George Papadopoulos has a story to tell about Donald Trump, Russia and Hillary’s emails

While it’s all well and good that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted yesterday, the big news was the FBI’s plea deal for Trump campaign senior foreign policy aide George Papadopoulos.

Papadopoulos, you’ll recall, in spite of Donald Trump’s claims today that he was a nobody, was in fact one of Trump’s top five foreign policy aides early on in the presidential campaign. Trump even included Papadopoulos in a list of top aides he gave to the Washington Post editorial board. At the time, Trump called Papadopoulos “an excellent guy.”

So, it’s well established that Papadopoulos had influence in the Trump campaign, as evidenced by his seat at the Trump foreign policy table during the campaign — he’s the third man from the left, facing the camera — Trump heads the table to the right.

What we’re trying to figure out now is what Papadopoulos did with the information given to him by a “professor,” who seemed to be acting as an intermediary for Russian intelligence (if not Russian intelligence himself), and who told Papadopoulos nearly 18 months ago that Moscow had “thousands” of stolen emails associated with Hillary Clinton. Papadopoulos was told about these emails before the email scandal was known publicly.

Keep in mind that Papadopoulos was wooed by this “professor” only days after Donald Trump publicly acknowledged Papadopoulos’ role in the campaign in March 2016. Within days, the professor introduced Papadopoulos to a woman claiming to be Vladimir Putin’s relative. And one month later, the man told Papadopoulos that he’d heard in Moscow that Russian intelligence had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton — namely, “thousands” of stolen emails.

Papadopoulos didn’t write the Russian intermediary off as a nut — something he initially claimed to the FBI. Instead, he reported back to his Trump campaign supervisor, believed to be now- Trump Department of Agriculture nominee Sam Clovis, about the ongoing meetings, and the Russians’ interest in eventually having Putin meet Trump. The intermediary professor even introduced Papadopoulos to the Russian ambassador to London. Trump’s supervisor Clovis told Papadopoulos he was doing “great work” with the Russians — so clearly the Trump campaign didn’t write off the Russian either.\

We don’t know, for example, what exactly Papadopoulos told his bosses, and which bosses were informed. Were they told that the Russians claimed to have thousands of Hillary’s emails? It’s difficult to believe that Papadopoulos kept this information to himself, especially after the story became nationwide news. So who did he tell on the campaign: Clovis, Sessions (who was heading up the foreign policy team), Don Jr., Kushner, Manafort, Trump himself?

And if he did tell anyone, why didn’t they call the FBI?

We do know that whatever Papadopoulos did with the explosive information he received from the Russians, it was worth lying to the FBI about. Now, why would he do that? Why would he lie about simply having contacts with a professor who knew some Russians? That’s not illegal. Nor is it illegal for the professor to introduce you to Putin’s relative, or even to tell you a rumor that Moscow had Hillary’s stolen emails. None of that is illegal, so why would you lie to the FBI about any of it?

It’s possible that Papadopoulos is simply an idiot, got scared, and tried to hide anything and everything from the FBI. But, it’s hard to believe that Papadopoulos is an idiot. And most honest Americans know what happens when you lie to the FBI — you go to jail. So it suggests that Papadopoulos felt he had something to hide.

It’s also possible that Papadopoulos, ever the loyal Trumper, was afraid that anything he said might incriminate Team Trump, even if Papadopoulos’ own actions weren’t illegal. For example, Jeff Sessions has repeatedly claimed under oath that he was unfamiliar with anyone on the campaign having contacts with Russians. If Papadopoulos briefed Sessions, by email, or in that larger meeting with Trump, about his Russian liaisons, then Sessions may have perjured himself (again). So that’s one possibility for why Papadopoulos lied.

It would also be embarrassing to the Trump campaign if word got out that they were informed by Russian intermediaries, even before the public knew, that the Russians had hacked Hillary’s people — and Team Trump didn’t bother contacting the FBI.

An even more nefarious possibility is that the Russians offered the Trump campaign the stolen emails, and the Trump campaign was interested. That perhaps this was the hot anti-Hillary information that the Russians dangled before Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort in their meeting with Putin’s agents at Trump Tower in June of 2016. And, it’s possible that Donald Trump Sr. knew that this was what the Russians were offering, when Trump wrote Don Jr’s statement lying about what transpired at the meeting. And it’s possible that these were the emails Trump Sr had on his mind when he publicly called on Russia to find and release Hillary’s emails. (Though, in fact, these were different emails, Trump Sr isn’t know for nuance — he could have easily confused the two.) If all of that is true, then the Trump Campaign was intimately involved in the hack against Democrats during the 2016 election, and that’s something worth hiding (if you’re a criminal).

Papadopoulos felt it necessary to lie to the FBI last January, and Trump felt it necessary to lie about Papadopoulos today. That’s more than enough to suggest that we have yet to hear the full truth. Here’s our latest podcast on yesterday’s indictments and Papadopoulos’ plea:


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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