It was just last year when Donald Trump personally singled out Carter Page, by name, as one of only a handful of people who were advising him on matters of foreign policy. As regular readers know, this has become highly problematic: the FBI has investigated Page as a possible agent of Russia.
Last night, Page's role in the Trump-Russia scandal took on new salience with the release of a 243-page transcript of his recent discussion with the House Intelligence Committee. NBC News reported:
Former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, who has come under scrutiny in the investigation of Russian election interference, told a House committee that he sought permission for a July 2016 trip to Moscow from senior Trump campaign officials, and reported to other Trump officials about the trip when he returned.It's long been known that Page traveled to Moscow in July 2016, but he has said it was in his private capacity, unrelated to his role with the Trump campaign.Page, whose sworn testimony was released Monday night, told the House Intelligence Committee last week that he sought permission to make the trip from campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and also notified Hope Hicks, who is now the White House communications director.
This is no small revelation. We'd known about Page traveling to Moscow during the campaign -- which is itself a rather extraordinary step -- when he met with prominent Russian officials. What's new and important here is the fact that Page told his colleagues on the Trump campaign about his trip, including top members of the Republican candidate's team.
Indeed, as the NBC News report makes clear, Page "served on a campaign foreign policy advisory committee under the supervision of Jeff Sessions, who was then a senator and is now the attorney general." Sessions was also among those on Team Trump who was notified of Page's July 2016 Moscow trip.
Remember, for months, Trump World said no one from the campaign had any communications with Russia during Russia's attack on the American elections. This claim was discredited months ago, but Page's testimony moves the ball forward; Trump World knew the claim was untrue while it was pushing the bogus line.
And while we're all still scrutinizing the transcript for additional details of note, Business Insider's report added that in mid-July 2016, Page also congratulated members of the Trump campaign's foreign policy team on July 14 for their "excellent work" on the "Ukraine amendment" -- referring to the Trump campaign's quiet decision to alter the Republican Party's national platform on U.S. policy towards Ukraine in a direction Russia preferred.
Watch this space.