Trump adviser George Papadopoulos lied about Russian links

Trump adviser George Papadopoulos lied about Russian links

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Donald Trump’s election campaign is the focus of an FBI inquiry

An adviser to Donald Trump during his election campaign has admitted seeking to set up a meeting between the campaign and Russian officials.

Foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier this month to having lied to the FBI over when he met go-betweens.

He said he had been told the Russians possessed “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has been charged with tax fraud in an unrelated case.

The 12 charges brought against Mr Manafort and one of his business associates, Rick Gates, include conspiracy to launder money.

They do not relate to Mr Trump’s campaign but to the pair’s Ukrainian business dealings up to 2015.

An investigation headed by special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into any links between Russia and the Trump campaign. Both sides deny any collusion.

How does the Papadopoulos case affect Trump?

It has the potential to damage the US leader because it relates directly to his campaign.

According to a justice department statement, Mr Trump’s former foreign policy adviser admitted on 5 October to having impeded the FBI’s investigation into alleged collusion with Russia.

When he was interviewed by the FBI this January, he falsely claimed that he had met two figures with Russian connections before joining the Trump campaign in March 2016. In fact, he met them after joining the campaign.

One was an unnamed Russian woman who, Mr Papadopoulos believed, had connections to Russian government officials.

He admitted seeking to use her connections in an effort to arrange a meeting “between the Campaign and Russian government officials”.

The other person was an unnamed, London-based professor who was said to have “substantial connections to Russian government officials”.

The professor only took an interest in Mr Papadopoulos because of his status within the Trump campaign, the statement says.

Russian “dirt” on Mrs Clinton, in the form of “thousands of emails”, was allegedly mentioned by the professor at a breakfast meeting in a London hotel on or around 26 April 2016.

The professor said he had been informed about the compromising emails when he met senior Russian government officials on a recent trip to Moscow.

What are the charges against Manafort and Gates?

The indictment against the two men looks at their links to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine between 2006 and 2015.

It says they acted as “unregistered agents” of Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych and his party, both in opposition and government.

Mr Yanukovych was deposed as president in 2014 amid mass unrest over his pro-Russian policies.

Mr Manafort is accused of having laundered more than $18m (£14m) through offshore bank accounts, using it to buy property, goods and services in transactions concealed from the US authorities.

He is said to have “used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle” in America.

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Rick Gates (second from left) and Paul Manafort (second from right) on stage with the Trumps on 21 July 2016

Altogether, at least $75m in payments from Ukraine flowed through the accounts, the indictment says.

Mr Gates is accused of having transferred more than $3m from the offshore accounts to other accounts he controlled.

No immediate comment from lawyers for Mr Manafort and Mr Gates was reported after the charges were revealed.

The good news for Mr Trump is that the charges stem from Mr Manafort’s past business dealings, not his campaign efforts, the BBC’s Anthony Zurcher reports from Washington.

However, Mr Manafort will be under growing pressure to co-operate with the Mueller investigation into his work for the Trump campaign, our correspondent adds.

Responding to news of the charges, Mr Trump tweeted to point out that they did not concern his campaign and asked why “the focus” was not on alleged wrongdoing involving Mrs Clinton instead.

Why did Trump bring up Clinton?

On Friday, Mr Trump accused Mrs Clinton of links with Moscow.

Republican lawmakers have alleged that a uranium deal with a Russian company in 2010, when Mrs Clinton was secretary of state, was sealed in exchange for donations to her husband’s charity.

A Congressional investigation has been opened into the case. Democrats say it is an attempt to divert attention from the alleged ties between Russia and Mr Trump.

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