The former Navy officer and foreign policy volunteer for Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign, who is now the center mass of the controversy regarding the FBI’s surveillance of that campaign during the 2016 political cycle told Big League Politics he wants Congress to release the four-page memorandum detailing FBI abuses of the FISA process.
“Yes, I’m good with the release,” said Carter W. Page, the man multiple media reports have fingered as the main target of the FBI surveillance, a monitoring program sanctioned by a judge under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Page has business and academic relationships in Russia, which were Democrats have tried to weave together as evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and officials of the Russia government.
The 1993 Annapolis graduate said he supports more openness in how the government conducts its intelligence collection and it is consistent with work he did as a senior national security aide to a Democratic senator from New York.
“I have long hoped that members of both parties follow the wise recommendations of my late boss Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to improve the prospects of the U.S. Intelligence Community by instilling basic levels of transparent accountability,” he said.
“A decision to release the memo could be an important step in that direction,” he said.
Page’s commitment to openness was demonstrated, when was called to testify Nov. 2 before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as part of its own investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with officials of the Russian government.
At the banker’s request, his testimony was open, but closed in a closed setting, meaning that while the actual questioning was closed to the public, the transcript was released with a few redactions to protect individual names not related to the investigation and other sensitive personal data.
At one point in the testimony, as if the tweak Page for his request for a public transcript, the senior Democrat on the panel, California’s Rep. Adam Schiff, asked Page for his phone number.
When Republicans interrupted Schiff to remind him that the transcript would be made public, Schiff repeated that he wanted Page to say his phone number into the public record.
A Republican suggested that Page could write his phone number down, so it would not be made public in the transcript, but Schiff continued to insist until Page promised to give it to him privately.
Democrats also complained that during his testimony Page invoked Fifth Amendment his right not to respond.
During his testimony, Page also called out as false the stories published about him in the last days of September 2016 that linked him with Russians and Russian business deals that also appeared in the so-called “Steele Dossier.”
Through it all, Page said he has tried to stay positive and continue on with his life.
“Having a good sense of humor has been invaluable throughout this process,” he said.
Page told Big League Politics: “This entire Witch Hunt has been a complete joke from the very beginning – ever since I correctly called it in my letter to Comey.”
In a Sept. 25, 2016 letter to FBI Director James B. Comey Jr., Page complained to the director about the FBI’s participation in media reports about his investments and interactions with Russians.
“Instead of allowing the staff of the FBI to focus the nation’s limited resources on real threats, these desperate and unfounded calls for my investigation as a private citizen to advance political interests based on nothing more than preposterous mainstream media reports is a true disgrace,” he wrote.
Read the entire letter here: Sept. 25, 2016 letter from Carter W. Page to FBI Director James B. Comey Jr.
The dossier, an opposition research file on Trump, which was completed by Christopher Steele, a veteran of British intelligence service, was funded by Hillary R. Clinton’s presidential campaign and passed between FBI officials and their associates.
There is speculation that the dossier was used by the FBI to convince a judge to authorized surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition teams.
Monday, the House intel committee voted to release the memo, and the president now has five days to object to its being released. The president’s veto over the release is not federal law, rather a rule adopted by the committee. The memo is not classified in the same sense as a military or national security item, because it is a congressional document, not an executive branch document–but, it does draw on classified sources.
The White House has signaled that it will support releasing the memo.