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.
According to new reports, Paul Manafort, who was Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, was wiretapped by the FBI due to concerns about his links with Russia, according to US media.
The reported surveillance, granted under a court warrant, occurred both before and after the 2016 election.
Investigators wanted to know if Paul Manafort had sought Russian help with the campaign.
It is not known if the wiretap, which began in 2014, included conversations with President Trump. Paul Manafort is said to be facing an indictment.
The former political consultant, who had worked for Ukraine’s former ruling party, was chairman of the Trump campaign from June to August 2016. He has not commented on the CNN report, which has been confirmed by CBS News.
FBI special counsel Robert Mueller is leading an investigation into alleged attempts by Russia to influence the 2016 election.
However, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants were granted before his investigation started, and were first authorized as part of an investigation into Washington consulting firms working for Ukraine, CNN reported.
After the 2014 warrant ended, it was renewed again until earlier this year, in order to allow the FBI to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives.
Communications collected with the Manafort wiretaps sparked concerns among investigators that he had encouraged the Russians to help with the election campaign, CNN cited three sources as saying – although two of the sources said the evidence had not been conclusive.
The FBI, as well as several congressional committees, are investigating whether Russia attempted to interfere in the US election in order to help Donald Trump.
FBI agents raided Paul Manafort’s suburban Washington DC home on July 26, according to the New York Times.
Agents had picked the lock to his Virginia home as Paul Manafort lay in bed, and were looking for evidence that he had set up off-shore bank accounts, the newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, who lost the election to Donald Trump, said that she “wouldn’t rule out” questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election if evidence emerged of Russian interference.
Paul Manafort is one of a number of the presidential associates currently under scrutiny for possible contacts with Russia during the US presidential campaign.
Image source Getty
On March 20, FBI director James Comey confirmed for the first time that his agency was investigating alleged Russian interference in the election.
On March 21, Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist, published an invoice purportedly signed by Paul Manafort that showed a $750,000 payment for a shipment of computers to a company called Davis Manafort.
The funds came from an offshore company in Belize via a bank in Kyrgyzstan.
Serhiy Leshchenko said the contract was a cover for payments to Paul Manafort for his consulting services to Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.
The lawmaker said the amount and date of the payment matched one of the entries on the so-called Black Ledgers (handwritten accounting books alleged to belong to the Party of Regions), where Paul Manafort’s name was mentioned.
Paul Manafort’s spokesman Jason Maloni described the latest allegations as “baseless”, saying they should be “summarily dismissed”.
President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted during mass street protests in Ukraine in 2014.
Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort has resigned just two months after taking the helm.
Paul Manafort has come under fire for his ties to Russian interests and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
He has denied any wrongdoing and it is not yet clear why he left.
Donald Trump’s campaign team was overhauled earlier this week with the addition of a new campaign chief executive and a new campaign manager.
The Republican presidential nominee, who arrived in Louisiana on August 19 to meet flood victims, has come under pressure in recent weeks after a series of controversial remarks and falling poll numbers.
Photo Getty Images
Donald Trump said in a statement: “This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign.
“I am very appreciative for his great work in helping to get us where we are today, and in particular his work guiding us through the delegate and convention process.”
Paul Manafort has faced public scrutiny in recent weeks after the New York Times reported that the Ukrainian government had uncovered ledgers pledging more than $12 million in undisclosed cash payments for his work with Viktor Yanukovych, who fled after an uprising in November 2013.
Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Bureau is also investigating business deals worth millions of dollar that are linked to Paul Manafort.
Paul Manafort has vehemently dismissed the claims and denied any wrongdoing.
Hillary Clinton’s spokesman Robbie Mook said Paul Manafort was another example of Donald Trump’s ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“You can get rid of Manafort, but that doesn’t end the odd bromance Trump has with Putin,” he said.
“Trump still has to answer serious questions hovering over his campaign given his propensity to parrot Putin’s talking points.”
Paul Manafort, a former adviser to George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, only joined the Trump campaign in March, to help the billionaire secure the party’s nomination. He was promoted to campaign manager in June.
The announcement of new campaign chief, Kellyanne Conway, and campaign CEO, Stephen Bannon, earlier this week raised questions about whether it would diminish Paul Manafort’s role.
Paul Manafort was considered a guiding hand in steering Donald Trump toward a more conventional campaign as opposed to the anti-establishment brand of politics that made his primary campaign successful.
A hotel developer with no previous experience of politics, Donald Trump stunned the political world by beating far more experienced figures in the Republican Party.
Donald Trump faces Hillary Clinton, who has come under intense criticism over her email arrangements while secretary of state, in November’s election.
Donald Trump has overhauled his election campaign team for the second time in two months, bringing in a new manager and CEO.
Kellyanne Conway becomes campaign manager and Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News the CEO. Paul Manafort remains as campaign chairman.
Donald Trump told AP the new leaders were “terrific people… they’re champs”.
The Republican presidential candidate has seen his poll ratings slip since the GOP conventions last month.
Donald Trump trails rival Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton both nationally and in key battleground states.
The latest shake-up comes just 82 days before the election.
Speaking to Associated Press news agency about Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of the politically conservative news and opinion website Breitbart, and pollster Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump said: “I’ve known both of them for a long time. They’re terrific people, they’re winners, they’re champs, and we need to win it.”
AP said the details of the new hierarchy were hammered out at a lengthy senior staff meeting at Trump Tower on August 16 and that more senior appointments were expected in the coming days.
An article in Bloomberg in October 2015, described Stephen Bannon as “the most dangerous political operative in America”.
Stephen Bannon says his role at Breitbart is “virulently anti-establishment”.
Kellyanne Conway has previously worked for Republican politicians Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich.
Although Paul Manafort stays in his job, analysts say the new appointments, which come two months after campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was sacked, represent a demotion.
The Washington Post cited Donald Trump campaign aides as saying the Republican candidate respected Paul Manafort but felt “boxed in” by people “who barely knew him”.
Paul Manafort, a former adviser to George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, only joined the Trump campaign in March.
Donald Trump has been pressed by some Republicans to tone down his fiery rhetoric in the wake of a number of controversial comments in the past two weeks and the subsequent drop in poll ratings.
However, Donald Trump appears to want to stand by the campaign style that won him the Republican nomination.
He said on August 16: “You know, I am who I am. It’s me. I don’t want to change.
“Everyone talks about, <<Oh, well you’re going to pivot, you’re going to>>. I don’t want to pivot. I mean, you have to be you. If you start pivoting, you’re not being honest with people.”
Paul Manafort has had a troubled week, following a report in the New York Times that ledgers in Ukraine showed he was earmarked for $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments from the former pro-Russian government between 2007 and 2012. He denied receiving any “off-the-books cash payment”.
The Trump team’s alleged pro-Russia links have been a key issue of the campaign, and the latest allegations sparked a call from the Clinton campaign for a full disclosure.
Opinion polls since the national conventions have made grim reading for the Trump team, both nationally and in key states.
The national lead for Hillary Clinton is currently between seven and eight points, the polls suggest.
The New York Times said on August 15 that no modern candidate trailing by this much three weeks after the conventions had won the election.
An opinion poll in the state of Virginia, carried in the Washington Post on August 16, gave Hillary Clinton a 14 point lead there.