Carter Page is a name at the center of the debate stirred up by the controversial “Nunes memo” alleging the FBI abused its authority in its surveillance of the Trump campaign.
So who is the former Trump campaign adviser and why is he central to the current Russia investigation controversy?
Who is Carter Page?
Born in Minneapolis and raised in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Page graduated in 1993 from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. He worked for seven years as an investment banker for Merril Lynch — three of them in their Moscow office.
After leaving Merril Lynch, Page founded his own investment firm, Global Energy Capital, LLC. Page’s profile on his firm’s website touts his experience with Merril Lynch in Russia, saying he was an adviser “on key transactions” with the top Russian oil and electricity companies.
Page also built a resume as a foreign policy expert and his profile says he “is a frequent writer and lecturer on energy sector development in emerging markets.” In 2008, he was the director of Bard College’s Globalization and International Affairs program and he later taught a class at New York University. He penned articles for the Global Policy Journal and earned a Ph.D. from SOAS University of London in 2012.
Page’s Russian contacts first drew the FBI’s interest in 2013 and he was interviewed about his contacts with a Russian intelligence officer. FBI agents were concerned Russian intelligence was trying to recruit Page.
While President Trump and his supporters have tried to downplay Page’s role with the campaign, in March 2016, Trump referred to Page as a member of his national security advisory council during an interview with The Washington Post editorial board.
In July 2016, Page traveled to Moscow on a trip approved by the campaign. There he delivered a speech critical of U.S. policy toward Russia and met with Russian deputy prime minister Arkadiy Dvorkovich.
Page left the Trump campaign in September 2016 after reports surfaced about his meetings with Russian contacts.
Why is Page important?
Page’s extensive Russian contacts again became a focus for investigators in 2016 and a warrant was obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to surveil him.
The memo released Friday that was written at the direction of the House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said the government began eavesdropping on Page in October 2016 and extended the surveillance three times.
The Nunes memo also indicates that information from a paid opposition researcher — former British spy Christopher Steele — was a source cited in the government’s application for a FISA warrant.
Some Republicans, including Nunes, argued the use of the infamous “Steele dossier” to obtain the warrant is evidence that politics is driving the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian contacts.
But critics say the memo omits important information, including other evidence used in the FISA application for Page and the fact that the political nature of the dossier was disclosed to the judge.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D- Calif., the House Intelligence Committee’s senior Democrat, said the 10-page Democratic memo aiming to dispute the GOP document includes those details. The committee voted Monday to release the rebuttal, which is now awaiting White House approval.