The Russia Investigation: George Papadopoulos

Russia Investigation image by Lenny Ghoul.

Back in October of last year, George Papadopoulos accepted a guilty plea for making false statements to the FBI about contacts he had with representatives of the Russian government who were seeking an improved relationship between the US and Russia. These overtures occurred while Papadopoulos was a foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign.

In March, 2016, when Trump announced his foreign policy advisers, he described Papadopoulos as an “excellent guy.”  Once news of the plea agreement broke in October of 2017, Trump dismissed Papadopoulos as a “low level volunteer,”  while Michael Caputo referred to him as a “coffee boy” who “never had a role in the campaign.”

In late 2015, Papadopoulos sent his resume to Ben Carson’s campaign, according to an article at Time:

“All the of the Republican foreign policy establishment was working for [Jeb] Bush or Marco [Rubio],” recalled Barry Bennett, who was Ben Carson’s campaign manager at the time. “It was utter and total desperation to find people.”

So when a resume from an unknown young man named George Papadopoulos arrived, unsolicited, at the Carson campaign headquarters, Bennett gave it more attention than it may have deserved.

In a December 8, 2015 press release, the Carson campaign announced the members of its National Security and Foreign Policy Advisory Committee.  Papadopoulos was described as having been “an analyst and research fellow/associate at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C. His research predominantly focused on the geopolitics and energy security changes of both the Caspian and Eastern Mediterranean and their impact on U.S. strategy.”  

More from the Time article:

“No one in the Carson campaign remembers much about Papadopoulos, perhaps in part because he worked remotely from Chicago,” Bennett said. “If there was any work output, I never saw it,” he told TIME. “It never ended up on my desk.”

“I don’t remember the guy,” Shermichael Singleton, Carson’s communications director told TIME. “I remember his name in emails, but I can’t remember meeting him. I don’t want to lie — maybe we did meet once or twice — but I don’t remember it.”

Jason Osborne, another senior official in Carson’s campaign, had an equally muddy recollection. “Honestly I only remember his name because it was unique and reminded me of Webster,” he wrote in an email to TIME, referencing a television show from the late 1980s that featured the Papadopolis family.

Papadopoulos received only a partial payment for his Carson campaign work in February, 2016.  By the following month, he was recruited by Sam Clovis to join Trump’s foreign policy team.

From the “Statement of the Offense” filing against Papadopoulos:

In early March 2016, defendant PAPAPDOPOULOS learned he would be a foreign policy adviser for the [Trump] Campaign. Defendant PAPAPDOPOULOS was living in London, England, at the time. Based on a conversation that took place on or about March 6, 2016, with a supervisory campaign official (the “Campaign Supervisor”), defendant PAPAPDOPOULOS understood that a principal foreign policy focus of the Campaign was an improved U.S. relationship with Russia.

On March 14, 2016, while traveling in Italy, Papadopoulos met Josef Mifsud, who claimed to be a professor based in London.  Mifsud seemed uninterested in Papadopoulos until he learned the younger man had joined the Trump campaign.  Mifsud also claimed he had substantial connections to Russian government officials, which Papadopoulos thought could increase his importance as a foreign policy adviser to the campaign.

Also according to the Statement of the Offense, on or about April 26, 2016, Papadopoulos again met with Josef Mifsud for breakfast at a London hotel.  Mifsud mentioned he’d just returned from a trip to Moscow, where he met with high-level Russian government officials.  Mifsud also said that the Russians had “dirt” on Clinton, which included “thousands of emails.” Mifsud’s revelation came at a time when it wasn’t common knowledge that the DNC servers had been hacked.

The DNC hired Crowdstrike to find out who hacked their servers. According to Crowdstrike’s public report on the matter, by April, 2016, both the Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear Russian hacker groups had breached the DNC servers and stolen thousands of emails.

By May, Papadopoulos was working hard to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin.  On May 21, 2016, he sent an email to a high-ranking campaign official with the subject line, “Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump.”  It included this sentence: “Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out to me to discuss.”

In spite of Papadopoulos and Russia’s eagerness for a Trump-Putin meeting, campaign officials weren’t as keen on the idea.  A campaign official sent out an email which said, “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”  Throughout the summer, Papadopoulos continued to pursue an off the record meeting between one of more campaign representatives (including himself) and members of President Putin’s office and the MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).  Papadopoulos never made such a trip for the campaign.

Also in May of 2016, according to a New York Times article, Papadopoulos said a little too much during a night of heavy drinking:

During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.

Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.

The hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the F.B.I. to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired.

In July 2017, Papadopoulos was arrested and later cooperated with investigators, which led to his guilty plea for making false statements.

In December of last year, Papadopoulos’s then-fiancee pushed back against claims he was a low-level volunteer and coffee boy.  She even said he’d prove to be the Russia investigation’s “John Dean.”

However, earlier this month, his now-wife made several media appearances in which she asked President Trump to pardon her husband, claiming that he’d been set up by Western intelligence agencies.  “I used to compare him to John Dean, (but) I never meant to make this comparison in the sense that it would lead to the president’s impeachment,” she said.



Connected To

Donald Trump

Sam Clovis

Joseph Mifsud

Vladimir Putin


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