happened is CIA, DOJ IG, and Durham have focused on Page’s sharing of information about multiple people of interest to CIA in 2010 and earlier. Meanwhile, FBI focused on Page’s seeming willingness to be cultivated by known Russian spies.

Understanding that different focus helps to understand a lot of what has gone on since.


2004-2007: Carter Page lives in Russia. [IG Report 157]

2007: Carter Page’s ties with Aleksandr Bulatov begin. [IG Report 158]

April 2008: Carter Page first meets with CIA. CIA assesses, in contradistinction to FBI’s belief, that Page’s ties to Bulatov began in 2008. [IG Report 156]

June 2008: Bulatov returns to Moscow. [June 2017 Application 14]

August 2008: Per Carter Page interview, his last contact with Bulatov (who returned to Moscow two months earlier). [June 2017 Application 14]

June 18, 2009: FBI interviews Carter Page about contact with Bulatov. Page says he has been in contact with CIA, but FBI doesn’t ask about that. [DOJ IG 61, 158]

October 2010: Page tells CIA he met with Bulatov four times and that Bulatov asked him for information about another American. [IG Report 158]

July 2011: Final meeting between Page and CIA. [IG Report 159]

December 2012: Podobnyy arrives at UN mission. [June 2017 Application 15]

2013: Intelligence Officer 1 hands off Page to Victor Podobnyy [DOJ IG 61 In a June 2013 interview, Page told the FBI he met Podobnyy at an energy conference, and had subsequently provided Podobnyy information about the energy business. [Complaint 13]

April 8, 2013: FBI intercepts conversation between Podobnyy and Sporyshev about recruiting Page. [Complaint 12]

June 13, 2013: FBI interviews Page about Podobnyy. After FBI suggests that Podobnyy is an intelligence officer, Page says his acquaintance with Podobnyy was positive for him. Page says he hadn’t spoken with CIA in “about a year or so” (it was July 2011). CIA did not provide evidence that Page told them about Podobnyy. [Buryakov Complaint 12-13, IG Report 156, 158]

August 2013: FBI interviews Page about Podobnyy, who admits he has met with Podobnyy since their interview in June. [IG Report 62]

September 2013: Podobnyy leaves UN mission. [June 2017 Application 15]

January 23, 2015: Buryakov, Prodobnyy, and Igor Sporyshev charged. The complaint refers to an informant, CS-1, who is not Page. It also includes the transcript of an intercepted conversations about how Podobnyy tried to recruit Male-1, Page. [Complaint]

February 19, 2015: Buryakov et all indicted.

March 2, 2016: FBI interviews Page in preparation for Victor Podonyy trial and learns he informed a Russian Minister and others at the UN he was identified in the indictment in “the spirit of openness.” [IG Report 62]

March 21, 2016: Trump formally names Page a foreign policy advisor.

April 1, 2016: Counterespionage Section advises NYFO to open an investigation on Page. [IG Report 62]

April 6, 2016: NYFO opens investigation into Page (note, one reference to this says the investigation was opened on April 4). [IG Report 63]

May 16, 2016: Page requests permission from campaign to make trip to Russia

July 3 to 9, 2016: Page in Moscow

July 11 or 12, 2016: Page first meets Stefan Halper at a conference in London, though DOJ IG says that was not part of an FBI tasking. Page recruits Halper to join Trump campaign.

July 31, 2016: FBI opens Crossfire Hurricane.

Previous posts

In this post, I explained how John Durham likely gets to intent with Clinesmith even though the former FBI lawyer claims he didn’t intend to mislead about Carter Page’s ties to CIA. In this post, I explained why Durham’s description of Crossfire Hurricane as a “FARA” investigation suggests he may misunderstand very basic aspects of his investigation. And in this post, I noted that Billy Barr’s approval of the timing of this guilty plea undermines Barr and Trump’s complaints about the swifter pace of the Mueller investigation.

46 replies
  1. Jessef says:

    For a party so obsessed with patriotism, republicans seem to spend a lot of time defending the right to act as undisclosed agents of foreign governments

    • Rugger9 says:

      Well, the key word there is “undisclosed” but that kind of hypocrisy has been around for a very long time in the modern GOP, probably even before McCarthy. What one needs to understand is that Nixon’s “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War ended up extending it through his first term and probably meant the fall of Saigon was inevitable.

      Iran Contra (where AG Barr made his bones) was an attempt to bypass the law preventing arming of the Contras (who made their bones by murdering (IIRC) American nuns, among others) so a secret deal was made involving a bible and chocolate cake, F-14 spare parts and the missiles that were pointed at me and the rest of the USN patrolling the Gulf later. That was on top of Reagan’s deal with the mullahs to hold the hostages until after the 1980 election.

      So, the GOP rot is complete and I would commend Doonesbury this week even if he went easy on the GOP. Their purpose is power and only power.

      So, back on topic, it is clear that the counter intelligence investigation caught Page through his own deliberate actions (i.e. NOT a victim no matter how much he howls) as well as Flynn through his own actions and admissions in court (ditto) and that is what the D’s need to point out. Why do DJT and the GOP want to make Russia great again?

  2. What Constitution? says:

    May be slightly OT, but that photo of Durham renews my regret that Wilford Brimley recently passed away. Who’s going to play this Durham guy in the movie?

  3. mospeck says:

    page Naval Academy and pompeo West Point, depressing and embarrasing
    just a spec that since we’re effectively in an undeclared war with russia, with them using the gerasimov asymmetric warfare doctrine against our election and them teaching their stooge trump how to multiprong against it* Since we’re in this blue funk 1939 Sitzkrieg and just waiting on for just what the russians will do to us, just wondering (figure you lawyers won’t like it) if we could not maybe help the Belarusian’s out of their present jam with their dictator. If our spooks could maybe offer them some election help? Guess this would be illegal, but figure maybe Sue Rice would say “go” and likewise Sue Gordon, and Vindman and his brother. gina, i don’t know about. And we sure don’t want to hurt any Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya or Alexander Navalny supporters.
    Propose that we put a teenie tiny 1 kTon ten meters over top of Lukashenko while he’s toasting his 80-20 victory in his dacha (Belarus has no counter nukes). And (like 40 years back sailors on the aircraft carrier used to do against the Ayatollah) we paint a “this bud’s for you” on the nose of the cruise. Just a get along, go along asymmetric warfare. Not talking about a 20 Megaton airburst here. At my old school in weapons class we had to draw the circles around VLF array across the Severn river to discover that we were in the plasma ring, and Annapolis in the pulverized reinforced-concrete zone, and that even 30 miles away standing on a hill, you’d get lit on fire. We don’t want to go there. Just a shot across the bow to vlad and valery. Based on a previous understanding think overall the Belarusians would love our election meddling. For ex my old NIH boss grew up in Osaka, across the channel from Hiroshima, and he agreed with our 1st nuke, was a bit dubious about the 2nd, but said the japanese general staff and admiralty, well they just had to go. And that they only understood one thing. His friend “survived the explosion in Hiroshima, being sick in bed at home. After the explosion, he managed to crawl out of the wreck of his home. He could not rescue his mother, who was trapped. He could not lift the debris, being still a 13 year old boy. Then his mother yelled at him repeatedly to flee from the incoming fierce fire, which eventually consumed her alive.”
    *when they stop your upfront direct attacks against USPS vote by mail, you’ll need at least 3 backups
    not 1962 so legal-wise we can’t do these sort of things since “we gotta kinder gentler machine gun hand”

  4. N.E. Brigand says:

    To my inexpert eyes, this looks like quite the sharp-eyed catch. Very interesting indeed.

    Scanning the timeline, I’m curious about something in the later dates. I know Seth Abramson has a reputation in some circles for being erratic, but last night, in response to one of your previous Clinesmith posts (which he recommended to his Twitter followers), he noted* one additional point that, at least superficially, seems worth consideration regarding the FBI’s treatment of Page. On p. 97 of Horowitz’s report, right after describing the FBI’s interview with Page on March 2, 2016, when, as you note, he told them that he had told certain Russians that he was Male-1, which led to the interviewing agent discussing with her supervisor the possibility that a CI case be opened on Page, the IG report turns to that supervisor:

    “The FBI’s NYFO CI squad supervisor (NYFO CI Supervisor) told us she believed she should have opened a counterintelligence case on Carter Page prior to March 2, 2016 based on his continued contacts with Russian intelligence officers; however, she said the squad was preparing for a big trial, and they did not focus on Page until he was interviewed again on March 2.”

    As Abramson notes, that raises the question of what “prior to March 2, 2016” means. Presumably “his continued contacts with Russians intelligence officers” means some time after June 2013, when the FBI first interviewed Page about Podobnyy. Is the supervisor’s statement based on the August 2013 interview, when Page admitted he had continued to interact with Podobnyy? The reason the supervisor said a case hadn’t been opened as of March 2, 2016 is that she was busy preparing for a trial. For nearly three years?

    I suppose the supervisor could mean that she had considered opening a case on Page in August 2013, but was at that time busy preparing for a trial, and just never returned to the matter.

    The alternative would be that based on their monitoring of Russians since that date, at some point between late 2013 and early 2016, they knew Page had continued to be in touch with them. In a curious parallel to what you note above about Page’s interactions in 2011 and earlier, it seems notable that the supervisor refers to Page having been in continued contact with “officers”, plural.


  5. x174 says:

    mt–great work. it’s stunning that page is the guy that the Khlûl′-hlooians want to defend to the outer reaches of psychosis and at all costs. what a patriot! i am both amazed and appreciative of all of the extraordinary work you’ve done in sleuthing out the crucial granularity of l’affair mueller. i was counting on barr and durham to kick each other in the nuts on this one, and your timeline does to a certain palpable extent expose the albatross upon which barr and durham have sacrificed their reputations. in other words, i had guessed that at some point in their “investigation,” they were going to uncover facts which directly or indirectly implicated themselves and revealed in more excruciating detail the essential criminality of our reprobate-in-chief.
    while i wish kevin clinesmith well, i believe that when it’s all over, we’ll come to appreciate what bill barr has done: shown the world just how rock solid mueller’s investigation into russia’s interference into the 2016 presidential election was.
    p.s. my favorite part of your timeline was
    February 19, 2015: Buryakov et all indicted.

    March 2, 2016: FBI interviews Page in preparation for Victor Podonyy trial and learns he informed a Russian Minister and others at the UN he was identified in the indictment in “the spirit of openness.” [IG Report 62]

    March 21, 2016: Trump formally names Page a foreign policy advisor.

  6. BayStateLibrul says:

    I remember Page.

    Back in the day (3 or 4 years ago), he was interviewed quite extensively by Chris Hayes.
    He always had that shit-eating grin on his face, trying to dodge every question.
    He is a sleaze-ball, no question.
    He is very weird individual, with a supremely irrational voice of an egomaniac.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        He also seems to be a spoiled bully at times, with delusions of grandeur. It was Page, I believe, who mysteriously succeeded in getting his PhD from the University of London by serially browbeating his advisors, two sets of them, who didn’t think he deserved it, or that he even knew his professed subject. That would suggest he has a patron(s) with juice.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Any opinions on why the Democrats are volunteering to give some of the limited space and attention span at their virtual convention to powerless, out-of-office Republicans, whom their party has rejected for not drinking the Trump Kool-Aid? Why is that worth omitting or curtailing the voices of Democrats, like Sherrod Brown, who are working tirelessly to throw Trump out?

    Are conservative former investment bankers like Kasich changing their stripes or party affiliation? What resources and commitments do they bring, in exchange for such valuable and revivifying exposure? I understand the big tent theme, but this seems to be a case of Ringling Bros giving a free ring to Barnum & Bailey.

    • ButteredToast says:

      I think Kasich is the only Republican speaking, right? IMO, there is no problem with him getting a speaking slot; his support for Biden is a sort of permission slip for disgruntled Republicans to come on board. But I’m also disappointed Sherrod Brown isn’t on the list. Possibly he didn’t want to speak?

      • bmaz says:

        No, he is not the only one. The oh so brilliant Dems have also invited Susan Molinari, Christine Todd Whitman and Meg Whitman. There is no reason in the world to invite these assholes.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown did want to speak. He carried enough Democratic Party water the past four years, especially during the botched impeachment trial, that he should have had his sixty seconds. The organizers almost kept AOC off the floor, too.

        Bmaz notes the four GOP headliners I saw, including Meg Whitman. She’s the former CEO of HP, who was fired with a $30 million go away, but keep mum about us pay packet.

        This is not modeling the range of people who identify as Republican, who might be persuaded to vote for Joe. This is rewarding former movers and shakers, to the disadvantage of Democratic stalwarts and young turks. It might put a few bob in the till, but it’s hard to see how it fires up the base to get out, canvas, and vote.

  8. harpie says:

    o/t DHS responds to GAO. Steve Vladeck:
    3:49 PM · Aug 17, 2020

    1/2: DHS has sent a “response” in reaction to GAO’s opinion concluding that Acting Secretary Wolf & Ken Cuccinelli were not lawfully appointed to their jobs. It demands that GAO “immediately rescind” the opinion. But the “most prominent[]” error it identifies is … not an error. [screenshots]

    2/2: DHS’s central claim is that GAO should’ve focused on the fact that Nielsen *told* everyone McAleenan would succeed her (and then swore him in).

    But if—as GAO concluded—she didn’t correctly change the order of succession in the first place, nothing else she said/did matters.

    Here is the full seven-page letter from DHS.
    It’s … quite a read. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

    The letter is signed [lol]:

    Very Truly Yours,
    Chad Mizelle
    Senior Official Performing the Duties of the General Counsel

      • Rugger9 says:

        However, at the risk of sounding a tad shrill, doesn’t this kind of nonsense just gift wrap a probably successful line of attack for all of those detained in the various cities by the DHS thugs? Since they were acting upon orders issued by someone who should have been aware his term had expired doesn’t that at least mean ol’ Chad the Scruffy is up for abuse of power in civil court? As a class action, maybe?

        Given how the Barr DOJ parachuted into Flynn’s case with the argument that there never was a predicate for a crime there (even though it’s BS, but follow me here), does that legal concept also not apply to these cases where there were never actual lawful orders issued by someone with the authority to issue those orders? Where is there any actual crime for disobeying an unlawful order? We don’t even have it in the military.

        Nielsen has reason to be nervous with a Biden administration if DJT is hanging this on her like this letter does.

    • harpie says:

      …a little more from Vladeck:

      […] This letter is the epitome of lawyering in the Trump administration: Offer flatly unconvincing legal arguments that might *seem* superficially plausible to (non-expert) Trump supporters, then distract with overblown rhetoric, ad hominem attacks, hyperbole, and partisan innuendo. […]

      • bmaz says:

        Lol, if you think this is direct, you should see what all the law prawfs and lawyers are saying behind the scenes. It is even far more scathing.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Like much of what passes for legal work in this administration, Mizelle’s letter is written for an audience of one and a half: Donald Trump and Stephen Miller. It’s not written to withstand legal scrutiny. It is long on insults, loud claims, contrived alliteration, and irrelevant conduct, but short on everything else. His challenging of the GAO based on the inexperience of the staff assigned to it demonstrate a delicious lack of self-awareness.

          From Donald and Steve’s perspective, it is deliciously smarmy and abusive of congressional authority. Chad can look forward to a lifetime of wingnut welfare, but his chances of obtaining real work should be dim.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A 2013 law school grad – whether from Chapman or Cornell – should not be within a mile of being DHS’s general counsel. Nor should he be the person acting like it. Mizelle should still be an AUSA. But here he is, Brett Kavanaugh on steroids. That is, he is representative of the GOP’s longstanding abuse of the appointment power to put in place dramatically unqualified people into senior jobs, as a way to build its nomenklatura. BushCheney was infamous for it. Trump has taken the abuse to greater heights.

      • P J Evans says:

        I suspect Trmp intentionally goes for people who are inexperienced, as a handle on them. (He probably doesn’t recognize competent people except as threats.)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It is very much a Republican thing, too. It looked like they raided the nursery for some of BushCheney’s USAs. They also broke the mold by recruiting from non-traditional schools. The top ten percent at top state law schools would have been fine, but Chapman and Liberty U. offered recruits of greater ideological purity. Toward the end, they also inappropriately or illegally embedded many political appointees into the permanent bureaucracy.

        Trump’s not hiring many people that don’t work directly for him, but he does follow the advice of people temporarily in his favor, like Stephen Miller. But, yea, he wants most of those hired for him to be unqualified. It makes him feel superior and helps rot the agencies he doesn’t think should exist.

  9. x174 says:

    after re-reading consovoy’s second amended complaint (following vance’s response), i feel as though i finally got a glimpse what’s in trump’s mind and what it’s like working for trump: the entire “argument” in the SAC is that whatever the gonad-in-chief says is the unimpeachable truth, and from that universal fact everything that falls out of his pie hole by necessity is gospel. the inappropriate tone too of the way that trump’s stooges and minions “argue” their cases appears to be little more that setting up sound bites for drumpf’s disciples–and the result: sheer unadulterated lunacy. vance argued that their position is so unworthy of the court’s time that in their 33 page SAC, consovoy doesn’t even make a claim.

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