10:30, November 03 208 0 abajournal.com

2017-11-03 10:30:06
Sessions reportedly opposed the idea of a Russia meeting when Papadopoulos suggested it to Trump

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then-candidate Donald Trump reportedly attended a meeting in which former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos said he had connections who could set up a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Papadopoulos made the suggestion at a March 31, 2016, meeting between foreign policy advisers and Trump, the New York Times reports, citing court records in the special counsel’s investigation. Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with foreign nationals he believed to be connected to Russian officials.

A campaign adviser at the meeting, J. D. Gordon, told the Times that Sessions was there and he vehemently opposed the idea of a Russia meeting. An Instagram photo of the meeting on Trump’s account shows Papadopoulos sitting two seats away from Sessions, Reuters reports.

Trump was also at the meeting. According to the Times, he listened with interest to Papadopoulos.

Another member of the foreign policy team, Carter Page, said Thursday he told Sessions in passing last year that he was planning a Russia trip for matters completely unrelated to his campaign role. “Understandably, it was as irrelevant then as it is now,” Page said in a statement to CNN and other publications.

Sessions had told the Senate under oath that he didn’t know of any Trump surrogates who were in contact with the Russians during the election. Some Democrats say Sessions should return to the Senate for further questioning, the Washington Post reports.

An anonymous person familiar with Sessions’ recollections told the Post that “the March 31 comments by this Papadopoulos person did not leave a lasting impression.”

“Papadopoulos was some 29-year-old that nobody had ever heard of and who struck people in the room as someone who didn’t have a lot of credibility,” the source said. Sessions “immediately dismissed” Papadopoulos’ suggestion “and moved on.”

The source told the Post that Sessions has been “entirely truthful and consistent on this matter.” According to the source, Sessions “had no knowledge of any conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign with any Russian or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.”

White House lawyer Ty Cobb said Papadopoulos had an insignificant role in the campaign.

“The media’s willingness to inflate Papadopoulos, a young unpaid volunteer and supposed energy expert, into an important thought leader in the campaign or Russian operative is ludicrous,” Cobb said. “The evidence so far suggests he attended one meeting, said something about Russia and was immediately shut down by everyone in the room.

“It’s very important to remember that he is not a criminal now because of anything he did for the campaign—he is a criminal because he initially lied to the FBI.”

One of the foreign nationals in contact with Papadopoulos was a professor who said the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, according to a statement filed in connection with Papadopoulos’ guilty plea.

Papadopoulos has been cooperating with the FBI.