Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign, said Friday that his mention of an upcoming trip to Russia to Jeff Sessions was “a brief comment as we were walking toward the elevator.”
Page described the encounter to CNN’s Jake Tapper as a “nothing event” at a dinner during the 2016 campaign, at which Page approached then-Sen. Sessions, who is now the US attorney general and was an early supporter of Trump’s campaign, to say hello and mentioned he was headed to Russia.
“That mention, which was the big headline yesterday, was a brief comment as we were walking toward the elevator after having a dinner together, and so it was such a nothing event,” Page said. “It’s totally in passing. It was nothing.”
Tapper further inquired if he mentioned the July 2016 trip to Moscow to anyone else on the campaign.
“I mentioned it to a few people,” Page replied.
On Thursday, CNN reported that during more than six hours of closed-door testimony with the House intelligence committee, Page privately recalled a conversation with Sessions about the trip he was planning to take to Russia.
CNN had also reported that the encounter Page described occurred at a dinner at the Capitol Hill Club, at which Page approached Sessions to say hello and mentioned he was headed to Russia, according to a source familiar with the meeting.
Page said his Russia trip was not connected to his role on the campaign, but the conversation between the former Trump foreign policy adviser and current US attorney general puts Sessions’ answers to Congress about Russia and the Trump campaign back in the spotlight.
Earlier this week, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump campaign official Rick Gates surrendered to special counsel Robert Mueller, and another former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI.
Page declined to comment on whether he has met recently with Mueller’s team, but went on to praise the team’s professionalism.
When Tapper directly asked Page if he had been in contact with Mueller or the FBI since his reported meetings in March of this year, Page responded by saying that Mueller’s team has “been very professional in terms of not leaking.”
“So you have met with them?” Tapper asked.
“I have no comment, because they have not talked, they don’t talk about, you know, ongoing investigations,” Page replied.
When pressed further, Page said: “I’m saying they’re very professional in the sense that they’re not leaking all the time.”
When Tapper asked once more whether Page meant he had met with them, he again said he had no comment.