White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged that a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser reached out to a Kremlin-linked professor, after unsealed court documents revealed Monday that George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about those conversations.
But “nothing happened beyond that,” Sanders said of the “volunteer” adviser who she said attended just one campaign meeting.
“Which I think that shows, one, his level of importance in the campaign and two, what little role he had within coordinating anything officially for the campaign,” she said, repeating her attempts to minimize Papadopoulos’ role in the President’s campaign, which she said was “extremely limited.”
Court documents released Monday showed that Papadopoulos lied to federal agents about his contacts with a professor whom he knew had substantial links to the Russian government. A campaign supervisor encouraged Papadopoulos to take the meeting with the professor in Russia “if it is feasible,” according to the unsealed documents.
Sanders pushed back on those findings, saying “any actions (Papadopoulos) took would have been his own” and claiming she was “not aware of that conversation,” which was detailed in the documents involving the campaign supervisor and Papadopoulos.
“It has nothing to do with the campaign, it has to do with his failure to tell the truth. That doesn’t have anything to do with the campaign or campaign’s activities,” she said. “No activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard.”
Earlier Monday, Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Manafort’s business associate turned themselves in to federal authorities after the pair was charged with 12 counts related to money laundering and other alleged crimes.
Both the Manafort charges and the Papadopoulos case are part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with the foreign power to win the election.
On Monday Sanders also said the President has “no intention” of firing Mueller, despite several past reports that said Trump has asked for advice on whether he could get rid of Mueller.