According to a Buzzfeed report, Trump campaign’s early foreign policy adviser Carter Page was courted by a Russian intelligence operative four years ago to start a career as a Russian spy. The news should come as no surprise since Page had an extensive knowledge of Russia and was once described as “a brazen apologist for anything Moscow did.”
Pages Ties to Moscow
Buzzfeed published earlier this week several court documents, alleging that the Trump campaign aide shared some files with the Russian operative during those meetings.
Trump campaign tapping Page for the role of foreign policy adviser was met with criticism in Washington at the time. Page moved to Moscow to work for Merrill Lynch in 2004. In the meantime, he became acquainted with the Russian gas giant Gazprom.
During the 2016 presidential election, Page spoke on behalf of Trump in the U.S. and Moscow, he often praised Putin and voiced hope of a better relationship between the two countries under a Trump presidency. He didn’t stop short of criticizing his own country’s foreign policy decisions at the time.
Meanwhile, he met with many Russian officials, encounters which Page described as being part of “a peaceful relationship with Russian citizens.” The new report, however, suggests that he met with a Russian spy in 2013, who attempted to recruit him.
The arrangement surfaced from a series of court documents in a trial filed against three Russian spies for unauthorized intelligence work on U.S. soil. According to the documents which contain transcripts of the recordings made by the U.S. counterintelligence, one of the spies Victor Podobnyy tells one of his colleagues about the contacts with Page.
Russians See Page as Gullible
The Russian operative described Trump’s former campaign aide as gullible and overeager to hit the jackpot by doing business with Russia’s Big Oil. Podobnyy claims he made multiple big offers to Trump’s former foreign policy adviser.
I like that he takes on everything.[…] I also promised him a lot: that I have connections in the Trade Representation, meaning that you can push contracts [laughs]. I will feed him empty promises,
Podobnyy told his fellow spy.
The U.S. intelligence thinks that the Russian operative tried to recruit Page or at least squeeze some info from him by luring him with hard-to-resist business opportunities. The transcripts don’t include details about Page’s response to the offer. On one occasion, Page acknowledged that he had given some files to Podobnyy, but those documents contained only “publicly available” information and primary immaterial information.
The U.S. has charged the American businessman in absentia as his diplomatic immunity allowed him to leave the country.
In March, Page told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the Obama administration might have ordered surveillance on him as he had “spent many hours” with the then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and his campaign.