Last Updated Oct 30, 2017 12:37 PM EDT
A former campaign aide to President Donald Trump has pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents working foras part of his probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos attempted to set up a meeting with Mr. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he spoke to an overseas professor about Russian “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, in the form of thousands of emails, and according to court documents, he told the FBI lies about both.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to one count of lying to FBI agents about the nature of his interactions with “foreign nationals” who he thought had close connections to senior Russian government officials. The plea was unsealed Monday.
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According to court documents, Papadopoulos misstated the timing of his interactions with an overseas professor who apparently had connections to the Russian government. While Papadopoulos acknowledged that the professor had told him that the the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton — thousands of emails — he claimed that he had learned this before he joined the Trump campaign.
However, investigators found that Papadopoulos joined the campaign in early March, and he met with the professor in mid-March. Papadopoulos also claimed in his FBI interview that the professor was “a nothing,” and just a guy talking up his connections. But in fact, the 30-year-old senior foreign adviser was trying to make contact with the Kremlin through the professor’s connections.
Among those connections was a female Russian national who was described in Papadopoulos’ emails as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s niece. Papadopoulos, according to the court documents, worked with the Russian national and the professor to set up a meeting between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. He also told advisers to the campaign that he could help arrange a meeting between Mr. Trump and Putin.
Papadopoulos told the FBI that he had done some “shuttle diplomacy” for the president, but he did not inform investigators about his interactions with the professor and the Russian national regarding his efforts to set up meetings between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
He also lied about the extent of his conversations with the Russian national, stating that the their communications were limited to emails that said “just, ‘Hi, how are you?'” and “‘That’s it,'” he told the FBI.
In April 2016, Papadopoulos corresponded with the professor and Russian national about the campaign’s Russian outreach, and the Russian national responded positively.
“I have already alerted my personal links to our conversation and your request,” she wrote to Papadopoulos. “…[W]e are all very excited by the possibility of a good relationship with Mr. Trump. The Russian Federation would love to welcome him once his candidature would be officially announced.”
On Apr. 25, Papadopoulos wrote to a senior Trump campaign adviser that “the Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to meet him when he is ready.”
In May, Papadopoulos emailed a “high-ranking campaign official,” according to the court documents, writing, “Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out to me to discuss.”
Papadopoulos continued to communicate about possible meetings with the Russians, and then around August 15, 2016, two days before Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned, a “Campaign Supervisor” told Papadopoulos he and another foreign policy adviser should travel to Russia for a meeting. They did not ultimately make such a trip.
Papadopoulos is the first person to face criminal charges that cite interactions between Trump campaign associates and Russian intermediaries during the 2016 presidential campaign. He was a member of the campaign’s foreign policy team, but Trump aides have said he played a limited role in the campaign and had no access to Mr. Trump.
However, he can be seen in a national security meeting with candidate Trump in this Instagram post:
In July, he was arrested when he arrived at Dulles International Airport.
Here’s the Statement of the Offense released by the special counsel’s office Monday:
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