Wonderland: the Trial of Carter Page

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On April 11, the Washington Post reported, citing unnamed officials, that the FBI had obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant in the summer of 2016 to monitor the communications of Carter Page, an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, on the belief that Page was acting as an agent of Russia. On April 12, Jake Tapper of CNN asked Carter Page this series of questions.

Tapper [at 1:24]: You were dealing with a man named Victor Podobnyy who was charged later with being an unregistered agent of a foreign government. So that was 2013. At the time did you have any idea that Podobnyy was a Russian spy?

[at 2:34]: My question more specifically is, OK you knew that he was Russian, but did you know that he was a spy?

[at 6:07]: There are a few questions that in the past you have declined to answer, so let’s give you another opportunity, I think you owe it to the American people, and frankly, you owe it to yourself, to clear your name, if you are innocent as you say you are, so the first one, who brought you into the Trump campaign?

[at 7:00]: But Carter, I mean, you want to clear things up, there’s nothing wrong about bringing a Russia expert on to a campaign, I’m just asking you, who brought you into the campaign? Was it Paul Manafort?

[at 7:32]: Well, I mean, I know you want to get out all this information, but then you refuse to answer. There’s nothing wrong with somebody bringing you into the campaign, I’m just trying to find out who it was.

‘There’s more evidence to come yet, please your Majesty,’ said the White Rabbit, jumping up in a great hurry; ‘this paper has just been picked up.’

‘What’s in it?’ said the Queen.

‘I haven’t opened it yet,’ said the White Rabbit, ‘but it seems to be a letter, written by the prisoner to—to somebody.’

‘It must have been that,’ said the King, ‘unless it was written to nobody, which isn’t usual, you know.’

‘Who is it directed to?’ said one of the jurymen.

‘It isn’t directed at all,’ said the White Rabbit; ‘in fact, there’s nothing written on the outside.’ He unfolded the paper as he spoke, and added ‘It isn’t a letter, after all: it’s a set of verses.’

‘Are they in the prisoner’s handwriting?’ asked another of the jurymen.

‘No, they’re not,’ said the White Rabbit, ‘and that’s the queerest thing about it.’ (The jury all looked puzzled.)

‘He must have imitated somebody else’s hand,’ said the King. (The jury all brightened up again.)

‘Please your Majesty,’ said the Knave, ‘I didn’t write it, and they can’t prove I did: there’s no name signed at the end.’

‘If you didn’t sign it,’ said the King, ‘that only makes the matter worse. You must have meant some mischief, or else you’d have signed your name like an honest man.’

There was a general clapping of hands at this: it was the first really clever thing the King had said that day.

‘That proves his guilt,’ said the Queen.

‘It proves nothing of the sort!’ said Alice. ‘Why, you don’t even know what they’re about!’

Jake Tapper continued, saying [at 8:02]: When you went to Russia last summer, did you ever talk to any Russian about the Trump campaign or about the Clinton campaign or about the 2016 election in general?

[at 8:29]: I didn’t ask Russian official, I just asked any Russian because obviously Russians as you know in Russia people are affiliated with private industry but they also do work with the government etc. So, but you did not talk to any Russian at all other than students and parents and scholars about the presidential election?

[at 8:58]: Well, I’m not talking about negotiations, but as long as you bring it up, I mean, have you ever conveyed to anyone in Russia tht you think President Trump might have been more willing to get rid of the sanctions that were imposed against Russia after they invaded and seized Crimea, which I know are sanctions that you oppose and think are ineffective. Did you ever talk with anyone there about maybe president Trump if he were elected, then-candidate Trump, would be willing to get rid of the sanctions?

[at 9:38]: You never said that to anybody that you think that if Donald Trump won he might be willing to get rid of the sanctions against Russia?

[at 9:46]: One of the matters the FBI is investigating as you know is whether any adviser to the Trump campaign at any point discussed the release of the hacked and fished and stolen documents from the DNC and from the Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Did you ever discuss any of those documents or the release of them or the timing of them when you were in Russia or with a Russian?

[at 12:11]: The US intelligence committee, uh community, says that Russia interfered in the US election, they interfered with disinformation, they interfered with stolen information, the Kremlin says it’s not true, there’s no evidence of it. You seem to side with the Kremlin. Why?

‘Let the jury consider their verdict,’ the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first—verdict afterwards.’

‘Stuff and nonsense!’ said Alice loudly. ‘The idea of having the sentence first!’

‘Hold your tongue!’ said the Queen, turning purple.

‘I won’t!’ said Alice.

‘Off with her head!’ the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.

‘Who cares for you?’ said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.) ‘You’re nothing but a pack of cards!’


The White Rabbit’s interruption and the trial of the Knave of Hearts, accused of stealing the tarts, is from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, Chapter 12, “Alice’s Evidence”. Available from Project Gutenberg.

ABCNews reported on July 7, 2016, on Carter Page’s Russian visit alluded to by Tapper, saying: “Page’s lecture today was to students from the New Economic School, a prestigious liberal-minded university in Moscow, where on Friday he will give a commencement speech at a graduation ceremony. In 2009, President Barack Obama also delivered a graduation speech at the school.”

You can watch Carter Page’s lecture here.