This morning, all the headlines were dominated by the news that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was asked to surrender himself to the authorities over alleged money laundering and other misdeeds. But another indictment was unsealed later this morning that is much more compelling—and unlike the Manafort indictment, this one actually contains some juicy details about the Trump campaign and its ties to Russia. It concerns the activities of former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who was arrested at Dulles airport in July and, most crucially, has been cooperating with Robert Mueller’s investigators.
The court document reads like a spy thriller, albeit with more inept characters. The three big players are Papadopoulos, a man known as the “professor” who has ties with Russia, and a Russian woman referred to as the “Female Russian National” or “Putin’s niece” who claimed to be connected with the Russian government. Here’s a truncated timeline of what allegedly happened:
- When first questioned by the U.S. government, Papadopoulos played down his involvement with the other two–saying they had few interactions and it had nothing to do with Trump’s campaign. Now the former Trump advisor has admitted that, beginning in March 2016, the Professor contacted Papadopoulos when he learned he had ties to the campaign, telling him he had ties to the Kremlin.
- The Professor introduced Papadopoulos to the Female Russian National, who claimed to be related to Vladimir Putin. Papadopoulos tried to facilitate a meeting with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, using both the Professor and Female Russian National as liaisons. Soon a fourth person was introduced into the mix–a person from Moscow known as the “Russian MFA,” who allegedly had connections to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- The Professor also offered Papadopoulos “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. He allegedly described to the advisor “thousands of emails” the Russian government had on the then-Democratic candidate. Following this, Papadopoulos continued to try to meet and communicate with the Professor and the Russian MFA, while also keeping in close contact with the Trump campaign.
- At one point, Papadopoulos emailed a “High-Ranking Campaign Official” about a Russian request to have Trump visit Russia. That request was routed to another campaign official with a note emphasizing that Trump would not be taking such a trip, but that such a message should be communicated by a “low-level” official “so as not to send any signal.”
Earlier this year, Papadopoulos denied or played down many of these claims. Now, he has recanted his earlier position and submitted this statement. It depicts Papadoplous facilitating meetings with alleged Russian officials and trying to connect the campaign with his foreign contacts. Papadopoulos also tried to delete his Facebook account, which contained conversations he had with both the Professor and the Russian MFA.
The question remains: How will Trump respond to these new revelations?