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writing for godot

The Centrality of Carter Page and the Trump/Russia Connection

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Written by Steven Jonas   
Thursday, 13 September 2018 07:04

Introduction: I originally published this column, on OpEdNews (see below) last March.  Since that time Carter Page's name has become less apparent than it was then.  But it is beginning to appear again with some frequency, particularly on Sean Hannity's show.  Carter Page's name doesn't come up much in the mainstream media's coverage of Trump/Russia and the Mueller investigation. Yet Sean Hannity and others on the Right go out of their way to try to discredit in advance any findings on him, based on their falsification of the basis of obtaining "FISA warrants." This column is about just why they are doing that.

(By the way, if you are at all interested in how Hannity presents the current reality around Trump, and especially Trump/Russia, you only have to watch one show.  Because he says the same thing over and over again [and I do watch him on a regular basis, in small bites to be sure, to make sure that things haven't changed.  And they haven't.  The Big Lie technique is alive and well on Hannity.])

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When mainstream reporting is done on the Mueller investigation of the Trump/Russia connection, a number of names are mentioned. (By the way, just so you know, I don't consider the Fox"News"Channel, also known variously as "Trump TV" [MSNBC's Chris Hayes] or the "Propaganda Channel" [I began using the term in 2015], to be “mainstream” (except of course for the Radical Right).) Among them are persons who have been investigated who have already pled guilty to some relatively minor charge and have presumably become cooperating witness: Gen. Mike Flynn, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, Richard Pinedo. Then there is the one who has been indicted and is strongly maintaining his innocence, Paul Manafort. Also indicted are the "13 Russians" and un-named co-conspirators (who may or may not be indicted at some point). But there is one name that has floated around the whole "Trump/Russia" thing from just about the time it began, that doesn't get much mention in the mainstream media. That is Carter Page.

The first time I heard of Carter Page was when he was on a Chris Hayes MSNBC show in 2016. He had been previously identified by The New York Times as a "person of interest" (for journalists at least) the Trump/Russia probe. Page came across as somewhat dis-connected, claimed that he didn't know much about Russia, and that he certainly played no role in any Trump/Russia connections. He repeated these claims recently in an interview with the radio/TV right-wing talker Sean Hannity. As a matter of fact, while Page doesn't show up in the mainstream media in re Trump/Russia, he sure shows up with regularity on Hannity's version of events.

In Hannity's version of "Trump/Russia," of course there is nothing there. It's all made up. It's a plot to unseat Trump made up by the "Deep State," (FBI, CIA, NSA, and etc.). (In this description of these events they share much with certain elements of the US Left as found, for example, in The Nation.) One does not have to watch Hannity with regularity (although I am now doing so) to get his message. For he repeats more or less the same thing every evening. One of his constant themes is that the whole Mueller investigation should be thrown out because of a supposedly defective application for a FISA warrant on Page (after he had left the Trump campaign, with which he was associated for only a few months. Page joined a group of folks who at one time were pumped by Trump as key advisors [see Papadopoulos], but later put in the "who? Never knew him much" group.)

Hannity does this in open, close, cooperation with Devon Nunes, who is the Republican Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. I have already pointed out that Nunes is playing a very unusual role in the whole investigation, that is working very closely with the White House, on a political, not legislative, matter. This is an element of what I call "21st Century Functional Fascism." It is epitomized by the "Nunes Memo," which purports to show that the FBI somehow tricked a FISA court judge into approving a warrant allowing the FBI to spy on Page, in October 2016. That memo, in my view (and that of many other observers), has been thoroughly rebutted by the Democratic Response to it.

But, it is not my purpose here to engage in a discussion of whether or not the October, 2016 FISA warrant on Carter Page was justified or not. Rather, of most interest to me is just why Nunes and the Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee, and Sean Hannity and numerous other right-wing talkers, and the President himself from time-to-time, have made such a fuss about it. For contacts with various Russians, including possible intelligence operatives, Page had been under FBI surveillance off-and-on since 2013. He was admittedly in contact with Russians during the Republican National Convention in 2016. He may have played a role in the watering down of an anti-Russia-in-Ukraine plank in the Repub. National Platform. And then came the FISA warrant, which presumably justified wire-tapping, after he formally left the campaign. And although Nunes and Hannity would have you believe otherwise, FISA warrants are very long documents, filled with tons of evidence justifying the request, never drawn from just one source. In Page's case, there were apparently four FISA warrants obtained over time, approved by four different, Republican-appointed, FISA court judges .

Do I have any inside information? Certainly not. BUT, isn't it interesting that Hannity/Nunes are focusing so heavily on Page and the FISA warrant, to the exclusion of just about everything else (except of course anything they can attribute to President Obama and Hillary Clinton --- but that's another matter). With all the people they could be focusing on and trying to discredit the investigation of --- that is the above list of indictees/guilty-pleaders --- they focus on Page.

This might be simply a classical Trumpite WMD (Weapon of Mass Distraction). But perhaps it's something else. Who knows what those Page wiretaps might contain. Who knows who else's voices might appear on them. Who knows if such other persons know that they are on the tapes, if they in fact are. But if there is "something" on them, and that something is significant for the Mueller investigation, wouldn't you, if you were a Trumpite, be trying as hard as you could to discredit, not the source, in this case, but just how that information was obtained? And if you were Mueller, and you had some legal bombshells in hand from those tapes, wouldn't you be holding off on making that information public, in one way or another, right now?

I might be way off, here. But maybe not. As they used to say in the days of radio, days in which I grew up, stay tuned.

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This column was first published on OpEdNews at: https://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Centrality-of-Carter-P-by-Steven-Jonas-Carter-Page_Elections_FISA_Fascism-180303-797.html.  It is reproduced here with permission.

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