CORAL GABLES, FL - MAY 22: Roger Stone, a longtime political adviser and friend to President Donald Trump, speaks during a visit to the Women's Republican...
Joe Raedle

Trump confidant met with Russian offering Clinton dirt during campaign

Updated

In the not-too-distant past, Donald Trump and his team insisted, repeatedly, that no one from the Republican’s operation had any contact with Russia during the 2016 campaign. It was, of course, one of Trump’s more important lies, which to date, has never been explained by anyone in his White House.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 12/18/17, 9:08 PM ET

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Rachel Maddow looks at how the Donald Trump campaign was already having contact with Kremlin-connected Russians as the FBI warned them about exactly such outreach, and points out that the texting scandal Republicans have tried to whip up is not actually
Indeed, late last year, Rachel had a segment counting up the large roster of Russians connected to Putin’s government who were in contact with Trump associates and it wasn’t a short list.

But even now, after all that’s happened in the Trump/Russia scandal, we’re still learning about previously unreported contacts. The Washington Post reported over the weekend:

One day in late May 2016, Roger Stone – the political dark sorcerer and longtime confidant of Donald Trump – slipped into his Jaguar and headed out to meet a man with a Make America Great Again hat and a viscous Russian accent.

The man, who called himself Henry Greenberg, offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton, Trump’s presumptive Democratic opponent in the upcoming presidential election, according to Stone who spoke about the previously unreported incident in interviews with The Washington Post. Greenberg, who did not reveal the information he claimed to possess, wanted Trump to pay $2 million for the political dirt, Stone said.

Stone, a longtime Republican operative, was no longer an official member of Trump’s operation at the time, though he had been part of the team and he’s advised Trump in a variety of capacities for decades. That said, according to Stone’s account, the meeting was arranged by Michael Caputo, who was a Trump campaign communications official in May 2016 and who later worked in the White House.

Caputo set up the meeting after “Greenberg” approached Caputo’s Russian-immigrant business partner, Sergey “George” Petrushin.

In terms of the broader timeline of events, the May 2016 meeting came in between George Papadopoulos learning of possible anti-Clinton dirt from Russia (in early May 2016) and the infamous Trump Tower meeting between Russians and top members of the Republican’s campaign team (in early June 2016).

Based on the latest reporting, neither Trump nor his associates gave any money to the man offering anti-Clinton information, but his chat with Roger Stone is reportedly of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller – and that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

After all, neither Stone nor Caputo mentioned anything about this meeting in response to questions from congressional investigators, and Stone previously claimed he never spoke with any Russians during the 2016 campaign.

Both men now say they “forgot” about the interaction – if a Russian offered me important information in exchange for $2 million, it probably wouldn’t slip my mind easily – but they were reminded after Mueller’s team showed Caputo text messages about the meeting.

The Post’s article added, “Caputo’s attorney on Friday sent a letter amending his House testimony.”

Stone, of course, was already a relevant player in the larger drama, thanks largely to his alleged WikiLeaks connections. His role continues to grow more significant.

Russia and Scandals

Trump confidant met with Russian offering Clinton dirt during campaign

Updated