A former Trump campaign adviser says Donald Trump listened to George Papadopoulos when he presented the idea of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He heard him out,” JD Gordon, a campaign national security adviser who attended the March 31, 2016 meeting, told CNN Thursday.
Asked about the meeting on Friday, Trump told reporters at the White House, “it was a very unimportant meeting, took place a long time, don’t remember much about it.”
CNN reported Wednesday that Trump did not dismiss the idea of arranging a meeting with Russia’s president when it was suggested in a meeting with his campaign foreign policy advisers last year.
But the chairman of Trump’s national security team, then Alabama senator and now attorney general Jeff Sessions, shut down the idea of a Putin meeting at the March 31, 2016, gathering, according to a person in the room. His reaction was confirmed with another source who had discussed Sessions’ role.
On Sessions, Gordon said: “I don’t fault the senator for not recalling things Carter (Page) or George (Papadopoulos) may have told him in private settings.”
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about interactions with foreign officials close to the Russian government – the campaign’s clearest connection so far to Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election. Papadopoulos told the FBI, according to court documents, that in a national security meeting attended by Trump and campaign advisers, he “in sum and substance” said that “he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said she doesn’t believe Trump recalls the March 31 meeting when asked about it at the press briefing Wednesday.
When asked specifically if the recalls the March 31 meeting, Sanders said, “No, I don’t believe he does.”
CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.