Senate intelligence chair on Papadopoulos: Had ‘constant contact with his legal team’

The Senate intelligence committee has been in “constant contact” with the legal team of George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who has pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI, the committee’s chairman told CNN on Tuesday.

Going into a Senate intelligence hearing, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina would not comment on Papadopoulos except to say his investigation and that of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller’s are “in two different lanes.” He said Papadopoulos was on their radar and that they had “constant contact with his legal team.”

The Senate intelligence committee has not interviewed Papadopoulos, a source familiar with the matter told CNN on Monday. The House intelligence committee also has not spoken with him, CNN also reported. The Senate panel had made an effort to secure an interview with Papadopoulos, the source said, and the committee’s Russia investigators have viewed the emails that were included in the court documents unsealed.

Those documents showed Papadopoulos meeting with a professor and Russian woman who had connections to Russian government officials, in which Papadopoulos was told that the Russians possessed “dirt” on then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”

Papadopoulos sent emails to Trump campaign officials seeking to set up meetings between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, as well as a possible Trump visit to Russia, which was never pursued.

Burr told CNN on Monday he didn’t think that the guilty plea from Papadopoulos or the 12-count indictment of Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates would change the course of his committee’s probe.

“I’m not sure that it changes anything for our investigation,” Burr said. “We certainly know a lot about Papadopoulos’ role in the campaign, as we do Manafort, and Gates.”

“We’ve always said there are two lanes, there’s one that looks at the potential of collusion of either campaign, and there’s a criminal pathway that we assume the special counsel is focused on pursuing,” Burr added. “And this is an example that they are focused on it.”

Both Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty to the charges in their indictment.

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the panel, told CNN on Monday that Papadopoulos was “direct evidence that someone with the campaign was being contacted by Russians with information they had lots of, so called ‘dirt,’ emails on Hillary Clinton.” He added, “There’s more questions to be answered.”