First Thoughts on Page

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I was in meetings most of this morning. I’m only now catching up on the reporting on Carter Page’s testimony before Congress. But I did read the first half of his testimony transcript last night. And I wanted to share a few initial impressions.

The first and overwhelming takeaway is that Page is a weird, fairly inscrutable person. I found it difficult to discern whether he has some sort of cognitive deficit causing an inability to focus or whether he was simply trying to kick dust in people’s faces with nonsensical digressions. My one consistent impression is that he thinks he’s a good deal more clever than he is. You could probably guess that by his decision to testify without a lawyer present.

Other oddities were the grandiose throwaway lines about the dodgy dossier (copied from the UK a decade ago), terrorist threats against him, and imitations of Trumpite storylines and verbiage.

A good deal of the first half of his testimony was tied to a convoluted explanation of why he apparently failed to turn over a substantial number of documents he was ordered to turn over to the House committee. (His argument did not sound legally tenable.) Since his claims appeared to be contradicted by his contemporaneous emails he consistently tried to use these over-clever interpretations of his own words. Outreach and conversations with key government leaders became simply talking to the man on the street and watching TV. Also, did you know Page is a scholar? It’s different with scholars. That was perhaps half his argument. The text reads like a guy who thinks he’s being really clever and skating right past people with canny interpretations when he’s clearly just lying and doing so in a position of great legal vulnerability.

Clearly Page, like Papadopoulos, is basically a goof. But like Papadopoulos, I suspect he’s trouble for the Trump inner circle and that there’s a lot more we still don’t know.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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