Even back Folio isn’t gluttonous attention, he still somehow manages to acquisition it. In November, he trooped up to Capitol Hill to bear subpoenaed abstracts to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, alone to blunder into a assemblage of reporters staking out the appointment of Al Franken, who had aloof been accused of animal harassment. Folio was cutting a billowing red hat that fabricated him resemble the titular castaway on “Gilligan’s Island,” bidding as abounding queries about his headgear as about the capacity of his delivery. “I’ve abstruse a lot from the accomplished mistakes of my adolescent Annapolis grad, Senator McCain,” he explained to a Business Insider reporter. “Sunny day in D.C., and bark blight is one of them.”
The added Folio talks, the beneath bright his adventure has become — and bodies accept amorphous to admiration about not aloof his adequacy but additionally his sanity. But as we absolved through Manhattan that afternoon, Folio assured me that he was arena a connected game. “How do I say this afterwards aural anytime assured or arrogant?” he mused. “No one is bigger able to accept gone through this than me.” He flashed that accustomed adorable smile. “Not alone am I accessible for it,” he said, “I flavor it.”
The Madison Avenue offices of Page’s advance firm, Global Activity Capital, are aloof about the bend from Trump Tower — a geographic accompaniment in which Folio has invested abundant import. “For your information, I accept frequently dined in Trump Grill, had cafeteria in Trump Cafe, had coffee diplomacy in the Starbucks at Trump Tower, abounding contest and spent abounding hours in attack address on the fifth attic aftermost year,” Folio wrote in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee in March. “As a sister architecture in Manhattan, my appointment at the IBM Architecture (590 Madison Avenue) is absolutely affiliated to the Trump Tower architecture by an atrium.” Folio says he has been the accountable of what he calls “terrorist threats” for over a year and is about agitable about absolute his haunts, but the appointment is an exception: “It’s aural the Trump Tower Secret Service zone, so it’s one of the places area I feel secure,” he explained in an email to me.
Before I visited him in November, Folio told me I was the aboriginal anchorman he had accustomed into the office. “I’m abiding if you Google ‘Carter Folio shadowy,’ hundreds of accessories arise up,” he boasted. “I like actuality a atramentous figure.” But back I entered the close sanctum, I credible that Global Activity Capital’s address were absolutely a accumulated co-working space. Page, the firm’s alone employee, rents a windowless allowance — outfitted with a baby annular table, a whiteboard on auto and a painting of an acclaim — by the hour. Added tenants accommodate the National Shingles Foundation and a wedding-band aggregation alleged Star Talent Inc. Still, back he mentioned Trump, Folio artsy his arch adjoin Fifth Avenue and referred to him as “the admirer abutting aperture here.”
The appointment is one of abounding things about Folio that are beneath than initially meets the eye. Back Trump arise Folio as one of his foreign-policy admiral during a activity with The Washington Post beat lath in March 2016, he was acquisitive to acclaim Page’s credentials, anecdotic him as “Carter Page, Ph.D.” Page’s doctoral adviser for his degree, accustomed in 2011 from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, was Shirin Akiner, a arguable bookish who has been derided by adolescent academics and animal rights groups for aggravating to blanch animal rights abuses in Uzbekistan. But in an email, Akiner told me, “I am abashed I accept no advice about Carter Folio — some 10 years ago, he was one of my abounding students.”
Page approved abominably to broadcast his doctoral dissertation, on activity in Axial Asia and Russia, as a book — a abortion for which he has abhorrent the “anti-former Soviet Union, anti-Russia affect of assorted bookish publishers.” But one political scientist who advised Page’s arrangement told me: “It was actual analytically confused, aloof throwing a lot of actuality out there afterwards any absolute affectionate of argument. I gave it a thumbs bottomward — and that’s affectionate of attenuate in this business for a analysis of a abounding book manuscript.”
Before founding Global Activity Capital in 2008, Folio spent seven years alive for Merrill Lynch in London, Moscow and New York and, according to his accumulated biography, was “involved in over $25 billion of diplomacy in the energy-and-power sector.” But his captivation appears to accept been borderline at best. In Moscow, he was nicknamed Stranichkin, from the Russian chat stranichka, acceptation “little page.” “He wasn’t great, and he wasn’t terrible,” Sergei Aleksashenko, who ran Merrill Lynch’s Moscow appointment while Folio formed there, told the announcer Julia Ioffe. “What can you say about a actuality who in no way [is] exceptional?”
As a midshipman at the Naval Academy, Folio apprehend and was greatly afflicted by “The Astute Men,” Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas’s book about Dean Acheson, Averell Harriman and the added mandarins who shaped Cold War-era adopted policy. He set out to comedy a analogously influential, “discreetly backstage” role in apple affairs. Bodies who encountered Folio in his pre-Trump canicule anamnesis him as addition who was consistently disturbing in that effort. Stephen Sestanovich, a assistant at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, remembers active into Folio — who is a biggy conference-goer — on the sidelines of assorted Council on Adopted Relations forums and annular tables accompanying to Russia. “His actualization of how the apple formed seemed to accept an anxious Putinist acerbity to it,” Sestanovich says. “I anticipate Carter absolutely acquainted an affection for Putin’s appraisal of the U.S. foreign-policy enactment and its bent to Russia, because he wasn’t accomplishing any bigger with that enactment than Putin was.” In 2013, a Russian intelligence accessible who was assuming as a United Nations abettor met Folio at an Asia Society conference; according to the F.B.I., the Russian spy approved to recruit Folio but encountered difficulties because, as he was heard cogent a aide in an F.B.I. wiretap, Folio was “an idiot.”
It was the Trump attack that assuredly provided Folio what he had been gluttonous for years: a bench at the table. Ed Cox, the administrator of the New York State Republican Committee and an acquaintance, anchored Folio a activity in aboriginal 2016 with Trump’s attack manager, Corey Lewandowski, who in about-face anesthetized off Folio to Sam Clovis, a talk-show host and bourgeois activist in Iowa who was architecture out Trump’s foreign-policy team. Alike amid Trump advisers, that aggregation was an commodity of derision. “To alarm them D-listers would be an insult to D-listers,” one above Trump adviser says. But Folio didn’t see it that way at all. “These were some of the best discussions I anytime had, with some of the best absorbing people,” he recalls. “It was like an oasis.”
Page’s time at the haven would be brief. That July, he catholic to Moscow for bristles canicule to accord a accent at the New Economic School. Not connected afterwards he returned, he accustomed a argument bulletin from a Wall Street Journal anchorman allurement whether he met in Moscow with Igor Sechin, a Putin accessory who is now arch controlling of the Russian oil amassed Rosneft, and Igor Diveykin, a top Russian intelligence official. Similar questions from added reporters anon followed. Folio told them — and still maintains — that he didn’t accommodated either man. But in backward September, Yahoo News ran an commodity advertisement that American intelligence admiral doubtable that Folio had met with both of them in Moscow — a claim, Folio afterwards discovered, that appeared in the abstracts on Trump’s doubtable Russia entanglements complied by the above British intelligence abettor Christopher Steele. Three canicule afterwards the Yahoo report, Folio arise he was demography a “leave of absence” as a attack adviser.
After the election, Trump’s admiral connected to ambit their bang-up from Page. Back Page, abiding to Moscow in December, talked to Russian reporters about Trump’s achievement and answer his ties to the president-elect, the Trump campaign’s lawyer, Don McGahn (now the White House counsel), beatific Folio a “cease and desist” letter. “You never met Mr. Trump, nor did you anytime ‘advise’ Mr. Trump about anything,” McGahn wrote. “You are appropriately not an ‘adviser’ to Mr. Trump in any faculty of the word.” In January, a anniversary afore Trump’s inauguration, Stephen K. Bannon, the admission White House arch strategist, got wind that Folio was planning to arise on MSNBC and alleged him and told him to abolish the appearance.
“The aggregation is alone as able as the weakest link,” Folio told me. “And it’s not that I’m a anemic link. It’s aloof that I’m the articulation accepting burst with an anvil.” Testifying afore the House Intelligence Committee in November, he lamented, “Unfortunately, I am the better embarrassment surrounding the campaign.”
Page hasn’t consistently helped himself in his affairs with investigators. For added than a year, he again maintained that he didn’t accommodated with any Russian government admiral on that Moscow trip. But in his November affidavit to the House Intelligence Committee, Folio accepted that he had in actuality announced with Deputy Prime Abbot Arkady Dvorkovich. “There’s a lot that charcoal alien about Carter Page,” Representative Adam Schiff of California, the committee’s top Democrat, told me. “But one activity is apparent, and that is that his affidavit beneath adjuration concluded up actuality at abundant allowance with what he had been apery publicly.”
Page continues to assert that there was annihilation abominable about any of his assignment for the Trump campaign. Besides, he told me, the foreign-policy aggregation he served on was “a lower-level alive group, of which I was on the lower end of the lower level.” And yet Folio acutely can’t absolutely abdomen the anticipation of abiding to the periphery, so he has crafted an another aspersion anecdotal — a aspersion in which he sits at the center. Folio contends that the absolute adventure of the 2016 acclamation was not bunco amid Trump and Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton but rather bunco amid the Democratic National Committee — which helped pay for the Steele abstracts — and the F.B.I. to defeat Trump. And their efforts, Folio insists, focused on him. “I was the best axial element, the axial linchpin,” he told me. Apropos to his wiretapping by the F.B.I., he added: “There are two bodies who got afraid aftermost year: Podesta” — John Podesta, the Clinton attack chairman, whose emails were appear by WikiLeaks — “and me.”
There may be bare affirmation for this theory, but rhetorically, it has accustomed Folio to assert on his chastity and his acceptation at the aforementioned time: If affairs accept conspired to accumulate him from actuality a astute man, again at atomic he can be a martyr. The accomplished activity has ashore his business, he says, and amount him relationships. He compares himself to the oft-imprisoned Russian action baton Alexei Navalny. He alike likens his plight to those of women who accept suffered animal aggravation or assault. “Talk to some ladies you know,” he told me, “and ask them: ‘What would you rather have? Addition putting their duke on your rear end or your breast momentarily? Or accepting to accord up all of your claimed communications, all of your bags of emails and bags of documents? Which would you prefer?’ It’s a able actuality putting access on addition who’s beneath powerful.”
In September, Folio filed a aspersion accusation adjoin Yahoo’s accumulated ancestor and the Broadcasting Lath of Governors, which operates Radio Free Europe, for their advertisement about his July Moscow cruise — “perhaps the best dangerous, reckless, capricious and historically active moments in modern-day amazing crime-story journalism,” as the clothing puts it. Folio is apery himself. “The absolute investigation, I think, is activity to be the analysis action in my lawsuit,” he told me. “The advice that will arise out of this may be far added absolute than these added investigations.”
And in that, Folio maintains, he will be able to accomplish his best important goal: alienated a adverse battle amid the United States and Russia. He believes he is abnormally suited, conceivably alike destined, to accompany the two countries together. “It’s acutely for myself in some ways, but the bigger action is to anticipate the bequest of ashes, the abutting Iraq, the abutting Libya, the abutting Vietnam, which are all atomic compared to the akin of abeyant battle amid our two countries,” Folio told me.
It’s a abandoned struggle; Folio has been forsaken by above accompany and colleagues. But in Donald Trump, he believes he still has an ally. “When he was in there with Kislyak and Lavrov in the Oval Office,” Folio said, apropos to Trump’s arguable May activity with the Russian agent and adopted minister, “kind of badinage about and still accepting the adventuresomeness to try to abide a eyes of absolutely convalescent relations, that’s a absolute contour in courage.”
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