During an interview on Fox News on Tuesday evening, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski claimed the distraction created by Father’s Day resulted in him being unable to remember an email sent to him by former campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. In the email, Page sought and ultimately received permission from Lewandowski to travel to Moscow.
“You have to remember, in the context of the campaign world––now, my memory has been refreshed, but to be clear, from what I understand and what I recall, that email was sent on June 19th of 2016, so about 18 months ago,” Lewandowski said. “It also happened to be Father’s Day on a Sunday, and it also happened to be the day prior to me being terminated from the campaign, so with all due respect, there were many other things on my mind that day other than trying to understand why a volunteer was telling me he may or may not be traveling outside the country.”
Lewandowski has good reason to claim his memory has been suddenly refreshed. During testimony to the House Intelligence Committee last week, Page said he has evidence that Lewandowski personally gave him permission to take a July 2016 trip to Moscow, where he met with Russian legislators and senior members of Putin’s administration.
“So Corey said, if you have interest… if you’d like to go on your own, not affiliated with the campaign, you know, that’s fine,” Page said, adding that he’s in possession of emails corroborating his account.
Page’s testimony contradicted Lewandowski’s previous statements about whether he gave Page permission to travel to Moscow. In March, for instance, Lewandowski told USA Today, “I’m very clear about this… I granted nobody permission to do that.”
Corey Lewandowski told me in March interview he didn't give Page an OK to travel to Moscow. Page testified he did, and he has the email. pic.twitter.com/aMS73pZF4H
— Steve Reilly (@BySteveReilly) November 7, 2017
USA Today noted, however, that Lewandowski “both denied granting Page permission to travel to Moscow in his capacity as a private individual and also said he couldn’t remember whether he had or not” and “gave a litany of contradictory answers about Page’s involvement in the campaign.”
While in Moscow, Page emailed J.D. Gordon, then the director of the campaign’s National Security Advisory Committee, and told him he had received “incredible insights and outreach … from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the presidential administration here.”
Page’s trip occurred months after another campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, first broached the topic of using his Kremlin connections to arrange a Trump-Putin meeting. According to Papadopoulos’ recently unsealed guilty plea for making false statements to the FBI, an unnamed “high-ranking official” forwarded an email to Papadopoulos in late May that said, “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”
Days later, Donald Trump Jr. and other top campaign officials met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer who, through an intermediary, promised to provide them with incriminating information about Hillary Clinton in possession of the Russian government. Emails Trump Jr. released indicate the campaign was at the very least eager to collude with Russian operatives.
Lewandowski isn’t the only top Trump official who claims their memory is hazy about crucial interactions they had about Russia with campaign officials. Last Friday, Trump — who recently bragged about having “one of the greatest memories of all time” — told reporters he doesn’t “remember much” about a March 2016 meeting in which Papadopoulos discussed how his Kremlin connections could facilitate a meeting with Putin. That’s convenient, because in February of this year, Trump told reporters that he wasn’t aware of any campaign aides who had contact with Russia “during the election.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions also claims to have experienced a memory lapse about the March 2016 meeting. Despite repeatedly testifying to Congress that he wasn’t aware of any campaign communications with Russia, in the wake of Papadopoulos’ plea becoming public, Sessions suddenly acknowledged last week that the topic of leveraging Papadopoulos’ connections to arrange a Trump-Putin meeting did indeed come up.
But like Trump, Sessions says his memory is hazy.
Source clarifies: Unclear whether Sessions recalls nixing the Papadopoulos proposal for Trump Putin meeting — though he did do so.
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) November 2, 2017
While Lewandowski is using Father’s Day as an excuse, Trump and Sessions have yet to attempt to explain how they could forget about a meeting where a campaign adviser told them he had connections with the Kremlin that could facilitate a meeting with Putin.