Trump Putin mural
Credit: Zio Fabio/Flickr

Probably the most stunned people in the world in March 2016 were the members of the Washington Post editorial board after they got done interviewing Donald Trump. Of course, if you read the transcript of their interview at the time, you were probably left almost insensate from your close contact with 151 proof Stupid. Things didn’t start out in an obviously ridiculous manner, however, or at least it wasn’t immediately obvious how insane things were from the moment Trump opened his mouth.

FREDERICK RYAN JR., WASHINGTON POST PUBLISHER: Mr. Trump, welcome to the Washington Post. Thank you for making time to meet with our editorial board.

DONALD TRUMP: New building. Yes this is very nice. Good luck with it.

RYAN: Thank you… We’ve heard you’re going to be announcing your foreign policy team shortly… Any you can share with us?

TRUMP: Well, I hadn’t thought of doing it, but if you want I can give you some of the names… Walid Phares, who you probably know, PhD, adviser to the House of Representatives caucus, and counter-terrorism expert; Carter Page, PhD; George Papadopoulos, he’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy; the Honorable Joe Schmitz, [former] inspector general at the Department of Defense; [retired] Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg; and 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.

The folks at the Post’s editorial board are fairly connected people, but they didn’t know who the hell Carter Page and George Papadopoulos were. I kind of doubt that Donald Trump knew who they were, either. Apparently, he just pulled a card of his suit coat and started reading names. With the breaking news that Papadopoulos has been a cooperating witness for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and who has possibly been wearing a wire, we may be getting closer to finding out who was responsible for putting his name on that card.

It’s been known for a couple of months that “between March and September [2016], the self-described energy consultant [Papadopoulos] sent at least a half-dozen requests for Trump, as he turned from primary candidate to party nominee, or for members of his team to meet with Russian officials,” including Vladimir Putin. For the most part, though, much more attention has been paid to how Carter Page got on Trump’s list. Was Page introduced to Sam Clovis by Corey Lewandowski, as the Daily Caller reported in April? Was the Washington Post right when they reported that Page volunteered his services and Clovis did no more vetting than a Google search before welcoming on board? We know that Lewandowski and Trump’s spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, were also in attendance at the meeting with the editorial board. We know that Clovis had a role. But we also know that it was ultimately Sen. Jeff Sessions and some of his top aides who were responsible for putting together a foreign policy team for the candidate.

Why were two minor, unknown people with major Kremlin ties on that list?

It’s a bigger question than it might seem, and I’ll try to explain the full context in subsequent posts. What seems certain is that Papadopoulos got caught in a major lie and decided to cooperate with the Special Counsel in an effort to reduce his penalty. He can explain a big part of the puzzle. I’m sure he has told Mueller’s investigators exactly how he was recruited—or how he infiltrated—the Trump campaign and what he was expected to do. He may have bolstered the credibility of his story by getting others to confirm aspects of it in ways that were recorded.

Where that leads us, I don’t know. But I’ll be exploring the possibilities.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at