An answer by FBI Director James Comey during his May 3 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee caught my attention.
During the hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham asked him a few questions about Carter Page:
GRAHAM: OK, Carter Page; was there a FISA warrant issued regarding Carter Page’s activity with the Russians.
COMEY: I can’t answer that here.
GRAHAM: Did you consider Carter Page an agent of the campaign?
COMEY: Same answer, I can’t answer that here.
GRAHAM: OK. Do you stand by your testimony that there is an active investigation counterintelligence investigation regarding Trump campaign individuals in the Russian government as to whether not to collaborate? You said that in March…
COMEY: To see if there was any coordination between the Russian effort and peoples…
GRAHAM: Is that still going on?
GRAHAM: OK. So nothing’s changed. You stand by those two statements?
GRAHAM: But you won’t tell me about Carter Page?
COMEY: Not here I won’t.
The curious part of this is the section I’ve highlighted in bold. It seems a fairly benign question: Was Carter Page an agent of the Trump campaign?
Yet, Comey declined to answer in public.
Sometimes in these “I can’t answer these questions” hearings, the questions are more interesting than the answer. They can be a way of signaling important things if you’re paying attention.
Comey’s refusal to comment on whether Page was an agent of the campaign suggests that the question touches on an aspect of the FBI’s investigation. Comey could not have answered without divulging something about the investigation. In other words, the FBI is likely examining the nature of Page’s role in the campaign. As a Senate veteran and lawyer himself, Graham also certainly knew that Comey wouldn’t answer the FISA question. But did he also know that he wouldn’t touch the question on Page’s role in the campaign? I would venture to guess that he did.
Almost since Trump in March 2016 named “Carter Page, PhD” as one of his foreign policy advisers, everything about Page and the campaign has been a mystery. He traveled to Moscow in July 2016 to give a speech critical of U.S. policy at Moscow’s New Economic School, but exactly who he met with is unclear. Page did reluctantly admit to meeting with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US at the Republican National Committee meeting in Cleveland, but what they discussed isn’t known. Also unclear is how Page wound up on the campaign is still very much a mystery, as I’ve explored previously.
So if Page wasn’t an agent of the campaign, what was he?