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.

RELATED: Key players in Trump-Russia connection allegations

Key Trump officials, advisers of note in the Russia probe
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Key Trump officials, advisers of note in the Russia probe

Tom Barrack

The close friend to Donald Trump and CEO of private equity firm Colony Capital recommended that Trump bring in Paul Manafort for his presidential campaign.

R. James Woolsey

Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has cooperated with Mueller's investigation and worked with Michael Flynn and was present at a meeting where they discussed removing the controversial Turkish Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen from US soil. 

(Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The former senior Trump campaign official and White House adviser was present and crucial during the firings of Michael Flynn and James Comey.

The former head of the Trump transition team following the 2016 election has said previously that he believes he was fired due to his opposing the hiring of Michael Flynn as national security adviser.

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.

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.

Donald Trump

2016 election winner Donald Trump is at the center of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russia's handlings.

Sam Clovis

Clovis, a former member of the Trump campaign, arrives on at the U.S. Capitol December 12, 2017 to appear before a closed meeting of the House Intelligence Committee. Clovis worked with George Papadopoulos, a former Donald Trump campaign foreign policy advisor who struck a plea deal on charges of lying to the FBI.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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.”

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.

Former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo (L)

Caputo waves goodbye to reporters after he testified before the House Intelligence Committee during a closed-door session at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center July 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Caputo resigned from being a Trump campaign communications advisor after appearing to celebrate the firing of former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Denying any contact with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign, Caputo did live in Moscow during the 1990s, served as an adviser to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and did pro-Putin public relations work for the Russian conglomerate Gazprom Media.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Stephen Miller, White House Senior Advisor for Policy

Jason Miller
Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer
Eric Trump
Donald Trump Jr.
Ivanka Trump
White House Senior adviser Jared Kushner
Executive assistant to Donald Trump Rhona Graff
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski
US Vice President Mike Pence
Katrina Pierson
K.T. McFarland
Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci

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.

RELATED: Trump allies lash out after news of Mueller's Russia probe charges

Trump allies lash out at media after news of Mueller's Russia probe charges
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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
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
If this man's team executes warrants this weekend he should stripped of his authority by @realDonaldTrump. Then H…
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?

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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