President Donald Trump’s new acting attorney general has connections to two of the president’s campaign staff who were implicated in the Russia investigation — one of whom ended up pleading guilty to lying to the FBI.
Matthew Whitaker, who will temporarily replace outgoing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, chaired the Iowa state treasurer campaign of Sam Clovis in 2014 — an experience that left the two men close friends.
> “During the course of my run for the US Senate seat I gained many wonderful rewards. One of the greatest of those rewards was becoming great friends with Matt Whitaker. Matt and I found that we had a great deal in common and shared a strong faith in God and an unabashed love of nation. Thus, when the opportunity came for me to have my name placed on the ballot as the Republican nominee for Treasurer of State, Matt became the logical person to chair my campaign committee. His experience, wisdom and energy will allow him to guide our effort as we move toward victory in November. I am proud to have him chair my campaign committee and even prouder to call Matt my friend.”
> “I respect and admire Dr. Clovis,” says Matt Whitaker. “His life is an example of strong service to God and service to country. Dr. Clovis has the experience to be an active and successful state treasurer. For the last year, Sam and I campaigned across the state of Iowa and became friends. We became friends because we share similar goals: improving our state, improving our country and expanding freedom and liberty for all citizens. I admire Dr. Clovis and I am proud to be a part of his team. Iowans will have a clear choice for Treasurer of the State of Iowa: Dr. Sam Clovis.”
Clovis, who served as co-chairman of the Trump campaign, was the supervisor of foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.
Papadopoulos not only sparked the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia but also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russia-related activity during the campaign, as reported by The New York Times.
> During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.
> About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.
> Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.”
In October of 2017, it came to light that Clovis, who was co-chairman of the Trump campaign, was mentioned — not by name but as an unidentified campaign “supervisor” — in Papadopoulos’ guilty plea.
Yahoo News reported:
> The charges against Papadopoulos provide substantial new details about communications between the Trump campaign and figures close to the Russian government — a central part of the investigation by Mueller. The court records unsealed Monday do not provide a clear account of how senior Trump officials followed up on Papadopoulos’s efforts to set up a meeting with Russian officials. But they quote one unidentified campaign “supervisor” as emailing him in August 2016 that “I would encourage you” to make a trip to Moscow to arrange such a meeting. A Trump campaign source identified the supervisor as Sam Clovis, a conservative radio host who was co-chairman of the campaign.
The Washington Post also reported in October of last year that Clovis instructed Papadopoulos to “make the trip, if it is feasible,” in an August 2016 email.
> Papadopoulos was in contact with several senior Trump campaign aides about his efforts to broker a relationship between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the court papers show. In addition to Clovis, who now serves as senior White House adviser to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Papadopoulos wrote to campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and campaign chairman Paul Manafort, the newly released documents show.
Those documents released last year also showed that even if senior campaign officials paid little attention to Papadopoulos, they were well aware of his months-long efforts to connect Trump with Putin.
While Papadopoulos has left Trump’s orbit following his indictment, Clovis served as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s liaison to the White House until May of this year, after which time he left and returned to Iowa.
And Whitaker is now taking over as acting attorney general, which will place him at the head of the special counsel’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.