Carter Page on Kevin Clinesmith’s Guilty Plea, FISA Abuse, and Page’s New Book ‘Abuse and Power’

August 26, 2020 Updated: September 7, 2020

For the last four years, former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page has found himself at the center of the now-disproven Trump-Russia collusion allegations. Last year, Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that the FBI’s applications for warrants to spy on Carter Page were riddled with serious errors.

Most notably, the applications were all missing a key piece of exculpatory evidence the FBI was aware of—that Carter Page had worked with the CIA to report on his contacts with Russian intelligence officers.

Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith recently pled guilty to altering an email from a CIA liaison. In the description of Page’s relationship with the spy agency, Clinesmith falsely added the words “and not a source.”

Page has recently released a new book in the hopes of setting the record straight: “Abuse and Power: How an Innocent American Was Framed in an Attempted Coup Against the President.”

This is American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸, and I’m Jan Jekielek.

Jan Jekielek: Carter Page, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Carter Page: Great to be with you, Jan. Thanks a lot for having me.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, and this is the third time that I’m having [you]. We actually started, I think, the first time was in May of 2019, and my goodness, how things have changed since that time. Actually, when I first talked to you, it was very hard, to be honest, to pull stuff out. But these days, in this book, I can see you’re really starting to speak your mind.

Mr. Page: Yes. Well, there was a lot that went on in terms of the intelligence operations, and I had supported the intelligence community for decades. And unfortunately, until the Horowitz report—the US Department of Justice Inspector General produced their report in December of 2019—some of those really big details I didn’t feel at liberty to get into. So the timing was right, and I think the timing is also right now, just because, unfortunately, the 2016 election interference has not been completely remedied.

All of the wrongdoing done by the Obama-Biden administration, the DNC, and their colleagues and their cohort in the media just had such a huge negative impact, not only on President Trump’s—then Donald J. Trump as a civilian—initial campaign, but it continued through his transition period and throughout the initial years of his administration.

I had been doing some initial work to try to set that record straight. But unfortunately, now is the time and I think particularly now that we’re coming up on the next presidential election and so many of these myths and disinformation are still out there. I thought it was absolutely essential that I just tell the full story.

Mr. Jekielek: Absolutely. This IG report from December of last year, as I read it, exonerated you of any wrongdoing. You were smeared extensively in something called the Steele dossier, which is, again, something that we’ve seen a lot in the media, and, of course, we’ve written about extensively ourselves.

Something very significant has come out very recently, and this was in fact the first guilty plea in Attorney Durham’s investigation into this whole operation or alleged operation that you were describing. Kevin Clinesmith, one of the lawyers, has pled guilty now to making a false statement and faces, I think, zero to six months. I think that’s his potential charge. What do you make of this? Do you feel like justice is being done here?

Mr. Page: Well, going back to the Inspector General report, unfortunately—and it’s similar to what we were talking about in terms of getting the truth out with my new book. So unfortunately, I was totally blocked from having any input whatsoever in that. They did have a lot of interviews—I think over 100 interviews—which led to this 480-page document.

And unfortunately, a lot of the same people who were integrally involved in this wrongdoing were the ones that were the ones providing all the information. So, that was another driver in terms of the reason why I wanted to write this book. I punch back quite a bit as to the half-truths and the continued lies that are in that document.

Again, I am greatly appreciative of Inspector General Horowitz and the work that they started to do in terms of the initial cracking the shell a little bit as to some of this wrongdoing. As to Mr. Clinesmith himself, again, one of the breaking news elements from way back last December and of course leaked previously. I believe news reports started coming out, something in November at some point.

But unfortunately, this is the first time that we started to see some repercussions for the individuals involved. But I think what’s particularly interesting about that first charging document is that there’s a lot of interesting little clues as to things. I believe it’s paragraph five, actually, broadly refers to other people who are involved in this scheme, going back way before what was really known in terms of August 2016, months before the FISA abuse officially began in October.

So, the question obviously becomes—yes, Clinesmith had an important position in this very serious process. We’ll have to wait and see, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume, and there’s been a lot of reporting, including Epoch Times, which has been, you guys have been, on the frontlines of this since the very beginning. Unfortunately, it seems like there’s a lot more to come. So we shall see.

Mr. Jekielek: This Clinesmith indictment and guilty plea speaks, of course, directly to you because his false statement was actually altering an email. The original email said, “Yes, you had worked with the CIA,” basically, right? And he changed it to, “No, you had not,” which is a little bit important here.

Mr. Page: Well, yes. However, this goes back to the fact that a lot of other people were involved in this scheme, right? So what is that? That is a false statement charge, right? Well, unfortunately, we know—and again, you and your colleagues have reported on this a lot over the last several years, really on the cutting edge of this reporting—but, we now know that there are a lot of other people.

Again, comparing reality to the fictions, some of the worst fictions go back to the very genesis of this scam operation with the FISA abuse. But unfortunately, a lot of those things no one else has faced any repercussions for as of yet. So we’ll have to wait and see.

I will say, just from a procedural standpoint, I mentioned that I was totally blocked. The Privacy Act of 1974 provides various provisions. If the government has a system of records on an individual, before those get released and given out to everybody, the individual that it’s about has a chance to review them and ask for changes.

Unfortunately, there’s been leak and leak and disclosure after disclosure over the last several years. And again, a vast proportion of that information is complete lies. I’ve been completely blocked in this process. So another reason why it was important to set the record straight here.

Mr. Jekielek: It’s interesting. Recently, there was a Senate committee report that came out which has a section about you in it. Now, just to be clear, the report talks about how there was no Trump-Russia collusion, and the report doesn’t say you deserve to be charged with anything. I did read through it. It is somewhat disparaging, however. What do you make of this recent report?

Mr. Page: Well, I think it just reflects how pathetic what the Senate Intelligence Committee did back in this whole sham. Unfortunately, a lot of the fake news outlets would have various reports, and they’d like to spin the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation during those terrible years as, “Oh, they’re being very mature,” because the ranking member, Mark Warner, the senator from Virginia, he gets along so well with the chairman of the committee, Chairman Burr at the time.

And unfortunately, Chairman Burr and the Republicans of that committee were just completely rolling over. They just let the Democrats run wild. And I can tell you and I talk about it within my book, sitting through those interviews, it’s just really politically motivated, a lot of baseless, false theories. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of conflicts of interest in terms of what they—the same members of Congress.

For example, one of the most senior members of that committee, Senator Feinstein. You look at some of the questions and issues surrounding her, again, a big, prominent Democrat member of Congress, but unfortunately, I was never given a fair shake. And one of the biggest elements in terms of the Senate Intelligence Committee—and something I talk about in chapter five of my book—is the whole sham with the “security director” of the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is a person who I’m giving all of my highly confidential personal information.

And it’s now known, or it became known, that he was dating a journalist from BuzzFeed, this woman, Ali Watkins. … And then sure enough, James Wolfe, who is that security director, is now a convicted felon when eventually there were some repercussions related to this. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of problems with that report, and I think it sort of follows that same pattern of attacking Trump supporters and being somewhat detached from reality.

I think it’s unfortunate, but I guess it is what it is. And it really discredits itself and the people, the members of Congress, the senators, who were involved in this on both sides of the aisle, if you will. But what’s interesting, again, going back to the fake news and what they would say. They would always say, “Well, the Senate Intelligence Committee, they’re acting very professional, and they’re being very mature.” And they would compare that to the relationship between Congressman Adam Schiff, and then Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes.

But the reality was, when Adam Schiff—and I talk about this in chapter five of my book, describing what it’s like being dragged through the mud and the … show. And unfortunately, or fortunate in that instance, even though it had terrible damage. And I got more death threats when Congressman Schiff was reading from the dossier on March 20, 2017 in this big testimony in front of Congress.

But it’s one of those things where justice, I think will eventually be served, and we’ll see how it all plays out. But again, the fact that those reports on national television, him going on and on like that, leading to a number of death threats on that same day, a little after he’s saying this on national television, reading these DNC-funded lies that were put together. I think it just really speaks to the complete lack of credibility.

Again, in terms of maturity and the interaction between the Democrats and the Republicans, I think there was a lot, huge credit goes out to then Chairman Devin Nunes, who was able to uncover a lot of this wrongdoing. And I know Epoch Times has been really on the front lines, in terms of covering the Nunez memo in February, which was released in February 2018 and the run up to that. Really important.

Mr. Jekielek: I want to stick to the Senate report just very briefly because there’s an interesting segment in there which talks about your past, and I’m actually very, very curious about that because it talks about the fact that you had a relationship with the CIA and the FBI. I think it says up until 2013. I believe that’s what it says there. But then you have all these very black, blocked-out areas, two pages of redaction, right. And so I’m very curious about this, as much as you’re at liberty to say, what was the nature of your work with the CIA and the FBI? And did it actually end in 2013?

Mr. Page: Well, again, I reveal a lot about that in my book, and I think it really is unfortunate. It speaks to the complete lack of professionalism within those organizations during the Obama administration, and I think it cuts across. There are a number of intelligence organizations which cut across both the justice system.

There’s elements within the DOJ, which serve intelligence functions, for example, the administration of the FISA process, all those false warrants which were submitted by the likes of James Comey and Sally Yates. Although it was put together by the FBI, the DOJ is at the center of it. And so, unfortunately, there’s a lot to it.

And as to the point you’re making as to the question and the redactions, it’s hard to say. What I found thus far is that typically, the things that are redacted are things that are positive to telling the truth, whereas the stuff that they want to get out there is things to advance a false political narrative.

And it’s unfortunate that even though Chairman Johnson has been doing a lot and Chairman Lindsey Graham has been doing quite a bit in terms of getting to the bottom of things with the FISA abuse, it really has been a horrendous cover-up.

It’s unfortunate that their so-called security director ended up providing more leaks to the media. I think his indictment or one of the documents in that court docket against then security director James Wolfe says, “giving this information to young female reporters.” Very unfortunate and just inconsistent with the professionalism I’ve enjoyed in terms of dealing with members of the US intelligence community over the decades.

But, again, I think this initial first step last week, with the initial steps with the Durham investigation, is a positive sign. And again, I’ve been highly encouraged that they are starting to follow the law, unlike all the Privacy Act violations that I’ve been through over the last several years. So, much more to come, I’m quite confident.

Mr. Jekielek: So I want to touch a little bit more on that question. A lot of people are very curious. What did you do with the CIA? What was your work?

Mr. Page: I’ve always served my country. Going back to [childhood]. I mean, I was an Eagle Scout growing up and did all kinds of community service projects and Catholic school altar boy. I was serving my church, serving my church community, and doing everything I could, and there are similar examples with the intelligence community as well, CIA, FBI, and others. It’s an interesting little tease. I think there’s a lot more that I dig into in my book and that’s a good reason to dig into it. I’m sure people will benefit from that.

Again, it just speaks to the complete deceit that the Democrats and their operatives within the government have continued to advance. And just this week, we saw precisely the same thing where we had four nights of the DNC Convention, and unfortunately, just like the sham in 2016, which created this massive fraud upon our justice system and the US intelligence community and our election process, unfortunately, there were just so many hateful lies told throughout this process.

One example I will give is Sally Yates, the former deputy director at the Justice Department, who, again, signed two of my false FISA warrants, which had so many terrible problems. But again, just this week, just attacking President Trump in her highly political speech, without having any repercussions as to this terrible FISA abuse during her term on watch.

And what I find particularly interesting about that is, as a US military officer, as a former officer, the deck in the Middle East and in the Mediterranean Sea and going across the Atlantic, if I run my ship aground or if I’m the officer on the deck and the ship runs aground, the captain of the ship usually faces some consequences, right? I think this complete sham, what we’ve seen—again, someone with significant responsibility, Mr. Clinesmith—but these people at the highest levels of these organizations, really the captains of the ship, have faced no consequences.

Mr. Jekielek: You talked about privacy violations. Having a FISA warrant executed on you is probably one of the most massive privacy violations that can exist. In theory, these are supposed to be justified against people working with terrorists or something of the like. At what point in all this did you become aware that there was something really strange going on, that maybe you’re under surveillance, maybe there’s a wiretapping going on? When did that happen?

Mr. Page: Right after the first FISA warrant was issued in October of 2016. Given these terrible human rights abuses that were being perpetrated by the Obama-Biden administration on the Trump campaign, I sent a letter to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which was an election monitor checking out whether there’s legitimacy in the US election.

I sent a letter to the chairman of that committee and, the senior person who was running that investigation. And I talk about how the Democrats were doing this spy operation involving people from London. I speak to that explicitly in my letter. Now, I didn’t have all the details. Again, I’m close with various people with deep ties in the intelligence community,  both in and out of government. So I was given a tip right around the time of the defamatory news report from Yahoo News, which would then become the basis for this fraudulent FISA warrant, or part of the basis.

Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating, but you had no idea the FISA system was being invoked.

Mr. Page: Well, there was some reporting, and that was right around the same time in kind of late October, where this started to come to the fore. There were some fairly speculative articles. This speaks to the terror threats that stem from these terrible things that were done by the US Department of Justice, the intelligence agencies, and in conjunction with the media. Very often I’d get the worst death threats when some more of these really scandalous reports come out.

The official warning or the official notification for America, which is then front page news, was when the Washington Post, in April of 2017, had a big story about revealing my FISA warrants, spun in a way that was kind of advancing a narrative for whoever the criminals were that gave that highly dangerous information to the media, totally against the law.

Mr. Jekielek: You’ve gotten multiple death threats at different times in this multi-year process. Tell me a little bit about the cost to you, your relationships. What happened?

Mr. Page: I never lose sight of the fact that the biggest cost was what was done to President Trump, and really our core American institutions in terms of our justice system, the US Constitution, and in some organizations that I’ve really supported throughout most of my life, a quarter century with some ties to the intelligence community, US intelligence community. So, to me, yes, there were huge costs, and we’ll see.

There’s some glimmers of hope, as we’ve seen over recent days, that there may be some justice, but it remains to be seen, and some of it may be dependent upon what happens in this upcoming election, just given the deceitful behavior and the complete lies that we continue to see out of the same organizations such as the DNC, which funded this first complete sham, interfering in our last election in conjunction with the Obama-Biden administration.

It was pretty intense. It continues to be pretty intense. But to me, I’m laser-focused, just because I think so many core institutions in America, a lot remains at stake, and there remain serious unanswered questions right now.

Mr. Jekielek: What did you think when you learned that the primary source, I think it was primary sub-source, for the dossier, this completely discredited Steele dossier, turned out to be not someone even based in Russia, but someone who had been in the US as a think tanker for decades.

Mr. Page: It’s typical. All I can say is it’s typical of what’s known as the Washington swamp, right, because that individual who you’re referring to used to be at the Brookings Institution, right? People in Washington are trying to advance their own agenda. And I think this is just a perfect example of that. I talk about in my book some of my interactions with someone else in the Brookings Institution at the time, a very, very senior person there. Again, very little care of doing the right thing and huge, huge negative ramifications as to the horrendous impact it had on our core institutions in America.

Mr. Jekielek: You were spied on through four FISA warrants with several renewals, faced these unprecedented privacy violations, of course, which expanded past you to people that you were connected with throughout the campaign and beyond.

Mr. Page: Absolutely.

Mr. Jekielek: You have a number of lawsuits that you’ve initiated, I think, but one of them was recently dismissed, right, against the DNC. What is the state of that and what are you expecting to happen?

Mr. Page: Well, I think part of the challenge has been the huge cover up, right? We have some initial indications of what actually happened, but some of these details and some of my pleadings have not fully gotten a just treatment, given the fact that there’s so much more to be told. And these are largely, the only problems I’ve had thus far are procedural issues. In terms of the substance and the core of my claims, those very much remain intact. So, all I can say is stay tuned, and we’ll have more to say on that in the time to come.

Mr. Jekielek: One quick thought is that something that emerged from this Clinesmith plea and indictment is that the Crossfire Hurricane started not as a counterintelligence investigation, but as likely as a Fara investigation. What do you make of that?

Mr. Page: Well, there were certain indications that they’re trying to pull that game on me in terms of my interaction with the Mueller team as well, which I talk about a lot in the book. So, again, it’s a level of complete deceit and a level of spinning a story and just two totally separate systems of justice: one for Trump supporters, one for military veterans, the other for—again, going back to what we were just talking about—Washington insiders just trying to achieve their political and advancing their personal objectives, which is tragic. In addition to all the sort of substantive things that need to be reformed, I think it just reflects a deep cultural rot within certain institutions. And I’m really disappointed that the Democrats have done so much to advance that.

Mr. Jekielek: Carter, recently someone’s come forward with a pretty detailed story. Steven Schrage, who’s actually someone pretty early on in this whole saga, if I can call it, invited you to an event. And he has and I just wanted to see how you see it. Does his story check out with your own experience? So one of the things that Stephen Schrage says is that initially, Stefan Halper was rather uninterested in you as a person, but then something suddenly changed rapidly, like a switch went off, and suddenly he’s deeply interested in you. Is this how you remember things?

Mr. Page: I laid this all out in my book and sort of talked through the situation in Cambridge and all these dynamics. Steven, I feel really bad what happened to him as well, in terms of getting caught up, as they say, caught in the crossfire of this craziness. But it’s very similar to so many other members of the Trump supporters and people that have been trying to, want to see our country go in the right direction and just get swept up into all kinds of crazy, false allegations, etc.

So I always keep an open mind and I still [have] so many open questions as to what actually happened. But I really think there needs to be a lot more that needs to come out as to what the specifics are. And unfortunately, this is another example, and I know this is something that Chairman Johnson, Chairman Grassley, Chairman Graham, have all been pushing really hard to get to the bottom of, in terms of what actually, what was going on in that whole Spygate scandal?

What’s particularly terrible about it—and again, I talk about this in some length in my book—it’s the dual standards of justice, right? Where, well, we don’t want to leak anything related to Professor Halper, right? His name is not even in the 480-page Inspector General report, right? But nonetheless, there’s all kinds of false information about me. It’s, again, part of the reason I wanted to write this book to help set the record straight.

But we’ve seen just two completely different standards of justice for Trump supporters on the one hand versus these highly paid government operatives that are apparently just advancing their own interests for, in many instances, for personal gain and for political advantage to achieve certain objectives.

Mr. Jekielek: Do you have any thoughts on who might be looked at next when it comes to the Durham investigation?

Mr. Page: Yeah, I have always taken the approach that I like to see the facts, just like we’ve been talking about. And unlike the dossier, where these reckless people are throwing all kinds of allegations out, I’m very cautious and I like to really know what the full truth is before I jump to any conclusions. Totally the opposite of what Comey, Yates, Rosenstein, DOJ, and the FBI were involved in during those years.

Mr. Jekielek: Who would you say this book is for?

Mr. Page: It really is for the American public and voters. We, our country, has suffered the most severe election interference campaign in history with this sham run by the Democrats, funded by the DNC, and concocted by a lot of their agents, lawyers really hiring foreign spies to perpetrate this complete fraud on the American public. So, I think anyone who’s voting in the 2020 election and the American public more broadly, people of all ages can really benefit from this to understand better what happened and some ideas as to what steps can be done at this historic juncture to make sure that the terrible crimes that were committed are eventually [righted], certain reforms are made to fix this terrible problem.

Mr. Jekielek: Some people say that it may take a generation for people to really understand fully what happened. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that. The other part, and you’ve alluded to this already a bit, is the role of the media in all of this.

Mr. Page: They’re interrelated questions. Again, the interface between the government on the one hand and the media on the other, a lot comes down to what is disclosed, what information. And I know you and your colleagues at Epoch Times have really done tremendous work in terms of trying to get to the bottom of what actually happened and really hard-hitting analysis, but there’s still a lot more that needs to be uncovered.

Having been on the inside of this terrible scandal, I wanted to tell all the truth as to what actually happened, in contrast to the terrible bad acts that were done by people both within government and out of government, to perpetrate this fraud on the American people. And to your point, it very much interrelates with the media element as well because there’s this cozy attitude, or cozy culture, in Washington where the media works very closely or has these intimate relationships.

In some cases, you know, literally an intimate relationship, between the media and intelligence operatives and government operatives. And it really leads to in many cases people just advancing their own political interests and their own political objectives. And in doing so, creating terrible damage for our country. So just something I really wanted to highlight and start exposing just what the terrible ramifications are and what some steps are that can be taken to fix this horrendous problem.

Mr. Jekielek: Briefly, what are the ramifications?

Mr. Page: What I talk about in some of the final chapters in my book is the FISA statute itself. Given this complete sham and this national tragedy that occurred, there’s very little confidence left in the FISA process. It’s just left as an empty shell. And differing levels of outrage, but several, many members of Congress, particularly on the Republican side have been calling for serious reforms. And so, I think that is just one specific aspect when this has just been left in shambles.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was created in the wake of a prior scandal during the Church Committee in the 1970s. They uncovered terrible surveillance wrongdoing and they put together this FISA statute to reform the system. Now here we are over 40 years later. And it’s even worse than anyone could have imagined in one of the greatest scandals of all time.

Mr. Jekielek: Certainly hope that we do see some work on reforming some of these processes. Any final words before we finish up?

Mr. Page: Just a great thanks to you and your colleagues at Epoch Times for all the incredible reporting you’ve been doing and really digging to the bottom of this. Again, so much is required to understand the full picture. I think this book is an important contribution which looks at the big picture and tries to give a more complete view from the inside of what exactly happened. But I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and your colleagues. And it’s great to have this conversation with you again today.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, such a pleasure to have you, Carter, and the book of course is “Abuse and Power.” So glad to have you on.

Mr. Page: Thanks again. Really appreciate it.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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Follow Jan on Twitter: @JanJekielek