FBI investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election began after George Papadopoulos, then a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign, revealed to an Australian diplomat that Moscow had political dirt on Hillary Clinton, a report says.
Papadopoulos shared the damaging information with Alexander Downer, the Australian high commissioner to the UK, “during a night of heavy drinking” at the Kensington Wine Rooms in London in May 2016, says a report published by The New York Times on Saturday.
Downer was told that officials in Moscow had thousands of emails that could jeopardize Clinton’s candidacy, who was Trump’s Democratic rival.
Australia, part of the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance, with the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, passed that information on to the FBI two months later.
In addition, Papadopoulos had repeatedly tried to arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to The Times report.
In October, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russians during the campaign and now he is a cooperating witness.
Since July, he has been cooperating with US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed in May to oversee the federal inquiry into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign team and Russia.