In a 2013 letter obtained by Time, Carter Page, an energy consultant and former campaign adviser to President Trump, boasted that he served as an adviser to the Kremlin.
There have been many questions raised about Page and how deep his ties are with the Russian government. An editor who worked with Page on an unpublished manuscript he submitted to an academic press told Time that Page was frustrated over edits to the article, and in a letter sent Aug. 25, 2013, he wrote, "over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 G-20 Summit next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda."
The controversial "Nunes memo" — written by staffers of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and released last week despite objections by the FBI, Justice Department, and Democrats — centers around Page, claiming that in 2016, the FBI improperly received FISA court permission to spy on Page. Detractors of the memo say it cherry-picks information about what documentation the FBI presented the FISA court. The FBI interviewed Page in 2013 about his contacts with Russians; Page told Time his meetings have always been "really plain, vanilla stuff."
Page has admitted that a Russian diplomat named Victor Podobnyy, who was charged in absentia of working as a Russian intelligence agent under diplomatic cover, attempted to recruit him, and court documents from 2015 show that the FBI believed Russian intelligence agents had promised Page they would help him with business opportunities in Russia. He has not been charged with any crimes. Catherine Garcia
Transcripts released Monday night by the House Intelligence Committee show that Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to President Trump during his campaign, sent an email to other members of the campaign describing his July 2016 trip to Moscow, revealing he had a "private conversation" with a top Russian official who had good things to say about Trump.
Previously, Page had said that after he gave a speech at Moscow's New Economic School, he only exchanged pleasantries with Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. In the email, Page wrote that Dvorkovich "expressed strong support for Mr. Trump and a desire to work toward devising better solutions in response to a vast range of current international problems." Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) read the email during Page's closed-door meeting with the committee last week, and Page responded by saying he didn't actually talk to any officials, but gleaned their views by watching and reading Russian media and chatting with scholars.
Page, who once worked as an energy consultant in Moscow, also testified that he told Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then a senator and major Trump supporter, he was going to go to Russia, and said he "probably" told national campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis about the trip beforehand and definitely told him about it when he came back. The House Intelligence Committee is investigating Russian meddling in the election, and Page requested that the transcript of his testimony be made public but also told The Washington Post in a text message Monday he is "working on my lawsuit tonight that will get to the bottom of the real interference in the 2016 election, by the [United States government]. I've played this nonsensical game long enough and am not interested in this latest round tonight." Catherine Garcia
The son of Michael Flynn, President Trump's former national security adviser, is a subject of the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, four current and former government officials told NBC News.
Three of the officials said investigators are focusing on the work Michael G. Flynn, 34, did for his father's lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group. A former business associate said Michael G. Flynn was his father's chief of staff and played a major role in running Flynn Intel Group. He is married with a son, lives in Northern Virginia, and received an associate's degree in golf course management and a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, NBC News reports. He is also known to tweet inflammatory statements and spread conspiracy theories
Others reported to be under investigation are the elder Flynn and Trump's onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and it's not clear when the focus on Michael G. Flynn began, NBC News said. Federal and congressional investigators are also looking at Michael Flynn's ties to foreign governments, including Russia and Turkey. In December 2015, Michael G. Flynn accompanied his father to Moscow, where the elder Flynn gave a paid speech at the 10th anniversary celebration of RT, the state-sponsored Russian television network. It was also revealed earlier Wednesday that the elder Flynn did not share on his 2016 security clearance renewal application that in 2015, he went to the Middle East to meet with leaders regarding a proposal to work with Russia to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia. Read more about the two Michael Flynns at NBC News. Catherine Garcia
"President Trump's personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, has some explaining to do," says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. On Monday night, the Post reported that Trump had personally dictated the statement put out on behalf of his son Donald Trump Jr. about a meeting Trump Jr. agreed to in June 2016 with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, also attended by White House adviser Jared Kushner and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The president, flying back from Germany on Air Force One and overriding the tell-everything plan concocted by his advisers, reportedly worked with Trump Jr. to write a statement to The New York Times insisting that the meeting was "primarily" about adoption and "was not a campaign issue," when in fact it was arranged to discuss alleged Russian opposition research on Hillary Clinton. The problem for Sekulow, Blake notes, is that in several TV interviews he unequivocally denied that the president had anything to do with Trump Jr.'s statement.
On June 12, Sekulow told George Stephanopoulos that the Times' June 11 report was "incorrect," and "the president didn't sign off on anything. He was coming back from the G-20, the statement that was released on Saturday was released by Donald Trump Jr. and, I'm sure, in consultation with his lawyers. The president wasn't involved in that." He then told CNN's New Day that "I wasn't involved in the statement drafting at all, nor was the president." On June 16, he told Chuck Todd on NBC's Meet the Press: "I do want to be clear that the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. It came from Donald Trump Jr."
"I do want to be clear the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement" -- Jay Sekulow, Trump's lawyer, apparently lying pic.twitter.com/DMukqu6uIU
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) August 1, 2017
Sekulow issued the Trump administration's response to the Post's inquiries, too, responding to a detailed list of questions about Trump's involvement in the statement-drafting with one sentence: "Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent." Norm Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, suggests Sekulow's past statements could "be grounds for serious sanctions by the bar," but they could also involve him deeper in the Russia investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Peter Weber
While on a plane headed back to the U.S. from the G-20 summit in Germany on July 8, President Trump personally dictated the statement on his son Donald Trump Jr.'s June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer, saying they "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children," several people with knowledge of the incident told The Washington Post Monday.
This statement, sent to The New York Times before it ran an article about the meeting, was misleading, and it came out after more reporting that Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting after being told in an email that the lawyer had damaging information about Hillary Clinton, courtesy of the Russian government. The original plan was to release a statement that accurately spelled out what the meeting was about, so once the full details emerged, it would show they were being honest, the Post reports. Hours later, Trump became involved, and switched gears, dictating the statement himself.
Several of the president's advisers are now worried that by being directly involved, Trump could be accused of covering up the meeting's true agenda, the Post reports. Many also said they are afraid Trump is acting like his own lawyer, strategist, and publicist, and ignoring sound recommendations from his advisers. Read the entire report at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia
Alan Dershowitz on Trump report: 'This is the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president'
Legal scholar Alan Dershowitz made a bold statement Monday night about the report that President Trump shared highly classified information with Russian officials during a meeting last week in the Oval Office.
"This is the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president," he told CNN's Erin Burnett. "Let's not minimize it. [James] Comey is now in the wastebasket of history. Everything else is off the table. This is the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president of the United States. Let's not underestimate it." Watch the clip below. Catherine Garcia
— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) May 16, 2017