Trump adviser pleads guilty to lying about talks with Russian intermediary about stolen emails

Timing is everything.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Washington. (CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Washington. (CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser for Donald Trump’s during the 2016 presidential campaign, has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russians and Russian intermediaries during the 2016 campaign. The conversations included discussions of emails stolen from the Clinton campaign.

According to papers unsealed on Monday morning, Papadopoulos was quizzed by federal agents in January examining whether there were any links between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government. Papadopoulos was asked about his relationship with an unnamed foreign professor who, according to the indictment, was understood to have “substantial connections to Russian government officials.” Papadopoulos told FBI agents that the professor was a “nothing” and the pair didn’t have any meaningful communications but now admits he was lying. 

Significantly, in April 2016, the professor told Papadopoulos that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including “thousands of emails.” The emails of John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chair, were hacked by the Russians in March 2016.

The indictment adds that Papadopoulos “repeatedly sought to use the professor’s Russian connections in an effort to arrange a meeting between the campaign and Russian government officials.”

Papadopoulos was singled out by Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers and an “excellent guy” during an interview with the Washington Post in March 2016. He can been seen in this photo, third from the left, discussing foreign policy with Trump and other advisers.

In June 2016, top campaign officials — campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner — met with Russians who said that they had damaging information on Clinton from the Russian government.

Papadopoulos is also alleged to have coordinated with a “Female Russian National,” described in the emails as Putin’s niece, in order to set up a meeting between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The Russian female said that she’d be “very pleased to support initiatives between our two countries,” and the emails continued during the majority of the presidential campaign.

Papadopoulos was also encouraged by an unnamed senior campaign adviser to make an “off the record” trip to Russia to meet with his contacts in person. The meeting never transpired.

Crucially, the indictment also read that evidence for the current charges does not “constitute all of the facts known to the parties concerning the charged offense.” This would suggest that, as Mueller and his team dig deeper, more charges could be filed.