Washington (AFP) – A former Donald Trump advisor at the eye of a firestorm over alleged ties to Russia by the billionaire businessman’s presidential campaign on Wednesday denied any wrongdoing.
Former aide Carter Page, an oil industry consultant, spoke out amid reports that the FBI investigated him last year for ties to Russian intelligence.
Page, speaking on CNN as the White House scrambled to distance itself from him, insisted that allegations of impropriety during the 2016 US presidential race were “false evidence against me.”
He told the TV station that he had “no comment” about the FBI probe.
The Washington Post reported that federal investigators obtained a rare warrant from the top secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Page’s communications — the first concrete confirmation of government surveillance of Trump’s team.
During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump sometimes referred to Page as one of his foreign policy advisors.
It has now emerged that federal prosecutors and an intelligence court judge at least suspected the former Moscow-based banker was also working for or with the Russians.
The White House rushed to downplay Page’s ties to Trump and the campaign.
One current official told AFP that Page never met Trump, did not have a campaign pass and was only mentioned as an advisor because the billionaire candidate was under pressure to show he had a policy brain trust.
The official admitted that Page could have written policy memos for the campaign, but his name was only on a list of supposed advisors because of a recommendation from Sam Clovis, an Iowa conservative now working in Trump’s Department of Agriculture.
The FBI declined to comment on the Post report.
The bureau is investigating Russian interference in the US election, an operation US intelligence later concluded was designed to help Trump win the presidency over Hillary Clinton.
The FBI began its probe, which also is examining whether there was collusion between the…