WASHINGTON ― The House Intelligence Committee on Monday released more than 200 pages of testimony from its closed-door interview last week with Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to the Donald Trump presidential campaign.
The document presents the clearest picture yet of Page’s interactions with Russian officials, including his interactions with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. Page’s testimony appears to contradict his public statements that he had no meaningful encounters during a trip he took to Russia in 2016 while he was a member of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the committee, said Monday evening that Page was “forced to acknowledge that he communicated with high-level Russian officials while in Moscow” during his trip, noting that Page “also admitted notifying the fact of his meetings to his campaign supervisors.”
“Perhaps most important, Page ― after being presented with an email he sent to his campaign supervisors, and which he did not disclose to the Committee prior to the interview and despite a subpoena from the Committee ― detailed his meetings with Russian government officials and others, and said that they provided him with insights and outreach that he was interested in sharing with the campaign,” Schiff said in a statement following the transcript’s release. “Page’s invitation to Moscow and his July 2016 trip was paid for by Russian sponsors and followed his appointment as a Trump campaign foreign policy advisor.”
“Page’s invitation to Moscow and his July 2016 trip was paid for by Russian sponsors and followed his appointment as a Trump campaign foreign policy advisor.”
He has previously maintained in public that he did not met with any Russian officials during his trip. Page told The New York Times, which first reported Page’s admission to the committee, that his interaction with Dvorkovich was limited to a “very brief hello.”
During the testimony, Schiff repeatedly questioned Page about an email obtained by the committee in which he told Trump campaign officials he had “incredible insights” following his trip.
“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,” Schiff said in his questioning. “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.”
Page characterized the encounters he was referring to as “just having a warm conversation with individuals” and insights he gathered from listening to public speeches.
The transcript released by the committee Monday was the result of a seven-hour interview last Thursday. The interview was conducted in a private setting but with the understanding that the committee would later release a transcript.
Page, who did not bring a lawyer to the interview, has declined to turn over documents the committee has subpoenaed. At various points in the interview, committee members struggle to clarify whether Page is invoking his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.
According to Page, he was introduced to the Trump campaign by Ed Cox, chairman of the New York Republican State Committee, after sending Cox an email in December 2015 expressing interest in volunteering for the campaign. Cox introduced him to then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Page told lawmakers. In March 2016, Trump listed Page as one of his foreign policy advisers in an interview with The Washington Post. Page told the committee he has never been paid for his work with the Trump campaign.
Page said his main point of contact on the campaign was J.D. Gordon, who last year helped soften the Republican Party’s platform on arming Ukraine.
Throughout the interview, Page described himself as a victim of civil rights abuses, misinformation, reputation-damaging leaks, libel, defamation, government surveillance and even death threats. Page is suing several media outlets, including HuffPost’s parent company, for their coverage of him and his ties to Russia.
Page traveled to Russia at least twice last year — once in July and again in December.
At the outset of the interview, Page told Schiff he had no private meetings with senior Russian government officials during his travels to Moscow last year. But Schiff presented Page with the July 2016 email to the Trump campaign that suggested otherwise:
“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 in the email, which Schiff read aloud during the interview.
Page then admitted to writing that email but insisted the interaction with the Russian official lasted only five to 10 seconds.
Page also met with academics Andrej Krickovic and Shlomo Weber in Moscow. During the trip, Page gave a lecture criticizing the United States’ “often-hypocritical focus on democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change” when dealing with Russia, China and central Asia.
Page floated the idea of Trump traveling to Moscow in his place in a May 2016 email to Walid Phares, a fellow former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. Page told lawmakers he was unaware of George Papadopoulos’ efforts to arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian government officials. (Papadopoulos, once a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty last week to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.)
Days before he flew to Moscow in July, Page mentioned his travel plans to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was heading Trump’s foreign policy advisory team, Page told lawmakers.
Page returned to Moscow in December, shortly after Trump’s surprise victory in the presidential election. Dvorkovich “stopped by” during that trip, Page said. He also met with Andrey Baranov, the head of investor relations at the state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft, an unnamed bank analyst and an unnamed person who worked at Gazprom, a Russian energy company.
Asked by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), also a member of the House committee, why he traveled to Russia even as the country was accused of interfering in the U.S. election process, Page responded: “Because I’m trying to live my life.”