This possibility shades the revelation, delivered by Page to reporters after his testimony, that he had told now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions about his trip prior to making it.
Speaking to the committee, Page said he had a “standing invitation” to make the speech. Asked who invited him he said, “I was just invited,” though he later named Shlomo Weber, rector of the New Economic School, as his host. First, Page said that Gordon was aware of the trip, as well as a few other members of Trump’s campaign team.
Why had he told them, Gowdy wondered? “I wanted to be very careful, because there was starting to be some—there was starting to be some allegations about or concerns about Russia in general.” Then why go, Gowdy pressed. “Because I’m trying to live my life and it’s something—I’ve spoken at these universities for well over a decade.” A few moments later, Page said he’d told then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and spokeswoman Hope Hicks, now the White House communications director.
Later in the testimony, Page admitted he’d also told then-Senator Jeff Sessions, but said (like the Dvorkovich conversation) that it had been very brief, as they left a meeting in Washington. Schiff couldn’t understand why Page would bring it up if it was so brief, and Page’s answer didn’t really clarify: “The point of bringing it up is I changed my schedule around. It was going to be my last two days in the United States for three weeks that Thursday night, just—just mentioned that I’m glad to have been able to do that. So it was more just sort of an administrative point.” Indeed, Page seems like the sort of person who speaks incessantly about himself without being invited.
According to Page, the list of Trump officials who were informed about the trip includes at the very least Sessions, Hicks, Gordon, Lewandowski, and Sam Clovis, who last week withdrew his nomination for a USDA chief scientist job. This is difficult to square with repeated campaign denials of any contacts with the Russians, no matter Page’s level on the campaign.
Despite Page’s repeated assertions that he made the trip outside of his campaign job, Representative Jackie Speier, a Democrat, pointed out that in an email to the campaign, Page wrote, “Please let me know if you have any reservations or thoughts on how you’d prefer me to focus these remarks.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Speier asked. “It would appear that you were soliciting from the campaign any messages you would like to have conveyed to those in attendance at the New Economic School.” Page called it merely a “courtesy.”
Sessions, of course, claimed he was unaware of any such trips, including in sworn testimony to the Senate. But it has since become clear that multiple Trump campaign officials had contacts with Russians, including Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty last month to lying to the FBI about them. In Page’s case, there was a paper record—not just his email request for comments, but also the memo he sent to J.D. Gordon afterwards.