Papadopoulos faces legislators’ questions
WASHINGTON » Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos met with House lawmakers Thursday to answer questions about his outreach to Russian officials and contacts with individuals who have become a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the president’s alleged Russia ties.
It is the first time that Papadopoulos, who was sentenced in September to two weeks in jail for lying to the FBI, has spoken to any of the congressional panels examining aspects of Russian interference in U.S. politics. Themeeting was closed to the public.
Lawmaker s have wanted to interview Papadopoulos for more than a year but were unable to do so while he was cooperating with Mueller. He volunteered to speak with congressional committees after his sentencing, though he has not yet served his time.
Papadopoulos emerged as a key witness in the Russia probe because of an offer he made to connect the Trump campaign with Russian officials — a suggestion at which President Donald Trump “nod- ded with approval,” Papadopoulos’ lawyer said during his sentencing —and his claim to have known that Russia accessed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email, weeks before that information became public.
But in advance of his interview, Papadopoulos has claimed he was set up by the FBI, and used as “a patsy for a ‘Russia’ conspiracy,” he said in a tweet, adding: “My set up was carefully orchestrated.”
The FBI has pointed to a May 2016 conversation Papadopoulos had in Britain with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, calling the meeting a pivotal incident that caused federal law enforcement to open a counterintelligence investigation into then- candidate Donald Trump.
That runs counter to charges from House Republicans loyal to the president, who accuse the FBI of basing its investigation on a now- famous dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent whose work was partially paid for by the Democratic National Committee and partially by the Clinton campaign. Trump’s allies have used that claim to suggest the entire probe, including the special counsel investigation, is biased.