Mueller Says Papadopoulos Hurt Investigation

The special counsel recommends incarceration for the former Trump campaign adviser

Ex-Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos wasn’t helpful to the special counsel’s investigation, hurt investigators’ efforts to detain a Russian intermediary and should face at least one month in prison, special counsel Robert Mueller said in a filing late Friday.

.. Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors said Mr. Papadopoulos’s lies hurt investigators’ ability to “effectively question” the professor, Joseph Mifsud, who has been previously described as an honorary director of the London Academy of Diplomacy.

Mr. Papadopoulos admitted he lied about the timing of his meeting with Mr. Mifsud and played down his own assessment of Mr. Mifsud’s connections to high-ranking Russian officials, according to documents filed in connection with Mr. Papadopoulos’s plea agreement.

.. The filing said the FBI located the professor in Washington soon after Mr. Papadopoulos’s January 2017 interview with FBI agents, but didn’t detain or challenge the professor before he left the country on February 11, 2017, because Mr. Papadopoulos had lied to the FBI about him.

“The defendant lied…early in the investigation, when key investigative decisions, including who to interview and when, were being made,” prosecutors said in the filing.

An FBI agent told him at the voluntary interview: “The only thing, we don’t want dis-information” because that would “make…our job a lot harder,” Mr. Mueller’s office said.

.. “The defendant did not provide ‘substantial assistance,’ and much of the information provided by the defendant came only after the government confronted him with his own emails, text messages, internet search history, and other information,” Mr. Mueller’s team said.

.. “the record shows” that he was “attempting to secure a job with the Trump Administration” at the time of the interview and “had an incentive to protect the Administration and minimize his own role as a witness.”

.. They cite communications Mr. Papadopoulos had in which he sought to obtain a position with the National Security Council, the State Department or the Energy Department.

At least six people close to Trump almost certainly knew about offers from Russians of dirt on Clinton

Roger Stone, means that at least six members of Trump’s broader team knew about offers of dirt from Russians during that campaign — and, depending on how that information was shared, as many as 10 may have, including Trump.

.. Papadopoulos sent an email to Trump adviser Stephen Miller the day after Mifsud reached out to him, telling Miller he had some “interesting messages” coming in from Moscow.

.. Trump’s argument has long been that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russian government. That claim increasingly depends on how one defines “collusion.”

The Real Origination Story of the Trump-Russia Investigation

.. It turns out that, in “late spring” 2016, the FBI’s then-director James Comey briefed the principals of the National Security Council on “the Page information.” As the Washington Examiner’s Byron York observes in a perceptive column today, NSC principals are an administration’s highest-ranking national-security officials.

.. we know that Page, an Annapolis alumnus and former naval intelligence officer, is . . . well, he’s a knucklehead. He is a Russia apologist whose “discursive online blog postings about foreign policy,” Politico noted, “invoke the likes of Kanye West, Oprah Winfrey, and Rhonda Byrne’s self-help bestseller, ‘The Secret.’” More to the point, Page blames American provocations for bad relations with the Kremlin and advocates, instead, a policy of appeasing the Putin regime.

..  on March 21, 2016 — i.e., early spring — the Trump campaign announced the candidate’s foreign-policy advisory team. Trump had been spurned by the Republican foreign-policy clerisy and was under pressure to show that he had some advisers. So the campaign hastily put out a list of five little-known figures, including Page.

.. Another source of consternation: On March 29, just a few days after Page was announced as a foreign-policy adviser, Paul Manafort joined the Trump campaign. Manafort and his partner, Richard Gates (who also joined the Trump campaign), had been on the FBI’s radar

..  the FBI had interviewed Carter Page in March 2016.

.. There are many different ways the Obama administration could have reacted to the news that Page and Manafort had joined the Trump campaign. It could have given the campaign a defensive briefing. It could have continued interviewing Page, with whom the FBI had longstanding lines of communication. It could have interviewed Manafort. It could have conducted a formal interview with George Papadopoulos rather than approaching him with a spy who asked him loaded questions about Russia’s possession of Democratic-party emails.

Instead of doing some or all of those things, the Obama administration chose to look at the Trump campaign as a likely co-conspirator of Russia — either because Obama officials inflated the flimsy evidence, or because they thought it could be an effective political attack on the opposition party’s likely candidate.

.. From the “late spring” on, every report of Trump-Russia ties, no matter how unlikely and uncorroborated, was presumed to be proof of a traitorous arrangement. And every detail that could be spun into Trump-campaign awareness of Russian hacking, no matter how tenuous, was viewed in the worst possible light

there are two basic flaws in version 2.0. First, Papadopoulos’s story is actually exculpatory of the Trump campaign: If Russia already had the emails and was alerting the Trump campaign to that fact, the campaign could not have been involved in the hacking. Second, there is confusion about exactly what Mifsud was referring to when he told Papadopoulos that the Russians had emails that could damage Clinton. Democrats suggest that Mifsud was referring to the Democratic National Committee emails. They need this to be true because (a) these are the emails that were hacked by Russian operatives, and (b) it was WikiLeaks’ publication of these hacked DNC emails in July 2016 that spurred the Aussies to report to their American counterparts about the encounter, two months earlier, between Papadopoulos and Downer

.. Papadopoulos maintains that he understood Mifsud to be talking about the 30,000-plus emails that Hillary Clinton had deleted from her homebrew server. That makes more sense — it was those emails that Donald Trump harped on throughout the campaign and that were in the news when Mifsud spoke with Papadopoulos in April 2016. While there are grounds for concern that Clinton’s emails were hacked, there is no proof that it happened; Clinton’s 30,000 emails are not the hacked DNC emails on which the “collusion” narrative is based.

.. longtime CIA source Stefan Halper, was run at Page by the FBI, in Britain. Because this happened just days after Page’s Moscow trip, the implication was that it was the Moscow trip itself, not the dossier claims about it, that provided momentum toward opening the investigation.

.. The real origination story begins in the early spring of 2016 — long before Page went to Russia and long before the U.S. government was notified about Papadopoulos’s boozy conversation with Downer.

George Papadopoulos is the ‘John Dean’ of the Russia investigation, his fiancee says

He has been mocked by President Trump as a “low level volunteer” and “proven to be a liar.”

But the fiancee of George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign adviser who pleaded guilty in October to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts and is cooperating with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, says he is being miscast.

“I believe history will remember him like John Dean,”

.. she indicated in an interview that she believes he ultimately will emerge as more than a bit player in the Russia probe — and that his decision to cooperate after he was arrested getting off an airplane at Dulles International Airport in July was a key turning point.

.. Without offering specifics, Mangiante said there is much more that has not yet been told publicly about Papadopoulos’ 10 months as an informal national security adviser to Trump and his interactions with a London-based professor who told Papadopoulos, according to court filings, that the Russians had “dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

.. Mangiante said she has been extensively interviewed by Mueller’s team, who asked about her own brief stint working for Joseph Mifsud, the same London professor who offered to connect the young Trump aide with the Russians.

.. Mangiante accepted in July 2016 but said she only worked for the group for three months, quickly concluding that it was “a facade for something else.”

She said she never heard Mifsud discuss Russians but quit when she was asked by his partner to attend a secret meeting to discuss Iraq in Tripoli. “I thought it was very suspicious,” she said.

A London Meeting of an Unlikely Group: How a Trump Adviser Came to Learn of Clinton ‘Dirt’

“I remember him as a snake-oil salesman,”

.. He did not exhibit any special interest or expertise in Russia until 2014, when his academy was beginning to stumble financially. It was at that time a 24-year-old Russian intern, Natalia Kutepova-Jamrom, turned up in his office with an improbably impressive résumé.

Fluent in Russian, English, German and Chinese, Ms. Kutepova-Jamrom had worked in the Russian government as a legislative aide and would move on to a Russian state newspaper. 

Ms. Kutepova-Jamrom introduced Mr. Mifsud to senior Russian officials, diplomats and scholars. Despite Mr. Mifsud’s lack of qualifications, she managed to arrange an invitation for him to join the prestigious Valdai Discussion Club, an elite gathering of Western and Russian academics that meets each year with Mr. Putin.

Mr. Mifsud’s inclusion in the group was “very, very strange,” said James Sherr, the former head of the Russian studies program at Chatham House in London and a member of Valdai for nearly a decade. It “might suggest he does have connections,” Mr. Sherr said.

Mr. Mifsud suddenly became a popular pundit with state-run news outlets in Russia, praising the country and Mr. Putin. At his first Valdai conference in 2014, he argued against Western sanctions that punished Russia for its annexation of Crimea that year.

.. In a recent interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Mr. Mifsud said the Russian woman who met Mr. Papadopoulos was “a simple student, very beautiful.” He suggested Mr. Papadopoulos hoped for a romantic involvement, adding, “Putin had nothing to do with it, a lovely invention.”