Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos appeared on Capitol Hill today for a 4-hour meeting behind closed doors with Democrats on the House Select Committee on Intelligence.
The voluntary appearance by the wife of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty in October 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians, was “respectful” and members were "kind," Mrs. Papadopoulous said afterward, adding that she does not think the FBI tried to entrap her husband, as she had recently suggested.
"I actually never said explicitly that it was an entrapment from the FBI. I just said that he definitely was...the target of a different set-up," she said.
In June, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported that Simona Papadopoulos said, "It looks to be one among a series of attempts to entrap George," adding, "The question today to me [is whether] these people are simply shady businessmen or are they part of a greater attempt to entrap George in illegal activity.”
Mrs. Papadopoulos arrived alone Wednesday morning where she was met by a committee staffer, entered a nearby conference room and sat for 10 minutes before six congressmen and their staffs arrived.
She said members asked about her knowledge of Joseph Mifsud, a London-based professor who both she and her husband once worked for at different times.
Professor Mifsud, who according to court filings by Special Counsel Robert Mueller had "substantial connections to Russian government officials," approached George Papadopoulos during the 2016 campaign with an offer to help the young campaign aide obtain “dirt” on then-candidate Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. His bragging about that offer to an Australian diplomat, who then tipped off the FBI, launched that agency’s counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Since her husband’s guilty plea in exchange for cooperation with the Mueller probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Simona Papadopoulos has done numerous media interviews namely aimed at seeking a pardon for her spouse from Trump, though her description of her husband’s role in the probe has evolved over time.
At first, she said George Papadopoulos would make "a big difference" in the investigation, in the face of Trump labeling him a "low level volunteer" and one former campaign aide calling him a "coffee boy." In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, she described her spouse as the "John Dean" of the Russia probe, a reference to the Watergate-era former White House counsel who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice and became a key witness against President Richard Nixon and his aides.
But after her Wednesday committee interview, she attempted to clarify that statement, saying, "I would say John Dean has many characteristics. I’ve been misunderstood. I didn’t mean to make this comparison because I suggested that...his cooperation would lead to a Trump impeachment. I just made this parallel because he’s a young guy. He worked for the campaign, and he’s been involved in a number of dynamics including those setups that could reveal something very interesting and major, not necessarily in terms of collusion."
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi briefly joined the group, telling reporters afterward that her message to Mrs. Papadopoulos was, "Welcome and we seek the truth."
Democrats invited Mrs. Papodopoulos "because Republicans have refused to hear from so many witnesses that we think can help us seek the truth in all of this," Pelosi, D-Calif., added.
Republicans on the Intelligence panel wrapped up their Russia investigation earlier this year, finding no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Democrats have called those findings premature.
Looking exhausted from the 4-hour session, Mrs. Papadopoulos told reporters, "It has been a very long year," adding, "The only things we’re looking forward to is Sept. 7. The date of [her husband’s] sentencing."