Department of Justice court records from 2015 have provided details about how Carter Page cooperated with FBI agents in exposing Russian spies working inside the United States.
The court records in question come from a sealed complaint deposed by Special Agent Gregory Monaghan. In the complaint, Monaghan attested to how Page was the target of efforts by Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) agents Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy to recruit sources in New York City.
According to the documents, Page and Podobnyy first met at an energy symposium in New York in January 2013. At this conference, Podobnyy gave his contact information to Page, who subsequently followed up with the Russian both by email and in-person to talk about energy policy. Page transferred unspecified “documents” to Podobnyy “about the energy business,” but Monaghan did not recommend that any charges be levied against Page. In fact, the section of the document discussing Page never characterizes him as a conscious spy or security risk, instead framing him as a victim of Sporyshev and Podobnyy, who expressly denied that Page knew about their status as intelligence agents.
On the basis of a secretly recorded conversation between Sporyshev and Podobnyy, Monaghan explains how they talked about taking advantage of Page (known as Male-1 in the language of the document) [emphasis in bold is mine]:
Based on my training, experience, and participation in this investigation, I believe that, in this conversation, IGOR SPORYSHEV and VICTOR PODOBNYY, the defendants, discussed PODOBNYY’s attempted use of Male-1 as an intelligence source for Russia. PODOBNYY stated that PODOBNYY had emailed with Male-1 (“[Male-1] wrote that he is sorry”), who was interested in business opportunities in Russia (“He got hooked on Gazprom [a Russian energy company] … it’s obvious he wants to earn lots of money”). PODOBNYY stated that PODOBNYY “promised [Male-1] a lot” in terms of PODOBNYY’s connections in Russia, including that PODOBNYY is connected to SPORYSHEV at the Trade Office, but that these promises were “empty promises.” After SPORYSHEV expressed concern that Male-1 might actually contact SPORYSHEV at SPORYSHEV’s cover position, PODOBNYY told SPORYSHEV not to worry because PODOBNYY did not tell Male-1 that SPORYSHEV was connected to the Russian Government. PODOBNYY then explained his recruitment method, which includes cheating, promising favors, and then discarding the intelligence source once the relevant information is obtained by the SVR (“This is intelligence method to cheat … You promise a favor for a favor. You get the documents from him and tell him to go f— himself.”).
Monaghan followed this up by detailing how Page cooperated with FBI officials in telling them about his contact with Podobnyy:
On or about June 13, 2013, Agent-2 and I interviewed Male-1. Male-1 stated that he first met VICTOR PODOBNYY, the defendant, in January 2013 at an energy symposium in New York City. During this initial meeting, PODOBNYY gave Male-1 PODOBNYY’s business card and two email addresses. Over the following months, Male-1 and PODOBNYY exchanged emails about the energy business and met in person on occasion, with Male-1 providing PODOBNYY with Male-1’s outlook on the current and future of the energy industry. Male-1 also provided documents to PODOBNYY about the energy business.
The information above formed a part of the DOJ and FBI’s basis for charging Sporyshev and Podobnyy with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act, as the rest of Monaghan’s sealed complaint goes on to detail.
So, if Carter Page was acting as a foreign intelligence agent for Russia as far back as 2013, as has been repeatedly implied by mainstream reports, why did FBI agents at the time not see him as such? Based on the information provided above, it seems perfectly plausible that Page thought he was developing a relationship with someone who was a legitimate business contact. If Page had illegally or unethically shared sensitive information with Podobnyy, why would Monaghan have omitted this given that such an action by Page would have strengthened the FBI’s case against Sporyshev and Podobnyy?
Another question raised by these documents concerns why Comey’s FBI would have considered Page to unquestionably be a Russian agent: If Page cooperated with the FBI in 2013 and provided them information that ultimately aided the DOJ’s successful prosecution of a third Russian spy who had worked with Sporyshev and Podobnyy (Evgeny Buryakov), why would Russian intelligence have trusted Page enough to hire him as an asset in a major intel operation directed against the U.S. government and one of its major political parties? Wouldn’t Russian intelligence have put out a notice to avoid Page as an unreliable and potentially dangerous contact?
In order to answer these questions, the public needs to see more of the classified materials that first sparked the Trump-Russia collusion investigation. If there is concrete evidence that Page was in the employ of the Kremlin while he was an advisor to the Trump campaign in 2016, the American people deserve to know. If not, then that spells a great deal more trouble for anyone who authorized the FISA warrants against Page.