Trump campaign official was just ‘being polite’ when he OK’d a meeting with Russians, his lawyer says

    Sam Clovis, a top Trump campaign official, gave another staffer the go-ahead to meet with Russian officials ahead of the 2016 election. Clovis’ lawyer said he was just “being polite” at the time and described Clovis as “a polite gentleman from Iowa.” The email exchange could be significant in investigations into Russian election meddling.

The Trump campaign’s national co-chairman had an interesting excuse when it was revealed he had urged another campaign staffer to meet with Russian officials.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that Sam Clovis was the unnamed “campaign supervisor” mentioned in a court filing that said George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser on the campaign, pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI.

According to the newly unsealed document, Papadopoulos had emailed other members of the campaign, including chairman Paul Manafort and Clovis, in an attempt to broker a meeting with Russian contacts. Clovis told Papadopoulos to “make the trip, if it is feasible.”

But Clovis’ lawyer, Victoria Toensing, told The Post that while Clovis appeared to be giving Papadopoulos the go-ahead, he was actually just “being polite.”

From The Post:

She said Clovis was “being polite” when he encouraged Papadopoulos to meet with Russian officials in August, adding that the campaign had a “strict rule that no person could travel abroad as a representative of the campaign.” Clovis could not stop an American citizen from traveling abroad “in his personal capacity,” she said …

Toensing described Clovis as a “polite gentleman from Iowa” who “would always have been courteous to a person offering to help the campaign.”

The inclusion of Clovis’ email in Monday’s filing could make it harder for the White House to distance itself from Papadopoulos and his alleged Russian contacts. The filing coincided with a grand jury’s indictment of Manafort and his associate Rick Gates for money laundering, tax fraud, and conspiracy against the US, among other charges.

Trump has nominated Clovis for the Agriculture Department’s chief science adviser position, a pick that generated controversy over Clovis’ lack of a science background and skepticism toward climate change. His nomination hearing is scheduled for Nov. 9.