Carter Page Reveals New Contacts with Trump Campaign, Russians
(CNN)Carter Page's six-plus hours of testimony before the House intelligence committee makes clear senior members of the Trump campaign were aware of the former Trump foreign policy adviser's July 2016 trip to Russia -- and Page may have had interactions with more Russian government officials beyond what he's previously acknowledged, according to a transcript of the interview released Monday night.
Page told the committee he was invited to speak in Russia after joining the campaign -- a similar pattern to foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who was approached by a professor connected to the Russian government after the professor learned he was advising the campaign.
In the interview, Page says that he sought permission for his trip ahead of time and asked for advice about his remarks at a university, and afterward he offered to provide a readout to the campaign. Page also floated the idea that Trump travel to Russia in his place to give an Obama-like foreign speech.
The testimony reveals new details about how Page kept people in the campaign informed about interactions he had with Russians, as well as more details about his Russian contacts beyond his encounter with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich during his July 2016 trip.
Page has always maintained he went to Russia as a private citizen and unrelated to the campaign to meet with academics and deliver a lecture, in which he stated that he was not there to represent Trump.
But an email Page sent to Trump campaign officials suggests he might have gone beyond simply giving the campaign a heads up, according to an excerpt read by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California.
"Please let me know if you have any reservations or thoughts on how you'd prefer me to focus these remarks," Page wrote in an email to Trump campaign officials.
Page claimed this was purely a courtesy and not to officially coordinate with the Trump team, and that he understood from the reply that the campaign wanted to remain uninvolved. Page also described his conversation with Dvorkovich as a "private conversation."
Page informed senior campaign officials Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks and JD Gordon about his trip ahead of time. Lewandowski, who was Trump's campaign manager, told Page he should go if he wanted to, given it was not affiliated with the campaign. "If you'd like to go on your own, not affiliated with the campaign, you know, that's fine," Page recalled during the interview.
Page also told the committee that he had mentioned to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions -- now Trump's attorney general -- about his coming July 2016 trip to Russia, CNN first reported last week.
After the trip, Page offered the campaign a readout, according to the transcript, and he spoke then to national co-chairman Sam Clovis, whom Page said separately asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
"I'll send you guys a readout soon regarding some incredible insights and outreach I received from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the presidential administration here," he wrote, according to an email quoted by California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence panel.
Page insists that the reference in his post-trip email regarding "insights" was describing things he learned from speeches given at the event.
The new window into Page's interactions with the Trump campaign came under an unusual arrangement that he requested. The interview was conducted in the committee's secure spaces, but the transcript was made available publicly Monday night. In another atypical move, Page did not bring an attorney to his interview. Lawmakers have described his testimony as meandering, at times confusing and contradictory.
In his testimony, Page also suggested he met briefly other government officials in addition to Dvorkovich, when he gave a speech in Moscow in July 2016. Page said at the event there were also "a couple of legislators" and "there may be some senior government officials." Page described his encounters as "greetings and brief conversations."
Page returned to Russia in December 2016, and he told the committee that Dvorkovich stopped by a dinner he was attending, which was the second time they met.
In a statement, Schiff said that Page "was forced to acknowledge that he communicated with high-level Russian officials while in Moscow."