Back in January, BuzzFeed published a dubious Democrat-funded research dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele claiming that Donald Trump campaign aides conspired with the Russian government to hack Hillary Clinton’s campaign computers and spread disinformation prior to the election.
None of the allegations in the dossier have been independently verified, but that hasn’t stopped the mainstream media from running wild with it. Now, the main target of the dossier — businessman and onetime volunteer Trump advisor Carter Page — is throwing cold water on the claims:
There are four main charges concerning Mr. Page:
• Mr. Steele wrote that Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s summertime campaign manager, and Mr. Page formed an alliance to work with Russian intelligence to hack the Clinton campaign.
Mr. Page called this assertion “ridiculous.” Referring to himself as a “junior paid volunteer,” he said he has never met Mr. Manafort.
“Steele is saying I’m conspiring with Manafort. It’s so fictional,” he said.
• Second, Mr. Steele wrote that during Mr. Page’s July trip to Moscow to give a speech at the New Economic School, he held a secret meeting with Igor Sechin, president of the state-owned Rosneft oil company and a close ally of President Putin.
Mr. Page said he delivered an unpaid speech at the university, a talk that was covered by the news media that day. Mr. Page said he has never met Mr. Sechin.
“No, I have never met him,” he said. “It’s totally false.”
• Mr. Steele also wrote that Mr. Sechin offered Mr. Page a brokerage fee when Russia sold a 19 percent stake in Rosneft to outside investors. In exchange, the Trump adviser was to urge the candidate to end economic sanctions against Russia.
Mr. Page said no one ever made such an offer.
• In his fourth charge against Mr. Page, Mr. Steele wrote that, while in Moscow, Mr. Page also met with a man named Igor Divyekin, a Russian official. He supposedly told Mr. Page that the Kremlin had compromising information on Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, as well as Mr. Trump.
Mr. Page said the first he ever heard of Mr. Divyekin was from the dossier.
He told The Times: “I had never heard of him. I asked a lot of people I knew in Moscow, all people from the university, some business friend people, ‘Have you ever heard of this guy?’
“I’m very careful that the things I say are accurate. If I’m going to say I did not meet him, I may have said hello to someone, right? So I wanted to be double, triple, quadruple sure that what I’m saying is accurate, right?
“Not only had I never heard of him, everyone I asked had never heard the guy’s name. He’s not a known person. He’s like someone in the bureaucracy who may have an important position but not someone who is publicly known and not someone I met with.”
The FBI has been investigating Page’s ties to Russia since July. However, Republican members of Congress want to know if the the Obama administration used the Steele dossier as evidence to obtain a warrant to spy on Trump:
The [Washington] Post reported Feb. 28 that the FBI reached a financial agreement with Mr. Steele to continue investigating Mr. Trump.
If true, the agreement created the odd marriage of a partisan Democrat-paid investigator being hired by the FBI to investigate the future president a few weeks before the election. The deal never went through because the dossier and Mr. Steele’s name had become public, The Post reported.
The timeline (the dossier went public in January) would mean that the FBI wanted Mr. Steele to investigate President-elect Trump and ultimately President Trump.
The Washington Times asked the FBI to confirm or deny that it had made such a deal. The public affairs office declined.
Read more about the dossier here.