A Former Trump Foreign Policy Advisor Is Pleading The Fifth In Russian Probes — Here's What That Means

Carter Page, a former foreign policy advisor in President Donald Trump’s campaign, wants to use his Fifth Amendment rights in regards to the ongoing Russian probe investigation.

Politico explains that Page told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he won’t testify in the investigation panel.

In case you haven’t kept up with the news in the last several months, the Senate Intelligence Committee has been thoroughly investigating any links between Russia and Trumps campaign for the last several months.

CNN elaborates that Page has “demanded” to be able to publicly testify in front of the investigation panel and has even offer to attend the committee’s opening hearing on Nov. 1. However, Page wants to “plead the Fifth Amendment,” which could impede the committee’s investigation.

Slate explains that Page has previously been employed by Merrill Lynch. However, he took a hiatus from Trump’s campaign once word got out that he was traveling to Moscow (which just makes it a bit more suspicious when he vehemently refuses to cooperate with an investigation).

“Page has been demanding the government release information about his communications that were picked up during surveillance operations. Page contends that he does not want to be caught in a ‘perjury trap’ since the government has more detailed records about his communications,” CNN says.

According to The Washington Post, the FBI obtained a FASI warrant back in April, which allows the organization to monitor Page’s communications

Given Page’s visits to Russia and his ties to the presidential campaign, can he actually plead the fifth? Well, that depends. If the Senate Intelligence Committee chooses to subpoena Page, then he will be required by law to attend any and all court hearings and testify as a witness.

While the Fifth Amendment allows a citizen to refrain from commenting on or answering any question about criminal cases, the Fifth Amendment doesn’t protect citizens in the court room who are legally bound to be there and testify. If Page is issued a subpoena to testify in the investigation, then he must cooperate.

Page does have the right to contest the subpoena (if the committee ever issues him one), which would require his lawyer(s) to quash the subpoena. While placing a motion to quash the subpoena would require a legal battle from Page and his lawyer(s), if his motion was granted, then the subpoena would be demeaned useless. 

Granted these are all hypothetical situations, but if Page were to be issued a subpoena and his efforts to quash the subpoena failed, he still could choose not to comply (because he is an adult with free will after all). However, that would lead him to be in contempt of the court (which is also a crime).

Although the committee has yet to issue a subpoena for Page, he might not be able to plead the fifth forever. Nevertheless, Page's obstinacy to plead the fifth essentially just delays the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation.