The latest Republican strategy for undercutting the Russia investigation is to claim that the FBI’s surveillance of former Trump associate Carter Page at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 was corrupt and politically motivated, although there’s more to the story than what they’ve acknowledged.
To that end, the president recently declassified a memo produced by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes that alleges surveillance abuses at the FBI.
In the midst of this controversy, there are now new details about the FBI’s surveillance of Page that could possibly prove troubling for the Trump team.
POLITICO is reporting on the fact that Page claims to have spoken on the phone with none other than Steve Bannon shortly before Trump’s inauguration early last year and while the controversial figure was still under surveillance.
Page revealed the existence of this call to Congress late last year; however, it’s only recently that it’s come out that Page was under surveillance for suspected ties to Russia during that exact time.
Bannon, apparently, is the one who placed the call, seeking to have Page cancel a then-upcoming appearance of his on cable television. The call came within days of the publication of the infamous “Trump dossier,” that hotly contested document that alleges deeply set ties between the Trump team and Russia. The dossier alleges — among other things — that Page served as an intermediary between the Trump team and the Russian government, charges that he himself obviously denies, although he’s proven to be — in the apt description of POLITICO — an “unreliable narrator” at times.
It’s not as though Page is the only individual associated in any capacity with Trump to whom such a descriptor could be applied. President Trump himself has lied thousands upon thousands of times since taking office.
House Republicans claim, through all this mess, that the questionable dossier was unjustly used as the basis for surveillance of Page, although both the FBI and Democrats with access to classified information assert that such isn’t the whole story.
Page told Congressional investigators that although Bannon called to get him to cancel an upcoming television appearance, the two of them ended up discussing the dossier as well. He described the situation as having spoken to Bannon about “the need to fix this disaster of a story… this false narrative which had been put out with the world premiere of the dodgy dossier.”
In commenting as such, Page, of course, aligned himself with President Donald Trump, who has long decried both the dossier in particular and the Russia scandal as a whole as a “witch hunt.”
Investigators — including those with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, with whom Bannon will soon speak — will likely prove interested in anything Bannon knows or knew about the contents of the dossier.
He appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, but that “interview” went poorly, with him stonewalling at the alleged direction of the White House itself.
Bannon personally suffered a grave fall from grace after the publication of Fire and Fury by author Michael Wolff, which contained incendiary comments from the longtime right wing icon directed at members of the Trump family, comments he eventually halfheartedly apologized for.
Featured Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images