Trump campaign aide repeatedly tried to set up meetings with Russian leaders including Putin: report
Donald Trump during CNN debate (Photo: Screen capture via video)

Three months before Donald Trump Jr. agreed to meet with an emissary for the Russia government to discuss potentially damaging information on Hillary Clinton, a foreign policy aide for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign repeatedly tried to set up meeting between the campaign and Russian leaders “including [Vladimir] Putin."

George Papadopoulos repeatedly offered to set up “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump,” the Washington Post reports. Papadopoulos reportedly told Trump campaign officials he was acting as an intermediary for the Russian government.

"Putin wants to host the Trump team when the time is right,” Papadopoulos wrote in an email to former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on April 27, 2016. He also told Lewamdowski he had fielded “a lot of calls over the past month” related to a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“Russia has been eager to meet with Mr. Trump for some time and have been reaching out to me to discuss,” Papadopoulos said in a separate email to former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

As the Post reports, Papadopoulos’ multiple attempts to arrange a meeting between Trump officials and Russia show the Kremlin was “looking for entry points and playing upon connections with lower-level aides to penetrate the 2016 campaign.”

“The bottom line is that there’s no doubt in my mind that the Russian government was casting a wide net when they were looking at the American election,” retired CIA agent Steven L. Hall told the Post. “I think they were doing very basic intelligence work: Who’s out there? Who’s willing to play ball? And how can we use them?”

The report flies in the face of blanket denials by members of the Trump campaign, including Lewandowski, who said earlier this year he doesn't "know of any person working on the campaign" that had contact with Russia.