On Monday morning, shortly after special counsel Robert Mueller announced the indictments of former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, President Donald Trump tweeted, "There is NO COLLUSION!" But soon after that, Mueller's office released a "statement of offense" outlining one major instance of when the Trump campaign tried to collude with Russia as the Kremlin was mounting a covert operation against the 2016 election to benefit Trump.
This case involved George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, who has pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents investigating the Trump-Russia scandal.
In August, the Washington Post reported that Papadopoulos had tried to set up a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Mueller's statement reveals that Papadopoulos, often with the knowledge of campaign officials, attempted to forge a back-channel bond with Russian officials -- and he did so after there were public indications the Kremlin was behind the hack-and-dump operation targeting the Hillary Clinton campaign. The statement also suggests that he hoped to obtain Clinton emails from the Russians.
Here's what happened. In early March 2016, Papadopoulos, a former intern and researcher at the conservative Hudson Institute in Washington who had briefly advised the presidential campaign of Ben Carson, learned that he would be a foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign. He was living in London at the time. During a trip that month to Italy, he met a professor based in London who claimed to be well connected with Russian government officials. Papadopoulos thought that if he could cozy up to this person, it would boost his standing within the campaign.
Later, while back in London, he met with the academic, who brought along a Russian woman he introduced as a relative of Vladimir Putin. Afterward, Papadopoulos emailed his campaign supervisor that he had met with these two people and they had discussed setting up a meeting between the campaign and "the Russian leadership" to discuss US-Russia ties under a President Trump. The statement doesn't identify the supervisor, but the Post reported in August that his supervisor was Sam Clovis, who was heading up the Trump campaign's policy team. The supervisor replied that Papadopoulos should make no commitments but added, "Great work."Go to Mother Jones to read the rest of this article.