Trump Campaign worker, Carter Page, Won’t Talk to Senate Intel Committee

Politico reports that Page will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

He was a low-level aide in the Trump Campaign and never met the boss. He did, however, have connections with Russia, though he has repeatedly denied he did their bidding.

A former naval-officer-turned-energy consultant, Page came under fire last year after reports emerged that he had met with high-level associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in 2016. While Page denied those meetings occurred, the Trump campaign distanced itself from the adviser not long after, with former officials saying that Page and Trump had never met. –Politico

Comment:  It is unclear if his refusal is related to the Mueller investigation, but it could well be. Page, Mike Flynn, and Paul Manafort are all in the crosshairs, according to media reports.

Anybody facing potential indictments would be advised by lawyers not to say anything.

Page is a small fish. Presumably, Mueller’s team would want information from him, but it is not clear if he has any or knows about others approached by the Russians.

ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, April 12

Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

 We’re learning more about one possible connection between Russia and the Trump campaign  The Washington Post reports that last summer the FBI and DOJ obtained a FISA warrant to monitor Carter Page, a Trump adviser.

The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.

Page has not been accused of any crimes, and it is unclear whether the Justice Department might later seek charges against him or others in connection with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. …

Page is the only American to have had his communications directly targeted with a FISA warrant in 2016 as part of the Russia probe, officials said.–Washington Post

How involved was Carter Page in the campaign?

In March 2016, Trump identified Page, who had previously been an investment banker in Moscow, as a foreign policy adviser to his campaign. Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks later described Page’s role as “informal.” –Washington Post

Comment: Reports are that Page’s connection to the campaign was at a lower level and that he never met Trump. We’ll soon learn more, I wager.

 Close call for Republicans for open Congressional seat in red-state Kansas Mike Pompeo held the seat until he became Trump’s CIA head. Ron Estes, the state’s treasurer, faced a surprisingly sharp challenge from a Democrat. Estes won, 53% to 46% in a district Trump won by 27 points. The New York Times story is here.

Comment: The race was seen as an early test for Trump. He passed, but just barely. 

Florida death-penalty dispute: Gov. takes death-penalty cases away from rogue state prosecutor who refuses to seek the death penalty. She sues him  (Miami Herald) Her legal claim: the governor overstepped his authority in removing the cases from her.

 United Airlines finally grovels and apologizes. Passenger lawyers up.  (Chicago Tribune)

Comment: The airlines initial reaction was to say the passenger was truculent.  The viral video killed them and they changed direction.

 Latinos in US: A “hidden force turbocharging the US economy,” says CNBC

It’s been nearly 10 years since this country was hit with a recession, the likes of which we hadn’t seen for decades. Businesses across the country were closing their doors and unemployment soared. This bleak situation was sharply magnified among Latinos, which reported a 66 percent drop in wealth and a 13 percent unemployment rate.

Yet during this bleak period, Latino entrepreneurs created new businesses at a startling rate, increasing from 2.3 million in 2007 to approximately 4.1 million today. –CNBC

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ZipDialog for Saturday, April 1: Three Scandals–What Do We Know?

Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

 Single topic today: Explaining the Three Scandals Consuming Washington

Key Point: There are Three Distinct Scandals (or purported scandals). They overlap but are distinct.

One reason it is so hard to follow the Washington/FBI/Intel/Congress/Trump administration scandals is that there are

  • So many players,
  • Several separate scandals, and
  • Very little public information. 

The opposing parties emphasize different scandals

American citizens should be interested in all three as they unfold.

  1. Russian interference in 2016 election
  2. Team Trump’s Connections to Russians Before and After the Election
  3. Obama White House spying on Team Trump and “unmasking” secret name(s)

What do we know about each and why does it matter?

What do we know about each and why does it matter?

  1. Russian interference in 2016 election
    • We know the Kremlin used disinformation and other dirty tricks. We also know they didn’t change the vote count but may have influenced voter opinions.
    • To me, their attack on the integrity of our election is a fundamental attack on our democracy. It ought to be investigated throughly so we can understand what they did, how they did it, and how to counter, deter, and punish in the future.
    • This should be a bipartisan goal, but Republicans have been reticent. Why? Two reasons. First, they think Democrats are using Russian interference as a way of saying “we didn’t lose fair and square.” Republicans think that’s delegitimating their success. Second, they fear the Democrats are trying to link Russian interference to Trump’s team.
  2. Team Trump’s Connections to Russia
    • So far, senior intel officials have testified publicly that there is nothing there.
    • BUT there is an open FBI counter-intelligence investigation into this.
    • The Senate Intel Committee is looking into this and Russian interference (item 1) but the parallel House investigation is stalled over Democrats’ accusations about Chairman Devin Nunes’ partisan connection to Trump
    • We know that Michael Flynn did foreign lobbying for Turkish entities, for which he belatedly registered as a lobbyist
    • Allegations have been made that other Trump team members had business connections to Russian-related entities. Democrats and media outlets have focused on Paul Manafort and Carter Page
  3. Team Obama Spying on Trump Transition
    • We know Trump tweeted about “wiretapping,” an antiquated term
    • It appears that senior Obama officials did receive information about the Trump transition from intel intercepts directed at foreign nationals. Names of US nationals uncovered in such surveillance is supposed to be masked
    • We know that one of the senior Obama appointees unmasked and leaked Michael Flynn’s name; that is a felony
    • We do not yet know who leaked the name
    • We do not know what legitimate reasons, if any, the Obama White House had for circulating information among its officials about internal Trump planning
    • We do not know if the “collateral” information collected on these Trump officials was actually a hidden goal of US spy agencies, tasked by the Obama White House

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