Ad­viser to Trump met with Rus­sian of­fi­cials on 2016 trip

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - Mark Mazzetti and Adam Gold­man

WASH­ING­TON — Carter Page, a for­eign pol­icy ad­viser to the Trump pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, met Rus­sian gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials dur­ing a July 2016 trip he took to Moscow, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony he gave Thurs­day to the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee.

Shortly af­ter the trip, Page sent an email to at least one Trump cam­paign aide de­scrib­ing in­sights he had af­ter con­ver­sa­tions with gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, leg­is­la­tors and busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives dur­ing his time in Moscow, ac­cord­ing to one per­son fa­mil­iar with the con­tents of the mes­sage.

The email was read aloud dur­ing the closed-door tes­ti­mony.

The new de­tails of the trip present a dif­fer­ent pic­ture than the ac­count Page has given dur­ing nu­mer­ous ap­pear­ances in the news me­dia in re­cent months and are yet an­other ex­am­ple of a Trump ad­viser meet­ing with Rus­sians of­fi­cials dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign.

In mul­ti­ple in­ter­views with the New York Times, he had ei­ther de­nied meet­ing with any Rus­sian gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials dur­ing the July 2016 visit or sidestepped the ques­tion, say­ing he met with “mostly schol­ars.”

Page con­firmed the meet­ings in an in­ter­view Friday evening, but he played down their sig­nif­i­cance.

“I had a very brief hello to a cou­ple of peo­ple. That was it,” he said. He said one of the peo­ple he met was a “se­nior per­son,” but would not con­firm the per­son’s iden­tity.

He con­firmed that an email he had writ­ten to the cam­paign af­ter that trip to Moscow was pre­sented to him dur­ing Thurs­day’s ap­pear­ance be­fore the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee.

Page ac­knowl­edged his meet­ing with Rus­sian gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials dur­ing sharp ques­tion­ing by Rep. Adam B. Schiff of Cal­i­for­nia, the top Demo­crat on the com­mit­tee, ac­cord­ing to a con­gres­sional of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with the ex­change.

Dur­ing an­other part of the tes­ti­mony, Page was ques­tioned about a trip to Bu­dapest, Hun­gary, al­though it was not im­me­di­ately clear why. Page told the Times ear­lier this year that he had taken that trip around La­bor Day week­end last year, but he said he had not met with any Rus­sians.

“It was a short four-day trip over a long hol­i­day week­end at the end of the sum­mer,” Page said at the time. “I had a nice trip up the Danube, to the Viseg­rad cas­tle, did a lot of sight­see­ing and went to a jazz club. Not much to re­port.”

Court records un­sealed Mon­day re­vealed that an­other cam­paign ad­viser, Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los, met with Rus­sian of­fi­cials in 2016 and was of­fered dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about Hil­lary Clin­ton in the form of “thou­sands of emails.”

The court records were re­leased by Robert S. Mueller III, the spe­cial coun­sel in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian at­tempts to dis­rupt the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion last year and whether any of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s as­so­ci­ates helped in that ef­fort.

Page was ques­tioned by the FBI this year and has also ap­peared be­fore the grand jury as part of the spe­cial coun­sel’s in­quiry.

The House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee is one of three con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tions that are also ex­am­in­ing these is­sues.

Page’s trip to Moscow in July 2016 was never a se­cret, and dur­ing the trip, he gave a speech at a grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony at the New Eco­nomic School, a univer­sity there.

But the trip was one of the trig­gers of a coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gun by the FBI later that month.

In his talk at the univer­sity, Page crit­i­cized U.S. pol­icy to­ward Rus­sia in terms that echoed the po­si­tion of Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin of Rus­sia. HONOLULU — On his most gru­el­ing and con­se­quen­tial trip abroad, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump stands ready to ex­hort Asian al­lies and ri­vals on the need to counter the dan­gers posed by North Korea’s nu­clear threat.

The 12-day, five-coun­try trip, the long­est Far East itin­er­ary for a pres­i­dent in a gen­er­a­tion, comes at a pre­car­i­ous mo­ment for Trump. Just days ago, his for­mer cam­paign chair­man was in­dicted and an­other ad­viser pleaded guilty as part of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into pos­si­ble col­lu­sion be­tween his 2016 cam­paign and Rus­sian of­fi­cials.

With Trump set to ar­rive to­day in Ja­pan, the trip presents a cru­cial in­ter­na­tional test for a pres­i­dent look­ing to re­as­sure Asian al­lies wor­ried that his in­ward-look­ing “Amer­ica First” agenda could cede power in the re­gion to China. They also are rat­tled by his bel­li­cose rhetoric about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The North’s grow­ing mis­sile arsenal threat­ens the cap­i­tals Trump will visit.

“The trip comes, I would ar­gue, at a very in­op­por­tune time for the pres­i­dent. He is un­der grow­ing do­mes­tic vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that we all know about, hour to hour,” said Jonathan Pol­lack, a se­nior fel­low at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion in Wash­ing­ton. “The con­junc­tion of those is­sues leads to the pal­pa­ble sense of un­ease about the po­ten­tial cri­sis in Korea.”

Trump’s spon­ta­neous, and at time reck­less, style flies in the face of the gen­er­a­tions-old tra­di­tions and pro­to­col that gov­ern diplo­matic ex­changes in Asia. The grand re­cep­tions ex­pected for him in Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing and be­yond are sure to be lav­ish at­tempts to im­press the pres­i­dent, who raved about the ex­trav­a­gances shown him on ear­lier vis­its to Saudi Ara­bia and France.

The trip will also put Trump in face-to-face meet­ings with au­thor­i­tar­ian lead­ers for whom he has ex­pressed ad­mi­ra­tion. They in­clude China’s Xi Jin­ping, whom Trump has likened to “a king,” and the Philip­pines’ Ro­drigo Duterte, who has sanc­tioned the ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings of drug deal­ers.

Trump may also have the chance for a sec­ond pri­vate au­di­ence with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, on the side­lines of a sum­mit in Viet­nam. The White House is sig­nal­ing that Trump will push Amer­i­can eco­nomic in­ter­ests in the re­gion, but the North Korean threat is ex­pected to dom­i­nate the trip. One of Trump’s two ma­jor speeches will come be­fore the Na­tional As­sem­bly in Seoul. Fiery threats against the North could res­onate dif­fer­ently than they do from the dis­tance of Wash­ing­ton.

Trump will forgo a trip to the Demil­i­ta­rized Zone, the stark bor­der be­tween North and South Korea. All U.S. pres­i­dents ex­cept one since Ron­ald Rea­gan have vis­ited the DMZ in a sign of sol­i­dar­ity with Seoul. The White House con­tends that Trump’s com­mit­ment to South Korea is al­ready crys­tal clear, as ev­i­denced by his war of words with Kim and his threats to de­liver “fire and fury” to North Korea if it does not stop threat­en­ing Amer­i­can al­lies.

The es­ca­la­tion of rhetoric, a de­par­ture from the con­duct of past pres­i­dents, has un­der­mined con­fi­dence in the U.S. as a sta­bi­liz­ing pres­ence in Asia.

“There’s a danger if there is a lot of mus­cle flex­ing,” said Mike Chi­noy, a se­nior fel­low at the U.S.-China In­sti­tute at the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. “Trump has been go­ing right up to the edge and I wouldn’t rule out some sort of force­ful North Korean re­ac­tion to Trump’s pres­ence in the re­gion,” he said.

The White House said Trump would be un­de­terred.

“The pres­i­dent will use what­ever lan­guage he wants to use, ob­vi­ously. That’s been of great re­as­sur­ance to our al­lies, part­ners and oth­ers in the re­gion who are lit­er­ally un­der the gun of this regime,” White House na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser H.R. McMaster said Thurs­day. “I don’t think the pres­i­dent re­ally mod­u­lates his lan­guage, have you no­ticed?”

At each stop, Trump will urge his hosts to squeeze North Korea by stop­ping trad­ing with the North and send­ing home North Korean cit­i­zens work­ing abroad. That in­cludes China, which com­petes with the U.S. for in­flu­ence in the re­gion and pro­vides much of North Korea’s eco­nomic lifeblood.

The White House is bank­ing on the close re­la­tion­ships Trump has es­tab­lished with some Asian lead­ers to help make his de­mands more palat­able.


Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and first lady Me­la­nia Trump toss flower petals into the sea at the USS Ari­zona Memo­rial at Pearl Har­bor on Friday. With Trump are Adm. Harry Har­ris and his wife, Bruni Bradley.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.