Monday's revelation that former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents about his efforts to arrange meetings between the Trump campaign and the Russian government has delivered some explosive details about the Russian effort to help get Trump elected president.
However, buried within the announcement of Papadopoulos's guilty plea is a key footnote that may implicate the high-level officials within the Trump campaign in knowledge of collusion with the Russian government.
The footnote describes two top campaign officials' reactions to Papadopoulos's message that he was coordinating a "high-level" meeting between Trump and members of the Russian government. In fact, the former campaign aide even sent an email to someone described as a "high-ranking campaign official" with the subject line, "Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump."
The footnote states that this campaign official forwarded Papadopoulos's email to another campaign official, where he said that they needed to make it clear that they would not send Trump himself to Russia.
"Let[']s discuss," the official wrote. "We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal."
The key here is whether the Trump campaign official meant that it wanted a "low level" person within the campaign to communicate with the Russians -- or if it wanted that "low level" person to make a trip to Russia in place of Trump. If it's the latter intention, it could show that the Trump campaign knowingly colluded with the Russians to coordinate the release of what it believed to be Hillary Clinton's missing State Department emails.
One Kremlin-connected Russian professor reached out to Papadopoulos shortly after he took on a role with the Trump campaign in March 2016 and informed him that Russian intelligence services possessed "dirt" on Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails."
During the infamous Trump Tower meeting between Russian officials and key members of the Trump campaign in June 2016 -- including Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort -- the Russians similarly promised to reveal "dirt" on Clinton, while hinting that it had copies of her missing emails.
Taken together, the two events demonstrate at the very least a willingness to collude on the part of Trump campaign officials -- and the footnote at the bottom of the Papadopoulos announcement could be the gateway to even more concrete evidence.