Former Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis was questioned last week by special counsel Robert Mueller and testified before the investigating grand jury in the inquiries into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, NBC News reported Tuesday.
Clovis served as the supervisor to George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to the campaign who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his efforts to broker a meeting between the Trump team and Russian government, and who is now cooperating with federal investigators.
A person with first-hand knowledge of the matter told NBC that Clovis’ interviews occurred. Clovis’ lawyer, Victoria Toensing, told the network she would not “get into that,” but confirmed that Clovis was the unnamed “campaign supervisor” referenced in court documents about Papadopoulos’ plea.
In those documents, Clovis told Papadopoulos he’d done “great work” with his initial outreach to Russians who wanted to set up a meeting with the campaign. In Aug. 2016, Clovis also said he “would encourage” Papadopoulos to set up an “off the record” meeting with Russian officials in Europe “if it is feasible.”
Toensing told NBC that the campaign strictly prohibited staffers from making trips abroad on behalf of the campaign, but that Papadopoulos would have been allowed to do so in his capacity as a private citizen.
The FBI has said that no such trip ever occurred.
Hints that the FBI had interviewed other Trump advisers cropped up in the U.S. government’s motion to seal Papadopoulos plea agreement, which was among the documents about his case made public Monday. Federal prosecutors requested that details about the case remain quiet to allow campaign officials to be questioned before they learned that Papadopoulos was cooperating.
“The government will very shortly seek, among other investigate steps, to interview certain individuals who may have knowledge of contacts between Russian nationals (or Russia-connected foreign nationals) and the campaign, including the contacts between the defendant and foreign nationals set forth in the Statement of Offense,” the document reads.
The FBI agent whose affidavit was attached to the motion made almost exactly the same point.
Clovis is currently awaiting Senate confirmation before the Agriculture Committee to serve as the U.S. Agriculture Department’s chief scientist, though he is not a scientist.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that she was “not aware that any change” in Clovis’ nomination would be “necessary at this time.”
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