As special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE presumably wraps up the Russia probe, one important point, about one important suspect, has escaped much scrutiny.
Evidence revealed over the past two years indicates former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page is the most diabolical Russian spy ever known. Ever.
Ten pieces of evidence support this conclusion:
- We know Carter Page is a diabolical Russian spy because the FBI wiretapped him. Under our laws, FBI agents cannot wiretap a U.S. citizen based merely on suspicion or hunches, or to fish for information; they must possess hard evidence indicating the target is currently — or imminently about to become — a foreign spy. So the FBI would not have wiretapped Page if it couldn’t meet the legal evidence threshold. (At least they shouldn’t have.)
- Page became a Russian spy after he assisted the FBI in a Russian spy case in 2013. It takes the most diabolical sort to be an asset for the FBI in one Russian spy case, and then to go on to become a Russian spy yourself! (At least that's what the FBI claims.)
- Page is so diabolical that he spied for Russia even as he knew the FBI was watching. (The FBI interviewed him in March 2016, prior to wiretapping him.) Only a seasoned operative with ice water in his veins would have the nerve to spy for Russia right under the FBI’s nose — and think he can get away with it! (At least that’s the FBI's apparent theory.)
- After the FBI interviewed Page, he traveled to Moscow, where he used to live and do business, in July 2016 to give a university commencement address. Obviously, this was a diabolical cover for a diabolical spy trip. Fusion GPS, the Democrats’ political opposition research team, would later tell the FBI that Page met with Russian officials on the trip. (Page later denied it under oath, but I think we all know who to believe here, don't we?)
- Page is so diabolical that the FBI reportedly sent onetime CIA operative Stefan Halper to meet multiple times with him (and also with another Trump adviser, George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosTrump supporters show up to DC for election protest Trump pardons draw criticism for benefiting political allies Klobuchar: Trump 'trying to burn this country down on his way out' MORE) to gather information prior to opening the “Russia probe.” In fact, Halper, who later offered his services as a Trump foreign policy adviser, invited Page to his Virginia farm. (It’s important, after all, to get close to diabolical spies to shore up the evidence.)
- Page is so diabolical that the FBI didn’t only wiretap him for a single cycle of several months. No, he was wiretapped over and over again. Obviously, the FBI would not have done this to a U.S. citizen — and the federal surveillance court surely would not have approved it — had there not been hard evidence of his criminal and treasonous intentions. (At least that's how it’s supposed to work.)
- Page continued his illicit activities even after his trip to Moscow was exposed in a September 2016 Yahoo News article. (The article was based on leaked info from Fusion GPS, provided to the FBI.) Only the most diabolical spy would keep spying after such exposure!
- Page is so diabolical that, after the Yahoo News article, he had the nerve to write a letter to then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGiuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign DOJ watchdog unable to determine if FBI fed Giuliani information ahead of 2016 election Biden sister has book deal, set to publish in April MORE objecting to the so-called witch hunt against him. Then-head of FBI counterespionage Peter Strzok and his mistress, FBI attorney Lisa Page, were far more clever, thank goodness. They used Carter Page’s letter as a “pretext to interview.” The couple then provided talking points so that then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeAndrew McCabe says Nassar case represents 'worst dereliction of duty' he's seen at FBI Capitol Police warning of potential for violence during rally backing rioters: report McCabe says law enforcement should take upcoming right-wing rally 'very seriously' MORE could persuade a high-ranking Justice Department official to sign a wiretap application against Page weeks before the election.
- Page is so diabolical that Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesSally Yates: I never thought that I'd be saying, 'Yeah, go Liz Cheney' ABC lands first one-on-one TV interview with Garland since confirmation Appointing a credible, non-partisan Jan. 6 commission should not be difficult MORE signed the wiretap application Oct. 21, 2016, using questionable “evidence” from Fusion GPS and the Yahoo article. Obviously, sometimes a wiretap application needs to bend the verification rules a little bit when the FBI is dealing with someone as diabolical as Page. (Around this time, Comey confidant and head of the Lawfare blog, Benjamin Wittes, wrote of developing an “insurance policy” in case Trump won. FBI officials Strzok and Lisa Page had used the same terminology.)
- Finally, Carter Page is so diabolical that the FBI renewed its wiretap in early January 2017 after Trump was elected (signed by Comey and Yates); in April 2017 after Trump took office (signed by Comey); and in June 2017 after Comey’s firing (signed by McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week MORE). Obviously, so many sensitive wiretaps connected to a political campaign would have elicited hard, tough questions and oversight from Comey and other top officials to ensure the process was carefully justified. (At least that’s what FBI policy demands.)
Clearly, all of this implies that the FBI’s efforts drew mounds of incriminating evidence enabling Mueller to quietly build an airtight case against the central figure in a wide-ranging conspiracy to change votes in Campaign 2016, at the direction of Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE. We now await the indictments.
And yet ...
As of now, Carter Page hasn’t been charged with so much as lying to the FBI or filing a faulty tax return, let alone Russian spying. He endured the most intrusive, intimidating methods the government has at its disposal. He was the subject of media leaks. His reputation was destroyed. If he’s never charged with being a Russian spy, he’s either that slippery … or it would suggest that the top intelligence officials who targeted him were either incompetent or corrupt. It would seem to border on criminal.
If Carter Page isn’t the world’s most diabolical spy ever, then it could imply that the investigation itself has been diabolical.
Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) is an Emmy Award-winning investigative journalist, author of The New York Times best-sellers "The Smear" and "Stonewalled," and host of Sinclair's Sunday TV program, “Full Measure.”