Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page struggled to explain Tuesday how he could be an informal adviser to the Kremlin and also advise an American presidential campaign.
Last week, Time magazine reported that Page bragged about being an informal adviser to the Kremlin in a 2013 letter to an editor reviewing his manuscript submitted for publication.
ABC's "Good Morning America" anchor George Stephanopoulos pressed Page on the two roles as part of why law enforcement may have targeted him for surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. A controversial Republican intelligence memo released last week highlighted that Page had been targeted.
"You can understand how that would raise questions and could lead to probable cause," Stephanopoulos said. "On the one hand, at one point you say you're an adviser to the Kremlin. Then you're an adviser to Donald Trump."
"Look, the probable cause, based on all the evidence that keeps dripping out and now has been substantiated with the Friday, you know, first memo, is that it was based on dodgy dossier which was, you know, a political stunt," Page responded.
The GOP-crafted memo Page referenced alleges that the FBI and the Justice Department cited, in part, a dossier funded by a law firm on behalf of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign to obtain a warrant to surveil Page. Republicans had previously funded the opposition research effort that later led to the dossier.
"If you're talking about obstruction, that's real obstruction of justice -- false evidence," Page said Tuesday.
In 2013, the FBI interviewed Page about his ties to Russia, warning him that Russian intelligence services tried to recruit him as an agent. Page admits talking to the undercover Russian spy but said he did not realize that the man was an intelligence agent at the time and that he did not share anything sensitive.
Page has said that he's never spoken to President Donald Trump despite his status as a foreign policy adviser. During the presidential transition, Trump's team distanced itself from him and denied any collusion between the campaign and Russia.
Last fall, Page admitted that the topic of Russia "may have come up" in emails with campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to charges of making a false statement to the FBI about his contact with Russian government officials.
Page, who told the Senate intelligence committee in May he had "brief interactions" with low-level Russian officials in 2013, traveled to Moscow in July 2016, shortly after Papadopoulos forwarded a request from Russian officials to meet with Trump or someone in the Trump campaign. Page denied that the Russia trip was in his capacity as a campaign adviser.
And in November 2017, Page told the House Intelligence Committee he was invited to speak in Russia after joining the campaign, and that senior campaign officials knew about the engagement.
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