The George Papadopoulos plea deal is now Trump's big problem - Macleans.ca
 

The George Papadopoulos plea deal is now Trump’s big problem

Scott Gilmore on the reasons why details from the Trump campaign’s foreign policy advisor are staggering and scandalous


 
George Papadopoulos Former Advisor at Donald J Trump for President. (LinkedIn)

George Papadopoulos Former Advisor at Donald J Trump for President. (LinkedIn)

Today was supposed to be about Paul Manafort. Over the weekend, news leaked that the Justice Department would be issuing indictments first thing Monday morning as part of their investigation into allegations the Russian government interfered in the presidential election. Journalists, guessing it would be Trump’s former campaign manager Manafort, camped outside his house and the nearest FBI office.

They were not disappointed. Indictments were issued for Manafort and for his colleague, Rick Gates. The charges are for tax evasion, and are not directly related to the Trump campaign, but nonetheless this was the most dramatic development in the scandal since former FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to lead the inquiry. Until about 90 minutes later.

Just after Manafort delivered himself to the FBI office, news broke that George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, had pleaded guilty to perjury. The details of the plea deal are staggering, and the implications are far more important than the Manafort indictments for several reasons.

  1. This is the first substantiated evidence that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. The details of the charge against Papadopoulos make it explicitly clear that members of the president’s campaign team were in regular contact and actively working with Russians they knew to be connected to or part of the Russian government. At one point, Papadopoulos even believed one of his Russian interlocutors was Vladmir Putin’s niece.
  1. The Trump campaign was in contact with the Russian government explicitly to obtain “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of illegally obtained “thousands of emails”. This was not about simply making friends or comparing notes in an effort to flesh out Trump’s foreign policy platform. The campaign team was looking for Russian help to win the election.
  1. This contact with the Russians was well known within the campaign and even encouraged. Papadopoulos was regularly updating a “senior policy advisor” and his “campaign supervisor”. At other points he was in contact with two “high ranking campaign officials” as described by the FBI. And Papadopoulos was not pestering them to make contact with the Russians, which is how it was described in the past. He had been told that Russia was a Trump priority and his efforts to make contact were approved. He was even told he was doing “great work” and was encouraged by his supervisor to travel to Russia to have in-person meetings with the Kremlin officials.
  1. Even Trump knew. In at least one meeting, Papadopoulos briefed Trump in person about his conversations with the Russians. Notably, this meeting took place not long before Trump began to publicly call on Moscow to release Clinton’s emails.
  1. And they knew it was wrong. Papadopoulos, after being warned by the FBI that making any false or misleading statements was a federal crime, still tried to hide all the details of his Russian contacts. And then he attempted to cover his tracks by deleting his Facebook account that contained records of his messages to the Russians and got rid of the cell phone he had used. You don’t do that if you think what you were doing was innocent.
  1. It shows that a member of the Trump campaign with first hand knowledge of the Russian collusion has been flipped by the FBI, and is now giving evidence against his former colleagues. As a liaison between the campaign and the Russian government, Papadopoulos appears to be critically important to the investigation and is ideally placed to know the most important details of the alleged collusion.
  1. And, finally, the Papadopoulos plea deal reveals that the FBI was on this months earlier than anyone realized. He is accused of lying during interviews with the Bureau that took place only seven days after Trump’s inauguration. Today’s revelations only reflect what they found out at the beginning of this investigation. What have they uncovered in the nine months since?

In short, the unexpected unsealing of the Papadopoulos guilty plea reveals that the months of speculation and rumour regarding possible connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government are not only true, but represent what can only be described as the biggest political scandal in recent history. And this is only Mueller’s opening move.

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The George Papadopoulos plea deal is now Trump’s big problem

  1. From what I think is the only footnote in the plea agreement document, it is absolutely clear to me that Trump knew, i.e., a smoking gun, what was going on. “… it should be someone low level in the campaign [to visit the Russian contacts] so as not to send any signal.” (rather than “DT”). I absolutely agree that the plea agreement reveal is much more damning than the Manafort and Gates indictment. Here’s the link to the plea agreement: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4163402/Papadopoulos-Statement-Offense.pdf

  2. Scott Gilmore isn’t a reporter, he’s a sensationalist. He does this several ways here:
    -He says Papadopoulos (Mr. P for the rest of this) has flipped. Not so, he got scared into telling the truth about the timing of discussions. The content was always right.
    -It is never said in the indictment that Mr. P met with Trump as Gilmore claims.
    -No meeting with the Russians to collect “the dirt” ever took place. Intent is not a crime-acting is.
    -He says it shows “members” of the Trump campaign were in regular contact with the Russians. Not so, it shows that one member was and that it never resulted in any meeting to collect dirt on Clinton.
    -this should be viewed as “operational research”. That’s what Clinton’s henchmen call the $10 million they spent to have a retired Brit MI5 agent work with the Russians to produce a phony piece of dirt on Trump.
    -Trump wanted to improve relations with Russia, which Obama and Clinton had left in tatters (particularly after Clinton spent $110 million trying to undermine the Russian election of Putin). So, having staff members work to set up a liaison post election seems quite appropriate.

    The next big investigation will be regarding the $145 million that flowed into the Canadian wing of the Clinton Foundation associated with the Obama/Clinton administration selling 20% of U.S. uranium supplies to Russia. Now that’s one I’d like to see at least one member of the MSM have the guts to start discussing.

  3. Funny because this just came out “White House: Trump campaign gave Papadopoulos emails to special counsel”. So much for the 7 point plan, it just got debunked.

  4. The idea that this shows the first contact with Russians is silly. The info was provided by the WH.

    Trump Jr. Emails released by his own admission to Muller on July this year states:

    Shows Trump Jr. conversing with a music publicist who wanted him to meet with a “Russian government attorney” who supposedly had dirt on Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” The messages reveal that Trump Jr. was told the Russian government had information that could “incriminate” Clinton and her dealings with Russia.

    So by Trump’s Jr. own admission, the above occurred and they had contacts and conversations with Russians, and Trump officials (including Trump Jr.) So Trump Jr. ALREADY came forward with such information in July this year. No one paid for information, and no one released information associated with Trump’s campaign in regards to some Russian officials. So even offers by Russian officials, or offers of asking for information from Russian officials is not illegal – and there are several accounts of contacts with Russian officials. Trump Jr. was blasted by the media, but such actions were not illegal. Of course political parties reach out for information (of course any party going to reach out). I fail to see any difference here then what Trump Jr. admitted to doing in July, then this Papa figure (who was not really any kind official in the Trump campaign). This gives the MSM some red meat, but will not result in any challenge to the Trump campaign. Great fodder – but this amounts to a nothing burgar. The charges against Papa are NOT in regards to collusion – but only that of mixing up timelines. Muller played his best card yet, and it is grasping at straws – Papa would have been charged with something OTHER then just lying or miss-informing the FBI.
    If the charges against Papa were more serious – then the Papa cause would be more serious for Trump – as it stands now? Not a worry.

  5. As Scott Gilmore gleefully fantasizes about Pres. Trump’s inevitable impeachment and removal from Office, in reality, the Democratic Party, under the skillful leadership of the Obama and Clinton Crime Families with help from Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, is rapidly self-destructing behind Gilmore’s unsuspecting back.