Carter Page raised idea of Trump going to Russia to other campaign foreign policy advisers

Posted at 9:45 PM, Nov 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-06 21:45:51-05

Former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page told the House intelligence committee last week that he floated the idea of then-candidate Donald Trump taking a trip to Russia in May 2016, according to transcript of his interview.

"The idea there was bearing in mind Barack Obama's speech as a candidate in Germany 2008. That was what I was envisioning," Page told lawmakers in more than six hours of closed-door testimony Thursday.

Page raised the idea of an Obama-like foreign speech for Trump in Russia with JD Gordon, who was running the foreign policy adviser team, and another adviser, Walid Phares.

In his email to the two advisers in May 2016, Page wrote about Trump: "If he'd like to take my place (on a trip to Russia) and raise the temperature a little bit, of course I'd be more than happy to yield this honor to him."

Page appeared last week before the House intelligence committee 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.

George Papadopoulos, who became an informant to federal prosecutors and pleaded guilty to lying to investigators last week, separately pursued arranging a trip for Trump during the campaign. Page testified that he wasn't aware of Papadopoulos' intended plans.

Page 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 reported last week.

"I mentioned it briefly to Senator Session as I was walking out the door... it was in the context of saying, because I have -- I'm traveling. You know, it's like discussing your travel schedule... He had no reaction whatsoever," Page told the committee. "It was just an administrative point... And no discussion of substance in any way, shape or form, that's for sure. And, again, it was sort of in one ear and out the other."

But Page also testified that he had told Gordon, Hope Hicks and Corey Lewandowski about the invitation to go to Moscow. Lewandowski said 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 has described the trip as not campaign related, and while he was there he briefly met Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.

Page also said he had "recently been in contact" with Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and other senior Justice officials regarding the "multiple outstanding requests" he made to get more info about FISA warrants reportedly used against him by the Obama administration.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the committee, said in a statement that Page was "forced to acknowledge that he communicated with high level Russian officials while in Moscow, including one of Russia's deputy prime ministers," Schiff said.

"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 added.

Page's disclosure that he met with Dvorkovich differed from his description he gave to CNN's Jake Tapper last week, in which he said he had only met with academics and a few business people whom he had "known for over a decade," though he had acknowledged the meeting earlier this year.

In addition, Page said he was interviewed by the FBI four or five times in 2017. Previously, he had said those interviews happened in March.

Page denied any collusion during the interview, saying he "played no role in any government active measures in the 2016 election other than being a target of the Obama administration's efforts to support Mrs. Clinton's campaign."

The only discussion he could recall where WikiLeaks came up, he said, was during a TV interview with RT in London on October 24. The host and staffed mentioned "in passing" that it "might be potentially interesting."

Schiff's statement noted that Page also took trips to Budapest, Hungary, in September 2016, and again to Moscow in December 2016.

Page was also interviewed last month by the Senate intelligence committee as part of its probe into Russian election meddling, but that transcript is not being made public.

Page traveled to Moscow for a few days in early July 2016, where he gave a lecture critical of US foreign policy. He has said that the topic of sanctions might have come up in his conversations but that he was not there as an emissary of the Trump campaign.

After the trip, the FBI grew concerned that he had been compromised by Russian operatives, US officials previously told CNN.