Current and former officials working for President Donald Trump denied on Tuesday that they encouraged George Papadopoulos, a onetime foreign policy adviser, to meet Russian officials in Moscow during last year's campaign.
'My understanding is there wasn’t encouragement,' White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily briefing on Tuesday.
'He made multiple attempts at setting up a variety of meetings that were constantly rebuffed.'
Papadopoulos, who joined the Trump presidential campaign in March 2016, pleaded guilty to lying in January about communicating with individuals said to have ties to the Kremlin.
Former Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to concealing information about his conversations with an overseas professor about Russia
The White House on Tuesday denied that anyone connected to the Trump campaign sought to encourage Papadopoulos to travel to Moscow to meet individuals with ties to the Russian government
Sam Clovis, a former senior adviser to Trump's campaign, denies having ever encouraged Papadopoulos to improve relations between the United States and Russia, a lawyer for Clovis said on Tuesday. Clovis is seen above in this August 2016 file photo
Special counsel Robert Mueller's office announced a guilty plea by Papadopoulos, who concealed information about his conversations with an overseas professor said to have ties to the Kremlin
The former campaign aide was allegedly trying to arrange a meeting between then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Special Counsel Robert Mueller said in the documents.
Sam Clovis, a former senior adviser to Trump's campaign, denies having ever encouraged Papadopoulos to improve relations between the United States and Russia, a lawyer for Clovis said on Tuesday.
In a statement provided to Reuters, attorney Victoria Toensing said Clovis never said that 'a principal foreign policy focus of the campaign was an improved US relationship with Russia' and that Clovis opposed any Russian trip by Trump or campaign staff.
Clovis has since been nominated by Trump to a top post at the US Department of Agriculture.
The documents said an unidentified campaign official, believed to be Clovis, advised Papadopoulos around May 2016 that Trump himself 'is not doing these trips' but that 'it should be someone low-level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.'
While not mentioned in the documents, top Trump campaign advisers, including Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and Campaign Manager Paul Manafort met at Trump Tower in New York in June 2016 with Russians claiming to have derogatory information on Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
It was not known whether that meeting resulted from Papadopoulos’ efforts.
The special counsel said Papadopoulos - a Chicago-based international energy lawyer - lied to