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Candidate Trump Didn't Reject Possible Putin Meeting

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President Donald Trump did not reject the idea of a meeting between himself and Russian President Vladimir Putin when it was suggested during a 2016 campaign meeting. 

CNN reports that in March 2016, former Trump campaign Foreign Policy Adviser George Papadopoulos suggested that he could arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Putin. 

Papadopoulos told Trump "in sum and substance" that he had "connections" who could help arrange a meeting between the two men, court documents say, according to CNN.

"He didn't say yes and he didn't say no," one official who attended that meeting told CNN. 

According to the anonymous official, Papadopoulos' idea was shut down by then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, the chairman of Trump's national security team.

On Oct. 30, it was announced that Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his relationships with possible Russian government officials. 

News of Papadopoulos' attempts to connect Trump with Russian officials comes as the investigation into possible collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russian government heats up. 

On the same day Papadopoulos' guilty plea was announced, special counsel Robert Mueller revealed indictments against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner, Rick Gates. 

Manafort and Gates both face charges of conspiracy against the U.S., money laundering, being an unregistered foreign agent and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, according to NBC News. 

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All charges brought against Manafort and Gates are related to activities they conducted before joining the Trump campaign, leaving Papadopoulos as the most direct link between the campaign and Russia. 

Court documents show that Papadopoulos was in contact with "high-ranking" campaign officials and Russian nationals who offered "dirt" on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to NPR. 

J.D. Gordon, a former Trump campaign national security adviser who attended the March 2016 meeting with Trump, Sessions and Papadopoulos, told CNN he was "surprised to learn this week what George Papadopoulos was up to during the campaign."

"He obviously went to great lengths to go around me and Sen. Sessions," he said. 

The White House has been quick to distance Trump from Papadopoulos. 

On Twitter, Trump referred to Papadopoulos as a "young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that Trump does not remember the details of the March 2016 meeting, according to CNN. 

"Again, it was a brief meeting that took place quite some time ago. It was the one time that group ever met," she said. 

Sources: CNN, NBC News, NPR, Donald Trump/Twitter / Featured Image: Kremlin via Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Kremlin via Wikimedia Commons, Pexels

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