U.S. intelligence officials obtained evidence that Russian operatives tried to infiltrate the Trump campaign through its sprawling network of advisers, CNN reported Friday.
Carter Page, who served as an adviser on Russia and energy policy until he departed over allegations that he met with Kremlin-allied figures during a July 2016 visit to Moscow, is one of those advisers, according to the report.
Page told CNN that he never collected intelligence or worked on behalf of the Russian government.
“My assumption throughout the last 26 years I’ve been going there has always been that any Russian person might share information with the Russian government … as I have similarly done with the CIA, the FBI and other government agencies in the past,” Page said.
Multiple anonymous U.S. officials told CNN that Page was only one of several Trump advisers that intelligence agencies in the United States and Britain found to be in frequent contact with Russian officials and Russians “known to Western intelligence.”
Page, an investment banker, gave a speech at Moscow’s New Economic School last summer calling for the U.S. to lift the sanctions put in place after the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea. He also belatedly acknowledged meeting with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. at the 2016 GOP convention, and confirmed to BuzzFeed that he met with and passed documents to a Russian intelligence operative in 2013, years prior to his association with Trump.
The White House has insisted Page only played a minor advisory role and never met with Trump himself during the campaign.
Page pushed back on that characterization in a letter to the House Intelligence Committee in which he offered to testify.
“For your information, I have frequently dined in Trump Grill, had lunch in Trump Cafe, had coffee meetings in the Starbucks at Trump Tower, attended events and spent many hours in campaign headquarters on the fifth floor last year,” Page wrote, as quoted by CNN.