You remember George Papadopoulos, right? On October 5, George secretly pleaded guilty to making false claims to the FBI, a fact the world wouldn’t learn until October 30.
Subsequently, Donald Trump attempted to throw Papadopoulos under the bus, tweeting the following after learning that George was cooperating with Robert Mueller:
Yes, “few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George.” The problem is that according to a picture Trump shared on his official social media accounts, those “few people” who knew George include Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump:
Needless to say, that image cast considerable doubt on the President’s contention that Papadopolous was just “a low-level guy named George” of no consequence to the campaign.
Well sure enough, a slow and steady leak of information would reveal that Papadopolous was not in fact “a nobody.” His e-mails and the picture shown above would end up being the subject of considerable debate, ultimately i) playing a role in Sam Clovis’s decision to give up on his push to be the Department of Agriculture’s chief scientist, ii) prompting Carter Page to answer questions about his own e-mail exchanges with Papadopolous, and iii) forcing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to suddenly “remember” who George was.
On November 3, Trump made the absurd contention that he “couldn’t remember” the meeting depicted in the picture shown above despite having made it into a literal #MAGA poster.
— CNN (@CNN) November 3, 2017
Of course the issue here for the President is that “low-level” Papadopoulos “popped” up all over the damn place in the lead-up to the election including, hilariously, on a American Jewish Committee panel discussion with none other than Bob Corker:
But that’s not the only place Papadopoulos popped up.
As NBC noted in a piece out earlier this month, “in late September, just six weeks before Election Day, he gave an interview as a Trump campaign official to the Russian Interfax News Agency, where he said that Trump will ‘restore the trust’ between the U.S. and Russia’” and then about four months later, “he met with Israeli leaders during the inauguration as a foreign policy adviser for the newly-sworn in president.”
You get the idea. Papadopoulos was not just “a low-level guy named George.”
Hilariously, his fiancÃ©e (Simona Mangiante) ended up speaking to the media in an effort to debunk Trump’s “low-level” claims. In one interview with George Stephanopoulos, she said the following:
Heâ€™s no â€œcoffee boy.â€ Papadopoulos' fiancee tells me he was in contact with Bannon, Flynn and others during the campaign and tells me that she has seen the emails that can â€œillustrateâ€ that. https://t.co/ndBgkJHEoz pic.twitter.com/1x0EtN73C3
— GeorgeStephanopoulos (@GStephanopoulos) December 8, 2017
Well guess what? According to the New York Times, the FBI’s investigation into Russian election meddling was triggered by something a drunk Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat in London. To wit, from a bombshell piece out Saturday:
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 other words, the dossier that everyone is so laser-focused on was not in fact what prompted the FBI to open a counterintelligence investigation. Rather, it was something “a low-level guy named George” let slip while “drinking heavily” in London with a U.S. ally who then passed that information on to U.S. intelligence.
Long story short, Papadopoulos got the information about the e-mails from Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor with contacts to the Kremlin. Mifsud has been the subject of considerable debate since his connections to Papadopoulos were revealed in the plea agreement unsealed in late October.
According to the Times, Mifsud informed Papadopoulos about the “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in “late April” 2016. The e-mails the Times cites do not suggest he told the Trump campaign specifically about the stolen e-mails, but they do show that Papadopoulos notified Stephen Miller of “interesting messages coming in from Moscow.”
Shortly thereafter, he told the above-mentioned Alexander Downer about what Russia purportedly had on Clinton. “It is unclear whether Mr. Downer was fishing for that information that night in May 2016,” the Times goes on to note, adding that “it is also not clear why, after getting the information in May, the Australian government waited two months to pass it to the F.B.I.”
So much for the whole “low-level guy named George” line.
Obviously, the Trump administration is well aware of all this. If Papadopoulos couldn’t even keep himself from accidentally spilling the proverbial beans to Australia, you goddamn well know he told his associates on the Trump team.
Remember: Papadopoulos is now a cooperating witness for Robert Mueller.