As I spent last night reading through page after bizarre page of newly releases transcripts from Carter Page’s idiotic testimony in the Trump-Russia scandal, it occurred to me that if a scriptwriter created a fictional character like this, it would be rejected for being too unrealistic. The more I read last night, the more I began wondering if perhaps this guy isn’t really the idiot we think he is, and there’s something far different going on instead.
If you want a reminder of what a standard idiot looks like, Donald Trump Jr posted two different tweets today encouraging people to go out and vote tomorrow, even though the election was today. Junior is the guy who takes a multiple choice test, doesn’t know any of the answers, guesses on all of them, and randomly gets a fourth of them correct. Carter Page is the guy who takes a multiple choice test and somehow scores a 0%. To do that poorly, you almost have to know what you’re doing.
During the course of Carter Page’s testimony, he managed to accidentally incriminate just about everyone in the Trump-Russia scandal. Corey Lewandowski and Hope Hicks will now be forced to dispute Page’s claims about his Russia interactions, dragging them squarely into the center of the scandal for the first time. These two advisers are very close to Trump, and both had largely managed to avoid the scandal spotlight up to this point. Is it just a coincidence that Page “accidentally” put investigative pressure on two key people who know a number of Donald Trump’s secrets?
We’ve all thought of Carter Page as being an idiot for not hiring an attorney to represent him in the scandal. Yet even as most of Trump’s other campaign advisers are hiring high priced lawyers and running up impossibly high legal bills, Page has avoided that. Perhaps he’s known all along that he’s eventually going to have to cut a deal to get off the hook for the bottom-rung role he played in the scandal, and since he’s going to get a free pass for everything anyway, there’s no need to have an expensive lawyer shield him from any additional legal screw-ups.
Carter Page has attended several universities and he has a Ph.D. to show for it. Either he has a high enough IQ to pull that off naturally, or he was focused enough to intensely study his way to academic success. Neither of those scenarios fits with the cartoonishly unfocused and stumbling buffoon we’ve seen on display as this scandal has unfolded. Is he acting like an idiot so he can “accidentally” incriminate everyone involved, without Trump or Putin figuring out that he did it on purpose? Or is he purposely changing his answers every few minutes in order to make his own testimony useless, while also painting himself as being too stupid and confused to have willfully committed perjury?
Perhaps Carter Page is indeed just an idiot. A few years ago, he got tangled with three Russian spies who were caught on a wiretap making fun of what an “idiot” he was. Yet the three of them ended up facing punishment, and Page walked free after babbling incoherently to the FBI. So who’s really the idiot here? It’s entirely possible that Carter Page will be the only one left standing at the end of the Trump Russia scandal – and we’ll still have no idea if he was ingeniously playing us, or if he’s an just idiot who got lucky.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report