Even as a number of Donald Trump’s campaign advisers were in the midst of being arrested in relation to the Trump-Russia scandal on Monday, a number of pundits asked whether Carter Page would be among them. By the time the day was over, Page was still a free man – and we know this because he made the bizarre decision to appear on MSNBC during prime time. That interview ended up being even more bizarre than his decision to appear on television to begin with.
During his past appearances on cable news, Carter Page has generally come off like an overexcited kid who couldn’t wait to brag about the role he played in the Trump campaign, even to the point of admitting to things that seemed to be putting him in potential legal jeopardy. But when Page appeared on the Chris Hayes show on MSNBC on Monday night, he didn’t remotely sound like himself. Page was careful with his words, full of cliched phrases, and he even relied on tactics like starting his answers by saying the name of the interviewer. In other words, for the first time since this entire saga began, Carter Page had clearly been coached.
The question now is who coached him and why. He sounded like he’d been coached by an attorney. However, during the interview, Page repeatedly refused to give a yes or no answer when he was asked about whether he has an attorney representing him. He was visibly nervous and he clearly didn’t want to be there, raising the question of why he was in fact there.
In the past, Carter Page appeared to be booking himself onto cable news because he enjoyed it. This time, however, there was no apparent reason for him to be there. Anyone in the Trump-Russia probe orbit is risking legal liability by speaking at all. Is Page just that sure of his innocence? Is Chris Hayes just that good at talking guests into coming back onto his show? Is there something else going on here? In any case, this was Page’s most bizarre appearance yet.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report