Donald Trump’s election campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the timing of meetings with alleged go-betweens for Russia.
He admitted the talks happened while he worked for Donald Trump, not before, court papers show.
George Papadopoulos said he had been told the Russians possessed “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
The charges are the first to be brought by Robert Mueller, the former FBI director now special counsel investigating alleged links between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Both sides deny any collusion.
Earlier it emerged that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had been charged with tax fraud in an unrelated case stemming from the Mueller investigation.
The 12 charges brought against Paul Manafort and one of his business associates, Rick Gates, include conspiracy to launder money.
They do not relate to Donald Trump’s campaign but to the pair’s Ukrainian business dealings up to 2015.
According to analysts, the case has the potential to damage President Trump because it relates directly to his campaign.
George Papadopoulos – a Chicago-based international energy lawyer – was close enough to then-candidate Trump to be part of a photograph of his national security team which Donald Trump tweeted on April 1, 2016.
According to the court documents, George Papadopoulos admitted on October 5, 2017, to having impeded the FBI’s investigation into alleged collusion with Russia.
When he was interviewed by the FBI this January, George Papadopoulos falsely claimed that he had met two figures with Russian connections before joining the Trump campaign in March 2016. In fact, the former foreign policy adviser met them after joining the campaign.
One was an unnamed Russian woman who, George Papadopoulos believed, had connections to Russian government officials.
He admitted seeking to use her connections in an effort to arrange a meeting “between the Campaign and Russian government officials”.
The other person was an unnamed, London-based professor who was said to have “substantial connections to Russian government officials”.
The professor only took an interest in George Papadopoulos because of his status within the Trump campaign, the statement says.
Russian “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, in the form of “thousands of emails”, was allegedly mentioned by the professor at a breakfast meeting in a London hotel on or around April 26, 2016.
The professor said he had been informed about the compromising emails when he met senior Russian government officials on a recent trip to Moscow.
President Trump aides have said George Papadopoulos played a limited role in the campaign and had no access to Donald Trump, the Associated Press reports.