There is a Hungarian thread in US special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged coordination between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government, reports index.hu.
According to the recently released transcript of a congressional hearing, Trump campaign advisor Carter Page acknowledged spending a long weekend in Budapest at the end of August 2016 where he met with then-Hungarian ambassador to the US Réka Szemerkényi.
Based on the record, Page could not specify precisely which days he spent in the Hungarian capital, and could not name the foreign policy officials of the Hungarian government he met. Page gave a rather contradictory account of the purpose of his visit. Although he claimed the purpose was to learn about geothermal energy technologies, he could not recall what he learned. Although Page repeatedly stated that he travelled to Budapest at the behest of Ambassador Szemerkényi, whom he said he had met at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, US, he could not recall her surname.
During the hearing Page was asked whether he had discussed US-Russia relations and the lifting of sanctions on Russia with his Hungarian partners. According to Page, this was not the main topic of conversation, although they might have spoken about US-Russia relations in general terms.
Later Page admitted that he might have spoken to a Russian individual during the visit, but again he could not recall any topic of interest that they might have talked about.
Index.hu contacted Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s US affairs advisor Jenő Megyesy who usually welcomes US delegations in Hungary, for further insights about the meeting. The American-Hungarian dual citizen and Vietnam war veteran Megyesy told the news site that he met Page at the suggestion of Szemerkényi. Megyesy said that over the course of the 30- to 45-minute meeting they discussed “general topics, namely I told him our [the Hungarian government’s] position on various issues.” However, geothermal energy was not discussed, according to Megyesy.
“I was surprised by the general level of the conversation,” Megyesy summarized his impression of the meeting with Page.
A foreign policy employee who also participated in the meeting with Page but wanted to remain anonymous told index.hu he was disappointed that Page might be one of Trump’s foreign policy advisors. The anonymous source said he had the impression that “Page just wanted to party throughout the weekend in Budapest.”
Anonymous index.hu sources portrayed Page as an individual who is confused, uninformed, naive but extremely committed to Russia and might be a “useful idiot” of Russia.
According to another theory, Page simply tried to account for a costly private trip as one with a foreign policy agenda. However, whatever he was actually doing in Budapest, the Federal Bureau of Investigations knows about it. The FBI was granted permission to conduct surveillance on Page after he made a trip to Moscow in July 2016.