No matter how hard the president tries, this explosive scandal isn’t going anywhere.
The slow drip of developments in the never-ending Russia scandal continued on Monday, with a new report from Buzzfeed showing that former Donald Trump campaign adviser Carter Page previously met with a Russian spy.
According to Buzzfeed, Page met with and passed off documents to at least one Russian spy at Moscow’s UN office in 2013. Two years after the meeting, in 2015, the same spy Page met with faced charges from the United States government as part of a larger spy ring.
The adviser, Carter Page, met with a Russian intelligence operative named Victor Podobnyy, who was later charged by the US government alongside two others for acting as unregistered agents of a foreign government. The charges, filed in January 2015, came after federal investigators busted a Russian spy ring that was seeking information on US sanctions as well as efforts to develop alternative energy. Page is an energy consultant.
A court filing by the US government contains a transcript of a recorded conversation in which Podobnyy speaks with one of the other men busted in the spy ring, Igor Sporyshev, about trying to recruit someone identified as “Male-1.” BuzzFeed News has confirmed that “Male-1” is Page.
The revelation of Page’s connection to Russian intelligence — which occurred more than three years before his association with Trump — is the most clearly documented contact to date between Russian intelligence and someone in Trump’s orbit. It comes as federal investigators probe whether Trump’s campaign-era associates — including Page — had any inappropriate contact with Russian officials or intelligence operatives during the course of the election.
If this interaction was the only connection that Trump and his circle of associates had with Russia, it may not be such a big story. But this is just one of several ties between people in the president’s orbit and Moscow that’s been revealed in recent days.