Trump camp backs away from adviser suspected of Kremlin ties

Trump camp backs away from adviser suspected of Kremlin ties
© Greg Nash

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDem rep: Trump can't deliver on promise because of Russia probe Trump turns up heat on AG Sessions over recusal Trump: 'I won't say' that I should be on Mount Rushmore MORE’s campaign is denying any connection to a man that it previously named as a foreign policy adviser, who is reportedly being investigated for alleged ties to the Kremlin.

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Trump in March included Carter Page — an investment banker who had worked in the Moscow branch of Merrill Lynch for several years — on a list of foreign policy advisers.

But Friday, after Yahoo News reported that Page was being investigated for allegedly meeting with Kremlin officials over the summer, a Trump campaign spokesman denied that Page had ever been part of the campaign.

“Mr. Page is not an advisor and has made no contribution to the campaign,” the campaign’s communications director Jason Miller said in an email to The Hill. “I've never spoken to him, and wouldn't recognize him if he were sitting next to me.”

Presented with a statement from a campaign spokesperson in August that characterized Page as an “informal adviser,” albeit one who “does not speak for Mr. Trump or the campaign,” Miller doubled down.

“He’s never been a part of our campaign. Period,” he said.

Another spokesman, Steven Cheung, said Page “has no role” in the campaign.

“We are not aware of any of his activities, past or present,” Cheung added.

The campaign did not respond to further requests for comment Friday night and Saturday morning.

The Trump team's attempt to distance itself from Page comes after Yahoo quoted a congressional source saying that Page’s talks with Russian officials were being “actively monitored and investigated.”

“It’s on our radar screen,” a senior law enforcement official said. “It’s being looked at.”

According to the report, intelligence officials believe Page met with Igor Sechin, an ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian oil executive who is among a group of leaders that the U.S. sanctioned in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Sechin is a former deputy prime minister and chief of staff to Putin and was described by the U.S. Treasury Department as having shown "shown utter loyalty" to the Russian strongman.

Page could not be reached for comment.

Page is currently a partner at Global Energy Capital, a private equity firm that he founded in 2007. His bio on the firm's website says that he was previously a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, though he seems to be relatively unknown in foreign policy circles.

This is not the first time that Trump’s campaign has been embroiled in controversy over alleged ties to Russia. Campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned last month shortly after reports emerged that a secret ledger from Viktor Yanukovych’s Kremlin-backed regime in Ukraine showed $12.7 million in cash payments to Manafort.

Trump himself has repeatedly praised Putin and put forth proposals that many believe would benefit Russia, such as setting conditions for defending NATO allies in the event that they are attacked.

Trump and his running mate Mike PenceMike (Michael) Richard PenceMcCain returns to applause, casts deciding vote to advance healthcare bill Live coverage: Senate begins debate on ObamaCare repeal Lewandowski suggests he’s still advising Trump MORE have called Putin a stronger leader than President Obama. 

Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump turns up heat on AG Sessions over recusal Mellman: Trump love? Overnight Cybersecurity: Senate Judiciary reportedly drops Manafort subpoena | Kushner meets with House Intel | House passes Russia sanctions deal | What to watch at 'hacker summer camp' MORE’s campaign responded to the Yahoo report on Friday, calling the allegations “chilling” and demanding that Trump reveal any other ties he has to “foreign assets.”

"We've never seen anything like this in American politics,” Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin said in a statement. “Every day seems to cast new doubts on what's truly driving Donald Trump's decision-making: the interests of the American people or his own bottom line.

“He needs to immediately disclose the full extent of his business relationships and foreign assets so the voters can make that determination for themselves."