Acosta Presses White House on Papadopoulos' Role in Campaign: 'How Is It Not Collusion?'

October 30, 2017

CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta sparred with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday about George Papadopoulos's role in the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, asking, "How is this not collusion?"

"How can you describe Mr. Papadopoulos as having a limited role when there's a photograph of Mr. Papadopoulos sitting at a table with then-candidate Trump—" Acosta began.

"We have thousands of photographs with millions of people," Sanders interjected.

Papadopoulos was a volunteer foreign policy adviser on Donald Trump's campaign who is cooperating with federal investigators after pleading guilty earlier this month to making false statements. The former aide was initially arrested in July as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian collusion after making false statements in January in order to disguise his contacts with Russians whom he thought had "dirt" on Clinton, according to court documents.

While Sanders asserted that the former aide had a limited role in the campaign, Acosta continued to press the issue.

"He was also cited by then-candidate Trump in a meeting with the Washington Post as to who his top foreign policy advisers are. That seems to fight against what you're saying," Acosta said before continuing his question.

"And also, how is it not collusion when George Papadopoulos was in contact with various people who are promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, a series of events that closely mirrors what occurred with the president's own son," Acosta asked.

"This individual was on a—" Sanders said before Acosta interjected.

"They contacted Russians in pursuit of information that was damaging about the Clintons. How is all of that not collusion?" Acosta asked.

"This individual was the member of a volunteer council that met one time over the course of a year. And he was part of a list that was read out in the Washington Post. I hardly call that some sort of regular adviser," Sanders said.

Sanders reiterated that Papadopoulos volunteered for the campaign and held little influence.

"He was not paid by the campaign. He was a volunteer on a council that met once," Sanders said.

Several reporters jostled for a chance to ask a question, but Acosta pushed ahead.

"With the activity, he was pursuing information from the Russians," he said.

"Again, he was a volunteer. That's something you need to ask him. I'm not here to speak on behalf of the thousands of people that may have volunteered on the campaign," Sanders said.