Stefan Halper took on the character of a sympathizing old friend when he met with Carter Page in 2016-17.
The FBI confidential source was trying to see if the former Trump volunteer would incriminate himself in Russia collusion.
Mr. Page tells the story of the father confessor/spy in his new book “Abuse and Power: How an Innocent American Was Framed In An Attempted Coup Against The President,” It debuted on Tuesday from Regnery.
The author stands today as the face of FBI wiretap abuse of an American. The bureau’s zeal to catch him is still the focus of Department of Justice and congressional inquiries.
He and Mr. Halper began the supposed friendship at Mr. Halper’s Virginia home in August 2016. The encounters continued with meetings in Washington, including the very establishment Cosmos Club, into 2017 as the news media and FBI hounded the Naval Academy graduate.
Mr. Page had shown up in the Christopher Steele dossier, which falsely accused him of being an operative in the Kremlin hacking into Democratic computers. He, thus, was a key to bringing down President Trump–––except that he had nothing to do with hacking and never met the people Mr. Steele put in the same room.
Mr. Halper, a long time Washington national security figure who had met Mr. Page at a University of Cambridge conference, was that shoulder to cry on. That shoulder also concealed an FBI wire.
“Portraying himself as a kind and sympathetic supporter who understood the life-threatening risks I continued to endure his benevolent generosity with his time and hospitality didn’t seem out of place,” Mr. Page writes. “After becoming an international pariah, I appreciated someone from the Washington establishment who would still dare to speak with me.”
Eventually, Mr. Page, facing five FBI interrogations in New York hotels, began to look at the portly professor with suspicion.
“Over fifteen months after first visiting his house, I began to realize that there had been something odd about Halper’s continued eagerness to talk,” Mr. Page writes. “Far from the kind soul that he had portrayed himself to be, Halper was out to entrap me. It had never occurred to me to question his motives.”
During the session, Mr. Page stuck to the truth. The stuff about him in Mr. Steele’s memos–––financed by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton campaign–––was fiction.
He never met or talked with Paul Manafort. Mr. Steele said the two made up a team conspiring with Moscow. Mr. Page said likewise he never met Vladimir Putin cronies Igor Sechin and Igor Divyekin, as Mr. Steele said.
Mr. Halper accurately relayed this to the FBI. But agents never included, as they should have, his denials in their affidavits to judges for four electronic surveillance wiretaps.
“My conversation with Halper was chock-full of such exculpatory evidence; it was systematically excised from the record,” Mr. Page says. “The FBI wanted to conduct surveillance on me, and the leaders of Crossfire Hurricane were willing to toss aside facts from sworn testimony in their continuing efforts to build their case.”
Mr. Page said Mr. Halper bragged about his news media contacts.
“Halper was not often in the news himself at the time, but he later told me a lot about his contacts in the media,” the book says. “So he was sometimes in the shadow of the news. A sturdy man with a wide face, Halper is known affectionately (and not) in some circles as “the Walrus.”
Mr. Halper also hooked up with another Trump volunteer, George Papadopoulos. He too denied any knowledge of Moscow collusion.
To penetrate deeper into the campaign, Mr. Halper tried to entice Sam Clovis, national campaign co-chairman. They met for coffee in Washington.
In the book, Mr. Page says, “Sam told me: ‘We talked like two professors in the faculty lounge sharing coffee. I immediately assessed I didn’t need him and I didn’t want him.’”