It’s probably not a good idea to talk to the press while under federal investigation for a potential crime. Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page just showed why.
On Monday morning, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted and arrested former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates on counts of tax fraud and money laundering. Soon after, the special counsel revealed that a low-level campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians linked to the Kremlin.
So yesterday was maybe not the best day for a former Trump campaign staffer to speak openly about his time during the election while the investigation heats up. Enter Page, who decided it was a good idea to talk to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that same evening. And, predictably, he ended up revealing some potentially incriminating information.
Page said he was “probably” on emails with Papadopoulos
Hayes asked Carter, who along with Papadopoulos served as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, if he was ever on email chains with Papadopoulos. “Probably a few,” Page responded. Hayes then pressed for more specifics, asking if Carter and Papadopoulos were on email chains about Russia. “It may have come up from time to time,” Page said. “There’s nothing major.”
Let’s stop right there for a moment. Papadopoulos admitted to lying about his interactions with Russians, and Carter didn’t mind saying that he could possibly be on Russia-related emails. That’s a startling admission — and he said it on television.
And that’s not all. Page also discussed his July 2016 trip to Russia, which came soon after Papadopoulos requested to set up a meeting between Russian officials and Trump campaign members. But Page told Hayes that he didn’t represent the campaign during that journey and didn’t know about Papadopoulos’s efforts to broker a meeting.
All of this raises the question: Why in the world did Page think it was a good idea to go on TV last night and say all these things?
Part of the answer may be that Page doesn’t have a lawyer to tell him not to do it. Page told Hayes that he has some informal advisers and a formal adviser to help him through the investigation, but no official attorney. That means he didn’t have legal representation when he told Senate investigators in May that he had “brief interactions” with Russian officials in 2013.
And Page’s willingness to talk may come from his desire for transparency. “I’m very, very open and happy to give all the information that I can in the interest of really getting the truth out there,” he told Hayes.
Hayes, who seemed incredulous that Page spoke to him about all this on his show, summed up the whole episode succinctly: “I genuinely hope, Carter, that you’re innocent of everything, because you’re doing a lot of talking. It’s either admirably bold or reckless, but I guess we’ll find out.”