Jeff Sessions, Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice, speaks at the dedication for the United States Courthouse for the Southern District of Alabama in Mobile, Ala. on Sept. 7, 2018.
Dan Anderson—AP/REX/Shutterstock
By Ben Brody / Bloomberg
September 9, 2018

A foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign said Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not push back on a proposed meeting between the presidential candidate and Russian President Vladimir Putin as Sessions has testified.

George Papadopoulos, who was sentenced Friday to 14 days in jail for lying to investigators, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that, at a March 2016 campaign meeting, Sessions was “enthusiastic” about the proposed summit with Putin. Papadopoulos told campaign officials that he could help broker the meeting through his contact with a professor.

Sessions testified before Congress last November that he’d “pushed back” on the idea.

“I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government or any other foreign government,” Sessions said at the time.

“All I can say is, my recollection differs from his at this point,” Papadopoulos said Sunday. The former adviser said Trump, also present at the meeting, “nodded” at the idea of meeting with Putin.

“I don’t think he was committed either way,” Papadopoulos said of Trump. “He was open to the idea and he deferred” to Sessions, then a U.S. senator from Alabama who was advising the campaign.

Admitted Lying

Papadopoulos, who admitting lying to investigators about his contacts with the academic, became the first person to plead guilty in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

On Sunday, Papadopoulos said he couldn’t recall telling anyone on the campaign about information he received from a academic about Russia having thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails, but he said the campaign was “fully aware” that he continued to pursue the Putin meeting.

Asked whether Mueller’s investigation will demonstrate there was collusion, Papadopoulos said he doesn’t know but “all I can say is that my testimony might have helped move something towards that.”

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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