A former campaign aide accused of lying to the FBI said that then-candidate Donald Trump “nodded with approval” at his suggestion of setting up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosTrump supporters show up to DC for election protest Trump pardons draw criticism for benefiting political allies Klobuchar: Trump 'trying to burn this country down on his way out' MORE’s lawyers argued in new probation filings that President TrumpDonald TrumpHarris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — The Facebook Oversight Board is not pleased MORE was open to his suggestions about meeting with the foreign leader in March of 2016, The Associated Press reported Saturday.
Papadopoulos allegedly volunteered to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin during a gathering with Trump’s foreign policy advisers, including Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE — who was a GOP senator at the time.
“While some in the room rebuffed George’s offer, Mr. Trump nodded with approval and deferred to Mr. Sessions who appeared to like the idea and stated that the campaign should look into it,” defense lawyers wrote.
His lawyers argued in a 16-page defense memo that Papadopoulos was “eager to show his value to the campaign" and should receive leniency.
The aide was hired by the campaign in March 2016 without any previous knowledge of Russian or U.S. diplomacy, AP noted.
Papadopoulos lied to FBI agents not to hurt special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's investigation but to “save his professional aspirations and preserve a perhaps misguided loyalty to his master,” his defense lawyers wrote, according to the AP.
They acknowledge that he “lied, minimized and omitted material facts.”
However, due to his loyalty to Trump and his desire to play a pivotal role in his new administration, “he hoisted himself upon his own petard,” his lawyers argued.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty last year to lying to FBI agents about his communications with Russians and a London professor and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Papadopoulos's bragging about seeking dirt on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMeghan McCain: 'SNL' parodies made me feel like 'laughing stock of the country' Hill: Trump reelection would spur 'one constitutional crisis after another' Trump defends indicted GOP congressman MORE from the Russians during the presidential campaign first launched Mueller's probe, according to congressional investigators.
Mueller recommended last month that Papadopoulos be sentenced to zero to six months in prison and face a fine of $9,500.
Papadopoulos’s wife, Simona Mangiante, suggested last month that she wanted her husband to back out of the deal after her confidence in the Mueller probe wavered.
"I trusted the institutions until they proved me wrong," Mangiante told MSNBC, adding that she had been made aware of "exculpatory evidences that fully justify him to drop off his plea agreement."
She later said that Papadopoulos will stick with the plea deal arranged with Mueller and take “responsibility for some inaccuracies” during his FBI interview.