Carter Page was one of five people who was named by then GOP candidate Donald J. Trump during the course of an interview with the Washington Post on March 21, 2016. Page’s name has come up repeatedly for his many involvements with Russian interests both during the campaign and subsequent investigations. Today, Page is slated to appear before members of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee in closed session.
Biographical Sketch of Carter Page
Page was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1971 to Allan Robert Page and Rachel (Greenstein) Page. Following his graduation from High School he attended the U.S. Naval College, graduating in 1993. He went on to serve in the Navy on active duty for five years during the course of which he was posted as a Naval Intelligence Officer to a UN peace-keeping mission in Morocco. In 2994 he completed a Master’s Degree at
Georgetown. After his departure from the Navy, he finished a Fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations. Page next went on to work for Merrill Lynch as an investment banker based in London then transferred to the company’s Moscow Office where he served as Vice President of operations. His dealings involved working with Gazprom and other leading Russian energy interests.
In 2012, Page received his PhD from the University of London. He also taught a course at NYU and ran an international affairs program at Bard College. In the main, his professional career has centered energy policy and development. According to multiple sources he is an avid supporter of Vladimir Putin and has repeatedly promoted Russian interests.
Involvement with the Trump Campaign
As aforementioned, Page’s name first came to public attention in March 2016 when then candidate Donald Trump named him as foreign policy adviser. His areas of expertise? Russia, energy policy, Russian energy policy. In the wake of his being named as one of the Trump campaign’s advisers, Page was thoroughly investigated by multiple journalists.
For openers, Page doesn’t speak Russian. During the course of a speech he gave before Moscow’s New Economic School he had to have questions translated into English for him and his speech was given in English. Perhaps more troubling was that during the same speech Page quoted Vladimir Putin (in faltering Russian), ““We never meddle in the internal political affairs of other countries. Unlike the USA.” Yes, that’s a desired quality in a senior campaign adviser, undercutting American legitimacy before an audience in the capital of a chief adversary.
Aside from the fact that he lacks facility in the Russian language, there’s also the little problem that among experts in Russia and Russian energy policy he was unknown to experts in Russia and Russian energy policy until he was named as an expert by the Trump campaign. In an article in Politico, one expert noted,
“He’s a nice guy, but of the people that I know that have Russian foreign policy experience or access and contacts, he wouldn’t be in the last decile, but he’d be in the second-to-last decile,”
Though Page has repeatedly touted his dealings with the denizens of the inner circles at the apex of Russian financial and energy sectors, implying a level of intimacy with power-brokers, many of those who actually do move in those circles had no idea who he was until he was named by the Trump campaign.
Take his averred connections with Alfa Bank, lead Russian financial institution in the west. Pyotr Aven, one of the banks two founders, when asked about his relationship with Page, simply stated, “I don’t know this person.” In terms of Page’s purported meetings with Rosneft and major players such as Sechin, a spokesman noted,
“It’s bullshit. Just bullshit. You need to understand who Sechin is to even ask this question. It’s hard to have a meeting with him at all. It’s absurd.”
Nevertheless, lack of fluency in the language or acknowledgement from those with real expertise in Russian affairs apparently served as no impediment in his elevation to the position of senior adviser on Russia and energy policy in the Trump campaign. He did, however, possess one attractive attribute shared by many in that circle: Unabashed and effusive support for Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s agenda. Throughout 2016, Page engaged in a number of meetings and contacts with Russian officials while maintaining a working relationship with Trump campaign staff. As investigations into whether or not the campaign colluded with Russian interests, Page’s name has surfaced repeatedly and continues to do so.
Trump Foreign Policy Adviser Comes under Scrutiny
By the Summer of 2016, as subsequently came to light, Page was under surveillance by the FBI for suspicion that he might have been acting as an agent of the Kremlin. Both Senate and House Intelligence Committees have taken an interest in Page’s activities and he has been asked to surrender records of all contacts he had with Russian interests during the course of the campaign.
Today, Page will, as mentioned above, testify in a closed session before members of the House Intelligence Committee.
How a relatively unknown figure became a Senior Trump campaign adviser must be set against the backdrop of a wide range of other Trump appointees whose sole claim to fame is seemingly an unflinching support for Russian leader Vladimir Putin. It has become increasingly difficult to buy that the many Trump appointees sharing this attribute are merely coincidental. As the investigations progress Page, like many others in the Trump campaign and Presidency, will come under ever-increasing levels of scrutiny.