Published: Wed, September 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

US President's ex-aide jailed in Russian Federation probe

US President's ex-aide jailed in Russian Federation probe

A lawyer for Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended Monday his client's congressional testimony about a Trump campaign meeting in March 2016 where an adviser proposed that the candidate meet with President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation.

The conflicting accounts pit Sessions, who has repeatedly recalibrated his recollections of any campaign contact with Russians, against Papadopoulos, who was sentenced last week to two weeks in jail for lying to investigators in the Russia inquiry.

He also talked about his contact with Joseph Mifsud, a United Kingdom professor peddling dirt from Russian officials about Clinton.

Sessions, who as a senator was one of Trump's earliest supporters on Capitol Hill and now serves as attorney general, later told Congress he pushed back on the proposal at that meeting.

"I actively sought to leverage my contacts with the professor to host this meeting", Papadopoulos said, referring to a professor who is believed to be a Russian government operative.

"I have been asked this a million times, and here's the reality", Papadopoulos said.

Papadopoulos is the first former campaign aide to be sentenced in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into interactions between Trump campaign associates and Russian interests during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty [text, PDF] last October to lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation officials during the course of the Mueller probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He said Trump "wasn't committed either way, but he nodded and deferred to Sessions, who I remember being actually quite enthusiastic about a potential meeting between then-candidate Trump and Putin".

"All I can say is that my testimony might have helped move something towards that, but I have no idea".

At the same time, he said he recognized that Papadopoulos had "genuine remorse" for "letting himself get caught up".

He said he does not remember telling Downer, but that he does remember telling a different top diplomat. In April 2016, the professor told him the Russians had thousands of Hillary Clinton's emails, court records say.

So far, campaign chairman Paul Manafort; Mr Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen; Deputy campaign manager Rick Gates and National security adviser Michael Flynn have all pled or been found guilty. In reality Papadopoulos had already been appointed foreign policy adviser to the campaign when the meetings and discussions occurred.

While Papadopoulos is planning a move to California to begin his new life supporting his wife's fledgling acting career, he may not be entirely finished with the investigations that led him to prison. "Of course I'm remorseful, I'm contrite and I did lie [to the FBI] but you know you're just taken off guard, I guess, in such a momentous occasion where you're potentially sitting there incriminating the president".

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