February 14, 2018

THE CARTER PAGE PILE-ON:

A frisson of gleeful anticipation greeted the news in fall 2017 that charges were being brought against Paul Manafort and his protégé Rick Gates, and that Mike Flynn and George Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and were cooperating with the authorities. Amid the satisfaction and self-congratulation about Trump’s impending downfall, no one seems to have paid much attention to the fact that none of the charges had anything to do with collusion with Russia, nor did they suggest that any of the damning allegations in the Steele dossier had been verified. Rather, there was an assumption that Trump’s associates, nabbed by the long arm of the law, would start “singing,” and that their chorus would quickly and undeniably implicate the President in impeachable wrongdoing.

But the hopes of autumn are giving way to a silent spring. Is this deafening silence from Manafort et al. a token of their undying loyalty to The Donald—the omerta of mafia thugs? Or is it just possible that there is simply no song to sing—no collusion, no payoffs, no information-sharing—maybe not even any “golden rain?” And what did the FBI, armed with its FISA warrant, learn about Page during the months its agents were surveilling him? Did this unlikely hypostatic union of awkward geek and master of intrigue manage to cover his tracks so well that the Feds could not even muster the risible amount of evidence required for a conspiracy charge?

It’s hardly a secret that, for a broad swath of the U.S. political classes and the American press, the removal of Trump has become the Holy Grail, the goal to which all other things must be subordinated. In this sacred endeavor, Carter Page is useful in ways that even the most cynical Russian handlers could hardly have imagined. And if his dignity and reputation must be utterly trashed in the process—well, so much the worse for Page.

Responsible journalism dies in darkness. Or is it dankness?

Indeed.