Late Friday, attorneys for former Donald Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos filed their client’s sentencing memorandum in preparation for his September 7, 2018 sentencing hearing before federal judge Randolph Moss.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October 2017 to making a false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Special Counsel Robert Mueller previously argued that a sentence of up to 6 months imprisonment would be appropriate, but in Friday’s filing Papadopoulos’s attorneys argued for a sentence of probation.
In reporting the latest developments in the case, the mainstream media quickly latched onto two sentences in Papadopoulos’ memo to push the dying Russia narrative. The language the press proffered as supposed evidence of collusion came in a passage in which Papadopoulos’ attorneys sought to portray the Trump advisor as out of his depth.
As his legal team explained to the court, at a March 31, 2016 “National Security Meeting” with Trump and Jeff Sessions, “eager to show his value to the campaign, George announced at the meeting that he had connections that could facilitate a foreign policy meeting between Mr. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. While some in the room rebuffed George’s offer, Mr. Trump nodded with approval and deferred to Mr. Sessions who appeared to like the idea and stated that the campaign should look into it.”
The press predictably played up this exchange as a gotcha moment, while it was nothing of the sort. There is nothing nefarious about this discussion, and it has absolutely no bearing on the question of whether anyone in the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the presidential election.
In addition to playing up the irrelevant, the press passed on the noteworthy: Papadopoulos’ sentencing memo reveals new evidence that further indicates the FBI’s goal in Crossfire Hurricane was to investigate Trump—not Russia’s interference with the presidential election.
In the memo, Papadopoulos’s lawyers detailed the FBI’s January 27, 2017, questioning of their client, explaining that for two hours, Papadopoulos answered questions about professor Joseph Mifsud, Carter Page, Sergei Millian, the “Trump Dossier,” and others on the campaign. According to Papadopoulos, “[t]he agents asked George if he would be willing to actively cooperate and contact various people they had discussed.” Papadopoulos said he would be willing to try.
Yet when Mifsud—the Maltese professor who in late April 2016 told Papadopoulos that the Russians had “dirt on Hillary” in the form of “thousands of emails”—visited the United States just two weeks later to speak at a State Department-sponsored conference, the FBI didn’t even bother to have Papadopoulos reach out to his former colleague.
Instead, the FBI questioned Mifsud, then in the special counsel’s sentencing memorandum blamed Papadopoulos for the government’s inability “to challenge the Professor or potentially detain or arrest him while he was still in the United States.” According to Mueller’s office, Papadopoulos’ “lies also hindered the government’s ability to discover who else may have known or been told about the Russians possessing ‘dirt’ on Clinton,” and prevented the FBI from determining “how and where the Professor obtained the information [and] why the Professor provided information to the defendant.”
I previously explained why the special counsel’s claim that Papadopoulos’s lies impeded the FBI’s investigation doesn’t fly. Papadopoulos’s attorneys similarly argued in their memo that their client’s lies did not actually harm the FBI’s probe, adding significantly that “George was still a cooperating source in their investigation” at the time investigators questioned Mifsud.
That final point and the revelation in Papadopoulos’ sentencing memo that the FBI had asked the former Trump advisor if he would be willing to contact Mifsud—and Papadopoulos’ agreement to do so—exposes the FBI’s purported investigation into Russia as a sham.
Why didn’t the FBI wire Papadopoulos and arrange for him to meet with Mifsud during the State Department conference? What would be more natural than Papadopoulos, who had spent months in London communicating with Mifsud and working at Mifsud’s London Centre of International Law, attending the professor’s speech at the February 2017, Washington D.C. Global Ties conference and inviting him for dinner or drinks? Then Papadopoulos could steer the conversation to the Russia hacking and Mifsud’s earlier comment about Russia having “thousands of emails.”
This isn’t Monday-morning quarterbacking, either. This is exactly what the FBI did with its now-named source Stefan Halper when it wanted to know what Papadopoulos and the Trump campaign knew about the emails. As The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross reported earlier this year, in September 2016, Halper met with Papadopoulos in London and asked the former Trump campaign advisor: “George, you know about hacking the emails from Russia, right?”
Papadopoulos denied knowing anything about the hacked emails when Halper raised the question (which, by the way, is entirely consistent with Papadopoulos’s claim that the Russians had Hillary Clinton’s emails). While the press conflates the two, the hacked emails were the Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails, while the emails Papadopoulos believed Mifsud meant were the ones missing from Hillary’s homebrew server.
So, let’s lay it out: In September 2016, the FBI used an informant in an attempt to ensnare Papadopoulos and establish collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia’s hacking of the DNC emails. Then in January 2017, after Papadopoulos confirmed Mifsud was the source of his claim that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary, and had agreed to cooperate and contact Mifsud, and after the FBI “located” Mifsud in D.C., the FBI didn’t use Papadopoulos to ensnare the supposed Russian-agent whose purported foreknowledge of the hack justified the launch of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
With each passing day, it is becoming more and more obvious that the target of the FBI’s investigation was Trump, not Russia.