For­mer Trump ad­viser calls Rus­sian agent charges a joke.

Hill pan­els work on wit­ness lists for probe hear­ings

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAN BOY­LAN

The for­mer Trump for­eign pol­icy ad­viser in the eye of a par­ti­san storm over his role in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign said Wed­nes­day that al­le­ga­tions he acted as a Rus­sian agent “were a joke,” while Capi­tol Hill in­ves­ti­ga­tors pri­vately say they’re con­tin­u­ing to wres­tle with the wit­ness list for up­com­ing con­gres­sional in­quiries into al­leged Krem­lin med­dling in the 2016 elec­tions.

Cit­ing un­named law en­force­ment and other U.S. of­fi­cials, The Washington Post re­ported the For­eign In­tel­li­gence Surveil­lance Court last sum­mer gave the FBI and Jus­tice De­part­ment clear­ance to track Carter Page be­cause a judge saw prob­a­ble cause he might be act­ing as an agent of a for­eign power.

On Wed­nes­day Mr. Page lashed back, ex­pand­ing on ear­lier de­nials that he had proper ties to Rus­sia. “This is just such a joke that it is be­yond words,” he told CNN’s Jake Tap­per.

The scan­dal in­cludes Rus­sia med­dling in the 2016 race, sus­pected ties be­tween Trump cam­paign aides and Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence agents and the han­dling of sen­si­tive in­tel­li­gence data by Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials look­ing into the charges. The FBI has con­firmed it has a still-ac­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­der­way into pos­si­ble ties be­tween Moscow and the Trump cam­paign.

The Washington Post re­port de­tailed a court fil­ing in­volv­ing a case against three men charged in con­nec­tion with a Cold War-style Rus­sian spy­ing ring that in­volved Mr. Page. The 45-year-old oil in­dus­try con­sul­tant, who has worked in Moscow, was not charged in that case. When Mr. Tap­per asked whether he knew he was deal­ing with spies, Mr. Page said he never had any indi­ca­tion. “Of course I wasn’t act­ing as an agent for a for­eign gov­ern­ment,” he said.

Mr. Page also de­clined to say who brought him aboard the Trump cam­paign. “It wasn’t Paul Manafort,” Mr. Page told CNN, re­fer­ring to the for­mer Trump cam­paign man­ager who has also been the sub­ject of in­tense scru­tiny over his own Rus­sia con­nec­tions.

By co­in­ci­dence, a spokesman for Mr. Manafort on Wed­nes­day re­vealed that he has de­cided to regis­ter with the Jus­tice De­part­ment as a for­eign agent for lob­by­ing work he did on be­half of po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests in Ukraine, led at the time by a pro-Rus­sian po­lit­i­cal party, The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

In an ear­lier state­ment, Mr. Page in­sisted he was “happy” the so-called FISA court or­der au­tho­riz­ing a U.S. in­tel­li­gence probe had been made pub­lic be­cause it re­vealed ev­i­dence the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion wanted to “sup­press dis­si­dents who did not fully sup­port their failed for­eign pol­icy.”

“It will be in­ter­est­ing to see what comes out when the un­jus­ti­fied ba­sis for those FISA re­quests are more fully dis­closed over time,” Mr. Page said.

Mr. Page also re­peated a de­sire to clear his name by tes­ti­fy­ing be­fore Congress.

Last week, rank­ing Demo­crat on the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Rep. Adam B. Schiff told MSNBC the panel will hear from Mr. Page “at the ap­pro­pri­ate time.”

On Wed­nes­day, Capi­tol Hill sources told The Washington Times that while House and Se­nate mem­bers are in re­cess, in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee staffers are busy churn­ing through thou­sands of in­ves­ti­ga­tion-re­lated raw in­tel­li­gence doc­u­ments. They’re also scru­ti­niz­ing a tes­ti­mony list.

Last month Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee chair­man Sen. Richard Burr said his staff had be­gun to sched­ule the first of at least 20 in­ter­views. The North Carolina Repub­li­can has de­clined to pro­vide any spe­cific names.

Sev­eral Trump aides as­so­ci­ated with the con­gres­sional probes have pub­licly vol­un­teered to tes­tify. In ad­di­tion to Mr. Page, they in­clude Mr. Manafort, Trump cam­paign and po­lit­i­cal ad­viser Roger Stone and Jared Kush­ner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and aide.

Last month for­mer Trump Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s re­quest for im­mu­nity in ex­change for his tes­ti­mony was turned down. At the time, Mr. Schiff said it was dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine what Mr. Flynn knew and whether his words would shed any light on the deeper in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

On Wed­nes­day, a source close to the con­gres­sional com­mit­tees said that while mem­bers of Congress had ex­pressed in­ter­est in hear­ing from Christo­pher Steele, the one­time Bri­tish spy who com­piled an ex­plo­sive and un­ver­i­fied dossier on Mr. Trump, many fac­tors, in­clud­ing his back­ground with Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence, made that un­likely.


For­mer Pres­i­dent Trump ad­viser Carter Page called al­le­ga­tions that he acted as a Rus­sian agent “a joke,” call­ing the whole mat­ter “be­yond words.”

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