Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page confirmed he passed documents to a Russian spy in 2013 but the information was not sensitive, BuzzFeed reported Monday. Page, an energy consultant, met with Russian intelligence agent Victor Podobnyy at a January 2013 energy conference in New York as the SVR agent tried to recruit Page.
Podobnyy and two others have been charged in absentia by the U.S. government for acting as unregistered foreign agents. A court filing includes a transcript in which Podobnyy talks with Igor Sporyshev, who was busted as a member of a Russian spy ring, about trying to recruit someone identified only as “Male-1,” whom BuzzFeed confirmed was Page.
Podobnyy ridicules Page’s interest in making a deal with Russian energy giant Gazprom, calling him an “idiot” and saying he would promise “favor for favor” to Page and then renege. Page emailed Podobnyy “documents … about the energy business,” BuzzFeed said.
The court filing said Page was interviewed in June 2013 by FBI counterintelligence agents.
Both Podobnyy and Sporyshev had diplomatic immunity and left the U.S. A third man, Evgeny Buryakov, who did not have diplomatic cover, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
An opposition research dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele said Moscow had sought to build relationships with certain people in the U.S., including Page. The dossier contained unconfirmed reports of Trump’s sexual escapades, ties to Russia and financial dealings.
Page earlier told BuzzFeed in a messaging app he may have had inadvertent contact with Russian intelligence but would never have broken the law.
The FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election and whether anyone in the Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives. Trump repeatedly has called the allegations “fake news.” The White House has been trying to distance Trump from Page, saying he had little to do with the campaign although candidate Trump described Page as a foreign policy adviser.