Maybe Carter Page is brilliant. Or maybe Carter Page is a masochist. Or maybe Carter Page is a complete idiot.
As far as I can tell, those are the only three plausible explanations for how the former Trump campaign adviser (who, you’re reminded, worked in Merrill Lynch’s Moscow office from 2004 to 2007) is behaving in the face of an increasingly aggressive probe into the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin.
I suppose it’s possible that Page’s penchant for lying on national television and bragging about not having a lawyer is part of some calculating strategy the purpose of which is as yet unknowable to the public. But until such a time as the rest of us can discern why it is he’s willingly implicating himself in a treasonous plot to undercut America’s democratic process, we’re all left to shake our heads in incredulity at what by outward appearances looks like Page actively trying to get himself indicted.
If you haven’t seen this clip, do yourself a favor and watch it – note the end where Hayes says “I genuinely hope Carter, that you are innocent of everything because you’re doing a lot of talking”:
I mean, it’s hard to fathom why someone would admit, on national television, that he was on e-mail chains about Russia with a man who has now pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about those same e-mail chains.
But again, maybe that’s the “genius” of Carter Page.
Well, earlier this week, during some seven hours of closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Page confessed (or actually, I guess “volunteered” is the better word here) that he told Jeff Sessions about a trip he was taking to Russia during the campaign. That cast further doubt on the Attorney General’s sworn testimony to Congress and has led top Democrats including (of course) Sen. Al Franken, to all but suggest Sessions has perjured himself.
“I don’t think he told me the truth,” Franken told ABC earlier this week, adding that “I think that on different occasions he either has a terrible memory or he is deliberately not telling me the truth.” Here’s how we put it on Thursday:
And while I suppose it’s plausible that Sessions might have honestly forgotten, it certainly seems like Jeff can’t remember much of anything. The list of conversations he had about Russia that he no longer recalls seems to be growing all the time. One explanation is that he really doesn’t remember them. Another, far more plausible explanation under the circumstances, is that he’s going to just lie until someone corners him on it.
For his part, here’s how Carter Page described the trip to Moscow that he now says Sessions was made aware of:
Back in June 2016, I mentioned in passing that I happened to be planning to give a speech at a university in Moscow. Completely unrelated to my limited volunteer role with the campaign and as I’ve done dozens of times throughout my life. Understandably, it was as irrelevant then as it is now. If it weren’t for the dodgy dossier and all the chaos that those complete lies had created, my passing comment’s complete lack of relevance should go without saying.
Ok, now just listen to Page’s cringe-worthy, nationally televised account of his interaction with Sessions:
If you are a lawyer, I’m sorry I subjected you to that because it was undoubtedly hard for you to sit through. It boggles the mind that Page would go out on a limb like that and now, it appears that he was actually lying (or at least downplaying) that trip to Moscow in his comments to CNN.
Because as The New York Times reported on Friday evening, Page “met Russian government officials during a July 2016 trip he took to Moscow.” And the hilarious thing about that revelation is that it’s according to the very same testimony that he’s referring to in the clip shown above. So he’s volunteering to misrepresent testimony he just gave, and he’s doing that live, on national television, to an unfriendly media outlet in CNN.
But it gets worse. Here’s the Times:
Shortly after the trip, Mr. Page sent an email to at least one Trump campaign aide describing insights he had after conversations with government officials, legislators and business executives during his time in Moscow, according to one person familiar with the contents of the message. The email was read aloud during the closed-door testimony.
So now, this trip to Moscow which Page informed Jeff Sessions about and which Page just got done saying had nothing to do with the campaign, was later described by Page in an e-mail to another Trump campaign aide and in that e-mail, Page talked about meeting Russian government officials.
As The Times reminds you, that trip wasn’t a secret, but it was “one of the triggers of a counterintelligence investigation begun by the F.B.I. later that month.”
Of course Page is still hell-bent on talking about things he shouldn’t be talking about. In what the Times describes as “a brief interview on Friday night,” Page said this about his conversations with Russian government officials during the trip in question:
I had a very brief hello to a couple of people. That was it. [One of the people] was a senior person.
And see why do this to yourself, Carter?
Because you know everyone has the e-mails. There are probably dozens upon dozens of lawmakers and investigators on Mueller’s team who know exactly what it is that Page said about those contacts in correspondence to other Trump campaign aides, and you’ve got to think one of the people he might have e-mailed is George Papadopoulos who has been flipped by Mueller.
But Carter is apparently going to keep it up with the masochism and as Josh Barro notes, maybe “the joke is actually on all of us”…