The guilty plea entered in secret by George Papadopolous, a foreign policy advisor during President Donald Trump’s campaign, exposes a deliberate effort within the political operation to collude with the Russian government to influence American voters last year.
Papadopolous pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and he subsequently became an active cooperative helping collect evidence of crimes related to the Russian election meddling.
In particular, Papadopoulos lied “about the timing, extent and nature of his relationships and interactions with certain foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with senior Russian government officials,” according to the complaint.
Paul Manafort was at a June 2016 meeting organized by Donald Trump Jr. and also attended by the president’s son-in-law and senior White House aide, Jared Kushner. They met with with a Russian lawyer with Kremlin connections, a former Soviet Army counter intelligence officer and others.
However, the crimes with which the former campaign manager and his business partner are charged related to offenses that occurred prior to the time Manafort joined Trump’s political operation in March 2016 to help manage delegates going to the Republican National Convention, and later became campaign chairman.
Unlike Manafort’s alleged crimes, Papadopoulos affirmed actions that were directly related to the Trump presidential campaign, collusion with Russia and other aspects of the wide ranging conspiracy probe. A 14-page statement about crimes committed by Papadopoulos and signed by Mueller sets forth facts of the case directly linked to the campaign.
Mueller’s statement said that in March 2016, Papadopoulos met with a Russian woman, who was inaccurately described a relative of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he sought to use her connections to set up a meeting for campaign operatives with Russian government officials.
That was a month after emails were hacked from the Democratic National Committee and a key Hillary Clinton campaign official and two months before the first of those messages were released by Wikileaks.
In May, Papadopoulos sent an email to a “high-ranking campaign official” with the subject line “Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump,” in which he said Russian officials had been reaching out to meet the Republican candidate.
He sought emails from Russian government spies in March 2016, with the approval of higher authorities in the campaign, probably campaign manager Paul Manafort but possibly Jared Kushner or even Trump himself.
The evidence revealed in his guilty plea, including confirmation of the plot to involve Russia on behalf of Trump, is clearly an indicating of more to come.
Papadopoulos sent a July 2016 email to a foreign contact requesting a meeting with someone described as his “national chairman,” who appears to be Manafort, which was purportedly “approved from our side.”
A defiant White House seeks to direct attention to Hillary Clinton and her allies with the support of many Republicans in Congress and other GOP elected officials but the dam is breaking and political opportunists risk appearing disloyal to the country if they continue to place their leader above the law.
Papadopoulos’ guilty plea brings the Mueller probe into actions that occurred during the 2016 campaign.
More indictments are sure to follow.
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