Trump campaign officials suggested sending 'someone low level' to Russia so they wouldn't arouse suspicion

  • Officials on President Donald Trump’s campaign said in 2016 they should send “someone low level” to meet with Russians.
  • The detail was included as a footnote in charges against George Papadopoulos, an adviser on the Trump campaign who pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI.
  • The message is believed to have been sent from then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort to his associate Rick Gates, both of whom were indicted on Monday.

A court document revealed on Monday that members of President Donald Trump’s campaign discussed sending a low-level staff member to meet with the Russian government in order not to arouse any suspicion.

“Let[‘]s discuss. We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips,” one campaign official wrote to the other, referring to Trump. “It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”

The detail was included as a footnote in newly unsealed charge against George Papadopoulos, who worked on the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier this month for making false statements to the FBI about his interactions with Russia.

In May 2016, Papadopoulos emailed someone described as a high-ranking campaign official saying that his contacts in Russia wanted to meet with Trump, according to the court document.

“Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out with me to discuss,” he wrote to the official. That official then forwarded the email to another campaign official along with the request that they send a low-level staffer.

The FBI document does not name the two campaign officials. However, The Washington Post reported on the email exchanges in August, citing sources who said the Papadopoulos email was originally sent to then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who then forwarded the message to his associate and fellow staffer Rick Gates.

Both Manafort and Gates were indicted on Monday on 12 federal charges, including laundering millions of dollars from offshore accounts and giving false and misleading statements about the scheme. The two surrendered to authorities Monday afternoon.

The indictments represent the most significant escalation to date of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to tilt the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favour.

Read the court document here »

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