Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he sees nothing wrong a former campaign adviser to US President Donald Trump reaching out to a Kremlin-linked think tank.
Court papers unsealed on Monday revealed that George Papadopoulos who worked on the Trump campaign had reached out to a Russian he believed to have links to the Russian foreign ministry to arrange a meeting between the Trump team and Russian officials.
The Russian International Relations Council has confirmed contact with Papadopoulos, but said a meeting never took place. The council insisted that it was an independent advisory body and that it hosts many politicians at various public meetings.
Asked about the man mentioned in the indictment, Lavrov told reporters on Tuesday that he “does not see anything illegal” in the interaction.
Earlier Tuesday, the Kremlin said Russia is not implicated by the first criminal cases against associates of US President Donald Trump.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “so far Russia doesn’t figure in any way in these charges which have been made” and that Russia hopes that they do not feed “hysteria.”
Peskov added that accusations of Russian meddling in the election remain “unfounded,” and “we are observing (the situation) with interest.”
Peskov also said that connections between Papadopoulos and a man he believed to have links to the Russian Foreign Ministry did not prove any complicity by the Russian government.
In addition to Papadopoulos’ guilty plea, charges against Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates were also unsealed.
Manafort and Gates, who pleaded not guilty in federal court, are not charged with any wrongdoing as part of the Trump campaign, and the US president has sought to distance himself from the allegations, tweeting that the alleged crimes occurred “years ago,” and he insisted anew there was “NO COLLUSION” between his campaign and Russia.