Trump 'didn't say no' to idea of sit-down with Putin in 2016

President Trump did not dismiss the suggestion of a sit-down with Vladimir Putin when the idea was raised by a little known foreign policy adviser during a 2016 meeting, according to a report on Wednesday.

While Trump on Tuesday knocked George Papadopoulos as a “liar” and a low-level volunteer — the man now at the center of the Russia investigation once had a seat at the then-candidate’s table.

Trump assembled his team of foreign policy experts in March 2016 for a conference. Papadopoulos, in what the White House described as his only face-to-face encounter between the two, suggested that the Republican meet with Putin, according to court filings related to the 30-year-old’s pleading guilty to lying to the FBI.

"He didn’t say yes and he didn’t say no," an official who was in the room told CNN.

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Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort signed on as Donald Trump's campaign manager in March 2016. A longtime Republican strategist and beltway operative, Manafort had previously served as an adviser to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich -- a pro-Russia leader who was violently ousted in 2014. Manafort resigned from his campaign position in August 2016 amid questions over his lobbying history in Ukraine for an administration supportive of Russia. The former campaign manager reportedly remained in Trump's circle during the post-election transition period.

Michael Flynn

Gen. Michael Flynn was named President Trump's national security adviser in November of 2016. Flynn reportedly met and spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December, at one point discussing sanctions. Flynn originally told Vice President Pence he did not discuss sanctions -- a point the Department of Justice said made the national security adviser subject to blackmail. Flynn resigned from his position in February.

Sergey Kislyak

Outgoing Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak is the Russian official U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions -- communication Sessions denied during his Senate committee hearing testimony.

Roger Stone

Stone is a longtime Republican political consultant who served as a campaign adviser to Trump who continued to talk with the then-GOP candidate after stepping away from his adviser role. Stone claimed last year that he had knowledge of the planned WikiLeaks release of emails pertaining to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. Stone recently admitted to speaking via direct message with "Guccifer 2.0" -- an online entity U.S. officials believe is tied to Russia. Stone says the correspondence was “completely innocuous.”

Jeff Sessions

Former U.S. senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama joined Trump's campaign as a foreign policy adviser in February 2016. Sessions was nominated to be U.S. attorney general by President Trump and was then confirmed by the Senate. Reports then emerged that Sessions had spoken twice with Sergey Kislyak while he was senator -- a fact that he left out of his Senate hearing testimony. Instead, he said in writing that he had not communicated with any Russian officials during the campaign season. Sessions defended himself saying he had spoken with Kislyak specifically in a senate capacity.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

The American intelligence community accused Putin in Jan. 2017 of ordering a campaign to undermine trust in the American electoral process, developing a clear preference for Trump as president. "We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump," the report read.

James Comey

Comey publicly confirmed in March an FBI inquiry into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election. “The F.B.I., as part of our counterintelligence effort, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 president election,” Comey stated.

Carter Page

Page worked for Merrill Lynch as an investment banker out of their Moscow office for three years before joining Trump's campaign as a foreign policy adviser. During his time with Merrill Lynch, Page advised transactions for two major Russian entities. Page has called Washington "hypocritical" for focusing on corruption and democratization in addressing U.S. relations with Russia. While Page is someone Trump camp has seemingly tried to distance itself from, Page recently said he has made frequent visits to Trump Tower.

J.D. Gordon

Before Gordon joined the Trump campaign as a national security adviser in March 2016, he served as a Pentagon spokesman from 2005 through 2009. Like others involved in Trump-Russia allegations, Gordon met with ambassador Kislyak in July at the Republican National Convention, but has since denied any wrongdoing in their conversation. He advocated for and worked to revise the RNC language on and position toward Ukraine relations, so it was more friendly toward Russia's dealings in the country.

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It was the head of Trump’s national security team, then Alabama senator and current attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who pooh-poohed the suggestion.

Papadopoulos was arrested in July and interviewed repeatedly by investigators, according to court papers.

Prosecutors, seeking to keep the case sealed after his plea was entered, argued that they shared “substantial information” with Papadopoulos, providing a “road map of sorts” in an attempt to “jog his memory.”

His plea deal, dropping charges down to lying to agents about his interactions with officials close to the Kremlin, is now at the heart of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and the possibility that Trump associates coordinated the efforts.

Papadopoulos told the FBI that he told those at the meeting that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin,” according to court documents.

According to court documents, top Trump campaign officials urged Papadopoulos to meet with Russians — and may have been aware of the hacking of Democratic emails long before the public found out.

The adviser is described as a “proactive cooperator” in court documents, which means he is likely working with Mueller’s investigators.

Mueller also announced charges against Trump’s ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Manafort’s longtime aide Rick Gates on Monday. The pair allegedly funneled millions of dollars from secret lobbying deals into Ukraine through overseas shell companies.

The White House, meanwhile, dismissed the March meeting with the foreign policy advisers as a one off conference of little substance.

“Again, it was a brief meeting that took place quite some time ago. It was the one time that group ever met,” Sanders said on Monday.

It also emerged on Tuesday that a desperate need for foreign policy advisers on a campaign that wasn’t being taken seriously led to Papadopoulos’ rise in the world of Trump politics.

The relative unknown was hired by a then-struggling Ben Carson campaign in 2015 to beef up the doctor’s policy credentials.

“All of the foreign policy establishment, the A-listers were working for Jeb (Bush )or Marco (Rubio),” Barry Bennett, Carson’s campaign manager, told The Hill. “So here’s this 28-year-old kid who is not terribly sophisticated, but he solved my problem of needing to put a bunch of names on a list. I’m sure he wrote some things for us, but I don’t know that we used any of it.”

He hired the unknown after contacting him on the resume-sharing site LinkedIn.

Papadopoulos, whose thin credentials included a political science degree from DePaul University and some time at a conservative think tank, went on to work for the Trump campaign a few months later.

Bennett said he wasn’t consulted when the Trump campaign appointed Papadopoulos to its national security committee in March.

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Trump allies lash out at media after news of Mueller's Russia probe charges
.@donlemon stop lying about about the Clinton's and Uranium you ignorant lying covksucker !!!! You fake news you dumb piece of shit.
.@donlemon must be confronted, humiliated, mocked and punished. Dumber than dog shit.
.@donlemon you come across on tv as a dull witted arrogant partyboi. You lie constantly and no one who knows you thinks you r bright
.@donlemon you come across on tv as a dull witted arrogant partyboi. You lie constantly and no one who knows you thinks you r bright
No .@CharlesBlow YOU Lie- u have no cried you fast talking arrogant fake news piece of shit !
Bill Kristol packing on the pounds #porky #Warmonger https://t.co/kJr8e3Q07C
When AT&T aquires Time Warner the house cleaning at CNN of human excrement like @donlemon @jaketapper & dumbfuck @ananavarro will be swift
If Carl Bernstein says something the overwhelming odds are that it's false lied about Watergate lying lying now https://t.co/8VxXaAG4pC
If this man's team executes warrants this weekend he should stripped of his authority by @realDonaldTrump. Then H… https://t.co/Jtpok6zNIM
Guess;Mueller and Media working hand in hand. Media to be tipped off. Mueller was FBI Director Who knew of Russian crimes before Uranium one
Left needs a dramatic change in the narrative!! Uranium One, Fusion GPS dossier, all out this week. This is a distraction! TICK TOCK....
When will @HillaryClinton be indicted?
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The longtime GOP operative told the Wall Street Journal he would have advised the campaign against bringing the novice into their ranks.

“We hired him, and he was basically a no-show,” Bennett said.

Papadopoulos obviously thought more of his worth than his former boss.

In April, he emailed the Wall Street Journal to describe his work with Trump’s campaign.

He said he advised the campaign on energy and foreign policy, and said his role extended through the transition.

“I worked in a team and provided advice and analysis based on my experience working overseas, in (the) energy business and in the think tank sector for what I thought would make good U.S. energy and foreign policy under a prospective President Trump,” he wrote. “I provided advice throughout the transition to senior level folks.”

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