Trump associate Carter Page told the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday he plans to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights if called to testify before the committee investigating Russian election meddling, according to Politico. (Page subsequently denied the Politico report to the Hill.) Page, who served as a foreign policy adviser in the early days of the Trump campaign, has long been in the cross hairs of American investigators for his Russia links; the FBI was even able to convince a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge to grant it permission to monitor Page’s communications as far back as July 2016.
Page has financial links to Russia; he worked for Merrill Lynch in Moscow and has financial ties to the Russian energy firm Gazprom. The former Trump adviser was also believed to be a recruitment target of Russian intelligence. It’s not clear whether Page has been subpoenaed to testify before the committee; other Trump staffers have appeared voluntarily, but that may change as the investigation evolves and potential suspects and witnesses become more clear.
Page, for his part, has played the role of victim and has demanded to speak before the committee in the past and flailed accusations right and left that he is the target of a smear campaign. From Politico:
Page was eager for the committee’s attention earlier this year, when he showed up of his own volition to the panel’s secure office spaces on Capitol Hill to drop off a document he created alleging that he was the target of a smear campaign by Hillary Clinton’s aides. Clinton and her associates, Page alleged in his document — which he also shopped around to news organizations — were committing a hate crime against him by planting false stories about his ties to Russia, Page said. He was being targeted, he wrote in the document, because he was a Catholic male.
“Page has been demanding the government release information about his communications that were picked up during surveillance operations,” according to CNN. “Page contends that he does not want to be caught in a ‘perjury trap’ since the government has more detailed records about his communications.”