In an ironic twist, Carter Page’s involvement in John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign was one of the reasons he was referred to the Trump campaign last year.
So says Ed Cox, the chairman of the New York Republican Party and son-in-law of Richard Nixon.
“I know him from the McCain campaign, he’s a good Republican,” Cox, who chaired McCain’s 2008 effort, told The Daily Caller on Tuesday of Page, a short-lived and controversial Trump campaign policy adviser.
“He asked to be involved in the campaign, natural since he had been involved in the McCain campaign with me, he wanted to get involved in this campaign.”
Page, a Manhattan-based energy consultant, “has worked in other campaigns, knows how they work,” continued Cox, adding that he saw that experience “as a plus certainly for the Trump campaign.”
Page’s entree to Trumpworld has been a source of intrigue in recent months amid reports that he is a subject of the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the election.
Page was named by former British spy Christopher Steele in an uncorroborated dossier alleging that he was tapped by Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman for several months last year, to negotiate on behalf of the campaign to help influence the election.
The FBI reportedly used the dossier as part of the basis to open its investigation into potential Trump team collusion with the Kremlin. Steele’s work was also reportedly cited in an application for a surveillance warrant against Page obtained by the FBI in September. (RELATED: Corey Lewandowski Brought Carter Page Onto Trump Campaign)
And ironically, given Page’s work on McCain’s failed 2008 presidential bid — he was named by Cox to the New York Leadership Team in Jan. 2008 — the Arizona Republican obtained the same dossier in November and passed it to then-FBI Director James Comey.
Page’s reluctance to discuss how he found his way into the Trump orbit has fueled the intrigue over his role on the campaign.
Campaign and White House officials have distanced themselves from Page, saying that he was an unpaid volunteer who never met Trump and contributed little to the campaign’s policy platform. But Trump’s staunchest critics have interpreted Page’s refusal to discuss his campaign point-of-contact as evidence that the Trump-Russia collusion claims are true.
Page has denied taking part in any collusion, or, as others have claimed, that he attempted to infiltrate the campaign as an agent of Russia.
Russian operatives did attempt to recruit Page in 2013, according to a leaked indictment of three Russian spies. The FBI found no evidence that Page was recruited, and he says that he cooperated with investigators in the case.
Cox, 70 and married to Nixon’s eldest daughter, Patricia, says that he introduced Page through email to Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager.
“Corey said ‘great,’ and that’s the last I heard of it,” says Cox, who was identified as Page’s point of contact by The Washington Post last week.
TheDC previously reported that Lewandowski and Page met at one point in late 2015 or early 2016 at Trump Tower. Lewandowski then introduced Page to Sam Clovis, the head of the campaign’s policy shop.
TheDC had not been told how Page came to meet Lewandowski. Page declined comment at the time, and Lewandowski denied ever meeting the former campaign adviser.
According to The Post, after a simple Google search was used to vet Page, Clovis ultimately okayed his addition to the policy team. Trump would then bring Page into the national spotlight by name-checking him as a policy adviser during an interview with The Washington Post in March.
Several months later, in July, Page visited Moscow to give a commencement speech in which he criticized U.S. foreign policy. The speech drew attention from American media, as well as federal investigators.
Cox, who endorsed Trump but did not work on the campaign, expressed no regret over introducing Page to Lewandowski.
“I was very pleased to introduce him to it. It was straightforward reference,” he says, noting that part of his job as chair of the New York GOP is to match political campaigns up with volunteers and staff.
Of the allegations laid out against Page in the media and in the dossier, Cox says they don’t “make sense to me based on what I know of him.”
“It never even occurred to me that that would be a part of it, until the media raised it.”
As for Page, he has ended his embargo on discussing how he made his way onto the Trump team.
“That’s the full story,” he told TheDC on Tuesday when reached for comment.
This article has been updated with additional information.