A former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser has pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI after he lied about his interactions with foreign officials close to the Russian government, the campaign’s clearest connection so far to Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election.
In court records unsealed on Monday, October 30, 2017 the FBI said George Papadopoulos “falsely described his interactions with a certain foreign contact who discussed ‘dirt’ related to emails” concerning Hillary Clinton.
In addition, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump campaign official Rick Gates surrendered Monday to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller.
The charges against top officials from Trump’s campaign signals a dramatic new phase of Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and members of Trump’s team
as well as potential obstruction of justice and financial crimes.
Papadopoulos’ guilty plea brings the Mueller probe into actions that occurred during the 2016 campaign. The charges against Manafort and Gates are unrelated to the Trump campaign, though it’s possible Mueller could add additional charges.
Gates, 45, is a longtime business associate of Manafort, 68, having worked together since the mid-2000s, and served as his deputy on the campaign. The two were indicted under seal on Friday, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
President Donald Trump distanced himself from Manafort Monday morning, asking why his general election opponent, Hillary Clinton, wasn’t being investigated.
“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????” He soon added: “Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”
He tweeted before Papadopoulos’ guilty plea was unsealed.
Papadopoulos lied to FBI agents “about the timing, extent and nature of his relationships and interactions with certain foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with senior Russian government officials,” according to the complaint. Mueller signed a 14-page statement regarding Papadopoulos’ offense, which lays out of the facts of the case.
Mueller’s statement also says that Papadopoulos met with a Russian woman in March 2016 — introduced to him as a relative of Russian President Vladimir Putin, though she was not — and he sought to use her connections to arrange a meeting between the campaign and Russian government officials.
The statement says that Papadopoulos falsely claimed he met with an overseas professor before joining the Trump campaign about “the Russians possessing ‘dirt’ on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails.’”
Read more at CNN.