Carter Page coordinated Russia trip with top Trump campaign officials

WASHINGTON — Former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, who has come under scrutiny in the investigation of Russian election interference, told a House committee that he sought permission for a July 2016 trip to Moscow from senior Trump campaign officials, and reported to other Trump officials about the trip when he returned.

It’s long been known that Page traveled to Moscow in July 2016, but he has said it was in his private capacity, unrelated to his role with the Trump campaign.

Page, whose sworn testimony was released Monday night, told the House Intelligence Committee last week that he sought permission to make the trip from campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and also notified Hope Hicks, who is now the White House communications director.

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Key players in Trump-Russia connection allegations
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Key players in Trump-Russia connection allegations

Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort signed on as Donald Trump's campaign manager in March 2016. A longtime Republican strategist and beltway operative, Manafort had previously served as an adviser to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich -- a pro-Russia leader who was violently ousted in 2014. Manafort resigned from his campaign position in August 2016 amid questions over his lobbying history in Ukraine for an administration supportive of Russia. The former campaign manager reportedly remained in Trump's circle during the post-election transition period.

Michael Flynn

Gen. Michael Flynn was named President Trump's national security adviser in November of 2016. Flynn reportedly met and spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December, at one point discussing sanctions. Flynn originally told Vice President Pence he did not discuss sanctions -- a point the Department of Justice said made the national security adviser subject to blackmail. Flynn resigned from his position in February.

Sergey Kislyak

Outgoing Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak is the Russian official U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions -- communication Sessions denied during his Senate committee hearing testimony.

Roger Stone

Stone is a longtime Republican political consultant who served as a campaign adviser to Trump who continued to talk with the then-GOP candidate after stepping away from his adviser role. Stone claimed last year that he had knowledge of the planned WikiLeaks release of emails pertaining to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. Stone recently admitted to speaking via direct message with "Guccifer 2.0" -- an online entity U.S. officials believe is tied to Russia. Stone says the correspondence was “completely innocuous.”

Jeff Sessions

Former U.S. senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama joined Trump's campaign as a foreign policy adviser in February 2016. Sessions was nominated to be U.S. attorney general by President Trump and was then confirmed by the Senate. Reports then emerged that Sessions had spoken twice with Sergey Kislyak while he was senator -- a fact that he left out of his Senate hearing testimony. Instead, he said in writing that he had not communicated with any Russian officials during the campaign season. Sessions defended himself saying he had spoken with Kislyak specifically in a senate capacity.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

The American intelligence community accused Putin in Jan. 2017 of ordering a campaign to undermine trust in the American electoral process, developing a clear preference for Trump as president. "We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump," the report read.

James Comey

Comey publicly confirmed in March an FBI inquiry into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election. “The F.B.I., as part of our counterintelligence effort, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 president election,” Comey stated.

Carter Page

Page worked for Merrill Lynch as an investment banker out of their Moscow office for three years before joining Trump's campaign as a foreign policy adviser. During his time with Merrill Lynch, Page advised transactions for two major Russian entities. Page has called Washington "hypocritical" for focusing on corruption and democratization in addressing U.S. relations with Russia. While Page is someone Trump camp has seemingly tried to distance itself from, Page recently said he has made frequent visits to Trump Tower.

J.D. Gordon

Before Gordon joined the Trump campaign as a national security adviser in March 2016, he served as a Pentagon spokesman from 2005 through 2009. Like others involved in Trump-Russia allegations, Gordon met with ambassador Kislyak in July at the Republican National Convention, but has since denied any wrongdoing in their conversation. He advocated for and worked to revise the RNC language on and position toward Ukraine relations, so it was more friendly toward Russia's dealings in the country.

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Lewandowski told Page he was clear to go on the trip as long as the travel was not associated with his work on the campaign, Page told the committee.

Page also acknowledged that he had been aware that another volunteer campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, had been meeting with a professor with links to the Kremlin, according to the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Both men served on a campaign foreign policy advisory committee under the supervision of then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is now the attorney general. Page testified he told Sessions about the July 2016 Moscow trip, it has been previously reported.

Sessions "advised nothing" when Page told him about his plans to travel to Russia, Page said in the transcript.

"Page — after being presented with an email he sent to his campaign supervisors, and which he did not disclose to the committee prior to the interview and despite a subpoena from the Committee — detailed his meetings with Russian government officials and others, and said that they provided him with insights and outreach that he was interested in sharing with the campaign,” Schiff said in a statement.

In terse and sometimes heated exchanges with members of the committee, Page admitted that he had met with Russian officials and discussed the U.S. presidential election “in general terms.” He also met with the head of investor relations at Rosneft, a top Russian oil company. Page said the sanctions the U.S. has imposed on Russia may have come up in their discussion but “not directly.”

Page told the committee he wrote to Mueller on Oct. 5, explaining that he intends to plead the fifth amendment and keep documents related to his work in Russia to himself.

As has been previously reported, Page acknowledged that he may with met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich during the July 2016 trip.

In an email on July 8, Page told JD Gordon, a Trump campaign official, that he received “some incredible insights” from his meetings with :Russian legislators and a few members of the presidential administration,” according to the testimony.

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Former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page
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Former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page
One-time advisor of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump Carter Page addresses the audience during a presentation in Moscow, Russia, December 12, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
One-time advisor of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump Carter Page addresses the audience during a presentation in Moscow, Russia, December 12, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
One-time advisor of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump Carter Page addresses the audience during a presentation in Moscow, Russia, December 12, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 02: Carter Page, walks away after speaking to the media after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on November 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee conducting an investigation into Russia's tampering in the 2016 election. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 12, 2016: Carter Page, Global Energy Capital LLC Managing Partner and a former foreign policy adviser to U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump, makes a presentation titled ' Departing from Hypocrisy: Potential Strategies in the Era of Global Economic Stagnation, Security Threats and Fake News' during his visit to Moscow. Artyom Korotayev/TASS (Photo by Artyom Korotayev\TASS via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 02: Carter Page, former foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, speaks to the media after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on November 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee conducting an investigation into Russia's tampering in the 2016 election. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 12, 2016: Carter Page, Global Energy Capital LLC Managing Partner and a former foreign policy adviser to U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump, makes a presentation titled ' Departing from Hypocrisy: Potential Strategies in the Era of Global Economic Stagnation, Security Threats and Fake News' during his visit to Moscow. Artyom Korotayev/TASS (Photo by Artyom Korotayev\TASS via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 02: Carter Page, former foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, speaks to the media after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on November 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee conducting an investigation into Russia's tampering in the 2016 election. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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“During many public appearances prior to his November 2, 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in open session, Carter Page characterized his July 2016 trip to Russia as a private one in which his interactions with Russian individuals were largely confined to the 'man on the street,’” Schiff said. "In his testimony, however, he was forced to acknowledge that he communicated with high level Russian officials while in Moscow, including one of Russia’s Deputy Prime Ministers. He also admitted notifying the fact of his meetings to his campaign supervisors.

Page told NBC News Monday night that some lawmakers are focusing on "irrelevant distractions." Last month he told NBC News, "I'm cooperating with everyone in D.C. who might want my assistance." He called the Russia investigation a "witch hunt that was sparked by the dodgy dossier in the months prior to November 2016."

Page has been open about some of his contacts with Russian officials during and before the 2016 presidential campaign, including with former Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

"I'm not going to deny that I talked with him," Page said in March on MSNBC's "All In With Chris Hayes."

In his testimony, Page acknowledged meeting with numerous senior individuals from Russian energy companies Rosneft and Gazprom in Moscow in July and December, according to an NBC News review of the transcript.

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