One of the last remaining mysteries from a court filing against former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has been solved, and it raises numerous questions about a top White House adviser.
Stephen Miller, a former Senate aide to Jeff Sessions, was identified Friday night by The New York Times as the “senior policy advisor” referenced in a statement of offense released this month by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in a case involving Papadopoulos, an energy consultant who pleaded guilty last month to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians.
The Mueller document cited emails that Papadopoulos sent to the “senior policy advisor” in April 2016, one regarding a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump and another that referred to “interesting messages” that Papadopoulos had received “from Moscow.”
“The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to meet him when he is ready,” Papaopoulos wrote to Miller in an April 25 message.
Papadopoulos, 30, pressed for a meeting in London, where he was based during the campaign, saying that the “advantage” of a meeting there “is that these governments tend to speak a bit more openly in ‘neutral’ cities.”
Papadopoulos, who joined the campaign in March 2016, emailed Miller again two days later, just after he claims he was told that the Russian government had obtained “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands” of her emails.
“Have some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right,” Papadopoulos wrote in an April 27, 2016 message.
Papadopoulos told federal investigators that the day before that email to Miller, he had met in London with a professor named Joseph Mifsud.
The young campaign volunteer claimed that Mifsud has relayed that he had met with Russian government officials in Moscow who said that Russian operatives had obtained Clinton’s emails.
Mifsud’s claim came a month after Russians hacked into Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s Gmail account and before WikiLeaks published emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee.
It is unclear whether Miller responded to Papadopoulos’ emails, though The Times reports that the two were in frequent contact during the campaign.
Papadopoulos lied to FBI agents during two interviews earlier this year about his contacts with Mifsud, a former Maltese diplomat who appears to have some contacts within the Russian government. Mifsud introduced Papadopoulos to a female Russian national who The Times identified as Olga Polonskaya as well as to an official at a Russian think tank who claimed to have ties to Russia’s foreign ministry.
Mueller’s statement of offense stated that Papadopoulos lied to FBI agents about when he met the possible Russian operatives.
In meetings and emails with the trio, Papadopoulos discussed setting up meetings between the Russian government, including Putin, and members of the Trump campaign, including Trump himself.
Papadopoulos broached the idea of a meeting between Trump and Putin during a March 31, 2016 meeting of the Trump campaign’s newly formed national security advisory committee.
Trump, Sessions and Miller were in the meeting when Papadopoulos suggested that Trump meet with Putin. Trump was noncommittal, but Sessions eventually shut down the proposal.
It is still not known whether Papadopoulos told Miller or anyone else on the campaign about Mifsud’s claim.
Miller, who has been interviewed by Mueller’s team, did not respond to an emailed request for comment.