Why the Lesser-known Trump Campaign Aide George Papadopoulos Could be the Biggest News of the Day

by Kerry Eleveld –

Now that Donald Trump’s former campaign chief Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates have been indicted and former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos has pled guilty to misleading the FBI about his contacts with Russia, let’s breathe for a second and unpack what all this could mean.

Of all these developments, the one involving Papadopoulos, the lesser-known aide, may be the most interesting. First, he was not charged via indictment and has already admitted guilt, both of which suggest that he’s cooperating with the prosecution in the investigation. Remember, the last line of the charging document says that Papadopoulos was arrested on July 27, 2017:

Following his arrest, defendant PAPADOPOULOS met with the Government on numerous occasions to provide information and answer questions.

In fact, the feds’ original July 28 complaint against Papadopoulos stated that he “has indicated that he is willing to cooperate with the government” in its ongoing Russia probe.

Second, Papadopoulos’ knowledge from a Kremlin-linked professor that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails” came while he was serving on the Trump campaign team. Again from the charge:

In truth and in fact, however, defendant PAPADOPOULOS learned he would be an advisor to the Campaign in early March, and met with the professor on or about March 14, 2016,” reads the plea agreement.

And although Papadopoulos originally downplayed how connected the Russian professor was, the charge states:

In truth and in fact, however, PAPADOPOULOS had substantial connections to Russian government officials (and had met with those officials immediately prior to telling defendant PAPADOPOULOS about the “thousands of emails”…

Third, Jeff Sessions, was leading the foreign policy team that Papadopoulos was on.

On March 21, the Washington Postreported: “For the first time, Trump also listed members of a team chaired by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) that is counseling him on foreign affairs and helping to shape his policies: Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares and Joseph E. Schmitz.”

That was about a month before Trump’s big foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel on April 27, 2016, which also turned out to be more pro-Russian than probably any foreign policy speech given by a serious U.S. presidential candidate in decades. Potential conversations during that event between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Survey Kislyak have come under scrutiny, with Sessions admitting in June testimonythat it was “conceivable” that he spoke with Kisylak though he claimed he “did not recall” such discussions.

In any case, Papadopoulos will be filling out a narrative for both Mueller and a jury that goes beyond what can be gleaned by emails and other documents.

20/ Nonetheless, Papadopoulos will be very important to Mueller because he can provide an inside look at the Trump campaign.

21/ Having an insider explain to the jury what happened is really important because it tells a story in a way documents don’t tell alone.

The charging document states that from about mid- to late-April, “defendant PAPADOPOULOS and the Russian [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] Connection had multiple conversations over Skype and email about “setting the groundwork” for a “potential” meeting between the Campaign and Russian government officials.

The charge also states that during correspondence between Papadopoulos and a “Female Russian National” described in one email a “Putin’s niece,” the female Russian contact welcomed the suggestion of “a potential foreign policy trip to Russia”:

As mentioned, we are all very excited by the possibility of a good relationship with Mr. Trump. The Russian Federation would love to welcome him once his candidature would be officially announced.

Not specifically named but alluded to several times in the charge are several members of Team Trump labeled as a “Campaign Supervisor,” a “High-Ranking Campaign Official” and a “Senior Policy Advisor,” all of whom Papadopoulos corresponded with about potentially setting up a meeting with the Russians.

Papadopoulos was previously reported to have sent emails to campaign co-chair Sam Clovis, one-time campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and one-time campaign chair Paul Manafort.

Papadopoulos surely has plenty more to share and, although his lawyers have abstained from commenting at this time, they added in a statement on Monday:

“We look forward to telling all of the details of George’s story…”

One thing we look forward to hearing: the connection between these “thousands of emails” mentioned by the Russian professor to Papadopoulos around April 26, 2016. Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s email was hacked on March 19, 2016.

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos