George Papadopoulos told federal investigators he did not inform anyone on the Trump campaign about a mysterious professor’s claim in April 2016 that Russians had “thousands” of Hillary Clinton emails, according to court documents submitted on Friday night.
That’s just one of several new details that Papadopoulos’s lawyers revealed in the filing, which seeks probation for the former Trump campaign aide for lying about his contacts with Russians.
The lawyers also said that Papadpoulos claims that during a March 31, 2016, meeting of the Trump campaign’s national security team, then presidential candidate Donald Trump “approved” of Papadopoulos’ suggestion of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Jeff Sessions, who now serves as attorney general, “appeared to like the idea and stated that the campaign should look into it.”
Other attendees at the meeting, including former Pentagon spokesman J.D. Gordon, have said that Sessions shut down Papadopoulos’ suggestion.
Papadopoulos, 30, pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s investigation on Oct. 5, 2017. He faces sentencing on Sept. 7.
Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is seeking up to six months in jail for Papadopoulos, has argued that the Trump aide’s lies to the FBI hampered the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but Papadopoulos’s lawyers argued that their client’s lies did not harm the investigation. They also asserted that he “misled investigators to save his professional aspirations and preserve a perhaps misguided loyalty to his master.” (RELATED: Papadopoulos’ Wife: Former Trump Aide ‘Absolutely Not’ Involved In Collusion)
“In his hesitation, George lied, minimized, and omitted material facts. Out of loyalty to the new president and his desire to be part of the administration, he hoisted himself upon his own petard.”
One question looming over the Papadopoulos case has been whether he told anyone on the Trump campaign about comments made by a Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud regarding Clinton’s emails.
Papadopoulos told FBI agents during his Jan. 27, 2017, interview that Mifsud told him during an April 26, 2016, meeting in London that he had learned that the Russian government had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of thousands of her emails.
While Papadopoulos told the FBI details of his conversations with Mifsud, he lied to the FBI by claiming that the contacts occurred before he joined the Trump campaign.
Papadopoulos told federal investigators that he did not relay the Mifsud claim to anyone else on the Trump campaign.
“He told the agents he was unaware of anyone in the campaign knowing of the stolen Hillary Clinton emails prior to the emails being publicly released,” Papadopoulos’ lawyers wrote.
Papadopoulos also denied to FBI agents that he told anyone on the Trump campaign about the emails. But in interviews with prosecutors months later, “George reiterated that he does not recall ever passing the information along to the campaign.”
While Papadopoulos claims he did not tell anyone on the Trump campaign about Clinton emails, he did inform a Greek diplomat of Mifsud’s claims about Clinton dirt.
Papadopoulos’s lawyers say that he told FBI agents about a meeting in late May 2016 “where he revealed to the Greek Foreign Minister that the Russians had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton. He explained that this meeting took place days before President Vladimir Putin traveled to Greece to meet with Greek officials.”
Papadopoulos also told Australian diplomat Alexander Downer during a May 10, 2016, meeting in London that Russia had derogatory information on Clinton. The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016, based on Downer’s claims about his conversation with Papadopoulos. (RELATED: A London Meeting Before The Election Aroused George Papadopoulos’s Suspicions)
Friday’s filing also reveals new details about the FBI’s initial interview with Papadopoulos. According to Papadopoulos’s lawyers, FBI agents showed up to interview Papadopoulos at his mother’s house in Chicago.
The agents asked Papadopoulos to accompany them to their office to answer “a couple questions” about “a guy in New York that you might know[,] [t]hat has recently been in the news.”
Papadopoulos believed that the agents wanted to ask him about Sergei Millian, a Belarus American businessman who is alleged to be a major source in the Steele dossier. Millian approached Papadopoulos in July 2016 and the pair met several times during the presidential campaign.
Papadopoulos’s lawyers asserted that the FBI agents “assured George that the topic of discussion was Mr. Millian who had been trending in the national media.”
During a car ride to the FBI’s offices, Papadopoulos expressed concern about how getting caught up in the investigation might harm his chances of getting a job in the Trump administration.
Papadopoulos “told the agents he had no knowledge of anyone on the campaign colluding with the Russians and it would not have been in anyone’s interest to undermine the democratic process.”
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