Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser whose interactions with Russia are under FBI investigation, has repeatedly said he wants to cooperate with Congress's Russia probes to clear his name.
But in a letter this week to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Page appeared to initially duck specific questions regarding his interactions with Russian officials, suggesting that the panel seek that information from inside the U.S. government instead.
In an email to The Post, Page characterized the letter as a “preliminary response” to a Senate request that he begin providing detailed information no later than May 9, leaving open the possibility he will release more information to the committee in coming days. But he titled the letter a response to “request for even more irrelevant data” and asked that the committee first release to him information the government has collected through surveillance “as a starting point.”
The FBI last summer obtained a secret court order to monitor Page's communications after convincing a federal judge that there was probable cause to believe the energy consultant was acting as an agent of the Russian government. Page has angrily denied that allegation in a series of media interviews and public statements, insisting he is the victim of a smear campaign by Democrats.
Trump named Page as an unpaid adviser in March 2016. During his time working with the campaign, officials have said he never met with Trump. But he submitted policy memos and attended a handful of meetings in Washington of the volunteer group. Page drew attention during the campaign after he traveled to Moscow in July 2016 and gave a speech criticizing the U.S. government. Page took a leave from the campaign in September after the foreign visit drew scrutiny.
Quietly, Page also caught the interest of U.S. investigators, in part because a former British intelligence officer conducting research for political opponents of Trump claimed in research memos that Page was used as a liaison between the Trump campaign and Russian officials conducting an influence and cyberhacking campaign to affect the election, an allegation Page has denied. Page was already familiar to the FBI from a 2013 federal espionage case that had surfaced evidence that Page had contacts with a Russian intelligence operative in New York City. Page has said he cooperated in the case.
The Senate Intelligence Committee's chairman, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and vice chairman, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), wrote Page last week requesting that he provide a list of all meetings he held with Russian officials or representatives of Russian business interests between June 16, 2015, and Jan. 20, 2017. They also asked for email and other communications between him and Russian interests for the same time-frame, as well as communications records between him and other Trump officials discussing Russia and financial records reflecting any of Page's Russian-related business interests.
In response, Page said that the records he has maintained as a private citizen would be “minuscule” in comparison to those gathered by the Obama administration about him.
“As a starting point for this latest step in the witch hunt which you suggested per the cumbersome chores defined in your attached letter, I would request that you please begin by sharing the same information which you currently have as per the identical list of requests,” he continued.
In an email to The Post, Page wrote that his letter was part of an “ongoing dialogue” with the committee. Asked if he would provide detailed information to the committee without first receiving the internal government documents he requested, he responded: “I'm hoping that the Senate provides me the same information in time to proceed with the next steps in the ongoing witch hunt.”
“Let's see what happens,” he wrote.
To the senators, Page wrote that he remained “committed to helping the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in any way that I can.” But he devoted much of his more than two-page letter to asserting that he has been unfairly targeted by the Obama administration, in part because of his Catholic faith, treatment he claimed amounted to “hate crimes.”
“Our country is fortunate to now have competent leadership which has begun taking steps to put an end to such severe oppression as preliminary steps are now taken to restore the dignity of this great nation,” he wrote.
Trump officials have spent months trying to distance themselves from Page, who had been a little-known energy consultant who had spent several years living in Moscow before he was elevated to national attention by his campaign work. The White House's efforts have been complicated by Page's public statements, including national television interviews in which he has painted himself as a victim but refused to answer key questions.
In one exchange on MSNBC in March, Page at first refused to say whether he had met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a policy meeting that took place during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Finally, under grilling from host Chris Hayes, Page finally responded, “I'm not going to deny that I talked to him.” The network now uses the exchange in promotional material.
In his letter, Page indicated a willingness to remain in contact with the committee, including to testify in an open hearing. He noted that Warner has said he has been reading up on Russian history to prepare him for his work on the Russia probe.
“Although much of the current problem lies in the fact that the current line of thinking in Washington has remained rooted in the somewhat less antiquated tenets of the first Cold War, I look forward to helping clear up these many misperceptions by fully explaining the modern realities of Russia to you in open session of your Committee when we eventually have the opportunity to meet,” Page wrote.