Check­ing the facts re­gard­ing Trump’s Rus­sia probe rhetoric

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL - By Calvin Wood­ward And Josh Boak

WASHINGTON — Rus­sia tribu­la­tions pro­vided fer­tile ground for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and oth­ers to sow con­fu­sion over the past week.

Over days of head-snap­ping de­vel­op­ments, the spe­cial coun­sel’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion pro­duced in­dict­ments and a guilty plea reach­ing into Trump’s cam­paign team. A look back at the rhetoric: TRUMP tweet Tues­day: “Few peo­ple knew the young, low level vol­un­teer named Ge­orge, who has al­ready proven to be a liar.”

THE FACTS: Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los, a Trump cam­paign ad­viser who pleaded guilty to ly­ing about his Rus­sian in­ter­ac­tions, was not as ob­scure as Trump makes him out to be. Trump named Pa­padopou­los to his for­eign pol­icy ad­vi­sory coun­cil in March 2016, where he joined a short list of ex­perts help­ing the can­di­date with in­ter­na­tional af­fairs.

“Ex­cel­lent guy,” Trump told The Washington Post at the time. Trump also tweeted a photo of his March 31 ad­vi­sory coun­cil meet­ing, with Pa­padopou­los among sev­eral ad­vis­ers at the pres­i­dent’s ta­ble. Jeff Ses­sions, then a se­na­tor and now at­tor­ney gen­eral, was help­ing Trump’s cam­paign and at­tended at least two meet­ings of the ad­vi­sory coun­cil with Pa­padopou­los also there.

In April 2016, Pa­padopou­los met a pro­fes­sor with con­nec­tions to the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment for break­fast in Lon­don and was told Moscow had “dirt” help­ful to Trump, namely Hil­lary Clin­ton emails. In­ves­ti­ga­tors said Pa­padopou­los emailed a Trump cam­paign pol­icy ad­viser the next day, say­ing, “Have some in­ter­est­ing mes­sages com­ing in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said his po­si­tion with the cam­paign, though not se­nior, was sig­nif­i­cant to those who wanted to pass on help­ful in­for­ma­tion. The al­le­ga­tions un­sealed Mon­day state that “the pro­fes­sor only took in­ter­est in de­fen­dant PA­PADOPOU­LOS be­cause of his sta­tus with the Cam­paign.”

The ad­viser met later with more ap­par­ent Rus­sian in­ter­me­di­aries.

Al­to­gether, this episode pro­vided ev­i­dence in the first crim­i­nal case con­nect­ing Trump’s team to Rus­sian in­ter­ests.

TRUMP tweet Mon­day: “Sorry, but this is years ago, be­fore Paul Manafort was part of the Trump cam­paign.”

THE FACTS: Not true, ac­cord­ing to the in­dict­ment against Manafort, who was Trump’s cam­paign chair­man for months last year, and against Manafort as­so­ciate Rick Gates.

They are charged with crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties that go back to 2006 but ex­tend to Fe­bru­ary of this year. The charges do not re­fer to Manafort’s ac­tiv­i­ties with the cam­paign but rather ac­cuse him of laun­der­ing money and con­spir­a­to­rial acts be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter he was cam­paign chair­man.

Manafort and Gates face 12 counts, which do deal largely with ac­tiv­i­ties from 2006 to 2015, be­fore Manafort joined the cam­paign in March 2016.

But both are charged with con­spir­ing to­gether and with oth­ers to know­ingly and in­ten­tion­ally de­fraud and com­mit crimes against the U.S. from 2006 to this year.

And both are charged with con­spir­ing to­gether to make false state­ments and con­ceal crimes against the U.S., and to caus­ing oth­ers to do so, from Novem­ber 2016 to Fe­bru­ary 2017.

The in­dict­ment emerged from the broad in­ves­ti­ga­tion by spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 U.S. elec­tion and pos­si­ble col­lu­sion be­tween the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sia. It does not go to the heart of that mat­ter.

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