Former member of the foreign policy advisory panel to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, George Papadopoulos, said on Sunday that Trump campaign was “fully aware” of his efforts to set up a meeting between then-candidate Donald Trump, and Russian president Vladimir Putin, the Daily Beast reports.
“I actively sought to leverage my contacts with the professor to host this meeting. The campaign was fully aware of what I was doing, including Corey Lewandowski and Sam Clovis.”
These are Papadopoulos’ first public remarks since being sentenced in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe to 14 days in prison, 200 hours of community service, one year supervised release, and $9,500 fine.
Papadopoulos was sentenced on September 7. President Trump mocked the light sentence via Twitter.
The professor Papadopoulos is referring to is Joseph Mifsud. Mifsud is suspected of having ties with the Kremlin. He acted as a link between Trump and Putin. However, as the Daily Mail reported today, the mysterious academic is now missing.
According to court documents, in fact, Mifsud is “missing and may be deceased.”
According to Papadopoulos, Mifsud told him that the Russians have damaging information on Hillary Clinton, having obtained thousands of Clinton’s emails.
Furthermore, Papadopoulos argued today, Lewandowski and Clovis were not only aware of his attempts to set up the Trump-Putin meeting, they also praised his efforts.
Papadopoulos said that Trump was “open to the idea” of meeting with Vladimir Putin. However, now Attorney General Jeff Sessions was “quite enthusiastic.”
Papadopoulos’ statements directly contradict Jeff Sessions’. In November 2017, Sessions testified before the House Judiciary Committee, as reported by NPR, claiming to have pushed back against the meeting.
“I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government…I pushed back against his suggestion that I thought may have been improper.”
The former member of the foreign policy advisory panel to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign also said that he was told when he joined the Trump campaign that one of the main objectives of the campaign would be to improve relations with Russia.
Why did George Papadopoulos lie to the FBI? "I found myself pinned between the Department of Justice and the sitting president."@GStephanopoulos: "You were trying to protect the president?"— ABC News (@ABC) September 9, 2018
Papadopoulos: "Of course." https://t.co/CCmqnDxBIz pic.twitter.com/4WaX28jX4z
This, Papadopoulos said, was no secret, as Trump himself repeatedly asked him whether he would support the initiative.
“It was no secret that the campaign, especially when the boss is looking to improve relations at some level with Russia, that my supervisor at the time during an interview would be asking me if I’d be, you know, inclined to support that initiative.”
As Politico reported, Papadopoulos was one of the first Trump campaign aides to be indicted by Robert Mueller, so the White House and President’s allies dismissed him as a “coffee boy,” someone who was not part of the inner circle.
President Trump, according to CNBC, denied even knowing Papadopoulos, arguing that he had only seen the photo of the two of them sitting together.