George Papadopoulos, 30, was named a “person of interest” in the “Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election,” according to Newsweek. On October 5, 2017, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents, according to court documents that were unsealed on Monday, October 30.
Papadopoulos was a campaign adviser for President Donald Trump. According to The Chicago Tribune, Papadopoulos sent emails to seven campaign officials during the 2016 election with the subject line: “Meeting with Russian Leadership — Including Putin.”
The Chicago Tribune adds that Papadopoulos’ proposal “sent a ripple” through the President’s campaign headquarters, many of whom feared that it was a possible violation of U.S. sanctions against Russia and of the Logan Act, which forbids U.S. citizens from unauthorized negotiation with foreign governments.
Here is what you need to know:
1. Papadopoulos Was Arrested in July & Offered a Plea Deal
According to these newly unsealed court documents, Papadopoulos was arrested on July 27, 2017, at Dulles International Airport. He was questioned by the government in the weeks that followed and he was eventually offered a plea deal. A portion of that plea deal is below. You can see the full conditions here.
“Your client agrees to plead guilty to the Criminal Information, a copy of which is attached, charging your client with making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in violation of I 8 U.S.C. § 100 I. Your client understands that a violation of I 8 U.S.C. § 100 I carries a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment; a fine of $250,000, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 357l(b)(3); a term of supervised release of not more than 3 years, pursuant to 18 U .S.C. § 3583(b )(2); and an obligation to pay any applicable interest or penalties on fines and restitution not timely made.”
Below you can see Papadopoulos’ court documents.
Previously, Papadopoulos told campaign officials at the time that he was acting as an “intermediary” between Trump and the Russian government. According to The Washington Post, however, the documents offered no concrete reasoning as to why a meeting would benefit either party.
“While the emails illustrate his eagerness to strengthen the campaign’s connections to the Russian Government, Papadopoulos does not spell out in them why it would be in Trump’s interest to do so,” the Washington Post reported.
Additionally, these uncovered documents came three months before the President’s son, Donald Trump, Jr. and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met with a delegation led by a Russian lawyer who provided damaging information against Trump’s former opponent, Hillary Clinton.
At the time, it appeared as though there wasn’t a connection between Papadopoulos’ requests and this later meeting involving Trump Jr. and Kushner.
“Messages released by Trump Jr. last month show that he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government in a meeting with lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, though he has denied any wrongdoing,” the New York Daily News reported in August.
2. According to the Washington Post, Papadopoulos Made at Least 6 Attempts to Have Trump Meet with Russia
Between March and September 2016, Papadopoulos made at least half-a-dozen requests for Trump to meet with the Russians, according to the Washington Post. These requests led to several of the other members on Trump’s staff to voice their concern, including campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis, legal adviser and retired Navy Rear Adm. Charles Kubic, and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who rejected one of Papadopoulos’ requests back in May.
The New York Daily News adds that there are among more than 20,000 pages of documents that the Trump campaign has recently turned over to congressional committees.
Papadopoulos’ recorded attempts to contact Russian officials were reportedly read to The Post by a person who had access to them, and were promptly confirmed by two additional sources.
3. He Was Born in Chicago & Attended University College London
Papadopoulos was born in Chicago, Illinois. According to Greek Reporter, however, both of his parents hail from Thessaloniki, Greece. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Arts & Government with an Emphasis on International Political Economy at DePaul University in 2009, and went on to get his Master of Science (MSc) & Security Studies at University College London in 2010. According to his LinkedIn account, his dissertation focused on the effects of low governance and state capacity levels in the Middle East.
“After completing my MSc from University College London with honors, I was accepted to the London School of Economics for a second MSc in International Political Economy (9% acceptance rate). I ultimately decided to work in the policy arena in Washington D.C. after my studies in London. From March 2011 to September 2015, I worked as a Research Associate at the world renowned think tank, Hudson Institute,” reads Papadopoulos’ LinkedIn bio.
However, Hudson Institute says that there is no record of Papadopoulos’ employment.
“Our records indicate that Mr. Papadopoulos started at Hudson Institute as an unpaid intern in 2011 and subsequently provided research assistance on a contractual basis to one of our senior fellows in 2013 and 2014. Mr. Papadopoulos was never a salaried employee of Hudson Institute, and the Institute has had no relationship with him since 2014.”
4. He Worked for Both Trump & Dr. Ben Carson During the 2016 Presidential Campaign
When the 2016 Presidential Election was gearing up, Papadopoulos first worked as an adviser to the campaign of Dr. Ben Carson. He served Carson from November 2015 to February 2016, during which time Carson said he was “A distinguished individual.” Papadopoulos eventually switched to the Trump team in May 2016, where he performed similar tasks in the campaign.
On his LinkedIn account, he further outlines his credentials regarding geopolitics: “Along with the U.S. State Department nominating me as a top five finalist to represent the United States at the 2011 emerging leaders UNESCO forum in Paris, France, I have been invited to participate in policy and oil and gas conferences in the U.S., Europe and Middle East. In Washington D.C, I have spoken at the Washington Times forum on the geopolitics of the energy trade from the eastern Mediterranean.”
Papadopoulos was officially announced as part of Trump’s team in an article released by The Washington Post that same year.
5. He Specialized in Oil & Gas Consulting During Trump’s Campaign
Since Trump has taken office, Papadopoulos has been listed as an independent oil, gas, and policy consultant. On a conference call with The Washington Post, Trump was quoted as saying “George is an oil and gas consultant; excellent guy.”
In an interview with Interfax in 2016, Papdopoulos discussed the state of relations between the U.S. and Russia, saying that the Obama administration promised cooperation with Russia but had not followed through. He went on to explain the differences between Obama’s approach and that of President Trump, saying:
[The] Obama administration was declaring it [the intent to cooperate] without taking concrete actions. There was no practical cooperation, and their words differed from their actions. That is why Russia does not believe in American promises, and the atmosphere of mutual confidence has been lost. Trump, if elected president, will restore the trust.