Letter from Carter Page undercuts central thesis of Nunes memo

Carter Page, former foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, speaks to the media after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on November 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee is conducting an investigation into Russia's tampering in the 2016 election.(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The conceit of the Nunes memo is that former Trump adviser Carter Page was only subject to surveillance because of an unethical and partisan FBI.

Speaking on Fox News on Friday night, Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) said he did not “believe that someone like Mr. Page should be a target of the FBI.”

Nunes said that he also purposely left out “the history of Carter Page” from the memo. A new report from Time helps explain why.

Page, according to Time, bragged in a 2013 letter that he acted as an adviser to the Kremlin.

The letter, dated Aug. 25, 2013, was sent by Page to an academic press during a dispute over edits to an unpublished manuscript he had submitted for publication, according to an editor who worked with Page.

“Over the past half year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for their Presidency of the G-20 Summit next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda,” the letter reads.

Page, in comments to Time, described his interactions with Russian officials as “really plain-vanilla stuff.”

The same year, Page has acknowledged a relationship with Victor Podobnyy, who was later charged with working as a Russian intelligence agent under diplomatic cover. In response to reports about Podobnyy’s activities he defended the alleged Russian spy and criticized Obama for prosecuting him.

He even expressed sympathy for Podobnyy, the spy— whom he described as a “junior Russian diplomat.” In an email to the Guardian, Page complained that Obama had persecuted Podobnyy… and him “in accordance with Cold War traditions.”

FBI surveillance of Page began, on and off, in 2013 — long before the Steele dossier and the 2016 presidential campaign.

The entire thesis of the Nunes memo is that the only way one could justify surveillance of Page is through partisan manipulation. There really is no evidence supporting this idea. But, with each passing day, there is more evidence that Page was a legitimate target of surveillance.