For the past month, George Papadopoulos’ lawyer has made repeated appearances on television to discuss facets of the ongoing investigations into Russia’s interference efforts — but the networks on which she appeared never disclosed her ties to one of the Russia investigation’s key players.
Caroline Polisi began working as counsel for Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser recently sentenced for lying to the FBI, just over a month ago. (The filing noting Polisi’s relationship with Papadopoulos is dated as September 23, but Polisi told ThinkProgress that the date should be listed as August 23.)
Caroline Polisi, a lawyer and legal commentator who has regularly appeared on TV to talk about Trump's legal troubles, is now representing George Papadopoulos in the DNC's lawsuit against WikiLeaks and others, including Papadopoulos. pic.twitter.com/RajYY5IcdG
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) August 27, 2018
Polisi’s work relates to Papadopoulos’ role as a defendant in a massive lawsuit filed by the Democratic National Committee last April, which includes everyone from Donald Trump Jr. and Roger Stone to convicted felon Paul Manafort and the Russian government. The suit alleges a conspiracy between the parties to disrupt the 2016 election.
According to Law.com, Papadopoulos turned to the Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht firm for legal representation. Polisi took the lead, saying the firm has even begun advising Papadopoulos on potential congressional testimony. Papadopoulos appeared excited by the move, describing the firm as a group of “brilliant legal minds” on Twitter. Papadopoulos’ wife, Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos, praised Polisi in particular, calling her “amazing.”
I am proud to announce that the brilliant legal minds of Pierce Bainbridge have joined my legal team. @CarolinePolisi
— George Papadopoulos (@GeorgePapa19) September 14, 2018
— Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos (@simonamangiante) September 15, 2018
Despite the new client, Polisi has appeared multiple times on networks like CNN since her assignment on Papadopoulos’ case. In these appearances, Polisi has discussed different facets of the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.
But none of these appearances disclosed Polisi’s work with Papadopoulos.
Polisi told ThinkProgress she informed CNN of her relationship with Papadopoulos. “What the networks do is not my choice,” she said. She also added that she received an “ethics opinion regarding my obligations to [Papadopoulos] while commenting on the larger Russia investigation,” and said she canceled other media appearances that veered “too close” to Papadopoulos.
CNN did not respond to ThinkProgress’ questions.
While she’s never named Papadopoulos in any of her appearances over the past few weeks, Polisi has discussed other aspects of the Russia investigations — including Manafort, who was named in the DNC lawsuit alongside Papadopoulos.
On September 10, Polisi joined CNN host Erica Hill, who identified Polisi as a “white-collar criminal defense attorney.” The segment focused on the ongoing investigation into Maria Butina, the alleged Russian spy who infiltrated the National Rifle Association (NRA). Polisi mentioned that the prosecutors’ recent backtracking — they were forced to walk back allegations that Butina had offered sex for access — “highlights the bigger difficulty that prosecutors are having in the Russia investigation at large… I think it’s a pretty flimsy case against her.”
On Monday, Polisi appeared on CNN again, identified simply as a “criminal defense attorney.” Speaking with CNN host Poppy Harlow, Polisi discussed the ongoing saga surrounding Rod Rosenstein. “If Trump gets a yes-man [to replace Rosenstein in overseeing the Mueller probe], it could be really dangerous to the Mueller probe in general,” she said. “Because he could… sort of pump the brakes on the investigation in unseen ways. That wouldn’t be so transparent to the public but could really have disastrous effects on the investigation.”
CNN wasn’t the only network that booked Polisi and didn’t disclose her work for the former Trump adviser. A few days after signing on with Papadopoulos, Polisi tweeted out an appearance on BBC to discuss Manafort. Polisi told ThinkProgress she disclosed the relationship to BBC, which did not respond to ThinkProgress’ questions.
— Caroline Polisi (@CarolinePolisi) August 29, 2018
Polisi’s appearances mirror those of another high-powered attorney: Butina’s lawyer, who has landed in hot water multiple times over the past month for appearing on cable news to discuss Russian interference efforts — all while failing to disclose his own ties to ongoing investigations.
While CNN’s failure to disclose Polisi’s work is perhaps not as egregious as the lack of disclosure from Butina’s lawyer — who recently revealed that he had also worked on behalf of a client involved in Mueller’s investigation, to boot — it does point to the blurred lines swirling the myriad threads of the investigations into Russia’s interference efforts, and all of the fallout therein. Unfortunately, the refusal to highlight Polisi’s relationship with Papadopoulos leaves audiences that much worse off, and does that much more of a disservice to viewers who know nothing about the direct links to the Trump campaign adviser who kick-started the Russia inquiry in the first place.