Snippets of some 20,000 Trump campaign emails handed over to congressional investigators reveal repeated efforts by Russian officials to arrange meetings between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Washington Post reports. In a half dozen emails sent between March and September 2016, a Trump foreign policy adviser alerts campaign officials to the efforts and offers to arrange such a meeting. In one April email sent to campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, volunteer George Papadopoulos said Putin wanted to "host the Trump team when the time is right." Another email made clear the Russian International Affairs Council—with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on its board—was receptive to such a meeting, the Post reports.
But some within the Trump campaign seemed cautious. In a March email, campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis wrote, "We thought we probably should not go forward with any meeting with the Russians until we have had occasion to sit with our NATO allies." Paul Manafort later told a colleague, "We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips." Despite the apparent hesitation from members of Trump's campaign, senior officials including Manafort would go on to attend a meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016. Even so, a spokesperson for Manafort says his response to Papadopoulos' email shows "any invitation by Russia, directly or indirectly, would be rejected outright" and "is concrete evidence the Russia collusion narrative is fake news." (Read more Russia stories.)