- The House Intelligence Committee released a transcript of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page’s testimony before the panel last week.
- Some of the testimony supports details contained in what’s become known as the Steele dossier.
- Page revealed that he had met with Russian government officials and a top official at a state-owned oil giant during a 2016 trip to Moscow.
The House Intelligence Committee on Monday released the full transcript of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page’s testimony before the panel last week, portions of which support details in an explosive collection of memos outlining alleged collusion between the campaign and Moscow during the election.
Page revealed during his testimony that he met with both members of Russia’s presidential administration and with the head of investor relations at the state-owned Russian oil giant Rosneft during his trip to Moscow last July.
He also congratulated members of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team on July 14 for their “excellent work” on the “Ukraine amendment” – a reference to the Trump campaign’s decision to “intervene” to water down a proposed amendment to the GOP’s Ukraine platform.
The original amendment proposed that the GOP commit to sending “lethal weapons” to the Ukrainian army to fend off Russian aggression. But it was ultimately altered to say “provide appropriate assistance” before it was included in the party’s official platform. The dossier alleges that the campaign “agreed to sideline” the issue of Russia’s invasion of Crimea and interference in eastern Ukraine in exchange for dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Page also also revealed that Trump campaign adviser Sam Clovis had asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement upon joining the campaign – and that he discussed his July Moscow trip with Clovis both before he went and after he returned.
Clovis has come under intense scrutiny over his correspondence with another early Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, who recently pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his contact with Russia-linked foreign nationals.
Papadopoulos was told in April by a Kremlin-linked professor that Russia had dirt on Clinton in the form of “thousands” of emails, and he emailed Clovis several times during the election asking to arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Emails contained in newly unsealed court documents filed by Mueller’s office show that Clovis never shot down the idea, at one point even encouraging Papadopoulos to travel to Moscow himself.
‘Incredible insights and outreach from a few Russian legislators’
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff confronted Page with an email he wrote on July 8 from Moscow to Trump campaign adviser J.D. Gordon saying that he had received “incredible insights and outreach from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the presidential administration here.”
Former British spy Christopher Steele wrote in the dossier that an “official close to Presidential Administration Head, S. IVANOV, confided in a compatriot that a senior colleague in the Internal Political Department of the PA, DIVYEKIN (nfd) also had met secretly with PAGE on his recent visit.”
According to that official in the dossier, Diveykin told Page that the Kremlin had a dossier of kompromat on Hillary Clinton that they wanted to give to the Trump campaign.
In his congressional testimony, Page denied meeting with Diveykin and said the “senior members of the presidential administration” that he had referred to in his email was actually just “a brief, less-than-10-second chat with [deputy Prime Minister] Arkadiy Dvorkovich.”
He said his mention of “legislators” was a reference to “a few people who were shaking hands” with him in passing.
Gordon, for his part, said on Monday that he doesn’t “recall all of Carter Page’s emails.”
“I was getting thousands of emails on the campaign and didn’t read all of them,” he told BI. “I discouraged Carter from taking the trip to Moscow in the first place because it was a bad idea…he eventually went around me directly to campaign leadership.”
Then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski approved Page’s trip, according to Gordon.
Page spoke to a top official at a state-owned Russian oil company
Schiff also asked Page whether, in advance of his trip to Moscow, he met with Andrey Baranov – the head of investor relations at the Russian oil company Rosneft.
“We got in touch, and he told me about this event,” Page said.
“Well, Mr. Baranov works for Mr. Sechin, does he not?” Schiff asked.
“He’s part of – he’s a part of the team at Rosneft,” Page said. He said he “possibly” spoke to Baranov before traveling to Moscow.
“As someone working on investor relations for a CEO who is under sanctions [Igor Sechin], would it be advantageous for that head of investor relations to see those sanctions go away?” Schiff asked.
The intelligence community in January 2017 briefed President Donald Trump, then-President Barack Obama, then-Vice President Joe Biden, and the nation’s top lawmakers on the dossier’s claims, many of which have not been independently verified but are being investigated by the FBI and congressional intelligence committees.
Four months before, a US intelligence source told Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff that Sechin met with Page during Page’s three-day trip to Moscow. Sechin, the source told Yahoo, raised the issue of the US lifting sanctions on Russia under Trump.
Steele wrote in his dossier that a Russian source close to Sechin said in July 2016 that Sechin and Page had held a “secret meeting” to discuss “the issues of future bilateral energy cooperation and prospects for an associated move to lift Ukraine-related western sanctions against Russia.”
The dossier alleged that Sechin offered Page the brokerage of a 19% stake in the company in exchange for the lifting of US sanctions on Russia.
Page told Schiff that the sanctions issue was “outside the scope” of Baranov’s responsibilities, and said he couldn’t recall when asked whether he had spoken to Baranov again after returning to the US. Page also said he met with an investor relations official at Gazprom while in Moscow in both July and December.
Asked whether he and Baranov discussed “a potential sale of a significant percentage of Rosneft” in July, Page said, “He may have briefly mentioned it.”
“Did you ever express support for the idea of lifting US sanctions on Russia with Mr. Baranov?” Schiff asked.
“Not – not directly, not directly,” Page said.
There is no evidence that Page played any role in the Rosneft deal. But Page returned to Moscow one day after the Rosneft deal was signed on December 8 to “meet with some of the top managers” of Rosneft, he told reporters at the time. Page denied meeting with Sechin, Rosneft’s CEO, during that trip, but he said it would have been “a great honor” if he had.
From there, Page traveled to London, where he met with his “old friend” Sergey Yatsenko – a former mid-level Gazprom executive – to discuss “some opportunities in Kazakhstan.”
Asked whether he had ever met the overseas professor who told Papadopoulos about the Kremlin’s dossier of incriminating Clinton emails, Joseph Misfud, Page at first said “No.”
But he then seemed to backtrack: “I – you know, there may have been a greeting,” he said. “I have no recollection of ever interacting with him in any way, shape or form…I have no personal relationship with him.”