Donald Trump‘s representatives are giving width berth to would-be ally Carter Page.
A December 2016 letter reported by Fox News on Saturday shows presidential transition team lawyer Donald McGahn setting very clear terms–Page must stop calling himself an advisor. The Daily Caller first reported on this letter, though not the contents, in March.
You were merely one of the many people named to a foreign policy advisory committee in March of 2016 — a committee that met one time. You never met Mr. Trump, nor did you ever ‘advise’ Mr. Trump about anything. You are thus not an ‘advisor’ to Mr. Trump in any sense of the word.
This essentially comes from the top. Remember, McGahn is currently White House counsel. Other Trump aides certainly haven’t been afraid to publicly distance themselves from Page, an oil industry businessman.
Here’s an April 22 tweet from Dan Scavino, White House Director of Social Media, and the social media honcho for Trump’s campaign. He’s backing up claims by former Trump campaign manager Jason Miller and press Secretary Sean Spicer that Page wasn’t a major part of the team.
— Dan Scavino Jr. (@DanScavino) April 22, 2017
By calling himself an aide, Page, who officially worked in an unpaid position as foreign advisor until September, isn’t doing any favors to a presidential team struggling with low approval ratings. The Washington Post broke that news that the FBI wiretapped him. Feds said they had evidence he was acting as a Russian agent.
In any case, Page visited Moscow in July, to make a speech that criticized U.S. foreign policy. He returned in December, visiting a Russian oil company exec in Moscow.
That’s definitely a case of bad optics because FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence committee in March that his agency has been investigating the Trump team’s links to Russia for months. U.S. government officials have said since October that Moscow interfered with the election, and reports later confirmed that the goal was to help Trump. Now, the controversy is whether the president or his campaign team colluded with these efforts. The president and his people deny this.
[Screengrab via CNN]