Former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page has been infiltrating cable news (and possibly your nightmares) with his shifty mannerisms for the past several weeks. Now, CNN reports (via U.S. officials) that Russian operatives attempted to “infiltrate” the Trump campaign through Carter Page. Yikes.
This conclusion plops together more puzzle pieces after the FBI revealed that one of Page’s Moscow trips (in July 2016) tipped them off about the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia, and it was revealed that Page met with a Russian spy (who tried to recruit him) in 2013. U.S. intelligence later intercepted talks from Russian officials who were discussing various Trump associates, including Page, who has taken many trips to speak in Russia and even lived there for three years.
For anyone who’s considered the timeline of significant events surrounding Trump and Russia, the new CNN report isn’t completely surprising, but this discussion of “backdoor channels” that sources U.S. officials puts a bow on the affair:
The new information adds to the emerging picture of how the Russians tried to influence the 2016 election, not only through email hacks and propaganda but also by trying to infiltrate the Trump orbit. The intelligence led to an investigation into the coordination of Trump’s campaign associates and the Russians.
These officials made clear they don’t know whether Page was aware the Russians may have been using him. Because of the way Russian spy services operate, Page could have unknowingly talked with Russian agents … But the intelligence suggests Russia tried to infiltrate the inner-workings of the Trump campaign by using backdoor channels to communicate with people in the Trump orbit, US officials say.
There’s no mention of which other Trump advisors (Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, or someone else?) inspired this new report, but Page is clearly the most obvious candidate, so he earned an extended shoutout. All along, he’s maintained that the Trump campaign never knew about his Russian spy meeting, although the campaign did approve and pay for his July 2016 trip.
There’s also the matter of Page meeting with the CEO of Russia’s state-owned oil giant, Rosneft, and receiving an offer for a 19% company share if he helped get sanctions lifted. And interestingly enough on Friday, the Trump administration shut down an Exxon request for a waiver on those sanctions. So, Exxon won’t be drilling for oil with Rosneft, and Carter Page is still wanting to sue Obama officials over “civil rights violations” because the FBI secured a FISA warrant to monitor his shadiness.
See you next time for another episode of Trump campaign soap-opera land.