On this monumental Monday in American political history, it seems appropriate to examine the so-called fake news that’s been whipping around the nether since Mr. Trump slithered into the national conscience. Today it bit him on his luxurious, padded behind.
And what a marvelous lesson.
Mr. Trump’s never understood that most journalists, like cops and lawyers and doctors, strive for honesty in their reporting. Their accuracy and integrity is the mantle on which they place their authority to tell the rest of the nation what is true.
Mr. Trump, on the other hand, attracts sleazy little people with no regard for human decency, much less the government they tried to suborn. Such a person is obscure Mr. George Papadopoulos, one of three nefarious characters in Mr. Trump’s cabal of buffoons and scalawags who got gobsmacked after coffee this morning.
Our subject was living in London in the spring of 2016 when his bit of perfidy began. Forgive the use of his given name after first reference, but it is so tedious to spell out his family name over and over. The smidgeon of disrespect is intended.
“In early March 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS learned he would be a foreign policy advisor for the [Trump] Campaign,” his indictment reads.
George told the FBI that he “understood that a principal foreign policy focus of the Campaign was an improved U.S. relationship with Russia.”
Not so fast, said Sarah Huckabee Sanders at Monday’s White House press briefing. She characterized George as a do-nothing nobody and dismissed the indisputable fact he somehow wormed his way into getting indicted by a federal grand jury, guided by the pre-eminent law enforcement official in the United States. Things like that make sense in Trumplandia.
When George started lying, the FBI already had an open investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, “including the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination.”
The opposition is already circling its wagons. Soon, America will again hear how Mr. Trump is a victim of the Deep State. One of his proxies will bring up little George’s credibility, claiming he is a weak man, susceptible to intrigue.
George’s pain is contained in a 14-page indictment handed up by a D.C. Federal District Court for lying multiple times to FBI agents. That is a felony.
The government kept both the indictment and George’s Oct. 5 guilty plea secret until Monday. Maybe it was because Mueller has his own subtle sense of drama. After all, little George came totally out of left field.
A really awesome narrative in the indictment is Count 5, titled “PAPADOPOULOS’s Introduction to the Professor and the Female Russian National.” Spy novels are made of this stuff.
“On or about March 14, 2016, while traveling in Italy, defendant PAPADOPOULOS met an individual who was a professor based in London.” Initially, the professor seemed “uninterested in defendant,” the narrative reads. “However, after defendant informed the Professor about his joining the Campaign, the Professor appeared to take great interest” in him. The professor told George he had “substantial connections with Russian government officials.”
George liked the idea. Big connections would make him a big shot.
On March 21, 2016 the Trump Campaign “told The Washington Post that George was one of five named foreign policy advisors for the Campaign.”
Three days later, George hooked up with the mysterious professor and an equally enthralling “female Russian national,” introduced as “a relative of Russian President Vladimir Putin” with connections to senior Russian government officials. It was a lie. George had been hooked like a slow carp.
Three days later, George met Putin’s purported niece and the Russian Ambassador in London. The topic of their discussion was “to arrange a meeting between U.S. and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.”
When so informed, the “Campaign Supervisor” in the United States responded that he would “work it through the campaign,” but that no commitments should be made at that point. The Campaign Supervisor added: “Great work.”
A week later George attended “a national security meeting” in Washington with then-candidate Trump and other foreign policy wonks. Trump says he scarcely remembers the man. After promising much in D.C., George went back to London, where he waited in vain for the Professor and the Female Russian National to introduce him to the Russian Ambassador in London.
In early April, George sent “multiple e-mails to other members of the Campaign’s foreign policy team” regarding his contacts with “the Russians” and his “outreach to Russia.”
On April 10, 2016, George e-mailed the Female Russian National, who responded the next day. She said she was “very pleased to support your initiatives between our two countries.”
George suggested a policy trip to Moscow.
The Professor responded later that day: “This is already been agreed. I am flying to Moscow on the 18th for a Valdai meeting, plus other meetings at the Duma.” The Duma is a Russian government legislative assembly.
The Female Russian National responded: “I have already alerted my personal links to our conversation and your request. . . . As mentioned we are all very excited by the possibility of a good relationship with Mr. Trump. The Russian Federation would love to welcome him once his candidature would be officially announced.”
The next few weeks must have been maddening for George. He kept e-mailing important Campaign people to consider getting Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin together. On the last day of April, George thanked the Professor for his “critical help” in arranging a meeting between the Campaign and the Russian government.”It’s history making if it happens,” he added.
On June 1, George e-mailed the Campaign Supervisor about “Messages from Russia.” He told the supervisor the Russians were eager to know if Mr. Trump was going to make the trip to Moscow to meet Mr. Putin.
Instead of answering George, the official e-mailed another campaign official and said, “Let’s discuss. 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.”
After several weeks of further communications regarding a potential “off the record” meeting with Russian officials, on Aug. 15 the Campaign Supervisor told George, “I would encourage you” and another foreign policy advisor to the Campaign to “make the trip, if it is feasible.”
The trip did not take place. For all intents and purposes, George had shot his bolt.
On Jan. 27, 2017, George agreed to be interviewed by agents from the FBI. They told him the FBI was investigating interference by the Russian government in the 2016 presidential election and whether any individuals related to the Campaign were involved. The agents warned George that he could get “in trouble” if he lied. He didn’t listen.
The FBI interviewed George again on Feb. 16, almost a year after he started working for Mr. Trump. By now he had a lawyer. George reiterated his purported willingness to cooperate with the FBI’s investigation. The next day he deactivated his Facebook account, which he had maintained since 2005, deleting all information about communications he had with the Russians. Then he changed his phone number.
It was too little too late.
George was arrested on July 27, 2017. In early October he pled guilty to lying to FBI agents. On Oct. 5, 2017, the grand jury decided George had “made material false statements and material omissions during an interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation that took place on Jan. 27, 2017.”
Such are the kind of people Mr. Trump selected to run his campaign. So sad!