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Walter Mitty versus the United States: the sad and strange case of Carter Page

Carter Page’s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee shows an individual detached from reality but takes Russiagate allegations no further

Alexander Mercouris

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On 2nd November 2017 Carter Page, the former businessman and banker who was for a time a volunteer helper of the Trump campaign, gave evidence to the House Intelligence Committee, which is looking into the allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Carter Page is a pivotal figure in the collusion theory that lies at the heart of the Russiagate scandal.

His name appears in several places in the Trump Dossier – which Carter Page has now confirmed is the basis for the whole Russiagate investigation – with the focus being on two trips he made to Moscow last year, one in July 2016 when he gave a speech to Moscow’s New Economic School, and one in December 2016 when some sections of the Russian media spoke of him – wrongly – as an emissary of President elect Trump.

On 22nd April 2017 in an article for The Duran I said that Carter Page is in reality a fantasist with only a tenuous grasp of reality.

He managed to get a place in the Trump campaign by exaggerating his qualifications and background – pretending to a Ph.D he does not have – whilst fooling some Russians (including the board of the New Economic School) into thinking that he was much closer to Donald Trump than he really was.

At the same time, like George Papadopoulos – the other Trump campaign aide who was recently indicted – he was trying to impress the Trump campaign by pretending to contacts with senior Russian officials which in reality he never had.

Here is what I said about Carter Page in my previous article about him written on 22nd April 2017

This account points up an important aspect of Carter Page’s personality, which has been the source of much confusion and trouble.  This is his habit of self-aggrandisement.  He seems to have fooled Trump into appointing him a foreign policy adviser on the strength of his having a Ph.D, when he doesn’t have a Ph.D. 

This is how Carter Page’s Wikipedia entry explains this

Page was one of five people named as foreign policy advisors by Donald Trump in March 2016, and was also attributed by Trump as having a PhD.[19] It is unknown at this time whether Trump was mistaken as to Page’s credentials or if Page falsified them in applying for an advisory position with the Trump team. There is no evidence, as confirmed by Trump campaign staffers, that Page had ever met or briefed Trump.[3]

In addition, as the extract from the CNN article I have quoted shows, instead of frankly admitting that he had only a minimal role in the Trump campaign – saving everyone a great deal of trouble – Carter Page persists in pretending otherwise, and passes off visits to public spaces within Trump Tower as ‘proof’ of this.

This makes it impossible to take Carter Page seriously, and makes it difficult to see how he deserves the attention he is getting.  Moreover Carter Page’s proclivity for self-aggrandisement makes the whole thesis the Russians used him to “try to infiltrate” the Trump campaign – much less that they succeeded in doing so – look immediately fanciful.

In truth Carter Page comes across as a something of a busy body who briefly managed to fool the Russians last year into thinking he was closer to Trump than he really was.  On the strength of this he was able to wangle an invitation to give a talk to Moscow’s New Economic School at a time last summer when the Russians would have been anxious to know what candidate Trump’s policies towards Russia actually were.  The article provides information from a source in the New Economic School showing how this happened

…..a spokesman for the school told CNN that Page’s ties to Trump helped secure the invitation.  “The organizing committee for the commencement last year thought that he was a colorful and interesting character,” said Denis Klimentov, a spokesman for the New Economic School. “It was partially supported by the fact that The Washington Post, the newspaper, back in the spring of 2016, cited Carter as one of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy advisors.”

(bold italics added)

Carter Page followed this up with a second invitation in December, after Trump had won the election, when the Russians would have been even more anxious to find out what now President-elect Trump’s policies towards Russia were, and when they would have been especially anxious to hear what someone who they clearly still thought was one of the President-elect’s key foreign policy advisers would say.

That this is what the Russians still thought Carter Page was at the time of his second visit is shown by this comment of Leonid Reshetnikov, the Director of Russia’s Institute of Strategic Studies, quoted by CNN in the article

“It’s quite possible that Trump’s advisor is a pragmatist and a realist.  This is probably not an ordinary visit. He has probably received some instructions from the President-elect. I don’t think that meetings at the highest level will take place, but (the possibility) cannot be excluded.”

In reality Carter Page had no ‘instructions’ from President-elect Trump, it seems he and Trump had never even met, and – needless to say – no “meetings at the highest level” took place.  Once the new administration was formed it quickly became clear Carter Page had no role in it and was not close to Trump at all and did not speak for the new President.  At that point the misapprehension the Russians had about him would have ended, and they lost interest in him.

There is not a scintilla of evidence in any of this of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  On the contrary the fact the Russians mistook a Walter Mitty figure like Carter Page for an important adviser of Trump’s shows how poorly informed about Trump they actually were.  That does not speak of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  On the contrary if anything it shows that no such collusion was taking place.

Since the Russiagate scandal broke Carter Page has made things worse for himself and has caused a huge amount of trouble by (unlike George Papadopoulos) failing to come clean.  Instead he continues to pretend that his obviously fictional contacts in Moscow were real ones whilst simultaneously denying their importance.

Moreover he has disastrously compounded the trouble by his incredibly stupid decision not to instruct a lawyer.  Instead he is purporting to represent himself, taking on the FBI, the CIA, the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Justice Department, Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the entire US media all by himself.

The result is the farce of the hearing which took place on 2nd November 2017 the transcript of which in combination with Carter Page’s written submissions goes on for an extraordinary 208 pages.

Anyone who takes the trouble to plough through this extraordinary document cannot fail but notice the bemusement of the members of the House Intelligence Committee as they found themselves dealing with a witness the like of which none of them have probably ever previously come across.

Their bafflement was elegantly captured in a lengthy discussion of Carter Page’s testimony by The Atlantic, which has given the best account of it

Schiff summed the situation up cleanly: “Were you being honest in your communication with the campaign? Are you being honest in your testimony? Because it doesn’t seem possible for both to be true.”

Schiff wasn’t the only one baffled. Republican Trey Gowdy, who frequently sounds incredulous during his portions of the testimony, asked, “I didn’t think I’d ever be going through this with anyone, but we’ve got to, I guess. You seem to draw a distinction between a meeting, a greeting, a conversation, and you hearing a speech.”

Elsewhere The Atlantic captures perfectly the madcap quality of Carter Page’s testimony

It’s just one example of how Page comes across as hopelessly self-aggrandizing throughout the testimony. He brags about his connections and credentials, dropping references to Harvard, Cambridge, and New York universities, and even noting his Delta frequent-flyer status. Describing his several email accounts, Page mentioned receiving many emails from Gary Sick, a respected Middle East scholar at Columbia University. Reached by email, Sick told me he’d briefly met Page in the 1990s or early 2000s and had not had any contact since, and that the emails in question came from a listserv of some 2,000 people.

There develops a strange dichotomy, in which Page presents himself as an important and respected man in Russia, invited to give a commencement speech independent of his work for the Trump campaign, and yet also downplays his importance to the Trump team, calling himself a very junior staffer. (Gowdy, again: “Mr. Page, I wrote down: volunteer, unpaid, informal, unofficial. I’m still trying to figure out what the hell your role was with the Trump campaign.”)

Elsewhere The Atlantic discusses the bafflement of the members of the Committee as Carter Page (1) simultaneously invoked the Fifth Amendment for certain of his documents only to say that they were actually less “incriminating” than other documents the FBI had already seized; (2) simultaneously confirmed and denied having a meeting with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovitch (he finally appeared to admit the ‘meeting’ took place, but said it was not really a ‘meeting’ because it went no further than an exchange of pleasantries); and (3) gave contradictory explanations for emails he sent to the Trump campaign, in which he purported to discuss opinions he said he had been given by senior Russian officials and members of the Duma, but which he told the Committee were actually gleaned from things he had read in the newspapers.

Though I have had no contact with Carter Page and my knowledge of him and his activities derives purely from what the media has written about him I can assist the members of the House Intelligence Committee with all these questions.

Just as I said back in April that Carter Page was a self-aggrandising fantasist – something The Atlantic now admits is the case – so I can now say with confidence that the purported meeting with Dvorkovitch almost certainly never took place and that the other meetings which Carter Page wrote about in his emails to the Trump campaign never happened either.

Possibly Carter Page did meet Dvorkovitch briefly in July 2016, though personally I doubt it.  If he did meet Dvorkovitch it would have been – as he now says – a brief and accidental encounter which went no further than an exchange of pleasantries.

As for the other meetings with senior officials of the Russian government, of the Presidential administration, and of the Duma, which Carter Page claimed had happened in his emails to the Trump campaign, I am quite sure these never happened.

The only person who has ever said these meetings ever happened is Carter Page himself.  Given the fact that he is now admitted to be a self-aggrandising fantasist there is no more reason to suppose that he spoke the truth about these meetings than that he is telling the truth about anything else.

As for Carter Page’s decision to claim the Fifth Amendment for some of his “less incriminating'”documents, that is almost certainly nothing more than a case of attention-seeking and self-aggrandisement.

Personally the only parts of Carter Page’s testimony which I take seriously are (1) his confirmation that the entire Russiagate investigation is based upon and is guided by the Trump Dossier; and (2) that the accounts of his activities set out in the Trump Dossier are untrue.

I would of course add that the reason I believe these parts of Carter Page’s testimony are true is not because he says them.  It is because there is abundant independent evidence which corroborates them.

Needless to say nothing Carter Page said in his testimony – and none of the questions which were put to him by the members of the Committee – provide the slightest grounds for thinking that the central claim of the Russiagate scandal – that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to steal and publish the DNC’s and John Podesta’s emails – is true.

On the contrary – as was the case with the emails sent by George Papadopoulos – Carter Page’s emails actually show that no collusion took place.

As to those who say that it is an amazing coincidence that two fantasists – George Papadopoulos and Carter Page – were both simultaneously working for the Trump campaign, I would say two things:

Firstly, it is not a coincidence at all.  At any point in time there are any number of such people around, and given their overwhelming need for attention joining a Presidential campaign holds an obvious attraction to them.

Political campaigns – and I have personal knowledge of several – are always prey to such people.  Tough and clear-sighted management filters them out, but as Jared Kushner has recently admitted the Trump campaign was disastrously short of such management, which is why people like George Papadopoulos and Carter Page were able to find their way in.

Secondly, there is a fundamental difference between George Papadopoulos and Carter Page.

Papadopoulos comes across as a well-meaning but inexperienced young man who got swept along by the excitement of the moment, causing him to represent both himself and his contacts to the Trump campaign as far more important than they really were.

Carter Page by contrast comes across as a far more troubled and disturbed individual.

At some level he was probably trying to leverage his role in the Trump campaign to enhance his business in Russia whilst simultaneously using the fact that he had an established business connection with Russia to enhance his position in the Trump campaign.

However the extent of Carter Page’s detachment from reality as shown by his Congressional testimony together with his bizarre decision to represent himself rather than act through a lawyer suggests someone who is going through a deep personal crisis.

Putting a person like that through the sort of grinder that Carter Page is being put through is in my opinion a profound cruelty, all the more so as he is an obvious suicide risk.  I hope someone has taken note of that fact and is taking the necessary precautions.

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America the Punitive

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common?

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


There has been a dramatic shift in how the United States government carries out its business internationally. Admittedly, Washington has had a tendency to employ force to get what it has wanted ever since 9/11, but it also sometimes recognized that other countries had legitimate interests and accepted there was a place for diplomacy to resolve issues short of armed conflict. The Bush Administration reluctance to broaden its engagement in the Middle East after it recognized that it had blundered with Iraq followed by Obama’s relaxation of tensions with Cuba and his negotiation of a nuclear agreement with Iran demonstrated that sanity sometimes prevailed in the West Wing.

That willingness to be occasionally accommodating has changed dramatically, with the State Department under Mike Pompeo currently more prone to deliver threats than any suggestions that we all might try to get along. It would be reasonable enough to criticize such behavior because it is intrinsically wrong, but the truly frightening aspect of it would appear to be that it is based on the essentially neoconservative assumption that other countries will always back down when confronted with force majeure and that the use of violence as a tool in international relations is, ultimately, consequence free.

I am particularly disturbed with the consequence free part as it in turn is rooted in the belief that countries that have been threatened or even invaded have no collective memory of what occurred and will not respond vengefully when the situation changes. There have been a number of stunningly mindless acts of aggression over the past several weeks that are particularly troubling as they suggest that they will produce many more problems down the road than solutions.

The most recent is the new sanctioning of Russia over the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury England. For those not following developments, last week Washington abruptly and without any new evidence being presented, imposed additional trade sanctions on Russia in the belief that Moscow ordered and carried out the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4th. The report of the new sanctions was particularly surprising as Yulia Skripal has recently announced that she intends to return to her home in Russia, leading to the conclusion that even one of the alleged victims does not believe the narrative being promoted by the British and American governments.

Though Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded with restraint, avoiding a tit-for-tat, he is reported to be angry about the new move by the US government and now believes it to be an unreliable negotiating partner. Considering the friendly recent exchanges between Putin and Trump, the punishment of Russia has to be viewed as something of a surprise, suggesting that the president of the United States may not be in control of his own foreign policy.

Turkey is also feeling America’s wrath over the continued detention of an American Protestant Pastor Andrew Brunson by Ankara over charges that he was connected to the coup plotters of 2016, which were allegedly directed by Fetullah Gulen, a Muslim religious leader, who now resides in Pennsylvania. Donald Trump has made the detention the centerpiece of his Turkish policy, introducing sanctions and tariffs that have led in part to a collapse of the Turkish lira and a run on the banking system which could easily lead to default and grave damage to European banks that hold a large party of the country’s debt.

And then there is perennial favorite Iran, which was hit with reinstated sanctions last week and is confronting a ban on oil sales scheduled to go into effect on November 4th. The US has said it will sanction any country that buys Iranian oil after that date, though a number of governments including Turkey, India and China appear to be prepared to defy that demand. Several European countries are reportedly preparing mechanisms that will allow them to trade around US restrictions.

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common? All are on the receiving end of punitive action by the United States over allegations of misbehavior that have not been demonstrated. Nobody has shown that Russia poisoned the Skripals, Turkey just might have a case that the Reverend Brunson was in contact with coup plotters, and Iran is in full compliance with the nuclear arms agreement signed in 2015. One has to conclude that the United States has now become the ultimate angry imperial power, lashing out with the only thing that seems to work – its ability to interfere in and control financial markets – to punish nations that do not play by its rules. Given Washington’s diminishing clout worldwide, it is a situation that is unsustainable and which will ultimately only really punish the American people as the United States becomes more isolated and its imperial overreach bankrupts the nation. As America weakens, Russia, Turkey, Iran and all the other countries that have been steamrolled by Washington will likely seek revenge. To avoid that, a dramatic course correction by the US is needed, but, unfortunately, is unlikely to take place.

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NATO Repeats the Great Mistake of the Warsaw Pact

NATO expansion continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war.

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Authored by Martin Sieff via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Through the 1990s, during the terms of US President Bill Clinton, NATO relentlessly and inexorably expanded through Central Europe. Today, the expansion of that alliance eastward – encircling Russia with fiercely Russo-phobic regimes in one tiny country after another and in Ukraine, which is not tiny at all – continues.

This NATO expansion – which the legendary George Kennan presciently warned against in vain – continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war. Far from bringing the United States and the Western NATO allies increased security, it strips them of the certainty of the peace and security they would enjoy if they instead sought a sincere, constructive and above all stable relationship with Russia.

It is argued that the addition of the old Warsaw Pact member states of Central Europe to NATO has dramatically strengthened NATO and gravely weakened Russia. This has been a universally-accepted assumption in the United States and throughout the West for the past quarter century. Yet it simply is not true.

In reality, the United States and its Western European allies are now discovering the hard way the same lesson that drained and exhausted the Soviet Union from the creation of the Warsaw Pact in 1955 to its dissolution 36 years later. The tier of Central European nations has always lacked the coherence, the industrial base and the combined economic infrastructure to generate significant industrial, financial or most of all strategic and military power.

In fact the current frustrating experience of NATO, and the long, exhausting tribulations that faced Soviet diplomats and generals for so many decades was entirely consistent with the previous historical record going back at least until 1718.

From 1718 until 1867 – a period of a century and a half – most of Central Europe, including even regions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, were consolidated within the Austro –Hungarian Empire, However even then, the Habsburg multi-national empire was always militarily weak and punched beneath its weight. After Emperor Franz Josef recklessly proclaimed his famous Compromise of 1867, the effectiveness of the imperial army was reduced to almost zero. The autonomous and feckless conduct of the Hungarian aristocracy ensured a level of confusion, division, incompetence and ineptitude that was revealed in the army’s total collapse against both Russia and Serbia in the great battles of 1914 at the start of World War I.

Germany moved in to occupy and consolidate the region in both world wars. But far from making Germany a global giant and enabling it to maintain its domination of Europe, the Central European regions – whether as part of Austro-Hungary during World War I or as independent nation-states allied to the Nazis in World War II – proved miniscule and worthless against the alliances of Russia, the United States, Britain and France that the Germans fought against in both global conflicts.

After the Soviet Union militarily destroyed the genocidal military power of Nazi Germany in World War II, Russia’s Great Patriotic War, the political consolidation of East Germany and Poland were strategically necessary for Russia’s security. But occupying and organizing the rest of the region was not. Far from strengthening the Soviet Union, those nations weakened and distracted it. Today, NATO is repeating the Soviet Mistake and that fatal move is inexorably draining the alliance of all its strength and credibility.

NATO is also repeating the disastrous mistake that France made in 1920-21 when it created a “Little Entente” of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania to supposedly counterbalance the revival of Germany. The plan failed completely.

Today those very same nations – enthusiastically joined by Hungary, Poland and the three little Baltic states – are relentlessly distorting both NATO and the EU. They generate weakness and chaos in the alliances they are in – not unity and strength.

As I have noted before in these columns, the great British historian Lord Correlli Barnett drew the important distinction between militarily powerful nations that are generators and exporters of security and those, either tiny or disorganized, pacifist and weak nations that have to import their security from more powerful states.

One might call such small countries “feeder” or “parasite” states. They siphon off energy and strength from their protector partners. They weaken their alliance partners rather than strengthening them.

The consistent lessons of more than 300 years of Central European history are therefore clear: Leading and organizing the tier of Central European nations in the Warsaw Pact did not strengthen the Soviet Union: Instead, those activities relentlessly weakened it.

Incorporating most of the small nations in Central Europe into any empire or alliance has never been a cause or generator of military or national strength, regardless of the ideology or religious faith involved. At best, it is a barometer of national strength.

When nations such as France, Germany, the Soviet Union or the United States are seen as rising powers in the world, the small countries of Central Europe always hasten to ally themselves accordingly. They therefore adopt and discard Ottoman Islamic imperialism. Austrian Christian imperialism, democracy, Nazism, Communism and again democracy as easily as putting on or off different costumes at a fancy dress ball in Vienna or Budapest.

As Russia rises once again in global standing and national power, supported by its genuinely powerful allies China, India and Pakistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the nations of Central Europe can be anticipated to reorient their own loyalties accordingly once again.

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Why Russia will NOT fall victim to emerging markets financial crisis (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 81.

Alex Christoforou

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As the Turkish Lira collapses, sending emerging market economies into turmoil, Russia is being slapped with additional US sanctions dubbed the US Congress ‘bill from hell’.

The full text the newest sanctions bill has been released. The sanctions are deliberately designed to punish Russia’s economy for a Skripal poisoning hoax for which no evidence of Russian state involvement has been presented. The new bill even goes so far as to suggest designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The “sanctions bill from hell” officially entitled ‘Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018’ was introduced by a group of Republican and Democratic senators on the 2nd of August.

According to RT, the bill would place restrictions on US cooperation with Russia’s oil industry, target Russian sovereign debt transactions as well as Russian uranium imports. In addition, the legislation calls for sanctions against “political figures, oligarchs, and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris explain why, unlike the financial meltdown in Turkey, Russia is well equipped and properly prepared to weather the US sanctions storm… and may, in the end, come out of the latest emerging markets turmoil stronger and more independent from western petrodollar control than ever before.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via RT

The bill, which was recently published in full on Congress’ official website, also pledges full support for NATO and would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate if the United States ever wishes to exit the transatlantic alliance.

The legislation also declares that “the United States will never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation” and that Washington, in conjunction with NATO, should “prioritize efforts to prevent the further consolidation of illegal occupying powers in Crimea.”

The pending ‘Kremlin Aggression Act’ decrees that Congress should also determine whether Russia “meets the criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

The bill also accused Russia of “enabling the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria to commit war crimes,” adding that Moscow has shown itself to be “incapable or unwilling” to compel Assad to “stop using chemical weapons against the civilian population in Syria.”

The Act calls for a congressional committee to investigate “alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity attributable to [Russia]” and resolves to “punish the Government of the Russian Federation for, and deter that Government from, any chemical weapons production and use through the imposition of sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and the use of the mechanisms specified in the Chemical Weapons Convention for violations of the Convention.”

The legislation is just the latest addition to a laundry list of sanctions and laws passed in the months following the 2016 presidential election.

Republican hawk Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), who both sponsored the bill, said in a joint statement that the legislation is designed to show that the US will “not waver in our rejection of [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia’s future.” The Russia-obsessed Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) was one of the five co-sponsors of the bill.

Moscow has brushed off the new wave of accusations as a projection of internal US struggle. Some elements in the US government are trying to “keep afloat” the conspiracy that Russia meddled in the US elections, in hopes of derailing constructive relations with Moscow and using the issue “purely for internal American purposes,” Senator Konstantin Kosachev, who chairs the Upper House Committee for International Relations, has said in response to the latest sanctions.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned that the adoption of any US legislation that targets Russian banking operations and currency trade would be considered a declaration of economic war.

“If they introduce something like a ban on banking operations or the use of any currency, we will treat it as a declaration of economic war. And we’ll have to respond to it accordingly – economically, politically, or in any other way, if required,” Medvedev said last week. “Our American friends should make no mistake about it.”

Moscow has vowed to respond to any new sanctions. Russia’s Finance Ministry said it would continue to sell off its holdings of US Treasury securities, while some lawmakers have called for Russia and its allies to stop using the US dollar for mutual payments.

 

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