What Do We Know About Carter Page?

The story of Donald Trump’s Russia connections has so many players and connections that it’s hard to to follow it in any cogent way, let alone connect all the dots. A great many dots still seem to be missing.

What I find illuminating is to look carefully at details. In my scientific career, I found that the most enlightening path might start with a small piece of information seemingly out of place. I’ve been collecting information about the various players. Putting that information in chronological order seems most helpful to me.

In the service of telling a story, news reporters do not follow chronology. They jump back and forth in time to bring together details they believe help to make the story. I’ve had to spend a lot of time unraveling news articles. This post es a resource rather than conclusions.

Carter Page is one of those odd, out of place characters. Or so it seems to me. One can argue that with Trump’s connections to Breitbart and Infowars, an oddball like Page is fully expected. Page is typical of some of Trump’s predelictions: his connections with Russia are financial and ideological, he is outside the foreign-policy establishment, and he seems a little looney. The currents that brought him into Trump’s orbit may show something about how other people arrived there. And Page himself may have been a significant player.

I’ve distilled material down to a chronology, Page’s contacts, and interviews with him. Because I have been following news about him for a while, I’m including my posts. I also include questions that remain unanswered.

 

Timeline

1971: Born in Minnesota. Raised in Poughkeepsie, NY.

1993: Graduated from Naval Academy. Thesis. “Later posted as a Marine intelligence officer in Western Sahara.”

He earned an M.B.A. at New York University and completed a doctorate a decade later at SOAS University of London.

1998: Hired by Eurasia group, lasts three months because of strong pro-Kremlin tilt.

2000: Merrill Lynch’s capital-markets group in London.

2004: Helped open the firm’s Moscow office.

2007: Moved back to New York, where he worked as chief operating officer of Merrill Lynch’s energy and power department.

Ran an international affairs program at Bard College.

2008: Took a buyout from Merrill to start his own firm, Global Energy Capital LLC.  Traveled to Turkemenistan that year to start a $1 billion private equity fund to buy assets there, but the global crash ended that plan. Since then, he’s advised investors on buying assets in Russia and has worked with Sergey Yatsenko, a former deputy chief financial officer at Gazprom who is now an adviser to Page’s firm.

January – June 2013: Meets with Victor Podobnyy, provides him with “documents on the energy business.

April 2013: Caught on a wiretap in Podobnyy investigation. Info on this may have come from Estonia. How the Russians recruit spies.

April 2014: Page first contributes a blog post to Global Policy.

January 2015: Charges filed against Page for acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Identified as “Male-1” in conversation between Podobnyy and Igor Sporyshev, described as members of a Russian spy ring “seeking information on US sanctions as well as efforts to develop alternative energy.” Also included Evgeny Buryakov, who worked under unofficial cover as an employee of state-controlled Vnesheconombank in Manhattan. Page confirmed that he is “Male-1.” Full court document is here.

“[Male-1] wrote that he is sorry, he went to Moscow and forgot to check his inbox, but he wants to meet when he gets back. I think he is an idiot and forgot who I am. … He got hooked on Gazprom thinking that if they have a project, he could rise up,” Podobnyy said. “I also promised him a lot … This is intelligence method to cheat, how else to work with foreigners? You promise a favor for a favor. You get the documents from him and tell him to go fuck himself.”

10 February 2015: Publishes New Slaves, Global Edition: Russia, Iran and the Segregation of the World Economy in Global Policy. Global Policy has three boards (editorial, advisory, and practitioners’ advisory). The boards are fairly large (25, 31, 24). Some of the board members are reasonably well known. It appears to be a legitimate scholarly publication, although not in the top tier. Between April 2014 and December 2015, Page contributed 20 articles. The subjects range across climate change, weapons of mass destruction, and relations with Russia. A recurring theme is American responsibility for the Maidan protests in Ukraine, with particular blame focused on Victoria Nuland. In style, Page likes comparisons that others might not see, analogizing US actions toward as those of a master and a slave. The articles are poorly written.

Early March 2016: Referred to the campaign by New York State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox, vetted by Sam Clovis via Google; this source also says that Page volunteered his services. “Sam Clovis, co-chairman of the campaign, helped gather the names that the candidate used.” “Sam Clovis, an economics professor and Tea Party activist in Iowa, was asked by the Trump campaign to line up some foreign policy advisers. He produced the list that included Mr. Page.” “Two Trump campaign officials confirmed the Clovis connection to The Daily Caller on Friday.” Clovis a former professor at Morningside College in Iowa.

21 March 2016: Trump names Page to WaPo as foreign policy advisor. Also noted here. Reminder from Josh Marshall.

Early June 2016: Speaks to a meeting of foreign policy experts with visiting PM of India, praises Putin and Trump, criticizes Obama.

7 July 2016: Speech in Moscow Summary here. Also noted here. Said to be the beginning of FBI investigation into into connections between Russia and President Trump’s campaign. “In the months that followed, … more evidence came to light, including intercepts of Russian officials discussing Mr. Page and other Trump associates.” Corey Lewandowski approved the trip a few weeks before. J. D. Gordon disapproved.

20 July 2016: Page chatted with Sergey Kislyak at a luncheon at the Republican Convention with Jeff Sessions. Reported by J. D. Gordon.

Summer 2016, after Page’s trip to Moscow: FBI obtained a FISA court order to monitor Page’s communications. Said to be the only member of campaign targeted. NYT; WaPo had it first.

27 August 2016: Harry Reid letter to James Comey.

23 September 2016: Michael Isakoff reports that “US intelligence officials” are investigating Page.

25 September 2016: Sends a letter to Comey asking him to dispose of investigation quickly. Assumes that the investigation relates to his July 2016 trip. This is not clear from the Isakoff report. Page says he has sold his stake in Gazprom.

26 September 2016: Page takes a “leave of absence” from the campaign.

13 October 2016: Op-ed in Sputnik.

12 December 2016: Another speech in Moscow. Endorses Tillerson as Secretary of State.

22 December 2016: Donald McGahn, now general White House counsel, writes a letter to Page saying Page never was an advisor to Trump and requests him not to refer to himself as such. “Given that you had no role with Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., or the President-Elect’s Transition Team, or with any other entity associated with Mr. Trump, we ask that you immediately cease suggesting to anyone that you are anything other than a former member of an advisory committee who never actually met with the President-Elect.” Page responds on the same date with a letter saying he has never represented himself in that way.

19 January 2017: Vague NYT story that names Page along with Manafort and Roger Stone as being under investigation via intercepted communications. Not based on Steele dossier.

12 February 2017: Page sends a letter to the Department of Justice claiming that the investigations violate his civil rights.

7 March 2017: “A former campaign advisor” tells Politico that Corey Lewandowski approved Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow.

10 March 2017: Page delivers a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee offering to provide evidence that the Clinton campaign conspired against him. Letter is at the link.

5 May 2017: Page delivers a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee saying that if they want answers to their questions, they will have to ask President Obama. He repeats earlier charges that the Clintons and the Obama administration have been surveilling him. The committee wants him to testify in closed session. Letter here.

14 May 2017: In a letter to the Department of Justice, Page demands the release of documents that could detail efforts undertaken by the Obama administration to surveil him.

 

Russian Connections

Bernie Sucher, Sergey Aleksashenko, Merrill Moscow office. Also Artem Torchinsky, Sergei Aleksashenko confirmed

Oksana Antonenko, a senior political counselor at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, who was friendly with Mr. Page in London while he earned his Ph.D.,

Arkady Dvorkovichmaybe, maybe not at July 2016 Moscow event. Russian Deputy Prime Minister

Victor Pinchuk, Ukrainian billionaire

Victor Podobnyy ABC, BuzzFeed. Page said he helped the FBI make a case against Evgeny Buryakov.

Sergey Yatsenko. “He [Page] subsequently started his own investment firm, Global Energy Capital L.L.C., and partnered on some deals with a Russian businessman, Sergey Yatsenko. Mr. Yatsenko had been deputy chief financial officer for the Russian energy giant Gazprom, which is majority-owned by the government and has close ties to Mr. Putin.” Former colleagues at Merrill say all Page did was arrange meetings.

 

Interviews

PBS, February 15, 2017

March 3, 2017: Jeff Jetton, Brightest Young Things

ABC, April 4, 2017

CNN, Andrew Cuomo, April 27, 2017

Jake Tapper, May(?) 2017

 

Earlier Nuclear Diner posts on Carter Page

July 24, 2016: Trump and Russia

July 29, 2016: What Trump has said about Russia

September 24, 2016: Carter Page’s strange doings

November 28, 2016: Recapitulating Trump’s Russia connections

January 24, 2017: Trump and Russia: The multiagency investigation

February 2, 2017: Carter Page again

 

Questions

Did Page have earlier contacts with Russian spies when he was at Merrill Lynch in Moscow?

Was Page recruited by Russia?

The man Page met with in early 2013, Victor Podobnyy, worked for Vnesheconombank, the same organization that Jared Kushner met with after his attempt to set up a “back channel.” Is there a connection?

How much did Ed Cox vet Page? He says Page was “very informed and up to date on things.” How did he determine that?

Why was Sam Clovis chosen for his role in the campaign?

What work did Page do for the campaign?

Do his connections to Trump continue?

 

4 comments

  1. Bob Morris · May 28

    Kind of a cipher, isn’t he? Hmm.

    Like

  2. km · May 28

    I wonder why he was pro-Kremlin all the way back in 1998.

    Like

  3. Doug · May 29

    I was actually wondering what “pro-Kremlin” would mean in 1998. That’s late Yeltsin, and things were very different, the time of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission and all that. “Pro-Kremlin” could mean something like, “thought buying stakes in secondary and tertiary Russian companies is a great idea,” though to be fair a lot of people in the financial markets thought that at the time. A lot of them made plenty of money, too, especially if they got out before August of ’98. It could mean “thought Russia is not heading for a currency crisis, and anyone saying they are is trying to subvert the transition and maybe sabotage US-Russian relations,” though again, many people in the markets (I don’t know about inside the government, though reading Talbot and others afterward suggests markets and government weren’t too far apart) were taken unawares by the ruble crash.

    On the other hand, I’ve seen Ian Bremmer quoted elsewhere saying that Page was “wackadoodle,” so maybe “pro-Kremlin” is by way of not saying “crazy as a loon.” Although in late-90s Moscow, you’d have to go a long, long, long way to stand out as crazy.

    Like

    • Cheryl Rofer · May 29

      That’s a good point. I’ve been thinking a lot about 1998 recently, so let me think out loud. I was more involved with Estonia, but was involved in many conversations about Russia. Although many of us in the national laboratories were working with Russians and found the experience remarkable after our Cold War feelings, there was always some distance.

      But yes, Yeltsin was friendly to the United States and there was talk of Russia joining NATO, although there was some distance there too. Perhaps “pro-Kremlin” meant something more like “nostalgic for the Soviet Union”? And there were points at which one would recognize crazy.

      Like

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