Carter Page: The Kremlin’s useful ‘idiot’
“He is the mysterious aide who just won’t go away,” said Tom McCarthy in TheGuardian.com. An odd, vehemently pro-Kremlin former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page triggered the FBI surveillance that’s at the center of the controversial “Nunes memo.” Who, exactly, is Page? Before joining Trump’s campaign, Page, 46, spent years in Moscow as an investment banker and adviser to the state oil firm Gazprom. By 2013, he was back in New York, in “his new office next to Trump Tower,” said Luke Harding in Politico.com. That year, a Russian spy working in New York tried to recruit Page. In recorded conversations, Viktor Podobnyy told a fellow agent that Page was “an idiot,” but that “it’s obvious he wants to earn loads of money.” Podobnyy said he would feed the American energy consultant “empty promises”—pledging to push generous contracts his way in exchange for valuable information. Page communicated with Podobnyy for months, later telling the FBI that he didn’t realize the Russian was a spy.
“Fast-forward to March 2016,” said Byron York in WashingtonExaminer.com, when presidential candidate Donald Trump announced that “Carter Page, Ph.D.” was joining his new foreign policy advisory panel. By July, Page was off to Moscow on a campaign-approved trip. Officially, he was there to give a pro-Russia speech. But in his now famous dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele claims that Page also met with Putin crony Igor Sechin, head of Russia’s state-owned oil company Rosneft—and that Sechin offered “Page and/or other Trump associates millions of dollars in exchange for ending U.S. sanctions against Russia.” When news of Page’s Russian connections went public that September, the Trump campaign cast Page out; a month later, the FBI put him under surveillance as part of its growing Russia investigation.
Given the unflattering attention he’s received, you’d think Page would be in hiding with his lawyers, said Andrew Prokop in Vox.com. But the eccentric Russophile has spent the last year making “nonstop media appearances” and testifying in front of House Intelligence Committee members for hours “without a lawyer”—frequently complaining about his supposed persecution by the “Clinton-Obama-Comey” regime. When the Nunes memo was released last week, Page took “a victory lap,” texting a reporter it was “a giant, historic leap in the repair of America’s democracy.”