One of the most unusual and shifty figures at the center of the Trump/Russia investigation is Carter Page. An oil industry consultant and one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers during the campaign, Page not only met with a Russian spy, but he made a habit of going on television and repeatedly getting himself into potential legal trouble. And now that he’s been put under oath by the House Intelligence Committee, we’ve learned a lot more about what he’s done and who, he claims, knew about it.
Page spoke for six hours, and his testimony spanned 243 pages. The House has released the entire transcript, and here are the major takeaways:
- Page may not be a reliable witness: Across his testimony before the House, Page comes across poorly. He contradicts himself repeatedly and is serving as his own attorney as he undergoes “legal training.” He also spends quite a bit of time attempting to avoid direct questions only to accidentally answer them later. Completely unprepared? Falling apart under the strain? It’s unlikely the various lawyers defending the many players here won’t focus on that.
- Page confirmed everything the Steele dossier said about him: What became known as the Golden Showers dossier included claims that Page met with several Russian officials to discuss various aspects of the campaign and the Magnitsky Act sanctions, which Russia was hoping to lift if Trump took office. Page, while attempting to downplay the severity of what he did, more or less confirms all of this over the course of his testimony.
- Page implicates several major Trump figures, including Jeff Sessions: Page testifies that Sessions knew about his trips to Russia and interaction with various Russian government figures, academics, and business leaders. That puts Sessions, who has already been caught lying under oath about his interactions with Russian officials, in some serious hot water. It doesn’t get better for the Trump administration from there. Page also claims that former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and spokeswoman Hope Hicks knew about his activities, and that Sam Clovis, the former nominee to the Department of Agriculture before withdrawing his nomination this month, tried to get him to sign a non-disclosure agreement to keep him from discussing any of this. Clovis, as you might remember, encouraged Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos to meet with Russian agents.
- Trump may have already done favors for Russia: Page was questioned about how and why the GOP platform on the Ukraine, which is still at war with Russia, was softened and why that happened. Page apparently emailed a colleague with praise after the platform was changed. The change to the platform was viewed with suspicion at the time, and it seems unlikely we’ve seen the last of how and why this change was made.
The short of it? Carter Page is in serious legal trouble, and he’s already, inadvertently, bringing more legal trouble down on the rest of the Trump administration. But the main question still lingers: How much did Trump, himself, know about all of this? And when?