Meet Carter Page, the former Trump campaign adviser who the FBI surveilled to investigate his connections to the Russian government

Carter Page, a former investment banker and foreign policy adviser for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, is at the center of another partisan fight.

Documents released on Saturday detail the FBI’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) applications to surveil him in order to investigate whether Page was working with Russia to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

President Donald Trump has seized on the documents to claim his campaign was illegally spied on. Democrats, and some Congressional Republicans, have said they show investigators did nothing wrong, and actually show that Page was an “agent of a foreign power”, as the documents allege.

Page was previously at the center of an intense debate over a classified memo about the FISA applications that Republicans said exposed corruption at the highest levels of the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The memo accused top officials at the FBI and DOJ of misleading federal judges in seeking the warrants needed to extend secret surveillance of Page during and after the 2016 presidential election.

Here’s what you should know about Carter Page:

Carter Page was born in Minneapolis, but raised in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Source: USA Today

In 1993, Page graduated from the US Naval Academy. He served in the Navy for five years before working on arms control at the Pentagon and moving to New York for a fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Source: Bloomberg

He also has degrees from New York University and SOAS University of London.

Source: Bloomberg

After working as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch in London, Page moved to its Russia branch, where he was a vice president from 2004 to 2007.

Source: Bloomberg

While in Russia, Page developed relationships with Russian oil executives, especially from the Kremlin-connected company Gazprom.

Source: Bloomberg

While Page has touted his credentials as an expert on the Russian energy market, a handful of other experts in the field told Politico they didn’t even know who he was.

Source: Global Energy Capital

“Strangely I’ve never heard of Carter Page until this Trump connection,” Bill Browder, an American investor who spent years working in Russia, told Politico. “It’s odd because I’ve heard of every other financier who was a player in Moscow at the time.”

CNN/screenshotAmerican financier Bill Browder.

Source: Politico

Over the course of his career in foreign policy, Page has not shied away from criticising what he has described as US hypocrisy toward Russia. According to the Washington Post, Page has praised Putin as a better leader than former President Barack Obama.

YoutubePage speaks to the New Economic School in Moscow in July 2016.

Source: The Washington Post

“Washington and other Western powers have impeded potential progress through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change,” Page said during a speech in Moscow in front of prominent Russian government officials.

Source: Bloomberg

Over the years, Page’s dealings in Russia caught the attention of US government officials, who suspected that he may be working as an agent of Moscow. Intelligence officials knew of him as far back as 2013, well before he joined the Trump campaign.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

During the 2016 election campaign, Trump announced that Page was one of his foreign policy advisers.

Source: Business Insider

But controversy ensued over Page’s role in the campaign when the public learned the FBI had launched a probe into whether Trump or his associates were colluding with Russia to influence the election.

Wikipedia CommonsProtesters dressed like FBI agents at the March for Truth in San Francisco in June 2017.

Source: Business Insider

In November 2017, Page testified before the House Intelligence Committee. He confirmed meeting Russian government officials on a trip to Moscow during the US presidential campaign. Page denied any wrongdoing or improper dealings with Russia.

Source: Business Insider

In January, Page became the subject of controversy when Republicans alleged in a memo that officials at the FBI and the DOJ misled a federal judge who authorised surveillance on Page before and after the 2016 campaign.

Source: Business Insider

Trump released that memo in February, despite objections from Democrats and senior law-enforcement officials, including the director of the FBI.

Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

In March, the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General announced that it would review the FBI’s and DOJ’s application to monitor Page during the election.

Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesCarter Page arrives at courthouse for the United States District Court Southern District of New York on April 16, 2018.

Source: Business Insider

Over 400 pages of documents released on Saturday show the FBI’s applications to surveil Page, and Department of Justice officials plus judges signing off on those requests. The FBI said it had reason to believe Page was “an agent of a foreign power” and “the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.”

Source: Business Insider

Trump seized on the documents to claim that the FBI “illegally spied upon” his presidential campaign, and to characterise the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling a “big hoax.”

Chris McGrath/Getty ImagesTrump meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16, 2018.

Sources: Reuters, AP

On Sunday, Page downplayed his Russian connections. “I’ve never been an agent of a foreign power by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.

Screenshot via CNNPage appeared on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ with host Jake Tapper.

Source: Business Insider

Other lawmakers drew different conclusions from the documents. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said they showed the FBI had justified its reasons to surveil Page. “I don’t think they did anything wrong,” Rubio said, defending investigators. “There was a lot of reasons unrelated to the dossier why they wanted to look at Carter Page.”

Screenshot via CNNSen. Marco Rubio of Florida appears on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ on July 22, 2018.

Source: Business Insider

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