Remember Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who resigned following reports of ties to a “secret ledger” discovered during an investigation of Ukrainian ex-president Viktor Yanukovych? A former client of Manafort, Yanukovych’s corrupt, pro-Russian government fell in 2014, and documents tying Corey Lewandowski’s successor to his pre-revolution establishment were found soon after. Well, guess what? Aside from Trump’s many favorable comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin, Manafort wasn’t the Republican nominee’s only connection to the former Cold War enemy.
According to Yahoo! News, Carter Page — whom Trump named to his “foreign policy team” back in March — may have “opened up private communications with senior Russian officials.” These alleged talks include, among other things, discussions of “the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president.”
Page’s ties to Russia shouldn’t be all that surprising. Following the reportedly Russian-supported email hack targeting the Democratic National Committee, subsequent revelations pinpointed the former Merrill Lynch investment banker turned private consultant for remarks critical of American policy he made while in Moscow. Even so, the latest information surprised many who heard it:
Some of those briefed were “taken aback” when they learned about Page’s contacts in Moscow, viewing them as a possible back channel to the Russians that could undercut U.S. foreign policy, said a congressional source familiar with the briefings but who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. The source added that U.S. officials in the briefings indicated that intelligence reports about the adviser’s talks with senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin were being “actively monitored and investigated.”
A senior U.S. law enforcement official did not dispute that characterization when asked for comment by Yahoo News. “It’s on our radar screen,” said the official about Page’s contacts with Russian officials. “It’s being looked at.”
Investigators are especially interested in a three-day trip Page took to Moscow just two weeks before the Republican National Convention in July. They’re especially curious about the Trump adviser’s meetings with Igor Sechin, the executive chairman of Russian oil company Rosneft who happens to be a former Russian deputy prime minister and Putin associate, and Igor Dvorkin, Putin’s deputy chief for internal policy.
Then again, Page also delivered a lecture at the New Economic School in which he criticized the United States and their Western allies for damaging Russian progress “through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.”
Check out a short selection of Page’s lecture below:
(Via Yahoo! News)