Carter Page denies being a Russian agent as lawmakers urge President Trump to act tougher toward Kremlin

By Elise Viebeck and David Fahrenthold

WASHINGTON – Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page on Sunday denied he was an intelligence agent for Russia, after the release of usually secret documents showed federal investigators believed he was engaged in “clandestine intelligence activities” on behalf of Russia.

Page’s denial, on CNN’s “State of the Nation,” was his first public response to the release on Saturday of secret applications for federal wiretaps on him.

The documents – still heavily redacted – showed that federal investigators were looking into Page’s possible connections with Russia as early as 2013, long before Trump named him as an adviser to his presidential campaign in March 2016.

On Sunday, Page said that it was “ridiculous” and a “complete joke” to believe he had been an agent of the Russian government.

“I’ve never been an agent of a foreign power by any stretch of the imagination,” Page said on CNN. That echoed President Trump’s own statements on the documents – issued via Twitter from Trump’s golf club in New Jersey – that the wiretap on Page was part of politically motivated spying on Trump’s presidential campaign.

Page himself ducked questions about what, exactly, his connections to Russia had been.

When CNN’s Jake Tapper noted that Page had once called himself an “informal advisor” to the Kremlin, Page responded: “You know, informal, having some conversations with people. I mean, this is really nothing.”

“I’ve never been anywhere near what’s being described here” in the released documents, Page said. “There was nothing in terms of nefarious behavior.”

Also Sunday, Republican senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina urged Trump to take a harder line against Russian President Vladimir Putin, a few days after Trump seemed deferential to Putin after a summit meeting in Helsinki.

On CBS, Graham – a sometime Trump ally – seemed to be speaking directly to Trump, telling him to impose “new sanctions, heavy-handed sanctions” on Russia before Putin visits Washington.

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