Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page disclosed during congressional testimony that he had received permission from senior campaign members to visit Russia in July 2016. Page's contacts with Russian officials have come under scrutiny during the federal and congressional investigations into the Russian government's influence campaign during the 2016 election.
In early November, Page testified before the House Intelligence Committee for over six hours after being subpoenaed by the panel. Page chose not to have a lawyer present. A transcript of the testimony was released on Nov. 6.
Carter, an oil and energy consultant, disclosed that he was invited to a speaking engagement in Moscow after joining the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser. Page revealed that he had asked his campaign supervisor J.D. Gordon for permission to make the trip, and further stated that he had emailed then-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and spokesperson Hope Hicks for permission.
According to Page, Lewandowski gave Page the go-ahead to visit Moscow on the condition that he make the trip as a private citizen and not as a campaign representative.
Gordon released a statement asserting that he had cautioned Page against visiting Russia during the campaign.
"I discouraged Carter from taking the trip to Moscow because it was a bad idea," Gordon said, according to CNN. "Since I refused to forward his speech request form for approval, he eventually went around me directly to campaign leadership."
Lewandowski said that he did not remember giving Page permission to visit Russia.
"Is it possible that he emailed me asking if he could go to Russia as a private citizen?" Lewandowski told Politico. "I don't remember that, but I probably got 1,000 emails a day at that time, and I can't remember every single one that I was sent."
Carter also disclosed that he had told Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was a top Trump campaign official at the time, about his planned Russia trip in passing.
Page disclosed before the House committee that he had spoken with Andrey Baranov during his Moscow trip. Baranov is the head of investors relations for Rosneft, a state-run oil firm with deep ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. A dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele had alleged that Carter met with a Rosneft executive to broker a deal between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
Page stated during his testimony that there was no quid pro quo between him and Baranov. The former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser also disclosed that he privately spoke with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich during his Moscow trip and during a subsequent visit in December 2016.
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller is currently investigating whether associates of President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russian officials to influence the 2016 election. Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos has already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with sources tied to the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential race.
The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, released a statement asserting that Page's testimony contradicted his previous public statements.
"During many public appearances prior to his November 2, 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in open session, Carter Page characterized his July 2016 trip to Russia as a private one in which his interactions with Russian individuals were largely confined to the 'man on the street,’” Schiff said, according to NBC News.
"In his testimony, however, he was forced to acknowledge that he communicated with high level Russian officials while in Moscow, including one of Russia’s Deputy Prime Ministers," the statement added. "He also admitted notifying the fact of his meetings to his campaign supervisors."