It's only 10:30 am on the East Coast and already today is shaping up to be one of the most consequential days of the Trump presidency.
In addition to the news that former Trump campaign executive Paul Manafort and his longtime deputy, Rick Gates, have been indicted on 12 counts including tax fraud, money laundering, failing to register as a lobbyist for a foreign country, and conspiring against the US, unsealed court documents have revealed that former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to making false statements to the FBI.
Noting that the Russian government often uses foreign intermediaries to accomplish its foreign policy goals, the FBI said it investigated Papadopoulos, who served as a foreign adviser for the Trump campaign starting on March 2016 and continuing through most of the campaign, for any such contacts. This investigation included an interview in January 2017. According to the indictment, there is probable cause to believe that on Jan. 27, Papadopoulos made material false statements and omitted material facts to the FBI regarding his interactions during the campaign with foreign contacts, including Russian nationals.
Specifically, he falsely described his interactions with a certain foreign contact, identified as a professor, who discussed "dirt" related to emails concering then-presiential candidate Hillary Clinton, when in fact, he had repeated communications with that contact while serving as an adviser on the campaign.
Papadopoulos also shut down a Facebook account following a second interview in February. The account included communications with foreigners including Russian nationals - thereby obstructing the FBI's investigation.
A self-described energy consultant, Papadopoulos was the youngest and least experienced member of the small foreign policy team Trump abruptly formed last March after coming under criticism for his lack of foreign policy expertise. Furthermore, the Washington Post reported that in at least half a dozen email requests sent between March and September 2016, adviser George Papadopoulos urged Trump or senior members of his campaign to meet with Russian officials. Some of those emails were read to the newspaper by a person with access to them.
These newly surfaced emails mark the latest in a long string of examples of the Trump team’s efforts to establish direct communication with Russia during the 2016 race.
In one, Papadopoulos offered to arrange “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump,” as quoted by the Post.
The question now is what has Papadopoulos "given" the government as part of the plea agreement, and whather he has "flipped" on Trump:
Former US Attorney Preet Bharara says the FBI appears to have found a cooperating witnes in Pap - which is significant.
Special Counsel Mueller appears to have a cooperating witness, George Papadopoulos. That is significant. Time will tell how significant.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) October 30, 2017
In his plea agreement, the government says it will offer leniency to Pap in exchange for his cooperation, and that sentencing will be delayed before cooperation is completed.
In the Papadopolous plea agreement: "The Government agrees to bring to the Court's attention at sentencing the defendant's efforts to cooperate with the Government..."
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) October 30, 2017
Finally, as The Smoking Gun asks, "did George Papadopoulos agree to wear a wire or make any FBI-monitored calls?"
Yes, but did George Papadopoulos agree to wear a wire or make any FBI-monitored calls? pic.twitter.com/UkZzue2WR7
— The Smoking Gun (@tsgnews) October 30, 2017
Here's Pap's plea agreeement:
....and the criminal complaint
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