Tuesday 23 October 2018

Former Trump adviser Page 'boasted of links to Kremlin'

Carter Page. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Carter Page. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Julie Allen in Washington

A key former foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump's presidential campaign reportedly boasted in a letter dated from August 2013 of his high-level Kremlin contacts.

The correspondence, obtained by 'Time' magazine, was written to an editor of an academic publication with whom he was in disagreement over an unpublished manuscript.

In it, Carter Page wrote: "Over the past half year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal adviser to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for their presidency of the G20 summit next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda."

The unnamed editor said that Mr Page's views on Russia were notably different from those of other scholars. "He wanted to make the argument that we needed to look more positively at Russia's economic reforms and Russia's relationship with central Asia," the editor said.

Mr Page's letter was penned two months after he was interviewed by the FBI, which feared Russian intelligence services were attempting to recruit him.

Mr Trump's defenders have always played down Mr Carter's role in the campaign team, saying he overstated his position as well as his Russian contacts. But on Friday, he was thrust back into the spotlight with the release of the classified memo detailing the FBI's successful attempts to get a secret warrant to monitor his movements.

John Brennan, the former director of the CIA, last night called the memo's release by Republicans "appalling" while accusing Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, of "abusing" his power.

The memo suggested that a politically motivated FBI and Department of Justice did not tell the full truth to a special court when seeking a surveillance warrant against Mr Page.

Mr Brennan said the Republican politician selectively released information to accuse law enforcement officials of acting improperly. He also played down the importance of the dossier written by Christopher Steele, a former British spy, saying it was never a factor in the intelligence community's assessment that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election.

"It's just appalling and clearly underscores how partisan Mr Nunes has been," Mr Brennan said in interviews on US TV. "He has abused the chairmanship of [the Intelligence Committee]."

Mr Brennan led the CIA from 2013-17 and oversaw the investigation that concluded Russia had attempted to interfere in the election. The findings were disregarded by Mr Trump.

The release of the memo has raised concerns that Mr Trump will use it as grounds for firing Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who oversees the special counsel probe investigating Mr Trump's ties to Russia. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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