Tuesday, February 6, 2018

UPDATED: About That Insurance Policy

This morning at Gateway Pundit an alternative theory is floated regarding Carter Page. In a way you could say that it's similar to the theory I advanced yesterday, that Carter Page was the "insurance policy" for the FBI--but at least 50% in a CYA sense. The Gateway theory riffs off the new information that indicates that Carter Page remained on the FBI's books as some type of informant or cooperating witness--UCE-1 in the 2013 Three Russian Comrades case--right up to March, 2016. Keep that date in mind, because by March, 2016 Trump was looking to be unbeatable in the Republican Presidential candidacy race. Only a few months later after the Russia case was finally concluded and Trump was being simultaneously recognized as the overwhelmingly likely Republican nominee--by July, 2016--Carter Page was magically transformed from FBI Undercover Employee 1 to Carter Page Master Spy. To celebrate this transformation, a real landmark in the Russia Hoax, the FBI opened a Full Investigation on Carter Page. That meant, among other things, that among the investigative techniques that could be deployed against Page was--you guessed it--FISA.

Now, recall that my theory yesterday posited that the August 16, 2016, text between Strzok and Lisa Page referred to a strategic meeting of the top FBI CI players plus Deputy Director Andy McCabe--a meeting at which, in my theory, the decision was made to utilize Carter Page as "it", the insurance policy in the form of a FISA target.
"I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I'm afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40."
My view then was that this was in good measure a defensive move: to protect or insure against the event of a Trump presidency, in the sense of offering a justification for the spying that the FBI had already been engaged in against Trump associates.

The Gateway theory poses the question:

"Was Carter Page planted inside the Trump campaign to allow the FBI to spy on Trump?"
In other words, the difference between the two theories is that for me Carter Page was more or less a target of opportunity--the opportunity he afforded just happened to fall into the FBI's lap. In the Gateway theory Carter Page is decidedly and offensive weapon--deliberately inserted into the Trump campaign. Note that in the Gateway theory Carter Page can still function as an insurance policy; so he and the FISA on him can still be the "it" in the Strzok/Page text. The way Carter Page and the FISA on him functions as insurance is that, in the event that Trump is elected, the FBI can continue spying on Trump--which is exactly what happened. So the difference between the two theories seems to come done to: was the use of Carter Page as the vehicle for obtaining FISA coverage of the Trump circle a deliberate choice in which Page himself was a willing participant, or was it more opportunistic in nature--Page attached himself to the Trump campaign all on his on and the FBI jumped at this opportunity.

Since yesterday I invited one and all to disprove my theory about Carter Page as the "insurance policy" for the FBI, mostly as a CYA maneuver, it seems incumbent on me to comment. What can I say about this related theory, that he was the insurance policy, but maybe in a decidedly more offensive fashion?

The theory makes sense, in a general way. It's definitely very bold. Very ... audacious. Really, at this point, my one argument against it is the way that this FISA was leaked and made public very early on, following which Page went fully public himself and even sued the government. This would seem to be self defeating, since it drew attention to the existence of the FISA. But I can't claim to definitively disprove the Gateway theory. All we can do at this point, or so it seems to me, is await new facts.

QUICK UPDATE: As of this morning Carter Page is doubling down on his denunciations of the FBI's use of him as a FISA target. That would seem to be a decidedly risky move on his part if it were untrue, since it would jeopardize his best bet at making lots of money: suing the FBI and DoJ, rather than trying to strike it rich in the Russian energy field. So this would militate against him being an FBI plant in the Trump campaign.

UPDATE: Monica Showalter at American Thinker makes a shrewd observation that bears directly on this whole Why Page? business:
Page was a weird choice of a guy to investigate, even with his Russia ties. Page is known for his volubility and openness, and he gladly cooperated with the FBI in the past over an unrelated spy issue, proving he was a patriot. The New York Times says he's the guy who can't stop talking. The FBI knew all this this about him firsthand, quite unlike the contents of the dossier. So if something he was doing really was a problem, why didn't they ask him directly? He obviously would have told them everything he knew if they had just asked. That's a freebie to investigators, assuming they were really interested in investigating Russian collusion to swing the election.
Ordinarily, you might think that a direct contact with Page--who had been cooperating with the FBI for the past three years--would make a lot of sense. Anyone who has seen him on TV will quickly come to the conclusion that the NYT is absolutely right: this is a guy who can't stop talking.

Moreover, as Showalter also notes, the stories about Page in the dossier (where he's characterized as a "high profile player," in stark contrast to his common characterization in US media as "the hapless Page") are particularly outlandish--almost as much so as the tarradiddles about Trump's supposed antics in Moscow hotels. Very much to the point, the dossier claims that
Page was in line for a 19% stake in Rosneft, the $62 billion Russian state oil company (do the math) and was buddy-buddy with Igor Sechin, the scariest and most powerful oligarch in all Russia. Sechin, who has ties to both Rosneft and Gazprom, is a real godfather and the only one who has no fear of Vladimir Putin. He's not a cuddly guy. And it's hard to imagine anyone from the outside being close enough to him for a 19%  partnership. Page himself says he never so much as met the guy, and frankly, that's believable. The claim about the 19 percent stake isn't, yet that was what the FBI believed.
Well, if the FBI really did believe that, and given that Page, their source of three years running, was so close to Sechin, wouldn't the FBI have seen this as a golden opportunity to continue to debrief Page--but this time regarding a truly major player, Sechin? Instead they showed no interest in Page, beyond opening a Full Investigation--which they needed in order to get a FISA on him.

Maybe, you ask, that was the point of the FISA--to listen to Sechin spilling the beans, the real Inside Russia scoop, when he called Page? As if Sechin would call Page? For starters, the FBI wouldn't need a FISA for that purpose--the NSA would be happy to oblige them regarding any foreign target. The only use of a FISA on a US Person like Page was to get at other US contacts, like in the Trump circle. It's abundantly clear that the FBI had zero interest in Page except as a vehicle for a FISA that was really aimed at Trump's circle.

Which goes back to Carter Page and his FISA being "it", the insurance policy that would 1) justify to a possible President Trump all the hinky stuff the FBI had been up to during the campaign, but also 2) provide a window into Trump's world for political intelligence purposes--and just maybe for leverage over Trump.


  1. I am convinced by your theory that the "insurance policy" was Carter Page, and I have recommended your theory to other people.

    I would appreciate your insight into my own theory.

    I speculate that George Papadapoulos was the subject of the FISA application that was rejected in about June 2016. The application's justification was that he was an agent of the Russian Intelligence service and was trying to obtain intelligence and cooperation from Trump's campaign staff in order to help Russia.

    Even though that FISA application was rejected, the FBI proceeded to use FISA methods on Papadoloulos and his contacts within the campaign staff. Perhaps the FBI was counting on an improved application being approved soon.

    However, the FBI could not improve the application sufficiently and many weeks passed with the unauthorized surveillance continuing.

    This situation eventually was discussed in McCabe's office on August 16, 2016, and then the "insurance policy" decision was made.


    The Nunez memorandum's fourth page indicates to me that the FISA application to wire-tap Carter Page was based somehow on the previous, rejected application to wire-tap Papadopoulos.

  2. I want to follow up my previous comment with more speculation.

    The Nunez memo's fourth page indicates to me that the FISA authorization against Carter Page referred to the earlier, rejected authorization against George Papadopoulos.

    I imagine that the application against Page asserted that the Russian Intelligence service was using multiple agents (e.g. Papadopoulos and Page) to obtain intelligence and cooperation inside the Trump campaign staff in order to help Russia.

    The Page application did not assert that Papadoloulos and Page were conspiring with each other. Rather, it asserted the multiplicity of the Russian effort.

    That is why the Nunez memo's fourth page stated, for the record, that there is no evidence that Papadopoulos and Page were not conspiring with each other.


    The relationship between the two FISA applications is that DOJ/FBI would not be able to get Title I authorization against Papadopoulos and so resorted to applying for such authorization against Page.

  3. Mike, that's an interesting theory. The timing is right--according to the NYT Papadopoulos made the "revelation" to the Aussie diplomat in May, 2016, but had supposedly heard about the "dirt on Hillary" about three weeks earlier. That gives enough time for the FISA submission in June (or July, as has sometimes been said, I believe). The fact that Trump was "mentioned by name" in that initial FISA application doesn't of course, mean that Trump was necessarily the target. It could've been Papadopoulos. IMO, what your theory has going for it is this: I've always been skeptical that the FBI would've gone for a FISA on Trump or his campaign at that point. It just seems a stretch. By the same token, I can certainly understand why an application regarding Papadopoulos would be rejected--there's nothing in the accounts that I've seen that would support probable cause that Papadopoulos was engaged in "clandestine intelligence activity." Unfortunately, we have no further information. As far as it goes, I see no holes in your theory--but we could use some more facts.

    The reference in the the Nunes memo to "information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos" in the Carter Page FISA application is tantalizing but problematic. It's problematic because it offers no positive indication of what that information might be--only negative indications. For example, the memo flatly states that there is "no evidence of cooperation or conspiracy between" the two. My best guess is that the reference in the the Nunes memo to "information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos" in the Carter Page FISA application is of a general, supportive nature, rather than forming the "basis" for the FISA application re Page--I say that because of the very explicit denial of any "cooperation or conspiracy" between the two.

    There's another interesting statement in the same paragraph of the Nunes memo. Nunes states that "the Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July, 2016." We're not told who the subject of that investigation was, but other sources indicate that the subject was Carter Page. As I've pointed out previously, the significance of this event was that it must have been a Full Investigation, rather than a Preliminary Investigation--a Preliminary Investigation doesn't allow for the use of FISA, only a Full Investigation does that. However, given that Nunes pointedly rejects any coordination between Page and Papadopoulos it's difficult to see, from our vantage point, how "the Papadopoulos information" could have triggered the opening of a Full CI Investigation, since that requires a probable cause showing that the target is engaged in "clandestine intelligence activity."

    I hope these reflections will be of some use to you. I'm afraid this is simply a very murky area right now, due to our lack of solid data. However, for anyone who's interested in understanding some of the actual procedures that are under discussion, there are some online resources:

    The Attorney General's Guidelines for FBI National Security Investigations ...

    FBI Office of General Counsel "FISA Recipe"

  4. Mike, it looks like my response to your first comment anticipated some of the ideas in your second comment. Briefly, this time: it appears that I was thinking along the same lines that you outline in your second comment when I said that I believe the "information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos" in the Carter Page FISA application is most likely of a general, supportive nature, rather than forming the "basis" for the FISA application re Page. I say that with particular reference to your statement: "The Page application did not assert that Papadoloulos and Page were conspiring with each other. Rather, it asserted the multiplicity of the Russian effort." I think that makes good sense. That information wasn't the "basis," in the sense of fully justifying the application, but it might have been supportive in pointing out typical Russian intelligence practice: "the multiplicity of the Russian effort."

  5. I was just now reading the partially unredacted Grassley memo to the DoJ, and realized I had long forgotten the title of the Michael Isikoff story that the DoJ apparently cited as "independent" corroboration of Steele's claims about Page. Here is title as it appeared on September 23, 2016:

    "US Officials(emphasis added by YW) Probe Ties Between Trump Advisor and Kremlin"

    Do you see the problem with using this article as independent corroboration. The title itself tells you that Isikoff had confirmation from someone inside the DoJ that there was an investigation. This makes the article auto-corroboration, and invalid as such. The people who cited this article are either morons, or they thought the people reading and approving the application were morons who couldn't see through such a ruse. Either explanation is pretty damning.

  6. Nice catch, Yancey. The fundamental problem with the application is that the the FBI/DoJ had to swear that the assertions contained within it were true, had been verified--some such verbiage. Except that it's not just verbiage. If it happens not to be true, then you've committed perjury and a fraud on the court. And the head of CI at the FBI, Bill Priestap, testified that verification of the assertions "was in its infancy," had hardly begun. Truth be told, verification had probably been stillborn. Comey also testified that the assertions were unverified. These were the two guys at the FBI primarily responsible for all FISA applications. Their statements are direct admissions that they had knowingly participated in submitting false affidavits to the FISC.

    But, to dwell on the implications of your insight a bit, don't you have to wonder what the FISC judge reading that application made of it? As you may have seen in news accounts, the FISC is actually rather busy. They do get lots of applications, virtually every single one of which they approve. Are all as slipshod as this, based on unverfified "corroborating" journalistic accounts--or "narratives" as they have so often become? Or are most of them more carefully put together, and this judge was simply rather favorably disposed to begin with, for improper political reasons? Or have judicial standards really slipped this far?

    My personal belief is that FISA applications are, in fact, carefully drafted and the assertions conscientiously verified. That makes the Carter Page one a glaring exception, which cries out for explanation.

  7. Yancey, you will doubtless wish to read Sen. Grassley's memo. It bears fairly directly on what we've been discussing: