It appears Stefan Halper, or his handler, exaggerated the circumstances of Halper’s mid-July 2016 meeting with former Donald Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, raising more questions about Halper’s role in Spygate.
The Federalist asked Page whether the inspector general’s report, which documented 17 significant inaccuracies or omissions in the secret federal surveillance applications, accurately portrayed his various interactions with Halper. According to the IG report, after the launch of Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI tasked Halper as a confidential human source to target Page, George Papadopoulos, and another unnamed, high-ranking Trump campaign official, widely known to be Sam Clovis.
Halper’s handling agent told the IG it was “serendipitous” that Source 2 — the moniker used for the unnamed Halper — “had contacts with three of their four subjects, including Carter Page.” They “couldn’t believe [their] luck,” the handling agent noted, upon learning that Halper knew Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, and had crossed paths with Page just weeks before.
After asking Halper about Papadopoulos, whom “he had never heard of,” the case agent told the Office of the Inspector General that Halper “asked whether the team had any interest in an individual named Carter Page.” The Crossfire Hurricane team inquired how Halper knew Page, and according to the IG report, Halper claimed “in mid-July 2016, Carter Page attended a three-day conference, during which Page had approached Source 2 and asked Source 2 to be a foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign.” The IG report noted that Halper said he “had been ‘non-committal’ about joining the campaign when discussing it with Carter Page.”
“That is quite clearly not a correct characterization,” Page said. “I never asked him ‘to be a foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign,’” although it is possible, Page acknowledged, that they explored some ways Halper might get involved indirectly at some point down the road. “But, as written in the inaccuracy-laden IG report, that’s an extraordinary mischaracterization.”
Page also noted he met Halper at the conference during a small welcome dinner at Magdalene College, hosted by Anglican Bishop Rowan Williams, held Sunday, July 10, 2016. “It was a small dinner with only about a dozen or so people in attendance,” Page told The Federalist. Thus, unlike the IG reports’ synopsis of Halper’s characterization of the event, which portrayed Page as seeking out Halper to invite him to join the Trump team, “pretty much everyone got to meet and speak with everyone,” Page explained.
Page’s comments raise more questions about Halper and whether Halper’s mid-July meeting with the Trump adviser was truly “serendipitous.”
The IG report unequivocally stated the FBI had not used any confidential human source prior to the July 31, 2016, launch of Crossfire Hurricane. Yet there was Halper at a small dinner gathering, chatting with Page, possibly about the Trump campaign. And it was Halper, not the FBI, who raised Page as a potential person of interest in the Crossfire Hurricane team’s first meeting with the confidential human source.
“The plan going into the meeting was to talk generally with Source 2 about Russian ‘interference in the election, what [Source 2] may know, and … to bring up Papadopoulos,’” the case agent told the IG. The agents “did not tell Source 2 that there was an open investigation or who the subjects were,” the IG report noted. They also made no mention of Page, tasking Halper solely with “reaching out to Papadopoulos which would allow the Crossfire Hurricane team to collect assessment information on Papadopoulos and potentially conduct an operation,” when Halper inquired about whether the FBI also had an interest in Page.
While the IG report answered many questions and exposed significant misconduct related to the four FISA applications targeting Page, many more questions remain unanswered. Did Halper hope to be tasked by the FBI with targeting Page? Had Halper been tasked by another agency already? And did Halper exaggerate the content of his conversation with Page to make Page appear instrumental in the Trump campaign. If so, for what purpose?
In this regard, Page finds himself no better off than the rest of America. “I still don’t know anything. I’ve been completely blocked in terms of getting any answers from the United States government,” Page noted, adding that he continues to pursue his Privacy Act claim, hoping he can finally get some closure.