Details of the correspondence that former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos had with foreign nationals during the campaign are laid out in a series of court documents released today.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier this month to making false statements to FBI agents about his communication with Russian nationals and attempts to arrange a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. (Though two others with campaign ties -- ex-campaign chair Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates -- are now also facing federal charges, those charges are not directly connected to their work for the campaign.)
Papadopoulos’ lawyers have issued a statement saying that they will not be commenting on the case at this time.
According to court documents, Papadopoulos had communications with three foreign individuals who claimed to have varying levels of connections to the Kremlin.
The individuals’ names are not publicly disclosed in the documents, with the affidavit referring to them as Foreign Contact 1, Foreign Contact 2 and Foreign Contact 3.
Foreign Contact 1 is described as a diplomacy professor based in London who is a “citizen of a country in the Mediterranean and an associate of several Russian nationals,” according to the affidavit. The Department of Justice’s statement of offense reports that Papadopoulos met the professor in Italy in March, shortly after being added as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign.
The special agent for the FBI who wrote the affidavit writes that he has found that the Russian government “frequently” uses “non-governmental intermediaries,” including professors and individuals connected to think tanks, as a way to “achieve their foreign intelligence objectives.”
“This structure serves in part to hide the overt involvement of the Russian government and provides deniability about the involvement of the government and its intelligence and security services,” special agent Robert Gibbs writes.
Foreign Contact 1 connected Papadopoulos with Foreign Contact 2, according to the affidavit. Foreign Contact 2 “represented himself as a Russian national with access to Russian government officials,” the affidavit states.
Foreign Contact 1 also introduced Papadopoulos to Foreign Contact 3, a woman whom Papadopoulos described to others as being Russian President Vladimir Putin’s niece.
The case against Papadopoulos
Papadopoulos faced two charges: making false statements and obstruction of justice.
The affidavit states that Papadopoulos “knowingly and willfully [made] materially false statements” to the FBI and “there is probable cause to believe” that the deletion of his Facebook account was done “with intent to obstruct and impede the FBI’s ongoing investigation.”
Papadopoulos was arrested in July, but news of his arrest and the charges against were not made public until today.
Timeline of Papadopoulos’ communications with Russians based on the criminal complaint affidavit and the statement of offense
The Department of Justice’s statement of offense says that 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 defendant Papadopoulos because of his status with the campaign.”
March 14, 2016
According to the statement of offense, “While traveling in Italy, defendant Papadopoulos met an individual who was a professor based in London … the professor claimed to have substantial connections with Russian government officials, which defendant Papadopoulos thought could increase his importance as a policy adviser to the campaign.”
March 21, 2016
Trump publicly names Papadopoulos to his foreign policy team during an interview with The Washington Post.
March 24, 2016
Papadopoulos emailed campaign officials that he had “just finished a very productive lunch with a good friend of mine, [Foreign Contact 1] – who introduced me to … Putin’s niece [Foreign Contact 3],” the affidavit states.
"The topic of the lunch was to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump. They are keen to host us in a ‘neutral’ city, or directly in Moscow. They said the leadership, including Putin, is ready to meet with us and Mr. Trump should there be interest. Waiting for everyone’s thoughts on moving forward with this very important issue," Papadopoulos wrote.
March 31, 2016
According to the statement of offense, Papadopoulos attended “national security meeting” in D.C. with Trump and others. During his introduction, Papadopoulos said “in sum and substance, that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin.”
April 10, 2016
Papadopoulos emails Foreign Contact 3, "re-introducing himself and noting that he was 'Donald Trump’s adviser,'" according to the affidavit.
April 11, 2016
Foreign Contact 3 replied to Papadopoulos, saying she was “now back in St. Petersburg” but would be "very pleased to support your initiatives between our two countries and of course I would be very pleased to meet you again," the affidavit states.
April 12, 2016
Foreign Contact 3 wrote to Papadopoulos, saying “As mentioned we are all very excited by the possibility of a good relationship with Mr. Trump. The Russian Federation would love to welcome him once his candidature would be officially announced,” according to the affidavit.
April 18, 2016
The affidavit states Foreign Contact 1 emailed Papadopoulos "stating that he had a 'long conversation in Moscow with my dear friend [Foreign Contact 2] … about a possible meeting between the two of you. [Foreign Contact 2] is ready to meet with you in London (or USA or Moscow). I am putting the two of you in touch to discuss when and where this potential meeting can actually take place.'"
“In subsequent emails between Papadopoulos and Foreign Contact 2, Foreign Contact 2 represented himself as a Russian national with access to Russian government officials,” according to the affidavit.
April 22, 2016
Foreign Contact 2 emailed Papadopoulos "thanking him 'for an extensive talk!'" and proposing “to meet in London or Moscow,” according to the affidavit. Papadopoulos replied by suggesting that “we set one up here in London with the ambassador as well to discuss a process moving forward.”
April 26, 2016
The statement of offense states “the professor told defendant Papadopoulos about the 'thousands of emails' on or about April 26, 2016, when the defendant Papadopoulos had been a foreign policy adviser to the campaign for over a month.”
April 27, 2016
Papadopoulos "emailed a high-ranking official of the campaign … 'to discuss Russia’s interest in hosting Mr. Trump. Have been receiving a lot of calls over the last month about Putin wanting to host him and the team when the time is right,'" the affidavit states.
April 29, 2016
Papadopoulos messaged Foreign Contact 3 about possible Russia trip, according to the affidavit.
May 4, 2016
Foreign Contact 2 emailed Papadopoulos saying he had “just talked to my colleagues from the MFA. [They are] open for cooperation. One of the options is to make a meeting for you at the North America Desk, if you are in Moscow,” according to the affidavit.
Papadopoulos responded saying he was “[g]lad the MFA is interested.”
May 8, 2016
Foreign Contact 2 put Papadopoulos in touch with someone at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, specializing in the department that covered the U.S., according to the affidavit.
May 21, 2016
According to the statement of offense, “Papadopoulos emailed another high-ranking campaign official, with the subject line 'Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump,' The email included the May 4 MFA Email and added: “Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite some time and have been reaching out to me to discuss.”
A footnote in the statement of offense states that the campaign official forwarded it to another campaign official without Papadopoulos copied on the email and wrote: “Let[']s discuss. We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”
June 1, 2016
The statement of offense states that Papadopoulos emailed the high-ranking campaign official and asked about Russia. The high-ranking campaign official referred him to the campaign supervisor because “[h]e is running point.” Defendant Papadopoulos then emailed the campaign supervisor with the subject line “Re: Messages from Russia”: “I have the Russian MFA asking me if Mr. Trump is interested in visiting Russia at some point. Wanted to pass this info along to you for you to decide what’s best to do with it and what message I should send (or to ignore)”
June 19, 2016
According to the statement of offense, Papadopoulos emailed the high-ranking campaign official: “The Russian ministry of foreign affairs messaged me and said that if Mr. Trump is unable to make it to Russia, if a campaign rep (me or someone else) can make it for meetings? I am willing to make the trip off the record if it’s in the interest of Mr. Trump and the campaign to meet specific people.”
July 14, 2016
Papadopoulos emailed Foreign Contact 2 and proposed a "meeting for August or September in the U.K. (London) with me and my national chairman, and maybe one other foreign policy adviser and you, members of President Putin’s office and the MFA to hold a day of consultations and to meet one another. It has been approved from our side.”
July 15, 2016
Papadopoulos messaged Foreign Contact 2 on Facebook, according to the affidavit.
July 21, 2016
Papadopoulos Facebook messaged Foreign Contact 2, “Keep an eye on the speech tonight. Should be good,” according to the affidavit.
July 22, 2016
Papadopoulos asked Foreign Contact 2 about a business person with Russian ties, the affidavit states.
Aug. 15, 2016
According to the statement of offense, campaign supervisor told defendant Papadopoulos that “I would encourage you” and another foreign policy adviser to the campaign to “make the trip, if it is feasible.”
Oct. 1, 2016
Papadopoulos messaged Foreign Contact 1 a link to an Interfax article, which contradicts a statement Papadopoulos made "that he had not been 'messaging' with Foreign Contact 1 during the campaign while 'with Trump,'" the affidavit states.
Jan. 27, 2017
Papadopoulos interviewed by the FBI and “acknowledged that he knew” Foreign Contact 1. Papadopoulos stated that Foreign Contact 1 told him that the Russians had “dirt” on Clinton, according to the affidavit.
Papadopoulos told the agents that, in the early part of 2016, Foreign Contact 1 "actually told me that the Russians had emails of Clinton," the affidavit states, with Papadopoulos adding that "they have thousands of emails."
Papadopoulos "stated that he did not tell anyone on the campaign about the 'dirt' on Clinton because he 'didn’t even know [if] that was real or fake or he was just guessing because I don’t know, because the guy [Foreign Contact 1] seems like he’s … he’s a nothing.'”
Papadopoulos told the FBI that he met Foreign Contact 3 “a year ago ... before I even got with Trump,” and when describing their communications, he said “she sent emails” to the effect of “just, ‘Hi, how are you’ That’s it.”
Feb. 16, 2017
Papadopoulos was interviewed by the FBI and had his lawyer present, according to the affidavit. He said that he was willing to cooperate with the FBI.
Feb. 17, 2017
Papadopoulos “shut down his Facebook account, which he had maintained since approximately August 2005. Shortly after he shut down his account, Papadopoulos created a new Facebook account. The Facebook account that Papadopoulos shut down the day after his interview with the FBI contained information about communications he had with Russian nationals and other foreign contacts during the campaign, including communications that contradicted his statements to the FBI."
Feb. 23, 2017
The statement of offense states that Papadopoulos “ceased using his cellphone number and began using a new number.”
July 27, 2017
According to the statement of offense, Papadopoulos “was arrested upon his arrival at Dulles International Airport. Following his arrest, defendant Papadopoulos met with the government on numerous occasions to provide information and answer questions.”