Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Page Out Of Putin's Playbook

We've been talking about Trump's Russian connections through people associated with him for years: now-fired National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, now-fired Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and if the Washington Post is to be believed, the brother of Trump's Education Secretary Besty DeVos, Blackwater founder Erik Prince.

But the name we haven't heard too much of recently has been that of now-fired Trump campaign adviser and energy lobbyist Carter Page, who specialized in Russian oil deals.  Turns out that yes, Page's past is just as shady as the rest of Trump nested Russian dolls.

A former campaign adviser for Donald Trump met with and passed documents to a Russian intelligence operative in New York City in 2013. 
The adviser, Carter Page, met with a Russian intelligence operative named Victor Podobnyy, who was later charged by the US government alongside two others for acting as unregistered agents of a foreign government. The charges, filed in January 2015, came after federal investigators busted a Russian spy ring that was seeking information on US sanctions as well as efforts to develop alternative energy. Page is an energy consultant. 
A court filing by the US government contains a transcript of a recorded conversation in which Podobnyy speaks with one of the other men busted in the spy ring, Igor Sporyshev, about trying to recruit someone identified as “Male-1.” BuzzFeed News has confirmed that “Male-1” is Page
The revelation of Page’s connection to Russian intelligence — which occurred more than three years before his association with Trump — is the most clearly documented contact to date between Russian intelligence and someone in Trump’s orbit. It comes as federal investigators probe whether Trump’s campaign-era associates — including Page — had any inappropriate contact with Russian officials or intelligence operatives during the course of the election. Page has volunteered to help Senate investigators in their inquiry.

So Page is turning states' evidence, which makes sense because he's largely seen as a smaller fish in this huge pond full of scum.

It remains unclear how connected Page was to the Trump campaign. He rose to prominence seemingly out of nowhere last summer, touted by then-candidate Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers. Page was quickly cut from the Trump team following reports that federal investigators were probing his ties to Russian officials. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said last month that the campaign had sent Page cease and desist letters last year, demanding he stop associating himself with it. 
A US intelligence official said that investigators intend to question Page eventually, but that he was not considered a high priority. “There’s so many people that are more relevant,” the official said.

Boy are there ever.  Including, you know, just maybe the guy in the Oval Office.

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