There was a time when former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page didn’t try to hide his ties to Russia. Time reports that Page “bragged” about being an adviser to the Kremlin in a 2013 letter that at the very least suggests there were plenty of reasons for law enforcement officials to suspect he could have ties with the Russian government.
“Over the past half year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for their Presidency of the G-20 Summit next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda,” Page reportedly says in the letter, according to Time. Page wrote those words as part of a dispute with an academic press over edits to a manuscript that he had submitted for publication.
The recently declassified memo from Republican lawmaker Devin Nunes claims the FBI relied on Democratic-funded research to obtain a warrant to put him Page under surveillance.
Yet the letter seems to undermine the claim that there was no reason to put Page under surveillance besides the research carried out by a former Birtish intelligence agent. Page told Time that he “sat in on and contributed to a few roundtable discussions with people from around the world” between January and September 2013.
It was in 2013 that the FBI interviewed Page on his contact with the Russians amid suspicion that the Kremlin was trying to recruit him. In subsequent years, Page complained that the FBI would not leave him alone. But the letter to the academic publisher was not the first time Page’s work and contacts with Moscow were brought to the spotlight. In 2008, the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan sent a cable to the State Department noting that Page had met with government officials in the country.
Knowing all these contacts it isn’t exactly surprising that Page had a markedly different view on U.S. relations with Russia than 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 who received the letter said. “I didn’t think it was so weird, it was just contradictory to most mainstream Russian specialist’s views.”