EXPLOSIVE: Was Carter Page a Russkie agent?

SATURDAY, MAY 19, 2018

The Times pushes the story along:
Was Carter Page some sort of Russkie agent?

We have no way of knowing. By the time the Mueller probe is done, we may all get a clearer idea concerning questions like that.

In the meantime, certain people are going to push claims and insinuations along.

When it comes to insinuations and overstatements regarding Page, one major gigantic cable news star rarely misses a chance to "hang him high." In fairness, this was already part of her TV show's culture before Page shambled along.

Then too, we were struck by something we read in Thursday's New York Times. In a lengthy retrospective report, three Times reporters said this:
APUZZO, GOLDMAN AND FANDOS (5/17/18): Crossfire Hurricane began with a focus on four campaign officials. But by mid-fall 2016, Mr. Page’s inquiry had progressed the furthest. Agents had known Mr. Page for years. Russian spies tried to recruit him in 2013, and he was dismissive when agents warned him about it, a half-dozen current and former officials said.
Back is 2013, was Page "dismissive" when he was warned about the Russkie approach?

We have no way of knowing. We're not even completely sure we know what the statement means.

That said, we decided to check the prior news report to which the three scribes linked in that passage. That report appeared in the Times in April 2017. Here's the way it began:
GOLDMAN (4/5/17): Russian intelligence operatives tried in 2013 to recruit an American businessman and eventual foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign who is now part of the F.B.I. investigation into Russia’s interference into the American election, according to federal court documents and a statement issued by the businessman.

The businessman, Carter Page, met with one of three Russians who were eventually charged with being undeclared officers with Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the S.V.R. The F.B.I. interviewed Mr. Page in 2013 as part of an investigation into the spy ring, but decided that he had not known the man was a spy, and the bureau never accused Mr. Page of wrongdoing.
Interesting! Back then, we weren't told that Page had been "dismissive" when clued by the FBI. Instead, we were told this:
The FBI decided that Page hadn't known that he'd been approached by a spy!
As you can see, the Times has come a long way baby from that initial report. On Thursday, the Times reporters cited that initial report as their source. But here's how the Times has now a-changed:
April 5, 2017: The FBI interviewed Page and decided he hadn't known that he'd been approached by a spy.

May 16, 2018: The FBI interviewed Page and judged that he was "dismissive."

Is it true? Did the FBI decide that Page didn't know that he'd been approached by a spy? If so, as a matter of fundamental fairness, should Times readers have been apprised of that fact in Thursday's retrospective?

If that's what the FBI decided, we'd say Times readers should have been told. We voice this judgment in the name of fundamental fairness (among other desirable traits).

At any rate, Thursday's report linked to the prior report as its source. We'd say it engineered a major change in tone—and a drift toward insinuation.

Was Carter Page some sort of Russkie agent? At present, we have no way of knowing. We hope some day to find out.

That said, regarding the age-old cult of insinuation and the unparalleled pleasures of hanging them high, we'd be inclined to say this:

A big cable star likes to play it that way. Should the Times follow suit?

Also this: This headline, in this morning's Times, is about as didactic as a headline on a front-page news report gets:
F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims
The news report is shaky enough. (Example: Do you see Trump quoted anywhere using the key term "spy?")

The news report is shaky enough. The headline leaps beyond the report, and is a bit Pravdaesque.

Coming Monday: Big star's absurd toadyism


  1. Being dismissive of the idea that someone was a Russian spy, when told about it, and not knowing whether that someone was a spy, are two separate things. One doesn't negate the other.

    You can ask "Did you know x was a spy?" and then following it up with "Yes, he is a spy, what do you think of that?" and the two are separate and distinct statements. If Carter Page answered No to the first and was dismissive of the second, how are those two answers incompatible? They aren't. But Somerby thinks they are. He finds some reason to complain that escapes me.

    Donald Trump quoted several people who claimed that the DOJ placed a spy in his camp. Then he said "Really bad stuff" and "Biggest Story since Watergate." It is a legalistic quibble to say that the word spy did not originate with Trump.

    And then we all must argue about what the word spy means. No thank you. We all know already that an investigative agent, including one working under cover, is not a spy in any sense of the word. The idea only originates because of the Us-Them mentality that Trump has established between himself and the nation's investigative service. If Trump regarded the Russians as Them instead of on his team, he wouldn't regard the FBI as the enemy and would see them as working on his behalf to root out foreign influence, Russian infiltration of his campaign for foreign purposes. But this framing shows clearly what traitors Trump and his team are.

    Where does Somerby stand in this? Well, once again, he is defending someone like Carter Page by pretending that since we cannot know things absolutely, we know nothing at all. And he is once again defending Trump, by claiming that we are putting words in his mouth when his own tweets did that. And all because he thinks cable news is insinuating too much, when our President daily incriminates himself.

    Here Today: Somerby's absurd denial.

    1. Is Somerby defending "someone like" Carter Page or is he pointing out that "dismissive" is not backed up by the journalists ostensibly citing the claim without a corresponding citation? It's pretty clear that not knowing and being dismissive are distinct from one another. This is the point, I think of Somerby's analysis: the journalists, at least, appear to be using a weasel-citation to back their use of indirect quotation of the Feds. It is at least legitimate in response to ask whether that is their intent.

    2. A news report is not a transcript. A reporter will summarize and will choose words to characterize the summarized material.

    3. If anyone knows about weasel-speak, it's the incomparable blogger (aka. "we").

  2. "Do you see Trump quoted anywhere using the key term "spy?"

    Thus writes Bob, using a question about quotes to accuse the Times of "Pravdaesque behavior."

    Lets engage in Bobbehavior.

    Do you see Somerby deny Trump use the key word "spy"? No, because it wouldn't be true.

    "“Apparently the DOJ put a Spy in the Trump Campaign. This has never been done before and by any means necessary, they are out to frame Donald Trump for crimes he didn’t commit.” David Asman"

    Trump Friday Tweet


  3. F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims

    That's a pathetic excuse, for at least a couple of reasons:

    -- the information gathered by Obama's FBI was disseminated to people who could use it in the campaign against Trump.

    -- It's looking more and more as if there never were any Russian ties to Trump's campaign. Mueller has apparently found none after a year plus. The Obama FBI found none when they were investigating Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

    I do not believe the FBI was investigating non-existent collusion with Russia and the Trump campaign, and then they accidentally made the information they gathered available to to anti-Trump campaign. Occam's Razor says the FBI investigated the Trump campaign because that's what they wanted to do.

    1. It doesn't matter what you believe and here you state a load of nonsense. The truth exists independent of your beliefs, which now border on delusions.

      It does matter that Russians and people like you are introducing false information, disinformation, lies, into the media to confuse and upset gullible people. You are as bad as anyone else in this respect.

      I appreciate that you are always civil, but being polite while doing wicked things is no virtue.

    2. The Feds set up Trump.

    3. It's interesting to see David in Ca break traitor. "It's looking more and more like there never were any Russian ties to Trumps campaign." His eyeballs must be bulging from watching Fox News 24/7.

    4. Greg -- One doesn't need to watch Fox News to be aware no charges of collusion with Russia have been brought against the Trump campaign -- neither by the Obama FBI nor by the Special Prosecutor. Now, for all anyone knows, such charges may be levied in the future. But, IMHO if there were evidence of collusion, it would have been found and made public by now.

    5. In your humble opinion, why should evidence have been made public by now when previous investigations of less serious charges have taken far longer?

    6. The FBI told Clinton that Trump was being investigated for Russian ties, before the election. The story also appeared in the news but received no attention because it appeared too self-serving for the Clinton campaign to be accusing Trump of something just at the point where Trump was claiming the election was rigged in Clinton's favor. Robbie Mook complained that reporters were treating him like the idea of Russian interference was coming from outer space, a far-fetched conspiracy theory. The Clinton campaign couldn't get any traction for the story.

      Some worry this will be true after Mueller releases his report, but it won't be up to the electorate at that point. It will be up to Congress to do its duty and impeach and remove Trump, if Mueller's report concludes that Trump did collude with Russia and commit other crimes, up to and including treason. Trump's stalwart base won't save him then.

    7. If our process for removing someone like Trump doesn't operate properly after Mueller releases his report, that is the time to consider moving to an actual democracy. Note that Canada has the kind of immigration system that Trump wants to implement here, based on points to speaking French and English, points for job skills, etc. They deduct one point for every year someone is over 35. Very strict. Might have a better chance of going to Mexico.

    8. Anon 5:35 -- I already gave my reasons. There have been two investigations of Trump-Russia connection; one by the Obama Administration and one by the Special Prosecutor. So far, nothing at all has come up to show collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. A House panel concluded that there was no collusion, for what that's worth.

      Of course nobody can know what may be made public in the future. But, as each day passes with no evidence of illegal collusion, it becomes less and less likely that proof of collusion will be found. Time will tell.

    9. "...nothing at all has come up to show collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign"

      "...if it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer." ---Donald Trump, Jr.

    10. Anon, you miss the point. With Comrade DinC, the treasonous bastard, there has to be written minutes of the tRump Tower meeting between his son, his son-in-law and his campaign manager and a bunch of Russian spies working for the Kremlin, must begin with the words "and now we shall proceed to collude". Absent that, Comrade DinC, the treasonous bastard will insist there is no evidence of collusion. And by the way, colluding with Putin is no big deal according to Rudy.

    11. I am noticing a similarity between DinC's standards of evidence and Somerby's.

    12. mm -- your sarcasm is accurate. If the Russians, or anyone else, gives one campaign dirt about the opponent, that's perfectly legal, as long as there isn't a quid pro quo.

      You correctly say collusion is difficult to prove. Too bad. But, people shouldn't make charges that they can't prove. The onus is on the accuser. Unproved accusations mean nothing.

      It doesn't work to say, "I can't prove that Trump colluded with the Russians, but collusion is hard to prove, so Trump is guilty."

    13. Since campaigns pay for opposition research, giving such research to a campaign is considered a contribution to it. Foreign governments and individuals are not allowed to make contributions to US campaigns. This is not about quid pro quo -- that is relevant to bribery and influence peddling, in which money is given for access or favors. Trump is guilty if he knew about and/or participated in crimes committed by his campaign staff or while president.

      Collusion no doubt has a legal definition and I suspect it may be different than yours. But, if Trump knew about these meetings in which the Russians proposed helping Trump attain office in return for easing of sanctions, he colluded. It is easy to demonstrate he knew about them because of his own statements in his speeches about Hillary and Wikileaks. But I fully expect that Mueller will have a great deal more evidence, some of it testimony of people who were at those meetings and who witnesses behind the scenes conversations about Russia and who themselves met with Russians for various purposes. There is a lot of information and Mueller has it, so this is not going to be a question of "if" but "when" Mueller finishes his work.

      I don't read mm as saying that collusion is hard to prove. I read him as saying that your standard for proving collusion is ridiculous. But it won't be up to you. It will be up to congress and perhaps the courts.

    14. Look at poor Comrade DinC lugging that goal around on his back searching desperately for a safe place to set it down.

      ...as long as there isn't a quid pro quo.

      Wrong, traitor. Wherever did you get that idea? Sean Hannity?

    15. mm -- suppose a Russian had told Hillary Clinton the details of how Trump had colluded with the Russians. Anon - would Hillary be guilty of illegally accepting a foreign contribution? mm - Would she be guilty of collusion, even though she offered no quid pro quo?

    16. Hillary would have immediately gone to the FBI when approached by such a contact, as would anyone who is not a traitor. So, no, she wouldn't be guilty of accepting anything.

      Because of her experience as Secretary of State, Hillary above all other candidates would understand the implications of such an approach. That's why experience matters in elections and why those supporting Trump, Bernie, Jill Stein were foolish to argue that it didn't matter that they had no real qualifications for the presidency.

      But, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    17. The answer is, Of course not. And if Trump received information a Hillary scandal from some Russians, that wouldn't be collusion either, if that's all he did.

    18. You keep positing a hypothetical that is not what happened. Trump did collude, Mueller will prove it. Hillary did nothing wrong. You think that if you keep saying this stuff it will cloud the issue but this won't be decided on the internet. Trump will be tried and convicted because he is guilty as hell.

    19. Nony T. Fifty VII, the Quaint American: a person of R,W,&B extraction who thinks any variation of this latest in The American Tragicomic Drama is relevant to how his or her government actually works, the irony of which is this putative rejection of the hypothetical synthesized with an unwitting theoretical belief in how things are going to be.

      Forever ignored by the Quaint American is the extent to which highly questionable collusion as it relates to their putative perception of that which amounts to disloyalty to a nation and her citizens, electorally and otherwise, is applied as narrowly or broadly as possible depending on the brand of betrayal they're most eager to elect. As a result, the legendary Continuity of Government, with all its crimes and misdemeanors, goes unabated, the majority of that continues without comment.

    20. "Too bad. But, people shouldn't make charges that they can't prove."

      Thanks for this. Everyone who I bet that Hillary isn't corrupt owes me 20 bucks. Now I'm rich enough to run for POTUS.

  4. Someone accused by the FBI of being a spy is only an alleged spy. I don't see anything wrong with being dismissive (assuming he was). The FBI accused Charlie Chaplin, John Lennon and various other decent people, so what.

    1. Someone accused by Conservatives of being corrupt is only allegedly corrupt. Especially after 8 GOP-led investigations turned up nothing.

  5. So pleased to have you on our team, Bob. Keep up the "incomparable" work. -- from the staff of RT

  6. Off topic: Maybe this study explains why Bob finds so much to criticize in the media

    Journalists drink too much, are bad at managing emotions, and operate at a lower level than average, according to a new study

    Journalists' brains show a lower-than-average level of executive functioning, according to a new study, which means they have a below-average ability to regulate their emotions, suppress biases, solve complex problems, switch between tasks, and show creative and flexible thinking.

    1. Link is http://www.businessinsider.com/journalists-brains-function-at-a-lower-level-than-average-2017-5

    2. I read somewhere that journalists have the same level of brain function as actuaries, or should I say dysfunction? I think it was an article in Pet Fancy Magazine.

  7. The informant was Stefan Halper.


  8. Now the lib zombies are accusing Mr Trump's transition team of colluding with Saudi Arabia and the Emirates! At long last, have they left no sense of decency?



  9. Shameless. Paul Krugman asks if Mr Trump took a bribe from Comrade Xi.


  10. Here's another Bernie supporter who is now gung ho for Trump, arguing that there is no evidence of collusion and that the Mueller investigation is a bust. Somerby isn't the only pseudo-liberal Bernie supporter posing as a progressive:


  11. Bob - Trump used "spy" in a tweet on May 18.

  12. I have a bad feeling about all this. They can chase Trump about Russia and that is all well and good and we will see what happens. But Democrats need to get the party together and reubild it around Bernie's platform and ideas and introduce new leadership that doesn't come accross as so calicified and elite. We need to figure out a way to stir people's souls based on our ideas and who we are.

    I had lunch with a friend who voted for Trump and he told me he would have voted for Bernie. That likes Bernie. People just want someone who is from or seems to be an outsider.

    We can hope that Trump is upended by all his myriad incompetence and nefariousness but while we wait for that to happen, we need to be rebuilding the party to be relevant in new times. We have to do a lot of thinking about who we are.

    I agree in a way with Mao Chung and Bob that we have become a little hysterical and unfocused. Bob has a shitty tone in the way he says it, and it's hard to take criticism but I think we need to constructively criticize ourselves and realize we need to be a lot more focused and open and smart than we have been.

    1. So, you're supporting Joe Biden then?

    2. He'll be 77. Too old. Who's going to be the new blood? We need someone in their 40's. Who is out there that has the goods? Seems like it would be very, very easy to expose Trump as a fraud with the right rhetoric and charisma. It might have to be a third party. Some rich fuck. Dems don't really know how to boogie. They can't dance. They have no rhythm. Politically speaking. The system is so ripe to be split down the middle as Macron did in France.

    3. "I agree in a way with Mao Chung and Bob that we have become a little hysterical and unfocused."

      Then you are the one unfocused. And your friend into 'outsiders" should have his waitress diner perform his wife's open-heart surgery.
      Confusing "people who understand how government works" with "elites" is a nod to the dumbing down of the republic.

    4. 9:54 - you feel like the Democrats are focused? Focused on winning in 2020? Focus on rebuilding the party into something that can excite the people into voting?

      I feel like we're just focused on Trump and waiting for him to fail. That might work. It probably will. I just think we're setting ourselves up for another big disappointment.

      Thanks for your comment.

    5. I love it when trolls fight with each other.

    6. waylon,
      Yes. I think the Democratic party focus on the GOP tax cuts, and the grifters like DeVos, Pruitt, etc in the Trump cabinet, who are working for the corporate-rich, will play strong in the midterms with voters who are really concerned with the rigged economy.

    7. "...voters who are really concerned with the rigged economy."

      That would be a large segment of Democrats and Independents, and maybe up to a dozen Republican voters.

    8. " ... and maybe up to a dozen Republican voters."

      A dozen? Are you Kevin Drum?

  13. This is what real media criticism should look like:


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