No one among the public has been able to piece together precisely what role Carter Page may have played in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal, because no one can even figure out what role he truly played in the Donald Trump campaign. He was officially a Trump foreign policy adviser, and had communications with the Russians going back a few years. In fact Russian spies have been caught calling him an “idiot” as they bragged they were using him (link). Now it’s become clear that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will use Page to get to Donald Trump.
Carter Page announced today that he’s changed his mind and he’ll now refuse to show up and testify about the Trump-Russia scandal for the Senate Intelligence Committee. He’ll invoke the Fifth Amendment instead (link). Legally, this does not mean Page is guilty. But it probably means that he expects to be charged with one or more federal crimes, and therefore doesn’t want to risk unwittingly aiding his own prosecution by testifying.
In other words, Robert Mueller is targeting Carter Page, and Page knows it. This is a game changer. Mueller is already targeting Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, but those parameters are different. Both of those men are alleged to have committed the kinds of crimes that could send them to prison for life. Neither is likely to get a free pass even if they do flip, which explains why they’ve dug in their heels. But then there’s Carter Page.
Even if Page didn’t commit any crimes in his role in the Trump-Russia scandal, he could still find himself facing obstruction charges for refusing to cooperate as a witness. It’s easy to picture Robert Mueller offering Carter Page a free pass in exchange for flipping on Donald Trump. It’s just as easy to see Page taking it. All Mueller needs is one person to flip, and the scandal is wide open from there.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report