On March 2, 2016, the NYFO CI Agent and SDNY Assistant United States Attorneys interviewed Carter Page in preparation for the trial of an indicted Russian intelligence officer, Evgeny Buryakov. According to the Horowitz report, during the interview, Page stated that he knew he was the person referred to as Male-1 in an indictment concerning Buryakov which had been public since 2015. Page further admitted he had identified himself as Male-1 to a Russian Minister and various Russian officials at a United Nations event in “the spirit of openness.” (Horowitz p62)
The NYFO CI Agent returned to her office after the interview and discussed with her Supervisor opening a counterintelligence case on Page based on his statement to Russian officials. The Supervisor in turn called Counterintelligence Division’s Counterespionage Section at FBI Headquarters to determine whether Page had any security clearances and to ask for guidance as to what type of investigation to open on Page.
The Supervisor claimed to Horowitz that she believed she should have opened a counterintelligence case on Carter Page prior to March 2, based on his continued contacts with Russian intelligence officers. However, she complained that the squad was preparing for a big trial and they did not turn any focus on Page until he was interviewed again in March of 2016.
This is a notable admission. Page was being summoned to the March meeting as a cooperating witness to the prosecution. The CI Supervisor is alleging that Page “should have been” a CI suspect before he was being called as a witness in the final days of pretrial motions. No details are given regarding whether Page was unwilling to testify or had otherwise become hostile to their prosecution. It is only alleged that Carter had engaged in First Amendment protected activities which he admitted freely to FBI and DOJ… in “the spirit of openness”.
What is not reflected in the Horowitz Report is that the March 2nd meeting was in fact likely much more explosive than reported. According to live testimony from Page, a “long back and forth” transpired after he refused to provide to SDNY prosecutors what he called “false testimony”:
“In March of 2016 they called me in to come testify in the SDNY in one of the cases. There were so many falsehoods and misrepresentations in their indictment the prior year. I said, I am not going to lie in court. Similar to their false court filings which the DOJ and FBI had submitted in this case. It was a long back and forth with them. I told them I am a man of my word and I am not going to provide false testimony like they’ve done. Very similar to the false testimony which they did in that case against the Russians and the false testimony which they did a few months later in October of 2016 with the start of the FISA abuse.”
In addition, Page also testifies that in the same meeting he also told FBI & DOJ that he had recently volunteered to assist the Trump Campaign:
“At the end of that, in that meeting I also mention, Well the other thing is, I’ve recently volunteered for the trump campaign, and I’m planning on being a volunteer supporter...”
Thus, the only known stated predicates for opening the April 2016 CI investigation on Page are spurious, and the target of known illegal surveillance is testifying to at least two separate, stronger motives that apparently, allegedly, were not even revealed to Investigators.
The March 2nd meeting is a fulcrum around which the entire case against Page rests. It is a fact that the meeting is the only change in circumstance known or cited upon which to base a case against Page in early 2016. Even the Horowitz report is not yet doing it justice. As Page opined after the Horowitz report was public:
“It the tip of the iceberg, its half the story…Suffice to say I think it’s a big open question… It’s one of these things that goes to the question of bias… Its serendipitous that I just happen to mention this and they want to open an investigation…”
On April 1, 2016, the week after Trump named Carter Page as a foreign policy advisor, and one month after her initial inquiry to headquarters, the NYFO CI Supervisor finally received an email from the Counterespionage Section advising her to open a counterintelligence investigation on Page of an as-still classified nature. On April 6, 2016, NYFO opened the investigation on Carter Page under a code name the FBI assigned to him based on his contacts with Russian intelligence officers and his statement to Russian officials that he was “Male-1” in the 2015 SDNY indictment.
LORETTA LYNCHES THE SMALL TEAM
Sometime after the opening of the NYFO investigation into Page and before the opening of CrossFire Hurricane, Attorney General Loretta Lynch was attending one of her weekly security meetings at FBI Headquarters. Lynch told the OIG that after one such meeting in the Spring of 2016 Comey and McCabe pulled her aside and provided information about Carter Page. According to Lynch, Comey and McCabe provided her with information indicating that Russian intelligence reportedly planned to use Page for information and to develop other contacts in the United States, and that they were interested in his affiliation with the campaign. Lynch said that her understanding was that this information from Comey and McCabe was “preliminary” in that they did not state that any decisions or actions needed to be taken that day. Lynch had also testified to such meetings prior to OIG in closed door meetings with Senate and House investigators in 2018.
In stark contrast, Comey and McCabe both deny to Horowitz any memory of these Spring off-record briefings with Lynch.
Comey told the OIG that he did not think it was “possible” for such conversation to have occurred in the spring of 2016 because the FBI did not receive the FFG information concerning Papadopoulos until late July. He also said that he did not recall himself having any knowledge of Carter Page’s existence until the middle of 2016. Similarly, McCabe said that he did not recall having any knowledge of Carter Page at this time, or that he was the subject of an open investigation. McCabe also stated that he had no recollection of briefing Lynch in the spring of 2016.
Nevertheless, Lynch said she believed that Comey and McCabe had learned their information concerning Page from another member of the Intelligence Community. And as proof of her version of events, Lynch’s story contained classified details that she reportedly only received from Comey & McCabe in the off-record briefing. Horowitz noted he was unable to confront Comey further on this issue as Comey intentionally chose not to have his security clearances reinstated for the interview.
However, undercutting Comey’s representations were Internal email communications in April 2016 from NYFO to the Counterintelligence Division officials at FBI Headquarters. Upon the case opening on April 6, 2016 (described previously), NYFO prepared summaries of the information that ultimately led to the opening of the counterintelligence investigation on Carter Page. The emails from NYFO to CD HQ were provided to be used for a “Director’s note” and a separate “Director’s Brief” to be held on April 27, 2016.
Carter Page has been trying for the past 18 months to draw attention to irregularities surrounding his March 2nd meeting. Inspector Horowitz and Loretta Lynch are now pointing fingers in the same direction.
We have now Page, contradicting what NYFO Agent and Supervisor told OIG regarding their predicate for opening a CI investigation. We also have Lynch, contradicting what Comey and McCabe told OIG regarding their knowledge of Page and said investigation.
Inspector Horowitz has already announced an “audit” of similar cases handled by attorney Klinesmith in concert with a broader review of FBA FISA procedure. The circumstances surrounding the closing of the Buryakov case and its intimate connection to the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane case warrants the most serious of examinations.