Aside from the news of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates’s being ordered to surrender to federal authorities after their indictment was unsealed, a third former Trump campaign official made headlines on Monday. In this case, the honor belonged to former foreign advisor George Papadopoulos, who secretly pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in a series of false statements made during a prior interview. According to the New York Times, Papadopoulos had apparently lied about his having “contact with a Russian professor with ties to Kremlin officials.”
In a recently unsealed U.S. District Court filing from October 5th, the former Trump campaign official was charged with making “material false statements” and “material omissions during an interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation that took place on January 27, 2017.” Per the Times:
Mr. Papadopoulos admitted that in a January interview with the F.B.I., he lied about his contacts with a Russian professor, whom he knew to have “substantial connections to Russian government officials,” according to court documents. Mr. Papadopoulos told the authorities that the conversation occurred before he became an adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign. In fact, he met the professor days after joining the campaign.
The professor took interest in Mr. Papadopoulos “because of his status with the campaign,” the court documents said.
If the ex-Trump campaign foreign advisor’s name sounds familiar, that’s because he popped up in a previous report from the Washington Post in August. According to that report, internal campaign emails reveal Papadopoulos specifically offered to broker “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump.” Many campaign officials balked at the proposal, but Papadopoulos kept at it and, between March and September of that year, “sent at least a half-dozen requests for Trump” and “members of his team to meet with Russian officials.”
UPDATE: Reporters combing through the Papadopoulos indictment have honed in on a particular footnote regarding the ex-advisor’s attempt to set up a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. In an email comment about Papadopoulos’s May 21st email that left the lower-level staffer out, Manafort said, “Let[‘]s discuss. We need to communicate that DT is now doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times now reports Papadopoulos’s “professor” contact claimed Moscow had incriminating information on Hillary Clinton. “They have dirt on her,” the source apparently told the foreign advisor in the newly unsealed documents. “They have thousands of emails.” Aside from echoing the apparent reason for Donald Trump Jr.’s infamous Trump Tower meeting last summer, this news also coallates with the timeline presented by the unsealed indictment against Manafort and Gates.
UPDATE – 4:14pm EST: Yahoo News reports upon possible coordination between Papadopoulos and Trump associates regarding his communications with Russia, and USDA head Sam Clovis’ name popped up:
The court records unsealed Monday do not provide a clear account of how senior Trump officials followed up on Papadopoulos’s efforts to set up a meeting with Russian officials.
But they quote one unidentified campaign “supervisor” as emailing him in August 2016 that “I would encourage you” to make a trip to Moscow to arrange such a meeting. A Trump campaign source identified the supervisor as Sam Clovis, a conservative radio host who was co-chairman of the campaign.
(Via New York Times)