Why this man’s guilty plea is a bigger deal than the Manafort arrest
A professor with close ties to the Russian government told an adviser to Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign in April 2016 that Moscow had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” according to court documents unsealed Monday.
The adviser, George Papadopoulos, has pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about that conversation. The plea represents the most explicit evidence that the Trump campaign was aware that the Russian government was trying to help Mr. Trump and that the campaign was eager to accept that help.
As part of that effort, the Russian government hacked Democratic accounts and released a trove of embarrassing emails related to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. The Trump campaign has repeatedly denied any inside knowledge about that.
“They have dirt on her,” the professor told Mr. Papadopoulos, according to the documents. “They have thousands of emails.”
Papadopoulos copped to lying to the FBI about the timing of his contacts with Russians. In his initial interview in January 2016, Papadopoulos was insistent that he had reached out to his foreign contact “The Professor” (amazing!) before he had formally joined the Trump presidential campaign. He was arrested in July, pleaded guilty in October and appears to have been cooperating in between.
And, most importantly the “Professor” only showed interest in Papadopoulos after it became known that he was employed by the Trump campaign.
That. Is. A. Very. Big. Deal.
The obvious question is why Papadopolous initially lied to the FBI — despite being warned that doing so would have major consequences. Why, if there was nothing to hide about his relationship — or attempted relationship with Russian officials — would Papadopoulos feel the need to put himself in serious legal jeopardy by lying about the timing of his conversations with “the Professor”?
We don’t know the answer to that question. But, we do know one reason why Papadopoulos was pursuing the relationship with the Russians; he believed they had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
Again, the full story is worth a read.
And keep in mind that Papadopoulos has been cooperating with prosecutors for Special Counsel Robert Mueller for more than three months.