On March 21, 2016, Donald Trump revealed the names of several members of his campaign’s foreign policy advisory team, headed by Senator Jeff Sessions. Source (Transcript) Many GOP commentators and analysis were puzzled by the people in the list, which included many who appeared inexperienced and unknown among the field. Source Jeff Sessions was not known for his interest or experience in foreign policy. Source This was the first time Carter Page and George Papadopoulos were identified with the Trump campaign.
Trump identified George Papadopoulos as an oil and energy consultant. A 2009 graduate from DePaul University, with a Master’s from the University of London in 2010, Papadopoulos was relatively unknown among the oil and energy community at the time. Working as an analyst and researcher at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C., his experience appeared limited to Israel’s discovery of a natural gas reserve in the eastern Mediterranean. Source
When contacted about his membership in the Trump campaign, Carter Page indicated he would be advising Trump on energy policy and Russia. Insiders were surprised by the announcement, since Page was an apparent unknown in US and Russian circles familiar with the energy industry. Source
In the 2000s, Page had worked for 3 years in Russia as an investment banker for Merrill Lynch, with some involvement with Russian government-owned natural gas company Gazprom. Source From 2014–2015, Page had published a series of articles online praising Russia and Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, and criticizing American policy. Page endorsed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which he wrote was “precipitated by U.S. meddling,” and compared US support for Ukrainian independence to police killings of black youth. Sources: primary, secondary1, secondary2