Not long after we learned that both Paul Manafort and Rick Gates had been indicted came the news that former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos has already pled guilty.
A former Trump campaign adviser struck a cooperation agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, secretly pleading guilty three weeks ago to lying to federal agents about his contacts with Kremlin-connected Russians…
Court documents unsealed Monday in the Papadopoulos case outline how foreign nationals with ties to the Russian government were seeking to establish a relationship with at least one campaign official and that they offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
Specifically, Papadopoulos pled guilty to lying to the FBI in an attempt to cover up potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. It is interesting to note that the interview in which he lied happened on January 27th. Later that day, Trump had the now-infamous dinner with James Comey in which he asked for loyalty from the former FBI director.
Here’s another interesting note about the timing of the Papadopoulos case:
The Podesta emails were hacked in March, and by April a Russian cutout was offering stolen Clinton emails to the Trump campaign. Wow.
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) October 30, 2017
I would simply remind you that the Steele dossier states that the Trump campaign knew about and supported the Russian email hacking. So we can add this to the list of things the dossier got right.
But this might be the most interesting timing tidbit of all:
Papadopoulos was arrested on July 27. Plea deal was October 5. Mueller runs a tight ship.
— Blake News (@blakehounshell) October 30, 2017
Not only does that indicate that Mueller is running a tight ship when it comes to leaks, it raises the question of why they kept the plea agreement secret until today—after indictments for Manafort and Gates had been released? Here is how that is answered in the request to keep it sealed:
Feds asked to seal Papadopoulos’ case b/c disclosure could undermine his ability to serve as “proactive cooperator” https://t.co/4VJjx1bI9H pic.twitter.com/aA9QOFYjbK
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) October 30, 2017
In other words, the plea agreement with Papadopoulos was made on the condition that he act as a cooperating witness in the investigation. There are those who have suggested that the term “proactive cooperator” indicates that he might have been wired during conversations with other targets.
Robert Mueller doesn’t strike me as someone who does things coincidentally. Releasing this plea agreement on the same day that indictments were handed down against Manafort and Gates is a way to send a message to them. Namely, “we already have an inside informant, so it might be a good idea for you to cooperate with us.” Papadopoulos is the lowest of the low hanging fruit—this could start a journey up the food chain.