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Declassified! The Russia informant transcript the FBI didn't want Americans to see

In secretly recorded talks with informer Stefan Halper, Carter Page dispelled key Russia collusion allegations before FISA warrant was even approved.

Updated: January 26, 2021 - 8:37am

Four days before the FBI secured a surveillance warrant against him in fall 2016, Trump campaign adviser Carter Page repeatedly knocked down the key allegations at the heart of the Russia collusion investigation while talking to a government informant who was wearing a wire.

Page's unwitting statements of innocence to informer Stefan Halper were never shared with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before it approved four warrants authorizing a full year of surveillance of Page's communications.

Page's exculpatory statements were kept from the American people for four years until President Trump declassified them on his final day in office last week. They were obtained by Just the News.

"The core lie is that I met with these sanctioned Russian officials, several of which I never even met in my entire life, but they said that I met them in July," an FBI transcript quotes Page as telling Halper during an Oct. 17, 2016 interaction at Halper's farm in Northern Virginia.

At the time, Page was unaware Halper was informing for the FBI or recording him, and unwittingly believed his host was just a fellow academic interested in his research and campaign work.

You can read the transcript here:

The memos show Halper was repeatedly coached by the FBI on how to penetrate the Trump campaign foreign policy circle starting in August 2016 and how to quiz Page about several sensational allegations of collusion made by fellow FBI informant and former MI6 operative Christopher Steele in his now infamous dossier.

For instance, Halper prodded Page on whether he had played a role changing the Republican National Committee's platform in summer 2016 to make it more favorable to Russia, as Steele's dossier had alleged.

"I would have thought the platform committee would be a place where there would be an opportunity to clarify a relationship with the Russians or others, and you could have been very helpful," Halper said at one point.

Page — referred to in the transcript by his FBI code name "CD" or "Crossfire Dragon" — responded by claiming he stayed away from the platform changes, leaving it to other members of the Trump campaign team to handle.

"Well again, totally off the record, but I — members of our team were working on that and you know again in retrospect it's way better off that I, you know, remained at arms length," Page explained.

Similarly, Page steadfastly denied he knew anything about the Trump campaign working with WikiLeaks to release Hillary Clinton's hacked emails before the election, another key allegation in the now-debunked Russia collusion narrative.

"I guess what they're trying to do is work out the link between the Russians and WikiLeaks, what do we know about that?" Halper asked.

"You know I've made clear in a lot of, you know, subsequent discussions interviews that I've been part of  … I know nothing about that on a personal level,” Page stated. "You know no one's ever said one word to me."

But perhaps most significant is Page's flat denial that he never met in July 2016 in Russia with two key sanctioned officials — oil executive Igor Sechin and Russian Federation official Igor Diveykin. Page's contact with the two men was alleged in both the Steele dossier and the FBI's FISA warrant application dated Oct. 21, 2016, just four days after Halper's interactions.

Page acknowleged to Halper that he knew Sechin worked for Rosneft, but insisted he never met the Russian executive. He added he didn't even recognize Diveykin's name.

"There's another guy I had never even heard of, you know, he's like in the inner circle," Page is quoted in the transcript as telling Halper. "I can't even remember. It's just so outrageous."

Page stated during the conversation that his lawyers told him there was nothing illegal if he had met with the two men provided he didn't take anything from them, "even a pen." Halper prodded further, only to be shut down again by Page.

"So they're claiming you met with these two guys and you're saying it's perfectly legal to do," Halper asked.

Page answered: "Even if I had — which I didn't do by the way," Page answered.

It has been known since December 2019 that Halper recorded conversations with Page that were considered exculpatory and never turned over to the FISA court. The Justice Department inspector general concluded the failure to disclose the material to the judges was a major failure of the FBI's Russia probe.

But the exact details of Halper's conversations with Page have remained shrouded from public view until well after the Nov. 3, 2020 election, much to the consternation of conservatives and Republicans who wanted to make more of the Russia collusion false narrative during last year's election.

Contacted Monday night about the newly declassified transcripts, Page said he believed they exonerated him and that it was unfortunate that the memos were kept hidden for four years after the Steele dossier was leaked and impugned his name unfairly as a traitor.

"It is truly extraordinary that over four years since the worldwide release of the deadly dodgy dossier smear document in early January 2017 we still continued to learn more about the full extent of this historic disinformation campaign," he told Just the News. "Yet nonetheless, this latest declassification stands among the most shocking revelations yet."

The memo containing the partial transcript of the Halper-Page meeting was dated Nov. 16, 2017, but the inspector general's report makes clear the conversation actually took place on Oct. 17, 2016, or four days before the FISA warrant was approved by the FISC authorizing surveillance of Page on unspecified charges of Foreign Agent Registration Act violations involving Russia.

Kevin Brock, the retired FBI assistant director for intelligence who helped fashion the current rules governing the bureau's use of confidential human sources, said he could not understand how the bureau proceeded with a FISA warrant against Page after the spontaneous admission of innocence,

"There is certainly nothing in here that establishes probable cause for a FISA," Brock told Just the News. "And quite frankly there's really not even enough in here to keep the FARA case going." 

"If I'm a supervisor on a counterintelligence squad, which I once was, I'd say close this sucker down, we are wasting time," Brock continued. "It's not just the absence of probable cause for a FISA, it's also that the conversation indicates the target does not have guilty knowledge in all the paths that the confidential source was trying to lead him down."

Brock added that at the very least the FBI had a legal obligation to disclose to the FISA judges the statements of innocence made by Page. "One hundred percent this conversation should have been disclosed to the FISA court," he said.

The newly declassified transcripts add to an overwhelming body of evidence that the FBI knew that Page was not a legitimate target for a Russia collusion probe and instead had been working for the CIA as an asset helping the U.S. to spy on Moscow.

Documents belatedly made public last year show the the CIA alerted the FBI in August 2016 that Page had been approved as an "operational contact" for the agency between 2008 and 2013. Later, an FBI lawyer named Kevin Clinesmith altered a document to hide Page's ties to the CIA from the FISA court.

Despite such evidence, only one former FBI official, Clinesmith, has been prosecuted for wrongdoing in the Russia probe, though special prosecutor John Durham has an active, ongoing criminal investigation.

Remarkably, the FBI documents declassified by Trump state the FBI planned to drop its interest in Page if Halper's undercover work did not get the Trump adviser to admit to collusion.

"If CD [Page] does not provide tangible information during the meeting of if CD explicitly states he does not know of any RF [Russian Federation] involvement in the campaign, the FBI will focus on a second target of the investigation," stated an Aug. 24, 2016 "operational plan" for Halper's interactions with Page.

You can read that memo here: 

Page did not give the tangible evidence of collusion during the October meeting and denied campaign involvement with Russia, yet still the bureau proceeded to conduct an investigation that stretched for nearly three years before coming to the conclusion there never was any collusion.