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russia probe

A drunken Trump campaign aide may have accidentally launched the Russia probe

George Papadopoulos.

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who is charged with making false statements to federal agents and impeding the probe into alleged Trump team involvement in Russian election meddling, may have unwittingly launched the entire Russia investigation during "a night of heavy drinking," The New York Times reported Saturday.

Papadopoulos was in London in May of 2016, the Times report says, where he confided in Alexander Downer, the Australian high commissioner to the United Kingdom, that he knew Moscow had damaging information — specifically, leaked emails — on then-candidate Hillary Clinton. When leaked Clinton campaign emails surfaced two months later, Australian officials informed U.S. diplomats of Papadopoulos' comments, possibly serving as the basis of the probe.

The extent of Papadopoulos' significance in the Trump campaign and his connection to the president is disputed. Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo told CNN Papadopoulos was a mere "coffee boy," but President Trump called him an "excellent guy" in a Washington Post interview three months prior to the conversation the New York Times report describes.

The Australian government, the FBI, former Trump campaign chief and White House strategist Stephen Bannon, and Papadopoulos' attorneys all declined to comment to the Times. Read the full story here.