Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, on Sunday disputed FBI claims about his links to Russian government officials, but CNN host Jake Tapper noted during an interview that Page previously had termed himself “an informal adviser” to the Kremlin.
Page appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” show to discuss more than 400 pages of wiretap warrant applications released Saturday by the Department of Justice detailing the FBI’s concerns that led to the government monitoring of him. Agents believed Page had been “the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government,” according to the documents.
The agents also believed, the documents say, that Page had been “collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government,” and had “established relationships with Russian government officials, including Russian intelligence officers.”
Page insisted he had “never been an agent of a foreign power by any stretch of the imagination,” and called the FBI allegations “a complete joke.” He also denied the possibility that Russia tried to recruit him, and downplayed his previous role advising the Kremlin in 2013.
“It’s really spin,” Page told Tapper. “I sat in on some meetings, but to call me an adviser I think is way over the top.”
In response, Tapper quoted from a letter written by Page in August 2013 in which he described himself as having “had the privilege to serve as an informal adviser to the staff of the Kremlin” in preparation for the G-20 summit of the world’s leading and emerging economies.
“That’s yourself, calling yourself an informal adviser to the Kremlin,” Tapper said.
Page defined informal as “having some conversations with people.”
“This is really nothing, and an attempt to distract from the real crimes that are shown in this misleading document,” he said.
Page and his allies have argued that the FBI abused its power in seeking court permission to wiretap him, and that it’s an example of the “bias” against Trump that many Justice Department officials displayed during the presidential campaign.
Tapper questioned Page over the scope of the allegations against him, noting that judges who operate under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act agreed probable cause existed for the wiretapping. “This is many, many people over two administrations, four judges appointed by Republicans, over and over, believing that you were an agent of a foreign power. How do you respond to that?”
“Actually, that would be a good question for them, Jake, is whether they believe that what they did is appropriate now,” Page said. “Again, they were misled.”
Watch part of the interview below:
Trump on Sunday reacted to the DOJ release by saying on Twitter that the documents showed his campaign was “being illegally spied upon.” But a fellow Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, disputed that claim.
Appearing on the “State of the Union” show, Rubio told Tapper he believed the FBI had valid concerns about Page and that he did not consider the surveillance of the aide to be illegal.