Trump campaign adviser admits to Russia contacts


Wed, Nov 08, 2017 - Page 7

A second foreign policy adviser to then-US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has admitted to contacts with Russian officials during last year’s election and to having proposed that Trump travel to Russia during the campaign.

Former investment banker and Russia expert Carter Page told the US House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last week that he had “brief” contact with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich during a “private” trip to Moscow in July last year, according to a transcript of his testimony released late on Monday.

Page also said that he had proposed in May last year that Trump travel to Russia to meet officials and make a speech.

That was the same month that another foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, also suggested a Trump Moscow visit, according to court documents last week.

The Page testimony added to the mounting evidence of numerous contacts between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia last year just at the time Moscow was mounting a hacking and disinformation operation aimed and boosting Trump’s chances to win the White House.

The House committee and its Senate counterpart, along with a Department of Justice special prosecutor, are investigating whether the campaign colluded with the Russians in any way to help defeat Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Page told the committee in a closed-door hearing on Thursday last week that he was an unpaid volunteer on Trump’s initial foreign policy advisory team, never met or spoke directly to Trump, and had no inappropriate contacts in Russia.

However, in questioning he admitted contacts with Dvorkovich, other officials, businesspeople and senior academics while in the country on trips in July and December.

He said he had told Jeff Sessions, now US attorney general, but at the time the leader of the foreign policy team, that he was planning the Moscow trip to lecture at a university that invited him.

Upon returning, he suggested to senior campaign officials in an e-mail that he had done more than that.

“I’ll send you guys a readout soon regarding some incredible insights and outreach I received from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the presidential administration here,” he wrote.