EghtesadOnline: President Donald Trump said he doesn’t remember much about a March 2016 meeting in which a campaign foreign policy adviser raised the idea of seeking meetings with Russian officials and then continued contacts with Russian intermediaries.
Trump was also noncommittal in response to a question about whether he would fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The president has criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation and for allowing the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, according to Bloomberg.
“I don’t know,” Trump told reporters Friday on the White House lawn as he prepared to board Marine One for the first leg of trip to Asia. “I’m really not involved with the Justice Department.”
Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos’s contacts with Russian officials and the March meeting surfaced in court filings unsealed Monday related to Papadopoulos’s guilty plea on July 27 to lying to the FBI. The filings indicate the former adviser is now cooperating with Mueller’s prosecutors in their investigation.
“I don’t remember much about that meeting,” Trump said. “It was a very unimportant meeting -- took place a long time -- don’t remember much about it.”
The president said on Oct. 25, on his way to a fundraiser in Dallas, that he possesses “one of the great memories of all time.”
Papadopoulos attended a “national security meeting” on March 31, 2016, with then-candidate Trump and other foreign policy advisers, according to a “statement of the offense” unsealed with the former adviser’s guilty plea.
The court filing said Papadopoulos introduced himself to the group, saying he “had connections that could help arrange a meeting” between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Sessions chaired the meeting.
The group discussed the idea until Sessions ended the talks, a campaign adviser who attended the meeting, J.D. Gordon, told One America News Network in an interview.
“Senator Sessions shut down that discussion because it was a bad idea,” Gordon said. “He said, ‘I prefer if no one ever speaks about this again.’ And frankly, I thought that was the end of it. Senator Sessions thought that was the end of it.”
Papadopoulos also attended a summer meeting of the advisory group with Sessions, followed by a lunch, Gordon said.
Gordon said the campaign didn’t approve any meeting between Trump and Putin, and Papadopoulos was “basically ignored.”
Sessions, who as a Republican senator served as a top foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, testified in January that he wasn’t aware of any campaign contacts with Russia. After the account of the meeting and Papadopoulos’s interactions with Russians who claimed that Moscow had ”dirt” on Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton surfaced in the investigation this week, several Senate Democrats argued Sessions’s January testimony was untruthful.
Attack on Clinton
Trump repeated denials on Friday that his campaign worked in tandem with any Russian representatives and said that the special counsel should end its investigation. Federal prosecutors should turn their attention to allegations against Clinton and other Democrats, the president added.
“All I can tell you is this: There was no collusion,” Trump said. “There was no nothing. It’s a disgrace, frankly, that they continue.”
“They should be looking at the Democrats,” Trump added. “They should be looking at a lot of things, and a lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department, including me.”
A Justice Department spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, declined to comment on the president’s remarks.
Senator Dianne Feinstein did not.
"The president’s repeated calls for the Justice Department and FBI to investigate Hillary Clinton are deeply disturbing," the California Democrat said in a statement. “They show his contempt for the rule of law and undermine the faith in our justice system.”
"We can’t allow ourselves to become numb to the president of the United States calling on independent law enforcement organizations to investigate his political opponents," she continued. "That’s characteristic of authoritarian regimes, not democracies, and it needs to stop."