- Officials on President Donald Trump’s campaign said in 2016 that they should get “someone low level” to communicate with Russians. The detail was included in a footnote in charges against George Papadopoulos, an adviser to the Trump campaign who has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI. The Washington Post reported in August said the message was sent from the campaign’s chairman, Paul Manafort, to his associate Rick Gates, both of whom were indicted on Monday.
A court document released on Monday said members of President Donald Trump’s campaign discussed finding a low-level staff member to communicate with the Russian government so as not to arouse any suspicion.
The detail was included in 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 to making false statements to the FBI about his interactions with Russia.
In May 2016, Papadopoulos said in an email to someone described as a high-ranking campaign official that his contacts in Russia wanted to meet with Trump, the court document says.
“Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out to me to discuss,” he wrote to the official, who then forwarded the email to another campaign official along with the request that they send a low-level staffer.
“Lets discuss. We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips,” the official said, referring to Trump. “It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”
It’s unclear whether the campaign wanted to send a staffer to Russia or have a staffer communicate to Russians that Trump himself would not be making such a trip.
The court document does not name the two campaign officials. However, The Washington Post reported in August that the Papadopoulos email was originally sent to the Trump campaign’s chairman, Paul Manafort, who then forwarded the message to his associate and fellow staffer Rick Gates.
Manafort and Gates were indicted on Monday on 12 charges, including laundering millions of dollars through offshore accounts and giving false and misleading statements about the scheme. The two surrendered to authorities on Monday morning.
The indictments represent the most significant escalation to date of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to tilt the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor.