WASHINGTON • A foreign policy adviser to Mr Donald Trump's presidential campaign met Russian government officials last year, the New York Times has reported, citing testimony he gave this week to a US congressional committee.
In numerous media interviews in recent months, the adviser, Mr Carter Page, had either denied meeting Russian government officials during a trip to Moscow in July last year or said he met "mostly scholars", the newspaper said last Friday.
Mr Page sent an e-mail to at least one campaign aide describing his insights after conversations with Russian government officials and others, the NYTimes reported, citing a person familiar with the message.
The newspaper said the e-mail was read aloud during a closed-door testimony session on Thursday to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which is investigating efforts by Russia to tip the November 2016 election in the United States in Mr Trump's favour and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Russia says it did not interfere in the election and Mr Trump has denied any collusion.
Mr Page played down the significance of the meetings in an interview with the NYTimes last Friday. "I had a very brief hello to a couple of people. That was it," he said. Mr Page said one of the people he met was a "senior person" but would not confirm his identity.
Special counsel Robert Mueller, who has impanelled a grand jury in his probe into the collusion allegations, charged Mr Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort and another aide, Rick Gates, with money laundering last Monday. Another Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, had pleaded guilty early in October to lying to the FBI.
Mr Page was questioned by the FBI earlier this year and has also appeared before the grand jury as part of the special counsel's probe.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump said last Friday that he did not remember much about a meeting last year with Papadopoulos. When reporters asked about the meeting in which Papadopoulos suggested arranging a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Trump said: "I don't remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting."
A photograph posted on Mr Trump's Instagram account shows Papadopoulos sitting at the same table with Mr Trump as well as Mr Jeff Sessions, now US Attorney-General, and several others.