Trump campaign aide sought Russia meeting
Posted August 14
A former Trump campaign volunteer offered to set up a meeting between campaign officials for then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin last March, according to a source that reviewed a March 2016 email from the campaign aide -- but that meeting was dismissed by campaign leadership and Trump was advised not to do it.
In a March 2016 email, Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos offered to set up a meeting between top Russian officials and top Trump campaign officials, under the subject line "Meeting with Russian Leadership -- Including Putin," according to the source.
The email from Papadopoulos was first reported by The Washington Post Monday evening. The Post also reported that Papadopoulos made at least six requests for meetings between top campaign officials and Russian officials over the course of the campaign, but that they were roundly rejected by several members of the campaign.
Papadopoulos did not immediately respond to CNN's requests for comment.
Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks, as federal agents searched his Virginia home and removed evidence. Manafort was a part of Donald Trump Jr.'s June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer and a Russian-American lobbyist, and has given contemporaneous notes he took of that meeting to investigators.
A source familiar with the Papadopoulos emails said that Manafort immediately dismissed the idea of meeting with top Russian officials and advised Trump to do the same.
Reached for comment, Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni told CNN: "Mr. Manafort's swift action reflects the attitude of the campaign -- any invitation by Russia, directly or indirectly, would be rejected outright. His request that the response come from a low level staffer sent a clear signal that the invitation did not merit consideration. This is concrete evidence the Russia collusion narrative is fake news."
The March 2016 email was included in a batch of 20,000 campaign emails turned over to federal and congressional investigators by the Trump campaign.
Carter Page, a former Trump adviser who has been a subject of interest for congressional investigators, told CNN he remembered seeing the email from Papadopoulos but did not act on it and never saw additional requests from Papadopoulos.
The Papadopoulos email represents a new twist in the investigations, but is likely not as consequential as other meetings and email exchanges, including one in which Donald Trump Jr. set up a meeting with a Russian lawyer after the lawyer promised to deliver dirt on Clinton directly from the Kremlin.