THE STORY IN SUMMARY
A former campaign adviser to US President Donald Trump has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians, special counsel Robert Mueller said, while former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Manafort's business partner pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy against the United States and other counts.
The guilty plea by former adviser George Papadopoulos marked the first criminal case that cites interactions between Trump campaign associates and Russian intermediaries during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The developments ushered Mueller's sprawling investigation into a new phase with charges and possible prison sentences for key members of the Trump team including Manafort, who led the campaign during critical months, and Rick Gates, a campaign aide.
Analysts have been try to make sense of what it means while news keeps dripping out and commentators give their opinions.
Court papers also revealed that Papadopoulos was told about the Russians possessing "dirt" on Democrat Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails" on April 26, 2016, well before it became public that the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails had been hacked.
Papadopoulos has been cooperating with investigators, according to court papers, a potentially ominous sign for others in the Trump orbit who might be implicated by his statements.
Papadopoulos' lawyers hinted strongly in a statement that their client has more testimony to provide.
ANALYSIS AND OPINION
NEWS AND BACKGROUND