Carter Page, the former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, met with Russian government officials in 2016, he told the House Intelligence Committee Thursday.
The New York Times first reported the news Friday, citing testimony Page gave to the committee during a lengthy closed-door meeting Thursday. Page confirmed the story to the Times, and also to CNN.
“I had a very brief hello to a couple of people. That was it,” he told the Times. One of those people, Page said, was a “senior person,” but he did not specify further. Page later told CNN that he had met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich during the trip, the network reported.
The former Trump adviser is famously talkative, and has given numerous television and print interviews, frequently characterizing his July 2016 trip to Russia as one in which met with Russian academics and businesspeople.
Page told the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin in September 2016 that he had briefly exchanged pleasantries with Dvorkavich, one of a handful of deputy prime ministers in Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s Cabinet, during the graduation ceremony of the New Economic School in Moscow.
But an email from Page to “at least one” Trump campaign aide, according to the Times’ report, suggests Page’s meetings could have been more substantive than he’s said in the past.
After the trip, the Times reported, citing an unnamed person familiar with the email, “Page sent an email to at least on Trump campaign aide describing insights he had after conversations with government officials, legislators, and business executives during his time in Moscow.”
On Monday, Page told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that he had been on email chains with George Papadopoulos, another former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who, according to recently unsealed court records, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his efforts to bring together Russian government officials and Trump campaign officials.
Page told Hayes, asked if any of the email chains with Papadopoulos discussed Russia: “It may have come up from time to time, again there was nothing major.”
Then, on Friday, Page confirmed to CNN’s Jake Tapper that he “one of many people” on the email chain in which Papadopoulos suggested, according to Papadopoulos’ unsealed court record, “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.”
Trump has attempted to minimize Papadopoulos’ role in the campaign, calling him a “low level volunteer” after his guilty plea was announced. One former campaign adviser, Michael Caputo, called Papadopoulos a “coffee boy.”
The Times reported, citing an unnamed congressional official familiar with the exchange, that Page confirmed he had met with Russian government officials to the House committee in response to questioning by Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA).
Page’s admissions about his trips to Russia and communications with Russian officials and others have complicated matters for Trump affiliates higher up the ladder.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for one, told the Senate Judiciary Committee in June that “no,” he was not, in Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) words, “aware of any communications with any Trump officials […] about Russia or Russian interests in the United States before Jan. 20.”
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Of course, Sessions later acknowledged meeting twice himself with Russia’s ambassador to the United States before the election. But his further knowledge of Papadopoulos’ suggestions about meeting with Russians — as well as his newly reported knowledge of Carter Page’s July 2016 trip — have led senators to call for him to reappear before the Judiciary Committee once again.