Carter Page admitted to meeting Kremlin officials when he was a foreign policy adviser to President Trump's campaign, despite initial denials he had no contact with senior Russian officials at that time, according to a transcript of Page's testimony to the House Intelligence Committee released Monday night.
During many public appearances prior to his November 2, 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in open session, Carter Page characterized his July 2016 trip to Russia as a private one in which his interactions with Russian individuals were largely confined to the 'man on the street.' In his testimony, however, he was forced to acknowledge that he communicated with high level Russian officials while in Moscow, including one of Russia's Deputy Prime Ministers.
Asked about the email, Page told lawmakers he did not mean that he had met with officials, but rather had learned of their views in local media, from scholars in Russian Federation and at a public speech given by Dvorkovich at a conference where Page was also speaking.Page said he had a "brief hello" with Dvorkovich.
Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a top campaign advisor, that he was headed to Moscow while the two were at a June 2016 dinner at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington. Page also mentioned the trip to campaign co-chair Sam Clovis, according to his testimony.
Page addressed some of the questions about those trips in more than seven hours of testimony last week to the House committee. Prior to this, both he and the administration implied Page's trip to Russian Federation were for personal reasons unrelated to the campaign.
The committee's Republican majority did not comment on the transcript Monday.
The House panel's top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, cited a memo Page sent campaign officials that quoted Page as writing "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 worldwide problems". "I've played this nonsensical game long enough and am not interested in this latest round tonight", he said.
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In one email to fellow campaign aides, Page suggested that Trump perhaps take his place and travel to Moscow "to raise the temperature a little bit" and, in another, he asked how campaign officials would "prefer me to focus" his remarks. "It's important to remember that Carter Page and George Papadopoulos were peripheral members of a relatively peripheral advisory committee", he said.
He said he was unaware at the time that Papadopoulos was making similar proposals for Trump to travel to Russian Federation, though he acknowledged he had received some of Papadopoulos' emails about Russian Federation.
With his Russian Federation ties under scrutiny, Page said in September 2016 that he was taking a leave from the campaign.
In numerous public interviews, Page has always denied he met with other Russian officials, notably with Igor Sechin, a Putin associate.
That seems to confirm findings by former British spy Christopher Steele, who reported in his dossier that "official close to Presidential Administration Head, S. Ivanov, confided in a compatriot that a senior colleague in the Internal Political Department of the PA, Divyekin (nfd) also had met secretly with Page on his recent visit".
Page's Russian contacts did not end on his return from Moscow.
Page said that before heading to Moscow, he informed then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski along with communications director Hope Hicks and J.D. Gordon, who was managing the candidate's national security team. He said he did not recall any discussion of hacked emails there. The dossier alleged that the official told Page that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton.