Carter Page, in a winding and often evasive interview, did not deny meeting with the Russian ambassador to the United States during an off-the-record gathering at the Republican National Convention.
Once a member of then-candidate Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisory team, Page has faced scrutiny for his alleged communications with Russian nationals, including intelligence officials, though he has denied knowingly communicating with the latter group.
“I’m not going to deny that I talked to him. I will say that I never met him anywhere outside of Cleveland,” Page told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes of his meeting with Sergey Kislyak. Page had earlier cited “confidentiality rules when I served in the U.S. Navy, and I’m sticking with the commitment I made to the organizers that I would keep it an off-the-record meeting.”
— All In w/Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) March 3, 2017
USA Today reported Thursday that Page and J.D. Gordon – a national security aide for the Trump campaign – spoke with Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, during a diplomatic conference connected to the RNC. Several other Trump advisers were in attendance, the paper reported.
Page also said that it was “a fair assessment” to say he advised the Trump campaign, including writing memos and participating in conference calls, though he never briefed Trump personally.
Hayes brought up reports from September that Page met with Igor Sechin, a longtime Putin associate and now CEO of Rosneft, the state-controlled oil company, which was sanctioned by the Obama administration; and Sergei Ivanov, Putin’s former chief of staff. The allegations were repeated in a yet-largely unsubstantiated dossier, which claimed the Russian government had compromising information on President Trump.
“I didn’t meet with any of those guys,” Page told the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin in September – after he stepped down from the Trump campaign following charges he had secretly communicated with top Russian officials.
He told Hayes Thursday night: “I may have been at a meeting in a conference or something so I want to be careful – but I never shook either of their hands.”