Friday on CNN’s “The Lead,” former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who has been sentenced to 14 days in jail for lying to FBI investigators, said then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was “enthusiastic” about a meeting between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Partial transcript as follows:
TAPPER: When did you first meet Donald Trump?
PAPADOPOULOS: March 31 at the national security meeting.
TAPPER: There’s a photo of you at the table. Senator Jeff Sessions is there. What was discussed at that meeting in terms of Russia, in terms of meeting with Putin?
PAPADOPOULOS: As far as I remember it was I who brought up anything regarding Russia. I was under the impression that an individual I had met in Rome, the so-called professor, was able to provide high level connections in Russia that would result in some sort of summit or meeting, mostly for a photo-op. So I sat down and, you know, I looked at the candidate, I looked at candidate Trump directly in his eyes and said, I can do this for you if it’s in your interest and if it’s in the campaign’s interest. And the collective energy in the room, of course, there were some dissenters, but the collective energy in the room seemed to be interested.
TAPPER: Collective energy? Was Donald Trump interested?
PAPADOPOULOS: The candidate, you know, he gave me sort of a nod. He wasn’t committed either way but it was — I took it as he was thinking.
TAPPER: Senator Jeff Sessions was there, too.
TAPPER: At the table—what was his response?
PAPADOPOULOS: My recollection was that the senator was actually enthusiastic about a meeting between the candidate and President Putin.
TAPPER: So you say that then senator now Attorney General Sessions was enthusiastic about the idea of candidate Trump meeting Putin, but he has said the exact opposite. He says—he testified before Congress saying that he, quote, ‘pushed back’ when you raised the possibility of a meeting with Russia. That’s not true you’re saying?
PAPADOPOULOS: I don’t remember that.
TAPPER: You don’t remember him pushing back?
TAPPER: You remember him saying that is good idea?
PAPADOPOULOS: I remember him being enthusiastic of a potential meeting between the candidate and President Putin after I raised the question.
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN