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What (if Anything) Does Carter Page Know?

Even when Page isn’t searching for consideration, he nonetheless by hook or by crook manages to search out it. In November, he trooped as much as Capitol Hill to ship subpoenaed paperwork to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, simplest to stumble into a throng of reporters staking out the place of business of Al Franken, who had simply been accused of sexual harassment. Page was once dressed in a floppy purple hat that made him resemble the titular castaway on “Gilligan’s Island,” prompting as many queries about his headgear as in regards to the contents of his supply. “I’ve learned a lot from the past mistakes of my fellow Annapolis grad, Senator McCain,” he explained to a Business Insider reporter. “Sunny day in D.C., and skin cancer is one of them.”

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Page delivers a lecture in Moscow on July 7, 2016.

Credit
Anton Denisov/Sputnik, by way of Associated Press

The extra Page talks, the fewer transparent his tale has change into — and other people have begun to surprise about now not simply his competence but additionally his sanity. But as we walked via Manhattan that afternoon, Page confident me that he was once enjoying an extended sport. “How do I say this without sounding overly confident or arrogant?” he mused. “No one is better prepared to have gone through this than me.” He flashed that acquainted beatific smile. “Not only am I ready for it,” he mentioned, “I savor it.”

The Madison Avenue workplaces of Page’s funding company, Global Energy Capital, are simply across the nook from Trump Tower — a geographic accident through which Page has invested a lot import. “For your information, I have frequently dined in Trump Grill, had lunch in Trump Cafe, had coffee meetings in the Starbucks at Trump Tower, attended events and spent many hours in campaign headquarters on the fifth floor last year,” Page wrote in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee in March. “As a sister skyscraper in Manhattan, my office at the IBM Building (590 Madison Avenue) is literally connected to the Trump Tower building by an atrium.” Page says he has been the topic of what he calls “terrorist threats” for over a yr and is most often skittish about revealing his haunts, however the place of business is an exception: “It’s within the Trump Tower Secret Service zone, so it’s one of the places where I feel secure,” he defined in an e-mail to me.

Before I visited him in November, Page instructed me I used to be the primary reporter he had allowed into the place of business. “I’m sure if you Google ‘Carter Page shadowy,’ hundreds of articles come up,” he boasted. “I like being a shadowy figure.” But once I entered the interior sanctum, I came upon that Global Energy Capital’s headquarters have been in fact a company co-working house. Page, the company’s simplest worker, rents a windowless room — geared up with a small round desk, a whiteboard on wheels and a portray of an orchid — through the hour. Other tenants come with the National Shingles Foundation and a wedding-band corporate referred to as Star Talent Inc. Still, when he discussed Trump, Page cocked his head towards Fifth Avenue and referred to him as “the gentleman next door here.”

The place of business is one of the issues about Page which might be lower than to begin with meets the attention. When Trump introduced Page as one among his foreign-policy advisers right through a gathering with The Washington Post editorial board in March 2016, he was once desperate to tout Page’s credentials, figuring out him as “Carter Page, Ph.D.” Page’s doctoral adviser for his stage, gained in 2011 from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, was once Shirin Akiner, a debatable pupil who has been derided through fellow teachers and human rights teams for seeking to whitewash human rights abuses in Uzbekistan. But in an e-mail, Akiner instructed me, “I am afraid I have no information about Carter Page — some 10 years ago, he was one of my many students.”

Page attempted unsuccessfully to post his doctoral dissertation, on power in Central Asia and Russia, as a e book — a failure for which he has blamed the “anti-former Soviet Union, anti-Russia sentiment of various academic publishers.” But one political scientist who reviewed Page’s manuscript instructed me: “It was very analytically confused, just throwing a lot of stuff out there without any real kind of argument. I gave it a thumbs down — and that’s kind of rare in this business for a review of a full book manuscript.”

Before founding Global Energy Capital in 2008, Page spent seven years operating for Merrill Lynch in London, Moscow and New York and, in keeping with his company biography, was once “involved in over $25 billion of transactions in the energy-and-power sector.” But his involvement seems to had been peripheral at absolute best. In Moscow, he was once nicknamed Stranichkin, from the Russian phrase stranichka, that means “little page.” “He wasn’t great, and he wasn’t terrible,” Sergei Aleksashenko, who ran Merrill Lynch’s Moscow place of business whilst Page labored there, told the journalist Julia Ioffe. “What can you say about a person who in no way [is] exceptional?”

As a midshipman on the Naval Academy, Page learn and was once profoundly suffering from “The Wise Men,” Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas’s e book about Dean Acheson, Averell Harriman and the opposite mandarins who formed Cold War-era international coverage. He got down to play a in a similar fashion influential, “discreetly backstage” function in global affairs. People who encountered Page in his pre-Trump days recall him as any individual who was once endlessly suffering in that effort. Stephen Sestanovich, a professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, recollects operating into Page — who’s a prodigious conference-goer — at the sidelines of more than a few Council on Foreign Relations boards and spherical tables associated with Russia. “His view of how the world worked seemed to have an edgy Putinist resentment to it,” Sestanovich says. “I think Carter genuinely felt an affinity for Putin’s critique of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment and its unfairness to Russia, because he wasn’t doing any better with that establishment than Putin was.” In 2013, a Russian intelligence operative who was once posing as a United Nations diplomat met Page at an Asia Society convention; in keeping with the F.B.I., the Russian secret agent tried to recruit Page however encountered difficulties as a result of, as he was once heard telling a colleague in an F.B.I. wiretap, Page was once “an idiot.”

It was once the Trump marketing campaign that in spite of everything supplied Page what he were searching for for years: a seat on the desk. Ed Cox, the chairman of the New York State Republican Committee and an acquaintance, secured Page a gathering in early 2016 with Trump’s marketing campaign supervisor, Corey Lewandowski, who in flip handed off Page to Sam Clovis, a talk-show host and conservative activist in Iowa who was once development out Trump’s foreign-policy workforce. Even amongst Trump advisers, that workforce was once an object of derision. “To call them D-listers would be an insult to D-listers,” one former Trump adviser says. But Page didn’t see it that means in any respect. “These were some of the best discussions I ever had, with some of the most impressive people,” he recollects. “It was like an oasis.”

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Carter Page after attesting ahead of the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 2 in Washington.

Credit
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Page’s time on the oasis could be temporary. That July, he traveled to Moscow for 5 days to provide a speech on the New Economic School. Not lengthy after he returned, he gained a textual content message from a Wall Street Journal reporter asking whether or not he met in Moscow with Igor Sechin, a Putin best friend who’s now leader govt of the Russian oil conglomerate Rosneft, and Igor Diveykin, a most sensible Russian intelligence authentic. Similar questions from different journalists quickly adopted. Page instructed them — and nonetheless maintains — that he didn’t meet both guy. But in overdue September, Yahoo News ran an article reporting that American intelligence officers suspected that Page had met with either one of them in Moscow — a declare, Page later came upon, that seemed within the file on Trump’s suspected Russia entanglements complied through the previous British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. Three days after the Yahoo record, Page announced he was once taking a “leave of absence” as a marketing campaign adviser.

After the election, Trump’s advisers persevered to distance their boss from Page. When Page, returning to Moscow in December, talked to Russian journalists about Trump’s victory and promoted his ties to the president-elect, the Trump marketing campaign’s attorney, Don McGahn (now the White House suggest), sent Page a “cease and desist” letter. “You never met Mr. Trump, nor did you ever ‘advise’ Mr. Trump about anything,” McGahn wrote. “You are thus not an ‘adviser’ to Mr. Trump in any sense of the word.” In January, every week ahead of Trump’s inauguration, Stephen Ok. Bannon, the incoming White House leader strategist, were given wind that Page was once making plans to seem on MSNBC and referred to as him and instructed him to cancel the illusion.

“The team is only as strong as the weakest link,” Page instructed me. “And it’s not that I’m a weak link. It’s just that I’m the link getting smashed with an anvil.” Testifying ahead of the House Intelligence Committee in November, he lamented, “Unfortunately, I am the biggest embarrassment surrounding the campaign.”

Page hasn’t at all times helped himself in his dealings with investigators. For greater than a yr, he many times maintained that he didn’t meet with any Russian executive officers on that Moscow go back and forth. But in his November testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, Page admitted that he had in truth spoken with Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. “There’s a lot that remains unexplained about Carter Page,” Representative Adam Schiff of California, the committee’s most sensible Democrat, instructed me. “But one thing is apparent, and that is that his testimony under oath ended up being at great odds with what he had been representing publicly.”

Page continues to insist that there was once not anything nefarious about any of his paintings for the Trump marketing campaign. Besides, he instructed me, the foreign-policy workforce he served on was once “a lower-level working group, of which I was on the lower end of the lower level.” And but Page apparently can’t rather abdomen the chance of returning to the outer edge, so he has crafted another scandal narrative — a scandal through which he sits on the middle. Page contends that the actual tale of the 2016 election was once now not collusion between Trump and Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton however reasonably collusion between the Democratic National Committee — which helped pay for the Steele file — and the F.B.I. to defeat Trump. And their efforts, Page insists, occupied with him. “I was the most central element, the central linchpin,” he instructed me. Referring to his wiretapping through the F.B.I., he added: “There are two people who got hacked last year: Podesta” — John Podesta, the Clinton marketing campaign chairman, whose emails have been revealed through WikiLeaks — “and me.”

There is also scant proof for this concept, however rhetorically, it has allowed Page to insist on his innocence and his importance on the similar time: If cases have conspired to stay him from being a sensible guy, then a minimum of he generally is a martyr. The complete affair has wrecked his trade, he says, and price him relationships. He compares himself to the oft-imprisoned Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny. He even likens his plight to these of girls who’ve suffered sexual harassment or attack. “Talk to some ladies you know,” he instructed me, “and ask them: ‘What would you rather have? Someone putting their hand on your rear end or your breast momentarily? Or having to give up all of your personal communications, all of your thousands of emails and thousands of documents? Which would you prefer?’ It’s a powerful person putting influence on someone who’s less powerful.”

In September, Page filed a libel lawsuit in opposition to Yahoo’s company guardian and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which operates Radio Free Europe, for his or her reporting about his July Moscow go back and forth — “perhaps the most dangerous, reckless, irresponsible and historically instrumental moments in modern-day sensational crime-story journalism,” because the swimsuit places it. Page is representing himself. “The real investigation, I think, is going to be the discovery process in my lawsuit,” he instructed me. “The information that will come out of this may be far more revealing than these other investigations.”

And in that, Page maintains, he’ll be capable to reach his maximum necessary purpose: keeping off a cataclysmic struggle between the United States and Russia. He believes he’s uniquely suited, in all probability even destined, to convey the 2 nations in combination. “It’s obviously for myself in some ways, but the bigger motivation is to prevent the legacy of ashes, the next Iraq, the next Libya, the next Vietnam, which are all minuscule compared to the level of potential conflict between our two countries,” Page instructed me.

It’s a lonely fight; Page has been forsaken through former pals and associates. But in Donald Trump, he believes he nonetheless has an best friend. “When he was in there with Kislyak and Lavrov in the Oval Office,” Page mentioned, regarding Trump’s controversial May meeting with the Russian ambassador and international minister, “kind of joking around and still having the courage to try to continue a vision of actually improving relations, that’s a real profile in courage.”

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