President Trump on Wednesday defended Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser, against what he says is a Democrat-led “witch hunt” in the Russia collusion investigation.
Trump appeared to be responding to a segment on Fox & Friends, his favorite morning TV talk show, alleging that Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are blocking Page from testifying before the panel.
Page, who volunteered for the campaign from March until September, said last week that he had tentatively agreed to meet with the committee on June 6. The panel is conducting a sprawling investigation into Russia’s meddling in the presidential campaign.
Page, an energy consultant, is the focus of a parallel FBI investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government, allegations which he denies.
Fox News reported Tuesday that Democrats on the House committee moved to block the meeting with Page. That report has not been confirmed, though Page wrote in a letter on Tuesday that his scheduled meeting had been delayed.
“I have learned from your Committee staff on this Memorial Day holiday that I might not be immediately afforded the opportunity to address the false or misleading testimony by James Comey, John Brennan, et al, as per our previously scheduled appointment for next week,” Page wrote.
Trump’s defense of Page is somewhat surprising given that White House officials have gone to great lengths in recent months to put distance between their boss and his campaign volunteer.
White House officials have insisted to reporters that Trump never met Page and that the energy consultant played a small role on the campaign.
The officials and other supporters of Trump say that Page’s small role on the campaign undercuts claims made in the now-infamous dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. The dossier alleges that Page met secretly with Kremlin officials in Moscow in July to discuss ways to help Trump in the presidential campaign.
Page denies the allegations and refers to Steele’s document as the “dodgy dossier.” But the FBI has reportedly taken the report more seriously. The bureau cited Steele’s report in its application for a federal surveillance warrant against Page granted in September.
Page, who has acknowledged that his role on the campaign was “minuscule,” said he was pleased with Trump’s supportive tweets.
“I appreciate his calling for the continuation of restoring justice in America, after the civil rights abuses of the last Administration,” he told The Daily Caller.