Carter Page, who had served as a foreign policy adviser for President Donald Trump's campaign, has stated that he may have possibly discussed easing U.S. sanctions on the Russian government during a trip to Moscow in July 2016.
On April 11, it was disclosed that the FBI had obtained a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor Page's communications during the presidential campaign. Their application for the FISA warrant had included suspicions that Page was acting as a foreign agent for the Russian government, citing his contacts in Moscow, The Washington Post reports.
The fact that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance judge had signed off on the warrant has renewed scrutiny over Page's trip to Moscow in July 2016, where he gave a speech that was critical of U.S. policy towards Russia at the New Economic School.
On April 13, Page was asked during an interview if he had discussed easing U.S. sanctions with any Russian government or intelligence officials when he was in Moscow. While the former Trump campaign adviser asserted that he had never offered sanctions relief to any Russian official, he added that he did not "recall every single word."
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"Something may have come up in a conversation," Page told ABC News. "I have no recollection, and there's nothing specifically that I would have done that would have given people that impression."
Page added that someone "may have brought it up... We'll see what comes out in this FISA transcript."
According to the former Trump adviser, suspicions that the campaign had collaborated with Russian intelligence's attempts to interfere in the 2016 election has been fueled by "a ton of false evidence that's been out there, primarily in the public realm."
Page's comments were in contrast to an emphatic denial that he had given just a day prior. On April 12, he asserted that he had never told any Russian officials that Trump would ease U.S. sanctions.
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"Never direct conversations such as that... No," Page told CNN.
The former Trump campaign adviser has maintained that he never acted as a liaison between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, asserting that the FISA warrant to monitor his communications was evidence of "unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance."
FISA warrants require compelling evidence of wrongdoing in order to receive approval. They are also signed off in secret because they concern national security matters.
"You have to lay out a series of facts that show that there's probable cause to believe that someone is an agent of a foreign power," said former assistant attorney general for national security John Carlin. "It's secret because it's designed for foreign agents."
FBI director James Comey confirmed during testimony before the House Intelligence Community that his bureau had an ongoing probe into the Trump campaign's alleged ties with the Russian government.
Comey revealed that the FBI probe into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election "includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts."