Carter Page, a key figure in the scandal over collusion between Donald Trump and Russia in the 2016 presidential campaign, plans to take the Fifth Amendment, invoking his constitutional right against incriminating himself, if he is called to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to a report by the Washington insider site Politico published late on Tuesday.
According to the report, Page was planning to refuse cooperation with the Senate committee — which is conducting one of several ongoing investigations into the Trump Russia affair — "and would plead the Fifth." But on Wednesday, Page denied that he was avoiding an appearance before the committee.
In correspondence with another Washington political site, the Hill, Page said that he had offered to testify before the committee on November 1. But perhaps significantly, in the Hill report, Page did not comment on whether he planned to invoke his Fifth Amendment privileges, refusing to answer questions on the grounds that his answers could incriminate himself.
When Page's name began circulating in the media as a key player in contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, Trump denied knowing Page, saying, "I don't think I've ever spoken to him. I don't think I've ever met him. And he actually said he was a very low-level member of I think a committee for a short period of time. I don't think I ever met him."
But in February, the Dutch-owned English-language Russian newspaper the Moscow Times reported that Page was a "potential candidate" to be named United States ambassador to Russia by Trump.
And in May, Trump posted Twitter messages about Page, appearing to praise his former campaign adviser who, Trump wrote, "blows away their (i.e. Democrats) case against him." Trump ended his tweets about Page with his often-invoked phrase regarding the Russia investigation, "Witch hunt!"
Page is reported to have traveled to Russia last year during the campaign to meet with Igor Sechin, CEO of the state-owned Russian oil company giant Rosneft. According to a report by investigative journalist Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News, Page and Sechin discussed what it would take to get Trump to lift economic sanctions against Russia if Trump won the U.S. election.
In the "Steele Dossier," the private intelligence document now being used as an investigative tool by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Page is alleged to have brokered the sale of 19 percent of Rosneft's assets — a sale worth about $11 billion, and one which would be tied to a pledge by Trump to roll back the U.S. economic sanctions against Russia.
Read the previous Inquisitr report on the alleged deal between Page and Rosneft at this link.
In December, Rosneft sold 19.5 percent of its assets to buyers who remain mysterious, according to a Reuters report. Though the reported buyers were a Singapore-based company called Glencore, in fact, records show that much of the Rosneft stake ended up with a company based in the Caribbean tax haven of the Cayman Islands, where companies are not required to reveal their owners, Reuters reported.
The Steele Dossier is most famous for containing the "pee tape" story, alleging that Trump paid Russian prostitutes to urinate on a bed once slept in by President Barack Obama, and that the incident was filmed by Russian intelligence agents who may be using the recording to blackmail Trump.
But while not as headline-grabbing as the "pee tape" allegations, the dossier's account of Page and the Rosneft deal is far more explosive, stating that the $11 billion in Rosneft shares may have been, in effect, a bribe offered to Trump to lift economic sanctions on Russia. So far, Trump has not lifted those sanctions, but critics have charged that his approach to enforcing sanctions against Russia has been lax.
[Featured Images by Evan Vucci/Pavel Golovkin/AP Images]