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Trump aide departs amid scrutiny of Russia ties

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A foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump says he is leaving the Republican nominee’s presidential campaign amid reports that U.S. intelligence officials are examining his ties to Russia.

“This is another distraction that’s been created here,” Carter Page told The Washington Post Monday. “It’s so ridiculous I want to have it behind us.

{mosads}“There’s so little time between now and the election, this is in the best interests of the candidate. All of these accusations are just complete garbage.”

Page is an investment banker who previously worked at Merrill Lynch’s Moscow branch and now has extensive business ties with Russia.

Trump included Page in a list foreign policy advisers released in March before becoming the GOP’s presidential nominee.

Reports emerged last Friday that U.S. intelligence officials are scrutinizing Page’s dealings with Russian interests.

Intelligence officials are reportedly reviewing whether Page opened up private lines of communications with top Russian officials, including talks about potentially lifting economic sanctions.

Page’s interactions with Russian entities have also been the subject of congressional briefings, according to multiple sources briefed on the issue.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) purportedly wrote a letter to FBI Director James Comey earlier this summer questioning Page’s actions in Russia.

Reid was curious about reports saying Page met with “high ranking sanctioned individuals” in Moscow, calling the huddles evidence of “significant and disturbing ties” between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin.

One congressional source additionally told Yahoo last Friday the reports were being “actively monitored and investigated.”

The Washington Post on Monday said Page has sent Comey a letter calling for the dismissal of any investigation into him, should one exist.

“For the record, I have not met this year with any sanctioned official in Russia despite the fact that there are no restrictions on U.S. persons speaking with such persons,” his letter says.

“Instead of allowing the staff of the FBI to focus the nation’s limited resources on real threats, these desperate and unfounded calls for my investigation as a private citizen to advance political interests based on nothing more than preposterous mainstream media reports is a true disgrace.”

Trump’s presidential campaign on Saturday began distancing itself from Page by denying he has had a role advising the businessman.

“Mr. Page is not an adviser and has made no contribution to the campaign,” communications director Jason Miller said in an email to The Hill.

Miller dismissed a statement from a Trump campaign spokesman last month calling Page an “informal adviser,” albeit one who “does not speak for Mr. Trump or the campaign.”

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

Democrats and their presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, have frequently accused Trump of having too cozy a relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Tags campaigns Donald Trump Foreign policy Harry Reid Hillary Clinton Intelligence Politics Russia

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