Donald Trump Defends Carter Page On Twitter, But FBI Linked Page To Russian Spy Ring In 2013

Jonathan Vankin

After the FBI on Saturday released a 412-page application for a federal surveillance warrant on Donald Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, Trump took to Twitter to defend Page — and himself — quoting a right-wing commentator saying, "Carter Page wasn't a spy, wasn't an agent of the Russians....It was a fraud and a hoax designed to target Trump."

But what Trump did not mention was that Page was on the FBI's radar as a possible "agent of a foreign power" for at least three years before the Bureau applied for the FISA warrant. That warrant allowed the FBI to place Page under surveillance a full month after he left the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. In 2013, Page was identified for his role in passing documents to a Russian spy named Victor Podobnyy who was part of a three-man espionage ring in New York City, as BuzzFeed News reported last year.

Page has not been charged with any crimes, and in a CNN interview on Sunday, denied that he has ever acted as an "agent of a foreign power." In the same interview, however, Page said that he had, in fact, served as an "informal adviser to the Kremlin."

The Russian spies who met with Page in 2013 were not overly impressed with him, with Victor Podobnyy calling him "an idiot," but observing that Page, who has billed himself as an energy consultant, "wants to earn lots of money" from Russia's large energy companies, according to a account in Foreign Policy magazine.

As the Inquisitr has reported, Page was named in the Steele Dossier — the private intelligence file detailing deep ties between Trump and Russia — which alleged that Page met in Russia in 2016 with Igor Sechin, the CEO of Russia's state-owned oil company Rosneft.

According to the dossier, which was posted online by BuzzFeed, Sechin offered Page the opportunity to broker a 19 percent sale of the Rosneft, a star worth about $11 billion, in exchange for a promise by Trump to lift economic sanctions against Russia if he were elected.

Page has denied that he met with Sechin, but in Sunday's interview he acknowledged for the first time that he had discussed sanctions with "a few people" in Russia in "a loose conversation." In December of 2016, Rosneft sold a 19.5 percent stake in the company to buyers who remain mysterious. Within days of taking office, Trump secretly attempted to force the State Department to lift sanctions on Russia, as Yahoo! News reported at the time. But Trump's efforts were blocked by State Department officials, mostly holdovers from the administration of President Barack Obama.

In a Monday Twitter posting, Trump claimed that the FISA documents showed that the Steele Dossier, which he called the "Fake Dirty Dossier," was "falsely submitted to FISA and which was responsible for starting the totally conflicted and discredited Mueller Witch Hunt!"

But as PolitiFact reported, Trump's claims were simply false and not supported by the 412-page FISA document.

In fact, the investigation — opened by the FBI, not by Special Counsel Robert Mueller — was sparked by contacts between another Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, who met in early 2016 with a European academic who had ties to the Kremlin. The professor told Papadopoulos that Russians had "dirt" on Democrat Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails," as the Inquisitr reported.

Mueller was not appointed until May 17, 2017, as the New York Times reported, months after the FBI opened its Trump-Russia investigation, but just eight days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.