If you missed CNN’s State of the Union this morning there was a rather remarkable interview with Carter Page. Jake Tapper spent pretty much the entire segment bringing up the recently released FISA warrant (or at least the smidgens of it not redacted) and asking Page about his previous involvement with the Russians. Of key interest are Tapper’s questions about Page’s previous boasts of having been an “informal adviser” to the Kremlin back in 2013. He also repeatedly asks the guest whether not he was in contact with certain Russian officials and if they ever discussed the 2016 campaign, Russian information which might be damaging to the Clinton campaign and all the rest. As you’ll see in this video, Page repeatedly attempts to deflect the question by saying, “let’s see what [the government] has to say.” But finally, Tapper corners him into claiming that he’s never even met or had any contact with the two officials named in the warrant.
The Hill pulled some of the early highlights and features Page’s answers about how crazy of an idea it is that he was ever involved.
“This is so ridiculous it’s just beyond words,” Page told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Page during the interview repeatedly sought to cast information laid out in the documents as “spin,” and often dodged direct questions about his connections to Russian officials.
“I’ve never been an agent of a foreign power by any stretch of the imagination,” Page said.
The President was weighing in early on the subject and it’s no surprise how he interpreted it all.
I mostly just wanted to share the interview with everyone, but there are at least two questions that come to mind. First of all, so much of that warrant is redacted that is seems tough for either side to be celebrating very much. And Carter Page obviously has no more of an idea what’s in the redacted portions than the rest of us do. If there’s really “no there, there,” then much of the case (at least in the court of public opinion) starts to collapse. But it strains credulity to think that the government would cite specific meetings between Page and named Russian officials if they have nothing to back it up but that dossier. Something has to give on that point and if Page comes up on the short end of the stick he’s in deep trouble.
The other, parallel point which some of us were batting around on Twitter this morning was the question of why Page was on television at all. I understand the desire for Tapper to get the interview and make him stand against the wheel, but does Carter Page have a lawyer? He’s facing some potentially devastating charges which no amount of good PR in the press is going to affect in a court of law. Shouldn’t there be somebody telling him to keep his mouth shut and refer all questions to his attorney? That seems to be the position Rick Wilson was taking.
I've spent 30 years in politics, and done an awful lot of crisis public relations and public affairs.
Carter Page should never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever be allowed on television. If he's being advised, he's being advised terrible.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) July 22, 2018
If they’ve got the goods on Page meeting with those specific Russians and he’s going out on a PR tour flatly denying the claims, he’s buying himself more and more trouble. And I somehow doubt there’s going to be a pardon in it for him down the road. But we still have to recognize the possibility that he’s telling the truth – even a watered down, heavily spun version of it – and the government was overplaying their hand. (Unlikely in my opinion, but nobody is releasing enough verifiable information to say either way just yet.)
So does anyone still believe this entire investigation is going to be wrapped up in August? If you ask me, we’ll be lucky if it’s August of next year.