Page says meeting with Russian not on Trump’s behalf
Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, refused last week to give a congressional committee documents related to the Russia investigation because he said they might not all “match up” with information from earlier wiretaps that caught his conversations.
The House Intelligence Committee Monday night released a 243-page transcript of his lengthy appearance behind closed doors with its Russia probe.
Page, who said he never met or spoke with Trump, said that he did have contact with Russian government officials during a July 2016 trip in Moscow. But he insisted he wasn’t doing so as a representative of the Trump camp.
“Unfortunately, I am the biggest embarrassment surrounding the campaign,” he told the panel.
J.D. Gordon, then a national security adviser to the campaign, said in an exchange of text messages Tuesday that he discouraged Page from going to Moscow and refused to pass along his request for approval.
Page’s appearance generated extra attention on Capitol Hill after the disclosure of a guilty plea by another Trump campaign foreign policy aide, George Papadopoulos. The two were announced as Trump advisers on the same day in March 2016.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to investigators as part of a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing Russian meddling in the U.S. election.
Page acknowledged that in June 2016 he mentioned “in passing” to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Trump foreign policy adviser, that he might be taking a trip to Moscow — but that it wasn’t connected to his unpaid role in the campaign.
Page also told the committee that he asked for permission to take the trip from campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks and campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who he said approved the trip.
Gordon said that after he refused to pass along Page’s speech request for approval by the campaign, Page went around him. No one with the campaign approved an outline of what Page was going to say, Gordon said.
He called Page and Papadopoulos, who was on the same group of foreign policy advisers as Page, “peripheral members of a relatively peripheral advisory committee.”
After first asserting that he didn’t meet with senior Russian officials during the trip, Page later acknowledged that he spoke with deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich. Schiff read from a document Page sent back to the Trump campaign after the trip.
“In a private conversation, Dvorkovich expressed strong support for Mr. Trump and a desire to work together toward devising better solutions in response to the vast range of current international problems,” Page wrote, according to Schiff.
Page called the encounter “just a brief greeting.”
Following the trip, Page emailed Gordon and Tera Dahl, another campaign adviser, about “incredible insights and outreach I’ve received from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the presidential administration here,” he wrote.
Page told investigators he was referring to insights he got from speeches and following the news while he was there, not meetings with any officials. Gordon said he doesn’t remember all of Page’s emails.
Page’s testimony about Sessions could increase scrutiny of the attorney general, who is already facing questions over how much he knew about Russian efforts to interfere with the U.S. election.