Manafort took the initial lead role in a secret liaison relationship between the Trump campaign and Russian leadership.
Comments/Corroboration of Steele Dossier
Partial Circumstantial Confirmation
The first Steele memo was written/published in June 20, 2016, and before that date, there does not appear to be any other published suspicion that Carter Page was acting as an agent of Russia. (It was later publicly revealed, see entry on spy recruitment of Page.) This was also before Page’s July trip to Russia.
My gut is that the Carter Page allegations that paint him as masterminding any large aspects of the conspiracy are overblown. Russian spies are on tape saying they think he is an idiot, and this profile of him paints him as a nobody with essentially no connections in Russian energy. His pro-Russia blog publications don’t demonstrate high intelligence. And in late 2017, as the Mueller investigation has kicked into high gear with indictments of Manafort and Gates, Page still has not apparently even hired an attorney. Maybe he was acting as a Russian agent, and maybe he facilitated a conspiracy in some ways, but it’s hard to see him as a ringleader.