George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign adviser recently sentenced to two weeks in jail for lying to investigators, said Sunday he couldn’t specifically recall alerting the Trump campaign about potential Hillary Clinton dirt.
But Papadopoulos also said his cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe could assist Mr. Mueller in proving that there was, in fact, collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians — something that Mr. Trump has repeatedly and strenuously denied.
Papadopoulos was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty in October 2017 to lying to federal investigators about his contacts with Joseph Mifsud, a professor who allegedly told him in 2016 that Russia had damaging information on Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent.
Papadopoulos said Sunday he had no recollection of sending an email about the possible dirt to John Mashburn, a Trump campaign and White House official who has reportedly testified to congressional investigators he thought he got such an alert from Papadopoulos.
“If I did send an email, and especially if others were copied on it, I’m sure that evidence would have [been] introduced by now,” Papadopoulos said on ABC’s “This Week.” “If that email was sent, even if I deleted it, if that’s what people believe I did, there would be a copy somewhere else.”
He said he has no idea whether Mr. Mueller’s investigation will reveal that there was actual collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. “All I can say is that my testimony might have helped move something towards that, but I have no idea,” he said.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday it’s hard to believe Papadopoulos wouldn’t have tipped off the campaign if he indeed had been led to believe by Mr. Mifsud that the professor’s contacts had knowledge of Clinton-related dirt the Russians had.
“This is an ambitious guy who wants to be a player in the Trump campaign,” Mr. Warner said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “It just stretches, I think, most people’s credibility that, if Papadopoulos had this knowledge and he wanted to try to further ingratiate himself with the campaign, that he wouldn’t have shared that with somebody on the campaign.”
Papadopoulos also said Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared “quite enthusiastic” at one point during the campaign about the prospect of a summit between Mr. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Papadopoulos had said that at a roundtable of campaign officials in 2016, he told the table he had a connection who could establish a summit between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin.
Then-candidate Trump nodded at him and didn’t seem committed, but Mr. Sessions seemed “quite enthusiastic” about the prospect of a Trump-Putin summit, Papadopoulos said Sunday.
Mr. Sessions has testified that he pushed back on the idea. “All I can say is my recollection differs from his at this point,” Papadopoulos said.
Mr. Warner said he trusts that Mr. Mueller’s team would look into those discrepancies.
“Just over the last few weeks, we have had the president’s campaign manager plead guilty, the president’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen agree to work with Mueller and take a guilty plea as well,” he said on CBS. “We have got the president’s chief financial officer now getting some level of immunity. So, I think we’re going to start to get a lot of these answers coming out. And I think that’s why the Mueller investigation, and, for that matter, our Senate intelligence investigation has to run its course.”
Attorneys for Papadopoulos had sought to avoid prison, instead requesting probation. Federal prosecutors with the special counsel’s office had asked Judge Randolph Moss for a sentence of up to six months in prison.
In court filings, Mr. Mueller’s team claimed Papadopoulos’ lies caused damage to the government’s Russian collusion investigation.
They said his sentence should reflect that “lying to federal investigators has real consequences, especially where the defendant lied to investigators about critical facts in an investigation of national importance.”
In his January 2017 interview with the FBI, Papadopoulos misled investigators about when he was told Russia allegedly had dirt on Mrs. Clinton. He said at least a dozen times he learned of it before joining the campaign, according to court documents.
Papadopoulos’ attorneys said in court papers their client is “ashamed and remorseful,” they insisted his lies did not harm the Russia investigation.
Defense counsel in their filings painted Papadopoulos as a naive and eager campaign aide who sought to impress the Trump campaign by setting up a meeting with campaign officials and Russia to discuss whatever Russia allegedly had on Mrs. Clinton.