The FBI has a taste for vengeance.
Former 2016 Trump campaign adviser Carter Page endured years of slanderous press coverage framing him as a covert Russian agent all because he refused to work for the FBI as a federal informant. That much is apparent based on an outline of the Page surveillance by the FBI revealed in the bombshell report by Special Counsel John Durham on Monday.
Page, a former energy consultant, began working for the Trump campaign in March 2016. His past experience in the energy industry included contact with Russian nationals between 2009 and 2013, leading the FBI to interview Page in 2015. The interview surrounded three Russian intelligence officers indicted by the Southern District of New York.
“Page had been approached by the intelligence officers in an apparently failed recruitment effort,” the Durham report reads. Page’s refusal to work as a covert agent for the FBI seemed to provoke animosity within the agency that would later frame the prominent consultant as a covert agent of the Russian government. One intelligence officer called Page an “idiot,” according to Durham, and complained about Page’s resistance to recruitment.
“In April 2016, shortly after Page was named as an advisor to the Trump campaign, the [New York Field Office] opened a counterintelligence investigation of him,” Durham’s report reads.
The investigation was moved from the New York field office to the FBI headquarters under the direction of then-FBI Director James Comey. According to the Durham report, Comey repeatedly pressed Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance warrant on Page.
“Where is the FISA, where is the FISA? What’s the status with the, with the Page FISA?” Comey asked.
The agency’s probe, known as “Crossfire Hurricane,” proceeded to lay the groundwork for a two-year special counsel investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to probe the Trump campaign of Russian collusion. The deep-state operation ultimately exonerated the president and found not one person, including Trump himself, colluded with Kremlin officials to capture the White House.
In January 2020, a federal judge found at least two of the four surveillance warrants granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) were illegal. Just a month after a blistering report from DOJ Inspector General David Michael outlined the litany of surveillance abuses by the FBI in Crossfire Hurricane, the judge ruled agency misconduct “calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable.”
Durham was appointed as special counsel to probe the origins of the Russia hoax by then-Attorney General William Barr in December 2020. The investigation ultimately culminated in three indictments.
Former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann was acquitted by a D.C. jury on charges of lying to federal law enforcement last summer.
Igor Danchenko, a Russian national who was the primary source for the debunked dossier compiled by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele, was also acquitted by Virginia jurors in October.
While Sussmann and Danchenko escaped federal charges, Kevin Clinesmith, a former FBI attorney, pled guilty in August 2020 to falsifying a warrant to spy on Page.
“Clinesmith, his organization, and their associates put my very life at risk, leading to abusive calls and death threats because of my personal opinions and support for President Trump,” Page told The Federalist at the time.
Clinesmith was given a slap on the wrist with one year of probation and 400 hours of community service.
This article has been updated since publication.