Watch Jake Tapper’s exclusive interview with the ex-Trump campaign aide in CNN Special Report “The Mysterious Case of George Papadopoulos” Saturday at 8 p.m., ET.
Convicted former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has publicly contradicted Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ sworn testimony to Congress, saying both Sessions and Donald Trump apparently supported his proposal that Trump meet with Vladimir Putin during the 2016 campaign, according to a court filing late Friday night.
“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. George’s giddiness over Mr. Trump’s recognition was prominent during the days that followed,” Papadopoulos’ lawyers wrote in a court filing Friday. Papadopoulos’ legal team said that he has shared with special counsel Robert Mueller his recollections of the March 31, 2016, meeting.
Sessions, when asked about that meeting at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, said that he “pushed back” on the idea of the Putin summit. CNN previously reported that Trump “heard him out,” but Sessions shut down the idea of a Putin meeting, according to another adviser in the room, when Papadopoulos proposed the idea and offered to help execute it. Sessions’ reaction was confirmed with another source who had discussed his role.
Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores declined to comment on Papadopoulos’ assertions in Friday’s filing and directed CNN to Sessions’ testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on the issue.
The new description came in a criminal sentencing request Papadopoulos’ legal team filed to a federal judge late Friday night – the same day a lobbyist for Ukrainians admitted in court to criminal obstruction when he lied to Congress, and amid the President’s intensifying public feud with Sessions.
Papadopoulos “was the first domino, and many have fallen in behind,” his attorneys write Friday. “Despite the gravity of his offense, it is important to remember what Special Counsel said at George’s plea of guilty: he was just a small part of a large-scale investigation.”