Carter Page, the energy industry consultant who was linked last year to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, is the unnamed man identified in a federal complaint as having met with a Russian intelligence agent four years ago, Page himself revealed on Monday.
Page confirmed his role in the 2013 FBI investigation to NBC News after ABC News and Buzzfeed identified him as a subject called "Male 1" in a criminal complaint filed in 2015 against Evgeny Buryakov, an undercover agent posing as a Russian bank executive in New York.
Buryakov was freed from prison last week a few months short of completing a 30-month sentence and was ordered to be deported to Russia.
Page — from whom Trump's transition team disassociated itself earlier this year — said the role he played was to provide "assistance to the U.S. federal investigation." The 2015 complaint doesn't accuse him of spying for Russia or of sharing any sensitive information.
Page accused the administration of former President Barack Obama of "unmasking" his identity in retribution for his sharp criticism of Obama's policy toward Russia. The "politically-motivated unmasking ... amplified the reputational damage against me," he said.
The 2015 criminal complaint details a secretly recorded conversation among the three Russians discussing their attempts to recruit Male 1 — that is, Page — on April 8, 2013. The conversation alludes to email messages exchanged between Page and one of the Russians, identified as Victor Podobnyy.
According to a partial transcript of the conversation included with the complaint, the Russians laughed over how they believed Page had no idea that they were Russian agents.
About two months later, on June 13, 2013, FBI agents interviewed Page, who said he'd met with Podobnyy at a public energy symposium in January 2013, according to the 26-page complaint.
Page told the FBI that he gave Podobnyy his business card and shared emails passing along his opinions and general documents about the energy business, according to the complaint.
Monday night, he expanded on that description, saying he "shared basic immaterial information and publicly available research documents" — simply "a few samples from the far more detailed lectures I was preparing at the time for the students" in a world energy class he taught at New York University.
In March 2016, Trump named Page, a former Merrill Lynch investment backer, as a foreign policy adviser to his campaign.
But in January, after Page was identified by The New York Times as being among people the FBI was "examining" for his ties to Russia, White House Press Secretary declared: "Carter Page is an individual the president-elect does not know."
Separately, Page told MSNBC's Chris Hayes last month that he "may have met, possibly," with Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, during the Republican National Convention last summer.
NBC News reported last week that Page has volunteered to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in its investigation of alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.