April 12, 2017

The FBI obtained a FISA warrant to monitor Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page because they suspected he was operating as an agent of a foreign power, according to a report by The Washington Post.

The government’s application for the surveillance order targeting Page included a lengthy declaration that laid out investigators’ basis for believing that Page was an agent of the Russian government and knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow, officials said.

Among other things, the application cited contacts that he had with a Russian intelligence operative in New York City in 2013, officials said. Those contacts had earlier surfaced in a federal espionage case brought by the Justice Department against the intelligence operative and two other Russian agents. In addition, the application said Page had other contacts with Russian operatives that have not been publicly disclosed, officials said.

Not only did they obtain the warrant after presenting evidence, but it has been renewed for 90-day periods since its initial issuance.

One of the reasons for their concern about Page related to his "effusive praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his criticism of U.S. sanctions over Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine."

In July, Page traveled to Moscow, where he delivered a speech harshly critical of the United States’ policy toward Russia, which was approved by campaign manager Corey Lewandowski ahead of the visit and the speech.

Buzzfeed reported last week that Page was targeted by Russian spies in New York, who were subsequently arrested and either deported or charged with a crime. In the course of that contact, Page handed over documents to his Russian handlers.

The adviser, Carter Page, met with a Russian intelligence operative named Victor Podobnyy, who was later charged by the US government alongside two others for acting as unregistered agents of a foreign government. The charges, filed in January 2015, came after federal investigators busted a Russian spy ring that was seeking information on US sanctions as well as efforts to develop alternative energy. Page is an energy consultant.

A court filing by the US government contains a transcript of a recorded conversation in which Podobnyy speaks with one of the other men busted in the spy ring, Igor Sporyshev, about trying to recruit someone identified as “Male-1.” BuzzFeed News has confirmed that “Male-1” is Page.

While all of this fills in some of the blank spaces in the puzzle, the real question I have is this: Who hired Carter Page and why? Who thought it was a good idea for him to be involved in the campaign? I'm guessing that the answer to that question will cause some more pieces of the puzzle to drop into place.

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