The Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI was pictured at a meeting with Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions and other members of the campaign on March 31, 2016, just days after he met with two people tied to the Russian government.
You can see the photo featuring George Papadopoulos, sitting two seats from the left of Sessions, above. It was posted to Instagram by Trump, who was touting his campaign’s foreign policy and national security team. Sessions is now the U.S. Attorney General and has recused himself from the Russia investigation because of his ties to the campaign.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 5, but the conviction was unsealed on October 30, the same day that two other former members of the campaign, ex-chairman Paul Manafort and adviser Rick Gates, were indicted on charges unrelated to the campaign.
Papadopolous worked for the Trump campaign starting in March 2016. Trump described him as a “an oil and gas consultant; excellent guy,” during a conference call with the Washington Post that same month. He was part of a national security team led by Sessions that also included energy industry executive Carter Page, former government inspector general Joe Schmitz and former Army Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg.
The meeting pictured in the Trump Instagram photo occurred on March 31. According to court documents, Papadopoulos had multiple meetings with two people tied to the Russian government in the weeks before that meeting. At the meeting, Papadopoulos identified himself as having “connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin, prosecutors said.
According to court documents, Papadopoulos, then living in London, met with an unnamed “campaign supervisor” on March 6, 2016, and learned he would be brought in as a foreign policy adviser. He told prosecutors that the supervisor told him “that a principal foreign policy focus of the campaign was an improved U.S. relationship with Russia.”
On March 14, Papadopoulos, while traveling in Italy, met with a London-based professor who “took great interest” in him after learning of his role with the campaign. The professor claimed to have “substantial connections” with Russian government officials, and Papadopoulos thought he could use those to increase his importance with the campaign, according to court documents. On March 24, the professor introduced Papadopoulos to a “female Russian national.” The professor told Papadopoulos he was the niece of Vladimir Putin, but Papadopoulos later learned she was not a relative. At that meeting, Papadopoulos said the topic of the discussion was “to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.”
After the March 24 meeting, Papadopoulos emailed the unnamed campaign supervisor and was told “great work.”
You can read the court documents outlining the offense Papadopolous admitted to below:
According to court documents, Papadopolous was first interviewed by the FBI on January 27, 2017, prior to Mueller’s involvement in the case, but during the agency’s investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Papadopoulos admitted to lying about when he began working as a foreign policy adviser to the campaign. He also lied about his contacts with two foreign nationals, an “overseas professor” and “a certain female Russian national.”
“Through his false statements and omissions, defendant Papadopoulos impeded the FBI’s ongoing investigation into the existence of any links or coordination between individuals associated with the campaign and the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election,” prosecutors said in court documents. The document was signed by Mueller and authored by prosecutors Jeannie Rhee, Andrew Goldstein and Aaron Zelinsky, all members of Mueller’s team.
Papadopoulos told the FBI that the professor, who has “substantial connections to Russian government officials,” told Papadopoulos the Russians had “dirt” on then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” Papadopoulos admitted that he lied during his interview he told FBI agents when he said that he learned that information from the professor prior to the campaign. “In truth and in fact, however,” Papadopoulos, “learned he would be an adviser to the campaign in early March and met the professor on or about March 14, 2016; the professor only took interest in (Papadopoulos) because of his status with the campaign.” He also admitted that the professor told him on or about April 26, 2016, about the “thousands of emails,” when Papadopoulos had been an adviser for more than a month.
Papadopoulos also told the agents that the professor was “a nothing,” and “just a guy talk(ing) up connections or something,” but he admitted the professor “had substantial connections to Russian government officials (and had met with some of these officials in Moscow immediately prior to telling (Papadopoulos) about the ‘thousands of emails) and over a period of months, (Papadopoulos) repeatedly sought to use the professor’s Russian connections in an effort to arrange a meeting between the campaign and Russian government officials.”
He also claimed he met a “certain Russian national” before joining the campaign and “their communication consisted of emails such as ‘How, how are you?’,” when “in truth and fact,” Papadopoulos “met the female Russian national on or about March 24, 2016, after he had become an adviser to the campaign.” Papadopoulos also admitted “he believed that she had connections to Russian government officials; and he sought to use her Russian connections over a period of months in an effort to arrange a meeting between the campaign and Russian officials.”
Papadopoulos was arrested on July 27, 2017, and “following his arrest,” has “met with the government on numerous occasions to provide information and answer questions.”