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FBI investigation of Trump and Russia reportedly started with Carter Page's Moscow trip

Carter Page's six-month stint as a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign may have been relatively brief, but it also appears to have been consequential. Page had been on the FBI's radar since a Russian spy tried to recruit him in 2013, and when he convinced the Trump campaign to allow him to travel to Moscow to give a Russia-friendly speech in July, the FBI took notice and began to dig into connections between Russia and the Trump campaign, The New York Times reports, citing "current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials."

Trump announced that Page was a campaign adviser in March 2016, at the recommendation of Iowa economics professor and Tea Party activist Sam Clovis, The New York Times says, adding:

It is unclear exactly what about Mr. Page's visit caught the FBI's attention: meetings he had during his three days in Moscow, intercepted communications of Russian officials speaking about him, or something else. After Mr. Page, 45 — a Navy veteran and businessman who had lived in Moscow for three years — stepped down from the Trump campaign in September, the FBI obtained a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing the authorities to monitor his communications on the suspicion that he was a Russian agent. [The New York Times]

Page's ties to both Russian state energy official and the Trump campaign set off alarm bells but not in isolation — campaign chairman Paul Manafort was already under investigation for his work with a pro-Moscow political party in Ukraine, and Trump's own consistent praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin was considered odd — and in the months after the FBI opened its investigation in July, "more evidence came to light, including intercepts of Russian officials discussing Mr. Page and other Trump associates," The New York Times says.

Carter is not known to have met individually with Trump or even written a policy paper that anyone in the campaign read. But he obviously found the experience gratifying. "The half year I spent on the Trump campaign meant more to me than the five years I spent in the Navy," Page said last month. You can read more at The New York Times.