Carter Page, Donald Trump’s former adviser, blamed British academics after two failed PhD attempts

Donald Trump’s former adviser claimed British academics deliberately failed his PhD thesis twice because they were "anti-Russian", it has emerged.

Carter Page, who was Mr Trump’s foreign policy adviser before the presidential election, took three attempts to gain his doctorate from a London university. 

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British examiners took the unusual step of failing his PhD not once, but twice, calling it "verbose" and "vague". 

But Mr Page, who joined the Trump campaign in early 2016, blamed two respected academics, Professor Gregory Andrusz, and Dr Peter Duncan, for his failed attempts.

Mr Page compared his difficulties in earning the qualification to the ordeal suffered by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an exiled Russian businessman who spent a decade in a Siberian prison on the orders of Vladimir Putin.

In emails seen by the Guardian newspaper, Mr Page told the academics: “Your actions to date have been far more destructive than anything I have personally experienced in my 39 years on this planet.” 

He added that Mr Khodorkovsky’s suffering represented “the closest analogy in recent history to my trials”.

Mr Page first submitted his thesis on central Asia’s transition from communism to capitalism in 2008 before attending a face-to-face interview on his research with the examiners. 

Prof Andrusz had expected Mr Page, a student at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas), to pass without difficulty. 

In fact, Mr Page “knew next to nothing” about social science and seemed “unfamiliar with basic concepts like Marxism or state capitalism,” the professor told the Guardian.

He added that Mr Page was “dumbfounded” when the examiners told him he had failed.

In a critical assessment, the examiners said the thesis was “characterised by considerable repetition, verbosity and vagueness of expression”, failed to meet the criteria required for a PhD, and needed “substantial revision”. 

When Mr Page resubmitted his thesis in late 2010, Prof Andrusz said it was still not at the standard required for a PhD. 

At this point, he said, Mr Page accused them of bias against his work "on the grounds that we were anti-Russian and anti-American. Actually, we are both old Moscow hands. We remain neutral and let the facts speak for themselves”.

Both academics wrote to Soas to inform the university they would not continue as Mr Page’s examiners after he had accused them of bias. 

Mr Page was eventually awarded his PhD in 2011 by another board of examiners. 

Prof Andrusz, who said Mr Page was the only candidate he had failed twice in his 30-year career, said he was stunned when he found he had joined Mr Trump’s campaign. 

Donald Trump and the Russian connections

Mr Page had worked for American bank Merill Lynch in Moscow before returning to New York and later joining Mr Trump’s team. 

During his election campaign Mr Trump named Mr Page as one of his small team of foreign policy advisers, reportedly introducing him as "Carter Page PhD" in a meeting with the Washington Post. 

Mr Page later stood down over questions about his ties to Russia, particularly relating to a trip to Moscow in July 2016.  

An FBI investigation into possible collusion between Mr Trump’s campaign and Moscow, reportedly began monitoring Mr Page’s communications in 2016 over fears he was a Russian agent, something he denied.

Donald Trump and Russian espionage

In an appearance before a US intelligence committee hearing over his links to the Russian government, Mr Page told congress his PhD thesis was not published as a book because of “a sort of anti-Soviet Union, anti-Russian sentiment” from academic publishers.

Asked about Mr Andrusz’s claim that he was accused of anti-Russian prejudice, Mr Page told the Guardian: “I have infinitely more important things to think about today. You’re asking me about ancient, irrelevant history, which I can neither confirm nor deny.”