The Russia probe, under special counsel Robert Mueller, has loomed large over President Donald Trump's first year in office. But it took an amazing turn in October when a little known aide named George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents. I'm Sarah Lynch and I cover the Justice Department for Reuters in Washington.
Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia has led so far to charges against four people in Trump's inner circle. Including former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. But it was the plea deal that Mueller announced with Papadopoulos that revealed, for the first time, that they were looking into contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.
It also showed that George Papadopoulos was attempting to try and broker meetings between President Trump or President Trumps' surrogates and Russia. The White House has sought to distance themselves and downplay the George Papadopoulos charges as well. They said he's a low level coffee boy. Somebody who didn't have any deep impact on the campaign.
About a month after Papadopoulos's plea deal was first revealed, Michael Flynn became the first former member of Trump's Administration to plead guilty in Robert Mueller's investigation. He was also charged with lying to the FBI. What was most interesting about that, was a statement of facts that came along with his deal which laid out, in depth, conversations he had with Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
And the back and forth conversations that he had between top ranking Trump officials about what to say to Russia.>> Are you concerned about what Michael Flynn might tell the special counsel?>> No, I'm not, and what has been shown is no collusion, no collusion. There's been absolutely no collusion, so we're very happy.
>> We now know that Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos are both cooperating with Mueller. We don't know where this is gonna lead next, but we don't think it's going to wrap up anytime soon, as Trump's lawyers have predicted. Trump has said he has no plans to fire Mueller.
And all indications suggest that this investigation is going to be going on for quite some time, well into 2018.