With news of a guilty plea on the part of former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, Washington DC is on edge, waiting to see if this is merely an opening salvo, and if, potentially, Papadopoulos was wearing a wire, and will implicate fellow Trump insiders.
He has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI, but the details outlined in his Statement of Offense are nothing short of a snooze. Essentially, the FBI has nailed him for misstatements regarding the timing and the perceived importance (to him) of the contacts.
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Papadopoulos’s efforts centered around arranging a meeting, with the Russian government that ultimately never took place. He was enticed by two foreign Russian nationals: one is referred to in the documents as “the Professor” while the other is merely described as a female Russian national who apparently claimed to be Vladimir Putin’s niece.
The “dangled bait” before him was a trove of Hillary Clinton emails, and a the promise of unspecified “dirt” on Hillary. Papadopoulos has confessed to lying to the FBI about the timing of the meetings; specifically, he claimed that the contacts with the Russian nationals occurred before he joined the campaign, but they really occurred subsequent to his joining the campaign as a foreign policy adviser.
Fundamentally, Papadopoulos comes across as a careless and inexperienced rookie. It is doubtful that these insignificant charges will pose any real threat to the Trump administration, but they certainly call into question why the Trump campaign would, even briefly, take someone as utterly incompetent as Papadopoulos on board.
Consider that Papadopoulos voluntarily spoke with FBI agents, in January and February of 2017. He was advised that he could have an attorney present, and that lying to the FBI was a crime. Following his second meeting with the FBI, he deleted his facebook account and changed his cell phone number. Clearly not the machinations of a savvy political operator.
As with Manafort and Gates, Trump has only himself to blame for letting such a bungling fool anywhere near the campaign.