Stephen Miller had regular contact with adviser on ‘open invitation’ for Trump to visit Russia

Emails show Miller and campaign advisor George Papadopoulos discussed Russia contacts, according to the New York Times.

George Papadopoulos, third from left, attends a national security meeting with President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and others in March 2016. (Donald Trump/Twitter)
George Papadopoulos, third from left, attends a national security meeting with President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and others in March 2016. (Donald Trump/Twitter)

George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who has pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators, emailed White House policy adviser Stephen Miller during the presidential campaign about an “open invitation” for then-candidate Donald Trump to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, according to a report Friday in The New York Times.

The report, based on interviews, emails, and documents reportedly reviewed by the Times, adds fresh details to court documents unsealed last month, after Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators.

“Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar,” President Donald Trump tweeted about Papadopoulos after the documents were first unsealed.

But in March 2016, Trump himself posted a picture on Instagram of Papadopoulos at a foreign-policy meeting with Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and other campaign advisers. A few days earlier, he had also called Papadopoulos an “excellent guy” in an interview with the Washington Post editorial board.

The court documents released last month mentioned the emails between Papadopoulos and Miller, but they did not mention Miller by name. The new Times report publicly reveals Miller as the recipient of those emails for the first time and raises more questions about former campaign officials’ claims that Papadopoulos acted of his own accord rather than on behalf of the campaign.

Papadopoulos was one of several advisors in the Trump campaign, including Miller and former White House advisor Sebastian Gorka, whose ambition outstripped their résumés and their expertise. In March 2016, Papadopoulos met in London with Joseph Mifsud, an ambitious Maltese academic with similarly spotty credentials. With Mifsud was Olga Polonskaya, a 30-year-old Russian woman whom he introduced to Papadopoulos as Putin’s niece. There was just one problem: Putin has no niece.

Over the following month, according to the court documents and the Times report, Papadopoulos stayed in regular touch with Mifsud and Polonskaya, on one hand, and with Trump campaign officials, on the other. However, one of Papadopoulos’s Russian contacts, the well-placed academic Ivan Timofeev, has painted the campaign advisor’s attempts to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin as naive and ham-fisted.

“Our conversations made it clear that George was not well acquainted with the Russian foreign political landscape,” Timofeev reportedly told Gazeta.ru in August. “You obviously can’t just go and set up a meeting with the president, for instance. Things just aren’t done that way.”

Despite their spotty credentials, Mifsud and Papadopoulos shared a closely held secret one month after their first meeting in London. Over breakfast, the Times reports, Mifsud told Papadopoulos about “thousands of emails” in Russia’s possession that showed “dirt” on Trump’s rival. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

No evidence has come to light yet showing that Papadopoulos shared that secret with others in the Trump campaign, according to the Times. If it does, more campaign officials could find themselves in legal jeopardy. Citing “an official familiar with those discussions,” the Times reports that several campaign officials have told federal investigators they did not have advance knowledge of the email hack.