Ex-Trump adviser Papadopoulos lied to FBI out of loyalty: report
The campaign aide who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI distorted the truth out of loyalty to President Trump, according to a report on Friday.
George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, misled investigators about his contacts with a professor who he believed had deep ties to Russia because he didn’t want to contradict Trump’s public denials of collusion with the Kremlin, a source told ABC News.
Papadopoulos was arrested in July and accepted a plea deal, admitting that he lied about interactions he had with a professor in England who offered “dirt” on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Papadopoulos also had repeated contact with a Russian woman whom he believed to be Putin’s niece.
“As mentioned we are all very excited by the possibility of a good relationship with Mr. Trump,” the woman wrote in an April 2016 email disclosed by prosecutors. “The Russian Federation would love to welcome him once his candidature would be officially announced.”
Politico reported on Friday that investigators believe the woman was using the name Olga Vinogradova.
It remains unclear if the name is alias. Vinogradova is described in court documents only as a “Female Russian National.”
Papadopoulos initially told the FBI that his contacts with the professor and Vinogradova took place before he was associated with the Trump campaign.
Trump named Papadopoulos to his team of foreign policy advisers in March 2016.
That same month, the team assembled for a sit-down in Washington.
Court documents unsealed by special counsel Robert Mueller revealed that Papadopoulos touted his connections to Moscow and proposed a meeting between Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
A month later, Papadopoulos sent emails to others in the campaign regarding his contacts with “‘the Russians’ and his ‘outreach to Russia,’” according to court papers.
Others who attended the March meeting have since said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions scuttled the idea.
Trump, who recently boasted that he has “one of the great memories of all time,” said two weeks ago that he doesn’t “remember much about that meeting.”
“It was a very unimportant meeting,” Trump said. “It took place a long time ago. Don’t remember much about it.”
Sessions has faced growing scrutiny over the meeting since he testified before Congress on multiple occasions, claiming he knew of no contacts between the campaign and any Russians.