Carter Page brings a “real-world” resume—and says his close relations with Russian business are a strength.
A globe-trotting American investment banker who’s built a career on deals with Russia and its state-run gas company, Carter Page says his business has suffered directly from the U.S. economic sanctions imposed after Russia’s escalating involvement in the Ukraine. When Donald Trump named him last week as one of his foreign-policy advisers, Page says his e-mail inbox filled up with positive notes from Russian contacts. “So many people who I know and have worked with have been so adversely affected by the sanctions policy,” Page said in a two-hour interview last week. “There’s a lot of excitement in terms of the possibilities for creating a better situation.”
Over the course of his campaign, Trump has been a contrarian on Russia, floating the idea of reducing the American commitment to NATO and calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “strong leader.” “I think I would have a very good relationship with Putin,” he said last year. So it makes sense that Trump tapped Page for his foreign-policy team. In writings posted online, Page is a reliable defender of Russian intentions, and portrays U.S. policymakers as stuck in an outdated Cold War mindset.
Page’s career path, too, seems to mesh with Trump’s philosophy. A billionaire developer and entertainer with no government experience, Trump isn’t hiring the typical Washington policy wonks as he pursues the Republican presidential nomination. Instead, he favors advisers with what one of his staffers described to the New York Times as “real world” experience.
That background also carries risks, as Page, 44, readily acknowledges. Page says his parallel career as a foreign-policy expert has occasionally faced skepticism over his business ties to Russia and his favorable view of its leadership.
“It is a question I get so frequently—I lost count many decades ago,” he said. “There’s a very negative conventional wisdom that these are all crooks and bad guys.”
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