The special counsel investigating Russian interference and any possible collusion in the 2016 election announced its first indictments on Monday, against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his partner Rick Gates, and former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.
The news left many wondering — who is GeorgePapadopoulos? Here are five things you should know:
Who is George Papadopoulos?
George Papadopoulos, 30, from Chicago, Illinois, is currently an independent oil, gas and policy consultant, according to his Linked In profile. He served as a foreign policy adviser on the Trump campaign beginning in March 2016, through January 2017, according to the profile.
Before that, he was the director of the Center for International Energy and Natural Resources Law & Security at the London Centre of International Law Practice from February 2016 to April 2016. He also served as an adviser for U.S. presidential candidate Ben Carson between November 2015 and February 2016.
The first time Trump mentioned Papadopoulos was when he unveiled some of the names of his foreign policy campaign advisers during a Washington Post interview on March 21, 2016.
Trump also named Walid Phares, Carter Page,Papadopoulos, Joe Schmitz, and retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, adding “I have quite a few more. But that’s a group of some of the people that we are dealing with. We have many other people in different aspects of what we do, but that’s a representative group.”
What is Papadopoulos charged with and why?
Papadopoulos is charged with making false statements to the FBI. He was arrested in July 2017 and pled guilty on October 5.
The charges stem from a voluntary interview on January 27, 2017 with FBI agents, in which he allegedly lied about when he met certain individuals who had “substantial connections to high-level Russian government officials.”
He also allegedly lied as to the extent and the nature of his communications with those individuals, and with “certain Russian nationals during the campaign,” according to court documents.
He also allegedly deactivated a Facebook account he had used to communicate with Russian nationals and got a new cell phone number.
What did Papadopoulos allegedly do?
The documents suggest that Papadopoulos met with several foreign nationals with Kremlin ties who were seeking to establish a relationship with at least one Trump campaign official, one of whom offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
Those foreign nationals allegedly included a Russian professor, who said that Russian officials had obtained “dirt” on Hillary Clinton and that they had “thousands of emails.”
The professor allegedly introduced Papadopoulos to a woman he said was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s niece, and a Russian man who said he was close to officials at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They spoke over Skype about laying the groundwork for a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian officials in Moscow.
He also spoke to the Russian woman about arranging a meeting between the campaign and Russian officials, the documents say.
Who on the Trump campaign knew about these contacts?
Papadopoulos allegedly told campaign advisers including Paul Manafort, according to NBC News, about the contacts that could lead to a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A campaign supervisor told him “great work” on his efforts to broker a meeting with the Russians.
“We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips,” an adviser said in an email to another campaign official that was not forwarded to Papadopoulos, according to the documents. “It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”
The court documents say an unnamed campaign supervisor allegedly encouraged Papadopoulos to make a trip to Russia for an off-the-record meeting with Russian officials “if it is feasible.”
Court documents showed he tried to arrange these meetings with his Russian contacts – allegedly without success.
What was the White House’s response?
The White House on Monday said Papadopoulos had an “extremely limited” role with the campaign, that it was a volunteer position, and that “no activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign” in that regard.
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said he worked on a volunteer advisory council that only met once.
“He asked to do things, he was basically pushed back or not responded to in any way. So any actions that he took would have been on his own, and you would have to ask him about those, because I can’t answer [for him],” she added.