Carter Page’s weird, changing, bombshell-filled story just made Trump’s Russia scandal worse
Trump campaign “volunteer” and foreign policy advisor Carter Page was pummeled with questions for seven hours last Thursday by members of the House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee as part of their investigation into the ever-growing evidence of not only Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election but possible conspiratorial actions with Trump campaign officials.
Among all of the invocations of Page’s fifth amendment right against self-incrimination were some bombshells.
Contradicting previous statements, Page testified that he met Russian officials in 2016 Moscow trips:
Page initially said he did not meet with any senior Russian officials during a trip in July 2016 but later said he “briefly” greeted Russian deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich, and saw him again at a dinner in December 2016.
When asked if he had a private meeting with Dvorkovich on that second trip, Page replied: “We did – he stopped by a dinner I went to in December with people from the university.”
Page also said he let senior members of Trump’s campaign staff know of his trip in July 2016, including then-Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, who is now US attorney general, as well as senior Trump aides Hope Hicks and Corey Lewandowski.
Page said he reported back to other campaign officials about the July 2016 trip, saying in one email that he had received “incredible insights and outreach”.
He has for months said the trip was made as a private citizen, not as part of his role with the Trump campaign.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff confronted Page with an email he wrote on July 8 from Moscow to Trump campaign adviser J.D. Gordon saying that he had received “incredible insights and outreach from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the presidential administration here.”
Former British spy Christopher Steele wrote in the dossier that an “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.”
According to that official in the dossier, Diveykin told Page that the Kremlin had a dossier of kompromat on Hillary Clinton that they wanted to give to the Trump campaign.
In his congressional testimony, Page denied meeting with Diveykin and said the “senior members of the presidential administration” that he had referred to in his email was actually just “a brief, less-than-10-second chat with [deputy Prime Minister] Arkadiy Dvorkovich.”
He said his mention of “legislators” was a reference to “a few people who were shaking hands” with him in passing.
Gordon, for his part, said on Monday that he doesn’t “recall all of Carter Page’s emails.”
“I was getting thousands of emails on the campaign and didn’t read all of them,” he told BI. “I discouraged Carter from taking the trip to Moscow in the first place because it was a bad idea…he eventually went around me directly to campaign leadership.”
Then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski approved Page’s trip, according to Gordon.
It is clear from Page’s testimony that the Steele Dossier is sticking in his craw, and he is none too happy about it. Page was doing his darnedest to undermine the Steele Dossier — instead, he corroborated parts of it.
“[W]hen the dodgy dossier libeled me … I started having, you know, serious reputational damage, but also these threats against my life and against, you know, people I’m close with,” Page told lawmakers on the intelligence committee.
Rep. Adam Schiff is the official winner of the hearing!
Just Security‘s Ryan Goodman points us to this pivotal moment in the hearing:
MR. SCHIFF: Dr. Page, Mr. Steele in the dossier makes reference to a meeting that you had with a representative of the Presidential administration. Did you meet with any representatives of the Presidential administration while you were in Moscow in July of last year?
MR. PAGE: Just that brief greeting that I mentioned.
MR. SCHIFF: So the only person you met — you only met with a single person from the Presidential administration and that was Dvorkovich?
MR. PAGE: Yes, sir, again, being very careful of the distinction been met and meeting, yes.
MR. SCHIFF: Did you write in an email to Tera Dahl and J.D. Gordon, on July 8, “On a related front, I’ll send you guys a readout soon regarding some incredible insights and outreach I’ve received from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the Presidential administration here”? Did you write that email, Dr. Page
MR. PAGE: I believe I did. And it goes back to the point I mentioned with listening to speeches, listening to particularly Arkadiy Dvorkovich’s speech, right. Again, great insights just like I learned great insights — even though I’ve met — I’ve never met Donald J. Trump in my life, I’ve learned a lot from him, and I got great insights from that, from listening and studying the information that he — that he’s provided in public forums.
That’s — that is the primary, primary source.
MR. SCHIFF: Dr. Page, you’ve testified under oath that you met with no senior officials except for a hello to the person who turns out to be the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation?
MR. PAGE: Uh-huh
MR. SCHIFF: You’ve also testified that, apart from him, you met no one from the Presidential administration, and yet on July 8, of last year, you wrote in an email to the campaign that you had incredible insights and outreach that you received from Russian legislators and senior members, plural, of the Presidential administration. Were you being honest in your communication with the campaign? Are you being honest in your testimony? Because it doesn’t seem possible for both to be true.
MR. PAGE: There has been — again, great feedback and positive feelings were expressed in public forums and even just reading the newspaper in Russian that there was hope for the future. And it’s very — you know, the way I explain this to people is it’s very similar to then-candidate Barack Obama’s speech in Germany.
If you remember, in 2008, he received a tremendous amount of positive feedback —
MR. SCHIFF: Dr. Page —
MR. PAGE: Yes.
MR. SCHIFF: Dr. Page, I’m referring to Bates stamp [REDACTED] in which you relate that you had received insights and outreach from Russian legislators and senior members of the Presidential administration. What members of the Presidential administration did you meet?
MR. PAGE: No meetings. You know, it’s insights versus outreach. The insights were primarily based on the materials or the ideas that I read in the press, similar to my listening to President Trump in the various speeches that I heard of his.
MR. SCHIFF: What –
MR. PAGE: Outreach, let me put it this way: I think scholars, in general, were also very enthusiastic about trying to end this second cold war that’s been created. And so I think it was sort of a foregone conclusion — it was pretty much understood that people would be happy — if there was interest in terms of having a dialogue, I’m certain that the Russians would be more than willing to do that. That’s what I was expressing, perhaps not in the most careful, cautious — you know, if I had started my personal legal training previously, I probably would have used a different word, frankly speaking.
MR. SCHIFF: Dr. Page, I don’t think you need legal training to be able to distinguish between what you told the public 2 days ago that you essentially only met the man on the street –
MR. PAGE: Yes.
MR. SCHIFF: — and what you have related privately to the Trump campaign, that you had met with Russian legislators and senior members of the Presidential administration.
I yield back.
Yes, Page invoked the Fifth Amendment — on at least one occasion, in an evasively baroque way:
Adam Schiff Asking Carter Page Whether He’s Invoking The Fifth Amendment Is Something Else. pic.twitter.com/aNchV7MnTG
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) November 7, 2017
Page also threw three top Trump campaign officials under the bus:
Mr. GOWDY: We’re going to get to Mr. Steele, but right now I’m trying to understand who you emailed and what the content of those emails were. If you were going to Moscow in July of 2016, who did you tell, why did you tell them, and what did you tell them?
Mr. PAGE: I had just mentioned that — I forget the exact specifics, but I had mentioned to them, it was Corey Lewandowski and I believe Hope Hicks and J.D. [Gordon], just that I had received this invitation, you know, just wanted ot let you know. And I forget the exact terminology.
Page got a bipartisan pummeling:
Idiot Page should’ve realized he was in trouble when TREY GOWDY carved him up like a buzz saw.🤣🤣
(Yup, THAT Gowdy)
— Dr. Dena Grayson (@DrDenaGrayson) November 7, 2017
And you don’t need to be Perry Mason to poke holes in Page’s testimony:
Right off the bat, Page is asked if he was paid to work on Trump’s🇷🇺campaign👉🏼”I was never paid any money.”
WHAT ABOUT ROSNEFT SHARES⁉️ 4/ pic.twitter.com/I37Vi5PVOU
— Dr. Dena Grayson (@DrDenaGrayson) November 7, 2017
So Page changed his story, admitted to meeting senior Putin-tied Russian officials, put three top paid Trump campaign officials in the loop, and admits he was a go-between for the Russians and the campaign.
Bonus: the Steele Dossier comes out even more corroborated than before.
You can find the full transcript of last Thursday’s House Intelligence Committee interview with Carter Page, along with written statements and supporting documentation, here.