One of the most important passages in Carter Page’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday involves his exchange with Representative Adam Schiff on the question whether Page met with representatives of the Presidential administration. This particular exchange will likely affect how you read other parts of Page’s testimony and whether you consider him a credible witness. In this exchange, Page appears to come close to perjuring himself in the way he handles the questions involving Russian officials, depending on the truth of the underlying facts. Minutes before, Page testified that he very briefly met Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. According to Page, the two essentially exchanged a brief greeting. “It was well less than 10 seconds, probably closer to 5 seconds than 10 seconds,” Page testified. (Page had described this encounter with Dvorkovich to the news media as early as September 2016.). With that statement in mind, Rep. Schiff asks Page if he met with other members of the Presidential administration besides this very casual greeting with Dvorkovich. After Page denies any such encounters, Rep. Schiff confronted him with the verbatim text of an email in which Page informed the Trump campaign of the following:
“On a related front, I’ll send you guys a readout soon regarding some incredible insights and outreach I’ve received from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the Presidential administration here”
In the exchange that then followed, Rep. Schiff posed a pointed question: “Were you being honest in your communication with the campaign? Are you being honest in your testimony? Because it doesn’t seem possible for both to be true.” Below is the excerpt of this exchange, and following that excerpt is a word-searchable, full text transcript of the entire testimony.
MR. SCHIFF: Dr. Page, Mr. Steele in the dossier makes reference to a meeting that you had with a representative of the Presidential administration. Did you meet with any representatives of the Presidential administration while you were in Moscow in July of last year?
MR. PAGE: Just that brief greeting that I mentioned.
MR. SCHIFF: So the only person you met — you only met with a single person from the Presidential administration and that was Dvorkovich?
MR. PAGE: Yes, sir, again, being very careful of the distinction been met and meeting, yes.
MR. SCHIFF: Did you write in an email to Tera Dahl and J.D. Gordon, on July 8, “On a related front, I’ll send you guys a readout soon regarding some incredible insights and outreach I’ve received from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the Presidential administration here”? Did you write that email, Dr. Page
MR. PAGE: I believe I did. And it goes back to the point I mentioned with listening to speeches, listening to particularly Arkadiy Dvorkovich’s speech, right. Again, great insights just like I learned great insights — even though I’ve met — I’ve never met Donald J. Trump in my life, I’ve learned a lot from him, and I got great insights from that, from listening and studying the information that he — that he’s provided in public forums.
That’s — that is the primary, primary source.
MR. SCHIFF: Dr. Page, you’ve testified under oath that you met with no senior officials except for a hello to the person who turns out to be the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation?
MR. PAGE: Uh-huh
MR. SCHIFF: You’ve also testified that, apart from him, you met no one from the Presidential administration, and yet on July 8, of last year, you wrote in an email to the campaign that you had incredible insights and outreach that you received from Russian legislators and senior members, plural, of the Presidential administration. Were you being honest in your communication with the campaign? Are you being honest in your testimony? Because it doesn’t seem possible for both to be true.
MR. PAGE: There has been — again, great feedback and positive feelings were expressed in public forums and even just reading the newspaper in Russian that there was hope for the future. And it’s very — you know, the way I explain this to people is it’s very similar to then-candidate Barack Obama’s speech in Germany.
If you remember, in 2008, he received a tremendous amount of positive feedback —
MR. SCHIFF: Dr. Page —
MR. PAGE: Yes.
MR. SCHIFF: Dr. Page, I’m referring to Bates stamp [REDACTED] in which you relate that you had received insights and outreach from Russian legislators and senior members of the Presidential administration. What members of the Presidential administration did you meet?
MR. PAGE: No meetings. You know, it’s insights versus outreach. The insights were primarily based on the materials or the ideas that I read in the press, similar to my listening to President Trump in the various speeches that I heard of his.
MR. SCHIFF: What –
MR. PAGE: Outreach, let me put it this way: I think scholars, in general, were also very enthusiastic about trying to end this second cold war that’s been created. And so I think it was sort of a foregone conclusion — it was pretty much understood that people would be happy — if there was interest in terms of having a dialogue, I’m certain that the Russians would be more than willing to do that. That’s what I was expressing, perhaps not in the most careful, cautious — you know, if I had started my personal legal training previously, I probably would have used a different word, frankly speaking.
MR. SCHIFF: Dr. Page, I don’t think you need legal training to be able to distinguish between what you told the public 2 days ago that you essentially only met the man on the street –
MR. PAGE: Yes.
MR. SCHIFF: — and what you have related privately to the Trump campaign, that you had met with Russian legislators and senior members of the Presidential administration.
I yield back.