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A former member of President Trump’s campaign team, Carter Page, on Thursday “wouldn’t deny” that he spoke with a Russian official in Cleveland during last year’s Republican National Convention.

In an interview with MSNBC host Chris Hayes, Page, who lived in Russia for a few years, skated around the anchor’s questions on his contact with Russia during the election, tossing in allegations against the Obama administration on multiple occasions.

Page was first exposed as one of four Trump campaign members to had contact with Russia during the election in a New York Times story two weeks ago. Shortly afterward, PBS host Judy Woodruff asked Page if he had had any meetings last year with Russian officials inside or outside Russia. Page said no.

Earlier Thursday, a report was published that Page and J.D. Gordon, both staffers on Trump’s national security advisory committee, had spoken with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a diplomacy conference in Cleveland.

“I can neither confirm nor deny any meeting with him at that event in the interest of respecting the confidentiality rules that people agreed to as it was an off-the-record session,” Page said in a statement issued Thursday evening before appearing on MSNBC.

“You know, there’s this pattern here where everything in concept – you can tell me like ‘Yeah, I met with Sergey Kislyak, there was thing and there was a bunch of different ambassadors, there was one from Germany and we talked, there’s no smoke here,'” Hayes said to Page.

“And that may have been true about Michael Flynn talking to Sergey Kislyak and it may have been true at Jared Kushner’s meetings and it may be true about Jeff Sessions, but there’s this pattern which you appear to be part of in which there’s a bizarre dissembling about the basic facts of the matter. Do you understand why that reads to people as fishy?”

Page responded that he understood that Hayes’ question about the “ongoing works by the Obama White House to come after and burrow in all kind of information” why the reporter was asking the question.

Hayes told Page he understood that the Trump administration and former campaign aides believe the media is against them, that that was not the question at hand. Hayes followed up by asking if Page had met Kislyak in Cleveland. Page said he would not deny it.

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In follow-up questions, Page said he had “absolutely no involvement” in Russia’s hacking Democratic officials’ during the election, nor did he communicate with a liaison on the issue.

“Categorically no,” Page said, before again circling back to the Obama administration. “And it will be interesting when they have this paper trail of what the intelligence community was doing looking at the collusion between the efforts by the Clinton campaign and members of the Obama administration during those months.”

Page told Hayes he was not hired by the Trump campaign as a result of an endorsement or request from then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who came under fire on Wednesday for meeting twice with Kislyak.

“I can say that’s not the case. But the fact that I’m now public enemy number one, I don’t want to sully the name of other people,” Page said.

“I get that, but the obfuscation seems to indicate there wasn’t something there,” Hayes said. “How did you come to be part of the orbit of the Trump campaign?”

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“Maybe to cover my legal fees I might write a book about it someday. But there’s nothing material or important related to that,” Page said.

Page is a former Merrill Lynch investment banker who has stated he spent three years in Moscow arranging energy deals. A recent Politico story found no evidence of his work history doing such a job in Russia.

Last summer, Page traveled to Russia to give a speech. He stayed for three days, but told Hayes he spent the duration of his trip meeting with scholars and professors following his graduation speech.

Page added that he was not aware of having spoken to any Russian intelligence officials, but that it was “possible” he could have spoken to a Russian military veteran, but did not know it at the time.

Page said he did not talk about U.S. sanctions on Russia, though he is on the record opposing the Crimea sanctions. He did not deny talking about the U.S. presidential election.

“There may have been some scholars that we were – you know, that offered comments and thoughts and, you know, again, nothing specific or worth discussing that was brought up at the time. Part of the issue is these are things that happened months ago,” Page explained.


“I have literally spoken at some of the top universities in Moscow dozens of times in the past. I lived there for years and I was a regular at many of the top universities so there’s nothing out of the ordinary of me going and being the commencement speaker,” Page added.



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