Donald Trump claimed repeatedly, and even after he was inaugurated, that he knew of no one in his 2016 presidential campaign who had contacts with Russia while the election campaign was going on last year. But an overlooked bombshell piece of evidence provided by former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopolous and released publicly on Monday by special counsel Robert Mueller proves that Trump was not truthful when he claimed he knew of no Russia ties to his campaign.
The explosive evidence was noted on Wednesday by journalist Judd Legum of the political site ThinkProgress.com. In an exclusive report for the site, Legum points out that at a March 31, 2016, meeting of Trump’s national security team — a meeting attended by both Papadopoulos and Trump, as well as by then-Senator Jeff Sessions — Papadopolous “stated, in sum and substance, that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin,” according to the court documents.
The court documents were made public as part of a guilty plea Papadopolous entered on October 5 after he was arrested by Mueller’s team in July. Read the entire article by Judd Legum about Trump’s false statements regarding knowledge of his campaign’s Russia contacts by visiting this link.
A former Trump aide who was also at the meeting later described the scene to the New York Times, for a report published on Tuesday, saying that Trump “listened with interest” to Papadopoulos’s proposal to set up a face-to-face meeting between Trump and Putin, and even “asked questions” of the young adviser.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 1, 2017
But despite the declaration by Papadopolous that his Russia contacts would set up a direct meeting between Putin and the then-candidate, Trump remained adamant that he knew of no one on his campaign team who had contacts with Russia.
In the official White House video below, Trump is asked directly by a press corps reporter, “Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?”
After answering that fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had contacts with Russia officials — but not saying whether Flynn’s contacts happened during the election campaign — Trump took a second question, in which the reporter then repeated her first question, pressing Trump for a “yes or no” answer.
Trump’s answer, as seen in the video, is “nobody that I know of.”
But the new evidence clearly shows that Trump knew of Papadopoulos and his Russia contacts, and according to the Times, even showed “interest” and “asked questions” of Papadopoulos. On Monday, White House press spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders brushed off questions about the March 31 meeting attended by Papadopoulos and Trump.
“It was a brief meeting that took place quite some time ago. It was the one time that group ever met,” Sanders said, adding that Trump — who has frequently claimed to possess “one of the great memories of all time” — did not recall what happened in the meeting.
The meeting, however, was important enough to Trump at the time that he posted a picture of the group at the meeting on his @RealDonaldTrump Twitter account. Papadopoulos is seated third from left.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2016
A source who also attended the March 31 meeting told CNN on Wednesday that Trump did not dismiss the young aide’s push for a face-to-face meeting with Putin, but that he “didn’t say yes, and he didn’t say no.”
It fell to Sessions to reject the Papadopoulos proposal, according to the CNN report — but even his presence at the meeting could now cause trouble for Sessions.
In June 13, 2017, sworn Senate testimony, Sessions declared under oath that he had “no knowledge” of conversations “with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States” by anyone “connected to the Trump campaign.”
The Papadopolous evidence, however, shows that Sessions apparently did possess such knowledge of Russian contacts with the campaign, potentially opening him up to a perjury charge.
[Featured Image by White House/AP Images]