As we saw in Parts 1 & 2 of our closer look, the FBI's New York Field Office (NYFO) began its investigation of Carter Page after having been in contact with Page off and on beginning in 2009. During the same period, 2009 - 2013, Page was an asset of the CIA. What precipitated the falling out between the FBI and Page was the Three Russians case that the NYFO pursued against Russian officials based in New York. Page became a key witness in that case beginning in 2013 (the year that the CIA stopped using Page as an asset), but shortly before the trial was scheduled to begin there was a falling out between Page and the prosecution team (FBI agents and prosecutors from both the US Attorney in New York - SDNY - as well as DoJ).
Yesterday in the comments section to Part 2 there was an extensive discussion regarding Page's actual role in the Three Russians case, sparked by discrepancies between the complaint in the case (dated January 23, 2015 - my aging eyes mistakenly read that as 2013) and the press release issued by DoJ on March 11, 2016. The press release announced the guilty plea of the only one of the Three Russians who remained in the US, Evgeny Buryakov. The result of the guilty plea, of course, was that Carter Page was never called upon to testify at a trial. That should have been a happy ending for all concerned, but instead it was the beginning of an FBI Counterintelligence investigation of Carter Page that resulted in the FBI obtaining four FISA orders against Page. Those FISA orders, the final renewal of which was obtained by Team Mueller, became a key part of the FBI's (and Deep State's) effort to oust President Trump.
The discussion in the comments yesterday was very disturbing for me, as it opened new issues that--while probably not directly related to the Russia Hoax itself, or perhaps coincidentally or opportunistically related--nevertheless raised issues of prosecutorial abuse that have figured prominently in the Team Mueller Witchhunt. In this post I'll try to make sense of what happened between the FBI and Carter Page. That may not be possible, due to a lack of necessary information, but we may nevertheless get some idea of what may be hidden and what matters the Durham investigation may be looking at that are not public knowledge at this time.
To begin with, the FBI investigation of the Three Russians began in or about 2013. In January, 2015, arrest warrants were obtained for the three: EVGENY BURYAKOV, aka "Zhenya," IGOR SPORYSHEV, and VICTOR PODOBNYY. However, only Buryakov remained in the US. Here is the Wikipedia version of how Buryakov's case was disposed of, which I'll break down into bullet points:
* Buryakov's defense, financed by Vnesheconombank, argued that he was protected from the charges by virtue of being an official employee of the Russian government.
* This argument was rejected by Judge Richard M. Berman.
* Buryakov ultimately pleaded guilty to the charges against him, and he was sentenced to 30 months in prison and a $100,000 fine.
* Buryakov was released early, on 31 March 2017, and deported back to Russia on 5 April 2017.
Let's first look at the charges that were brought against Buryakov and then what he pled guilty to. The complaint brings two charges:
Count 1: Conspiracy to Act as an Unregistered Agent of a Foreign Government
Count 2: Acting as an Unregistered Agent of a Foreign Government
In other words, the criminal statute involved is FARA--the Foreign Agents Registration Act. We have seen the repeated use of FARA during the Russia Hoax, but never actual prosecution for that crime. Instead, FARA is used as a criminal predicate for other offenses--money laundering, false statements, conspiracy. In the event, Buryakov pled guilty, but NOT to a violation of FARA. Instead he pled guilty to conspiracy. You can read an after the fact account of the guilty plea from the NYT here. It should all remind you a bit of the Michael Flynn case.
With that background, let's take a look at Carter Page's involvement. Here's how I wrote it up in Part 1, quoting the Horowitz FISA Report, minus my comments:
An FBI counterintelligence agent in NYFO (NYFO CI Agent) with extensive experience in Russian matters told the OIG that Carter Page had been on NYFO's radar since 2009, when he had contact with a known Russian intelligence officer(Intelligence Officer 1). According to the EC documenting NYFO's June 2009 interview with Page, Page told NYFO agents that he knew and kept in regular contact with Intelligence Officer 1 and provided him with a copy of a non-public annual report from an American company. The EC stated that Page "immediately advised [the agents] that due to his work and overseas experiences, he has been questioned by and provides information to representatives of [another U.S. government agency] on an ongoing basis." The EC also noted that agents did not ask Page any questions about his dealings with the other U.S. government agency during the interviews. 
NYFO CI agents believed that Carter Page was "passed" from Intelligence Officer 1 to a successor Russian intelligence officer (Intelligence Officer 2) in 2013 and that Page would continue to be introduced to other Russian intelligence officers in the future.  In June 2013, NYFO CI agents interviewed Carter Page about these contacts. Page acknowledged meeting Intelligence Officer 2 following an introduction earlier in 2013. When agents intimated to Carter Page during the interview that Intelligence Officer 2 may be a Russian intelligence officer, specifically, an "SVR" officer, Page told them. he believed in "openness" and because he did not have access to classified information, his acquaintance with Intelligence Officer 2 was a "positive" for him. In August 2013, NYFO CI agents again interviewed Page regarding his contacts with Intelligence Officer 2. Page acknowledged meeting with Intelligence Officer 2 since his June 2013 FBI interview.
In January 2015, three Russian intelligence officers, including Intelligence Officer 2, were charged in a sealed complaint, and subsequently indicted, in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) for conspiring to act in the United States as unregistered agents of the Russian Federation.  The indictment referenced Intelligence Officer 2's attempts to recruit "Male-1" [Page] as an asset for gathering intelligence on behalf of Russia.
On March 2, 2016, the NYFO CI Agent and SDNY Assistant United States Attorneys interviewed Carter Page in preparation for the trial of one of the indicted Russian intelligence officers. During the interview, Page stated that he knew he was the person referred to as Male-1 in the indictment and further said that he had identified himself as Male-1 to a Russian Minister and various Russian officials at a United Nations event in "the spirit of openness." The NYFO CI Agent told us she returned to her office after the interview and discussed with her supervisor opening a counterintelligence case on Page based on his statement to Russian officials that he believed he was Male-1 in the indictment and his continued contact with Russian intelligence officers.
The FBI's NYFO CI squad supervisor (NYFO CI Supervisor) told us she believed she should have opened a counterintelligence case on Carter Page prior to March 2, 2016 based on his continued contacts with Russian intelligence officers; however, she said the squad was preparing for a big trial, and they did not focus on Page until he was interviewed again on March 2. She told us that after the March 2 interview, she called CD's [Counterintelligence Division] Counterespionage Section at FBI Headquarters to determine whether Page had any security clearances and to ask for guidance as to what type of investigation to open on Page.  On April 1, 2016, the NYFO CI Supervisor received an email from the Counterespionage Section advising her to open a *** investigation on Page. The NYFO CI Supervisor said that *** . In addition, according to FBI records, the relevant CD section at FBI Headquarters, in consultation with OGC, determined at that time that the Page investigation opened by NYFO was not a SIM, but also noted, "should his status change, the appropriate case modification would be made." The NYFO CI Supervisor told us that based on what was documented in the file and what was known at that time, the NYFO Carter Page investigation was not a SIM.
What caught my attention when I read this is that when the FBI learned that Page had informed various Russians that he was Male-1, the FBI got totally bent out of shape. So bent out of shape that they immediately began planning to open a counterintelligence investigation of Page. Now, I can appreciate that the prosecution would be very unhappy to learn that one of its key witnesses was also chatting with the other side--although not to their lawyers. However, being a knucklehead is not against the law, and Horowitz doesn't recount that the NYFO claimed that Page had violated any agreement with the FBI in doing what he did. Page would still have been able to testify. Certainly there is a considerable logical leap from Page telling Russians that he has cooperated with the FBI and NYFO suspecting that Page might be providing Russians with classified documents.
Page himself, however, has a different story of his falling out with the FBI. According to Page, the FBI wanted him to testify at the Buryakov trial--if the case came to trial--to things that Page claims were untrue. As Page has claimed on national TV, the FBI wanted him to perjure himself. Thus, at a minimum, Page and the FBI disagreed over either the actual substance of Page's interaction with Buryakov or the significance of that interaction. Now the interesting thing about this--if it is, indeed, the case--is that the FBI had extensive recordings as well as emails of those interactions. In addition, Page has been interviewed or interrogated extensively by the FBI and Team Mueller over the past several years, and without legal representation. It's a remarkable fact, when you consider the experience of Papadopoulos and Flynn, that Page has never been charged with making false statements.
But there's more to this story.
If we compare the complaint against Buryakov, dated January 23, 2015, with the DoJ press release, dated March 11, 2016, a little more than a year apart, some remarkable features emerge. Keep in mind, that the press release, in which Buryakov's guilty plea was announced, was issued just nine days after the dust up between Page and the prosecutive team.
In the complaint we read the following regarding Page's cooperation with the FBI (I have inserted "Page" for "Male-1"):
34. On or about June 13, 2013, Agent-2 and I interviewed PAGE. PAGE stated that he first met VICTOR PODOBNYY, the defendant, in January 2013 at an energy symposium in New York City. During this initial meeting, PODOBNYY gave PAGE PODOBNYY's business card and two email addresses. Over the following months, PAGE and PODOBNYY exchanged emails about the energy business and met in person on occasion, with PAGE providing PODOBNYY with PAGE's outlook on the current and future of the energy industry. PAGE also provided documents to PODOBNYY about the energy business.
In the press release we read an essentially identical narrative, but with a major difference: Male-1/Page no longer appears. Instead we are introduced to a figure who never shows up in the complaint: UCE-1. UCE means "Undercover Employee," so we would naturally presume that UCE-1 is an FBI employee. And yet the narratives are essentially identical. Moreover, the press release leaves out any mention of anyone else who could possibly be Page. Here is how the press release runs:
During the course of the investigation, the FBI recorded Sporyshev and Podobnyy speaking inside the SVR’s offices in New York, known as the “Residentura.”
The FBI obtained the recordings after Sporyshev attempted to recruit an FBI undercover employee (“UCE-1”), who was posing as an analyst from a New York-based energy company. In response to requests from Sporyshev, UCE-1 provided Sporyshev with binders containing purported industry analysis written by UCE-1 and supporting documentation relating to UCE-1’s reports, as well as covertly placed recording devices. Sporyshev then took the binders to, among other places, the Residentura.
The basic similarities are striking:
* Page is an energy "consultant."
* UCE-1 "poses" as an energy "analyst. "
* Podobnyy tried to recruit Page (the complaint has details).
* Sporyshev (Podobnyy's boss) tried to recruit UCE-1. Note, however, that the complaint portrays, through transcripts, Sporyshev as supervising Podobnyy's recruitment efforts. There is no mention whatsoever in the complaint of Sporyshev engaging in 'operational' activity. In fact, Sporyshev expresses concern lest his intelligence affiliation be compromised.
* Page talked and emailed with Podobnyy about the energy business and met with him on occasion.
* UCE-1 met with Sporyshev to provide requested information.
* Page also provided documents to Podobnyy about the energy business.
* UCE-1 provided Sporyshev with binders containing documentation and analysis.
In the complaint, Page is a key player in Podobnyy's intelligence activity. No other figure remotely similar to Page--energy consultant/analyst, provides docs, is subject of recruitment effort, etc.--appears in the complaint. Thus, on March 2, 2016, Page is still a key witness, and is interviewed as such by the prosecution.
Nine days later comes the guilty plea and the press release. The same interaction of the Russians with an energy consultant/analyst who provides docs to the Russians and is the subject of a recruitment attempt is presented, but now the interaction is ascribed to a figure who never appeared in the complaint: an undercover FBI employee, UCE-1. Page is completely missing from this picture.
What's going on here? It appears that the press release deliberately removes Page and wants us to believe that there was some other basis for the energy angle to the case all along--an undercover FBI employee who springs seemingly out of nowhere. Or could the UCE designation be a simple subterfuge to disguise Page? If the case had gone to trial, would someone other than Page--an FBI employee--have actually shown up to testify about the energy angle? And testify to things that Page refused to testify to?
I don't have an answer, but I suggest that the example of Buryakov's meetings with regard to a "purported casino development project" in Russia may provide a clue. Those meetings, by the way, took place in Atlantic City in July and August of 2014. It's tantalizing to think that there's a Trump angle in this part of the story, but I'll leave that to others for now.
In the casino project, once again we see Sporyshev playing the role of supervisor--not engaging in meetings. This times he supervises Buryakov rather than Podobnyy. The complaint goes into considerable detail regarding this whole story, but the important point is this: In the complaint Buryakov is interacting with two Americans: CS-1 and Male-2 (so, we know Male-2 is not Page, who is Male-1). CS-1, of course, is Confidential Source-1, an informant for the FBI. Who is Male-2? Will both CS-1 and Male-2 appear in the press release?
Here's the relevant portion of the press release:
In the summer of 2014, BURYAKOV met multiple times with a confidential source working for the FBI (“CS-1”) and an FBI undercover employee (“UCE-2”). Both CS-1 and UCE-2 purported to be working on a casino development project in Russia.
During a conversation recorded on July 22, 2014, Sporyshev warned BURYAKOV that meeting with UCE-2 might be a “trap” but authorized BURYAKOV to go ahead so he could make a better assessment.
During the course of the subsequent meetings, and consistent with his interests as a Russian intelligence agent, BURYAKOV demonstrated his strong desire to obtain information about subjects far outside the scope of his work as a bank employee. During these meetings, BURYAKOV also accepted documents that were purportedly obtained from a U.S. government agency and which purportedly contained information potentially useful to Russia, including information about United States sanctions against Russia.
Once again, "Male" becomes UCE. Just as Male-1 became UCE-1 with regard to the energy business, in the "purported casino development project" Male-2 becomes UCE-2. I have no explanation for this. It makes operational sense--especially with a possible prosecution in view--to include an undercover FBI employee in the operation against Buryakov. The difference between this episode in the saga of the Three Russians is that in the casino episode there are always the same personae, albeit one has a shifting name. In the energy business episode there appears to be just one persona, and we know that that was Page--there's no indication of involvement in that episode on the part of an undercover FBI employee. Not until the press release.
There are DoJ docs out there that state that UCE means exactly what it sounds like--an actual FBI employee. That doesn't mean that DoJ or the FBI is legally required to stick to that exact meaning in a press release. On the other hand, it could make sense that the FBI would not want to give away in the complaint that they were using an undercover employee, and only reveal that later. But in the case of Page we know that he was never an FBI employee. If UCE-1 isn't or wasn't Page, was the FBI/DoJ pulling a fast one with the court in New York, counting on their ability to force a plea from Buryakov before any stuff hit the fan?
Page's involvement in the Three Russians case doesn't appear to connect per se to the Russia Hoax, although it may have been a factor that led to his involvement. We know that Durham has not interviewed Page yet, and that Page seems to have been cleared--at least two of the FISAs against him have been publicly renounced by the FBI. Is Durham digging into these murky antecedents? If no stone is to be left unturned it would seem logical. One more thing to keep in mind.