George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 5 to charges that he misled FBI investigators. The plea was unsealed on October 30, which was the same day that federal indictments against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and an associate, Rick Gates, were announced by the the office of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller on a variety of money-laundering charges stemming from their work in Ukraine. Papadopoulos, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, held a “volunteer” position on the Trump campaign.
Papadopoulos is a 2009 graduate of Chicago’s DePaul University, where he received a degree in international political economy. From thence he moved to the University College London, where he earned a master’s degree in security studies, according to his LinkedIn page. He wrote a dissertation there that was “focused on the deleterious effects of low governance and state capacity levels in the Middle East,” according to his LinkedIn page states. “My research allowed me to safely infer that the rise of pacified and violent Islamist groups was directly correlated with the aforementioned indicators and the paramount reason that the ‘Arab Spring’ currently reverberates throughout the entire Middle East.”
According to Papadopoulos, he worked from 2011 to 2015 as a research associate at the Hudson Institute, a Washington-based think-tank.
Papadopoulos worked on the Republican presidential campaign of Ben Carson but then joined Donald Trump’ campaign in March 2016. In May 2017, Barry Bennett -- Carson’s campaign manager -- said the young Papadopoulos “was someone who worked for me at the Carson campaign for, like, 15 minutes” and then segued to the Trump campaign. “I was, like, how in the hell did that happen?” In 2016 interview with The Washington Post, Trump said Papadopoulos was an “energy and oil consultant” and an “excellent guy.”
In August 2016, Papadopoulos sent an email to Trump campaign officials with the subject line: “Meeting with Russian Leadership — Including Putin.” The Washington Post reported that in the email, Papadopoulos wrote that he could broker “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.” Campaign officials were concerned by the proposal. Campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis, for example, wrote that NATO allies should be consulted before any plans were made. Trump adviser and retired Navy Rear Adm. Charles Kubic expressed concern about possible violation of the Logan Act, which prohibits Americans from conducting unauthorized negotiations with foreign governments, and sanctions against Russia.
Papadopoulos persisted. He sent at least six requests for Trump or members of the campaign team to meet with Russian officials between March and September 2016. Among those who rejected the proposals was then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who rejected in May 2016 a proposal from Papadopoulos for Trump to meet the Russians.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday, as did Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, that Papadopoulos’s guilty plea has nothing to do with his campaign activities — only his failure to be honest about them. Sanders told reporters on Monday that Papadopoulos’ was “extremely limited,” adding, “It was a volunteer position.”
According to the court documents that were unsealed on Monday, Papadopoulos was arrested on July 27, 2017, at Dulles International Airport. He was questioned by federal investigators in the ensuing weeks and was eventually offered a plea deal. A portion of that plea deal is below:
“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.”
Papadopoulos was a supporter of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. On energy issues, he also had an interest in gas deals between Israel, Greece, and Cyprus, while he also advised Israel to use its newly found gas reserves to forge a alliance with Greece and Cyprus. At a reception held by representatives of Jewish settlers of the West Bank before Trump's inauguration in Washington, he expressed his support to the settlers. In a video, Papadopoulos said, “We hope that the people of Judea and Samaria will have a great 2017. We are looking forward to ushering in a new relationship with all of Israel, including the historic Judea and Samaria.”