- George Papadopoulos did not wear a wire as a part of a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, his wife says.
- Papadopoulos’ plea deal last year touched off speculation that the former Trump aide wore a wire and spied on other Trump campaign associates.
- CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin confidently asserted at the time that Papadopoulos was spying on former Trump associates for months.
George Papadopoulos’ plea deal in October 2017 with the special counsel’s office sparked intense speculation that the former Trump campaign adviser helped the Russia investigation by wearing a wire.
Cable news pundits and legal analysts weighed in on the matter shortly after Papadopoulos’ plea agreement was revealed on Oct. 30, suggesting that documents submitted by Mueller’s team indicated that Papadopoulos was likely spying on other Trump campaign alumni as part of his plea agreement.
“What this says to me is that Papadopoulos between July and October was wearing a wire,” Toobin told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer after Papadopoulos’ plea deal was revealed.
Toobin said that “the only reasonable explanation” of Mueller’s court filings was that Papadopoulos “was recording conversations secretly with people who were subjects and targets of this investigation.”
“If he was wearing a wire, this summer and fall … just weeks ago, that is a whole new chapter of possibilities in this investigation, and potentially a very big deal,” Tobin said.
The pundits pointed to a reference in government documents stating that Papadopoulos was a “proactive cooperator” in the investigation.
Papadopoulos, a 30-year-old energy consultant, was arrested on July 27, 2017, and pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to lying to the FBI about the timing and extent of his contacts with a Maltese professor who claimed in April 2016 that he knew that the Russian government had “thousands” of Hillary Clinton emails. (RELATED: Mueller Recommends Up To Six Months In Jail For Papadopoulos)
WATCH: CNN Analyst Claims Papadopoulos May Have Worn A Wire
But Toobin’s theory was all but disproved on Friday in a court filing submitted by Mueller’s team.
In the document recommending that Papadopoulos face up to six months in jail for lying to the FBI, Mueller asserted that Papadopoulos did not provide “substantial assistance” to the investigation.
Papadopoulos met with prosecutors four times between his arrest and plea agreement, according to the Mueller filing. There is no mention of Papadopoulos actively spying for prosecutors. Instead, he is portrayed as cooperating reluctantly, providing information only when asked about emails and text messages that investigators had obtained through search warrants and subpoenas.
Papadopoulos’ wife, Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos, also told The Daily Caller News Foundation on Saturday that her husband did not wear a wire.
Critics of President Donald Trump celebrated Papadopoulos’ plea deal, largely because it raised the possibility that he had provided Mueller with damning information about a Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy in exchange for a lenient charge of lying to the FBI.
But as anti-Trump blogger Benjamin Wittes wrote on Saturday, the latest Mueller filing “splashes cold water on the idea that the months when Papadopoulos was under the radar amounted to some period of secret work with investigators.”
“To the contrary,” Wittes writes, Mueller’s memo “makes clear that his cooperation in that period amounted to a handful of proffer sessions.”
Toobin was not the only pundit to speculate that Papadopoulos’ plea agreement suggested he was wearing a wire.
Alan Dershowitz, a former Harvard Law professor who frequently defends Trump, also argued that Papadopoulos may have worn a wire.
“That’s why they would put a wire on him: they want self-proving evidence. They don’t want to have to rely on him and his testimony because any good defense attorney would start out by saying ‘tell us all the lies you engaged in — now why should we believe you now because you are getting a deal, you would sell your mother for this deal,'” Dershowitz told Fox News.
Judge Andrew Napolitano also told Fox News that he believed that the language of Papadopoulos’ plea deal suggested he “was wearing a wire.”
Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general, wrote in The New York Times that “one nerve-racking possible implication” of Papadopoulos’ plea agreement was that he “has recently worn a wire in conversations with other former campaign officials.”
“This will surely have members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle agonizing about the possibility and wondering who else might have been similarly cooperating with the investigation,” Litman wrote.
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