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Trump's ex-adviser Carter Page insists giving documents to a Russian spy was no big deal

by Tim Hume
Apr 4 2017, 8:46am

Carter Page, a onetime foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign, confirmed Monday that he met with and passed documents to a Russian agent in 2013, according to BuzzFeed News. Page did not say why he’d provided the man the documents, but said that the documents were publicly available and that he believed any interaction with the man would not have broken the law.

Page, an energy industry consultant, told BuzzFeed News that he was the figure named as “Male-1” in a criminal complaint filed in 2015 against a Russian spy ring.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • According to the documents, one of the three Russian men charged, Victor Podobnyy, attempted to recruit Page as an intelligence source after they met at an energy conference in New York in January 2013. The complaint says that from that month until June 2013, Page met, emailed, and passed documents to Podobnyy, an undercover agent for Russia Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) about the energy industry.
  • Page told BuzzFeed that their interactions did not include anything sensitive. He said in a statement Monday that the information he passed on was “basic immaterial information and publicly available research documents… samples from the far more detailed lectures” he was preparing for classes he taught at New York University. The 45-year-old is the founder of his own investment fund, Global Energy Capital, in partnership with a Russian executive. He spent three years working for Merrill Lynch in Moscow, although doubts have been expressed about the depth of his expertise on Russia.
  • Page is one of a number of Trump-affiliated figures whose potential ties to Russian intelligence have been under scrutiny by FBI and congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. The former Merrill Lynch investment banker was named in March 2016 as one of five foreign policy advisers to Trump’s campaign. But by September he said he was taking a leave of absence from the campaign after he was accused of having had meetings with Russian officials. The Trump administration has repeatedly sought to distance itself from Page.
  • Trump has rejected any suggestion that he or his associates had any contacts with Russia during the election campaign, and instead has alleged his team was subjected to improper surveillance by the outgoing administration.
  • The 2015 court document also charged two other Russians, Evgeny Buryakov and Igor Sporyshev, as part of the conspiracy. While Sporyshev and Podobnyy were charged in absentia after fleeing the country using the diplomatic immunity granted under their official cover positions, Buryakov, whose cover position was as an employee of a state-owned Russian bank, was arrested and sentenced to 30 months in prison. He was freed from prison last week and ordered deported to Russia.