Skip to main content

Carter Page , one-time adviser of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump, addresses the audience during a presentation in Moscow, Russia, December 12, 2016.

SERGEI KARPUKHIN/REUTERS

If the Kremlin was worried about the perception that it might have too much sway over Donald Trump's incoming administration, it could have told Carter Page – a controversial one-time adviser to the U.S. president-elect – that now was not the time for a press conference in Moscow, shining a spotlight on one of Russia's alleged links to Mr. Trump.

After all, the press conference that Mr. Page gave Monday at the Sputnik News headquarters in Moscow was hosted by a news service, and in a building, owned by the Russian government.

But while Washington and other foreign capitals are abuzz with worry that Moscow may have pulled off something like a soft coup during the U.S. election – on Monday, a bipartisan group of Republican and Democratic senators called for an investigation into Russia's suspected role in the campaign – Vladimir Putin's government clearly doesn't mind the impression that it has friends close to Mr. Trump.

Story continues below advertisement

Standing on Sputnik's stage, Mr. Page hailed what he called a "new era" in U.S.-Russia relations, one he hoped would be driven by business relationships, rather than security concerns or other issues.

Read more: Donald Trump's cabinet picks reflect Republicans Party's conservative wing

Editorial: Donald Trump is ignoring valid intelligence on Russia. This won't end well

Read more: China takes off gloves over Taiwan, warns U.S. it would retaliate

"This marks the start of a new era where they can now work on [problems] together, instead of remaining consistently obstructed by a long history of toxic personal relationships," he said, specifically praising the rumoured appointment of Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson as Mr. Trump's secretary of state. "Change is absolutely necessary today and we absolutely must work together."

Mr. Page, like Mr. Trump, has a penchant for sounding like he's repeating things that he read on Sputnik or other Kremlin-run outlets. On Monday, he criticized the economic sanctions that Western governments have levelled at Russia since the 2014 outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine and said the hacking attacks that hobbled Hillary Clinton's campaign for president could have been a CIA "false-flag"operation designed to harm Mr. Trump and the Russian government.

Mr. Page briefly shot to prominence during the presidential race when Mr. Trump – pressed during a newspaper interview to list his foreign-policy advisers – named "Carter Page, PhD" as one of five people from whom he took advice on international affairs. That mention launched a flurry of Google searches: Who was Carter Page?

Story continues below advertisement

Anyone who looked found a wandering résumé that included several years spent as an adviser on energy investments in Russia, plus a speech during which he criticized U.S. foreign policy for its "hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change" in Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union.

It was never clear how much involvement or access Mr. Page had to the Trump campaign or the Kremlin inner circle. In September – as rumours swirled of an FBI or CIA investigation into Mr. Page's contacts with senior Russian officials, including Igor Sechin, a close Putin adviser who also heads the oil giant Rosneft – Mr. Page announced he was taking a leave of absence, a move he said was "in the best interests of the candidate."

Mr. Page on Monday denied that he had ever met Mr. Sechin, although he said it "would have been an honour."

He also lashed out at the U.S. mainstream media and Democratic politicians for putting him in the spotlight during the election campaign.

"We're stuck in that Cold War mind set. We have a strong desire to have a new direction in Russia-U.S. relations," he said, his nearly bald head glistening with sweat under the stage lights as he took questions from Russian and foreign journalists. Given that Mr. Page said he was representing only himself on his trip to Moscow, it wasn't apparent who he meant by "we."

He seemed nervous as he spoke, and was particularly evasive when asked to clarify whose interests he was serving during his Moscow trip, given that Mr. Trump's transition team said he holds no role, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said no Russian government officials were expected to meet the American businessman.

Story continues below advertisement

Earlier this week, Sputnik advanced its own theory, publishing a story that suggested Mr. Page was in Moscow to "test the waters" and "build bridges without leaving Trump open [to criticism]."

Mr. Trump has lashed out at the CIA's reported finding of Russian interference in the U.S. election, noting the same agency once believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The Kremlin has also ridiculed the suggestions, with Mr. Putin's spokesman saying that "none of the absolutely groundless claims [about Kremlin involvement] has been propped up by any information, let alone proof."

But Russia has nonetheless been delighted with the change in tone from the outgoing Obama administration – which is deeply at odds with the Kremlin over Syria and Ukraine, among other issues – to Mr. Trump's incoming one.

Russian officials have reacted with glee to talk that Mr. Tillerson –who as Exxon Mobil chief had close ties to Mr. Putin's administration via Mr. Sechin – could be appointed secretary of state.

In 2011, Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Sechin negotiated a multibillion-dollar strategic alliance to jointly explore for oil in the Arctic, as well as in the Black Sea and Russia's Siberia region. Two years later, Mr. Putin personally awarded Mr. Tillerson with Russia's Order of Friendship medal.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies