— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 30, 2017
During Monday afternoon’s White House press briefing, despite the fact that press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders kicked of the session with a head-scratching parable about reporters drinking beer to try to explain Trump’s proposed tax plan, for some reason all anyone wanted to talk about was the Mueller indictments. In addition to the arrests of both Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, a third man, former campaign foreign advisor George Papadopoulos is pleading guilty to lying to the FBI.
When asked about Papadopoulos, Huckabee Sanders took a page from former press secretary Sean Spicer’s playbook and attempted to distance him by claiming that he not worked in an official capacity on the campaign. When pressed on the issue by Major Elliott Garrett, Chief White House Correspondent with CBS News, she said, “I mean he was a volunteer on the campaign, and a volunteer member of an advisory council that met one time.”
“So his activities were entirely of his invention,” followed Garrett. “No one asked him to do any of these things, that’s what you’re telling the American public?” “I’m telling you that he was a volunteer on an advisory council that literally met one time,” she repeated.
While we still don’t know exactly in what capacity Papadopoulos worked with the Trump campaign, cracks in Huckabee Sanders’ volunteer story are already starting to show, as it’s been pointed out by CBS reporter Rebecca Shabad that Papadopoulos’ LinkedIn account has him working as an advisor for Trump for 11 months.
Likewise, in an image posted to Trump’s own Instagram account from back in March of 2016 “meeting with [his] national security team” has Papadopoulos very clearly pictured around a table with the then-candidate.
Of course, it’s possible that this is the advisory council meeting that “literally met one time” Huckabee Sanders is referencing, but it seems unlikely. Either way, can expect more details as to the exact nature of Papadopoulos’ connection to the Trump campaign to come bubbling to the surface in the coming days and weeks.
UPDATE – 4:14pm EST: Yahoo News reports upon possible coordination between Papadopoulos and Trump associates regarding his communications with Russia, and USDA head Sam Clovis’ name popped up:
The court records unsealed Monday do not provide a clear account of how senior Trump officials followed up on Papadopoulos’s efforts to set up a meeting with Russian officials.
But they quote one unidentified campaign “supervisor” as emailing him in August 2016 that “I would encourage you” to make a trip to Moscow to arrange such a meeting. A Trump campaign source identified the supervisor as Sam Clovis, a conservative radio host who was co-chairman of the campaign.