Carter Page is in the center of a Russian spy scandal, one that could raise the prospect of Donald Trump’s impeachment.
Page served as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, leaving the team before the election. A new report from the Associated Press found that Page was targeted by Russian spies to provide information about the American energy industry back in 2013 before he went to work for Trump.
Page ended up cooperating with the FBI in an investigation of three Russian men identified as members of the country’s overseas intelligence agency.
One of the men investigated has another connection with a Trump insider, his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
“One of them, Evgeny Buryakov, was operating undercover as an executive in the New York office of a Russian development bank,” the Associated Press report noted.
“The Buryakov case resurfaced in headlines last week when President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner revealed he had met with the head of the same bank. Buryakov was sentenced to 30 months in prison as part of a plea agreement, but he was released from prison over the weekend and is awaiting deportation to Russia.”
As The Associated Press also noted, Carter Page had virtually no profile in Washington before Trump identified him as a key figure in a meeting with the Washington Post editorial board. Page has also been at the center of allegations that Donald Trump and his team worked closely with Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 campaign.
Page was named in a dossier compiled by former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele as a key contact with Russian officials, claiming that he met secretly with the Kremlin on Trump’s behalf. The dossier claimed that Russian officials had been working for years to cultivate Donald Trump as a presidential candidate, compiling damaging information to serve as blackmail while also offering lucrative financial deals in exchange for Trump lessening the economic sanctions crippling Russia and its energy industry.
The dossier also claimed that Trump’s team coordinated with Russia on the release of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign leader, John Podesta.
Page has vehemently denied any secret meetings with Russia.
While the 2013 meeting itself did not involve the Trump campaign, it does create another connection to Russia in an investigation that many believe will lead to Donald Trump’s impeachment. In the initial meeting of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, ranking member Adam Schiff detailed how Carter Page was allegedly at the center of the collusion between Trump’s team and Russia.
“In early July, Carter Page travels to Moscow on a trip approved by the Trump campaign,” Schiff said (via Fox News).
“While in Moscow, he gives a speech critical of the United States and other western countries for what he believes is a hypocritical focus on democratization and efforts to fight corruption.”
Page appeared to play a critical role in Trump’s team shifting away from what had been a hard-line stance Republicans took against Russia, the report added.
“After his Moscow speech, Page attended the Republican National Convention last July in Cleveland. Steele and Schiff described how Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak met with Page – acting as a go-between on behalf of then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Then, according to Schiff, ‘Just prior to the convention, the Republican Party platform is changed, removing a section that supports the provision of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine, an action that would be contrary to Russian interests.’ “
With the building evidence of Trump team’s connections to Russia, there are a growing number of voices calling for Trump’s impeachment, and the American public seems to back the idea as well.
“According to Public Policy Polling, a self-described Democratic polling firm, 53 per cent of Americans feel that Mr Trump should resign if there is sufficient evidence that his administration colluded with Russia,” The Independent reported.
The report on Carter Page was published just hours after another potentially damaging story, with the Washington Post reporting that Blackwater founder Erik Prince met with a Russian close to Vladimir Putin in a secret meeting in December to established a back-channel line of communication between the Kremlin and Donald Trump.
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]