When Donald Trump met with the Washington Post editorial board on March 21st, 2016, he named five people as his foreign policy advisers.
“…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.”
Of the five, only Keith Kellogg landed a job with the administration. He briefly served as interim National Security Adviser after Michael Flynn resigned, and now he serves as the Executive Secretary and Chief of Staff of the National Security Council.
We know why Carter Page didn’t make the cut. His travels to Moscow and meetings with Kremlin-connected characters brought immediate suspicion and a FISA warrant to monitor his future movements. He resigned from the campaign in September. Joe Schimtz was briefly considered for Secretary of the Navy, as least according to the less than reliable Daily Caller. That obviously did not work out. I’m not sure why Walid Phares didn’t earn some kind of role, but it’s the case of George Papadopoulos that puzzled me the most.
After all, he seemed on track:
Earlier this year, as Trump prepared for his inauguration, Papadopoulos boasted to the reporters that he had Trump’s ear, was on the transition team and that Trump had written him a “blank check” for whatever position in the administration he wanted.
In fact, on the morning of Inauguration Day, Papadopoulos and Reince Priebus had a meeting with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos. But then nothing happened. He wasn’t appointed or nominated to anything, and I never knew why.
But it’s now clear that he never got the chance, because of something that looks a bit curious when put on a timeline:
January 25th, 2017: FBI interviews Michael Flynn at the White House
January 26th, 2017: Acting attorney general Sally Yates briefs White House Counsel Don McGahn on Flynn’s conversation with Amb. Kislyak.
January 27th, 2017: FBI interviews George Papadopoulos for first time.
February 16th, 2017: FBI interviews George Papadopoulos for second time.
Michael Flynn had been under suspicion for a long time, ever since he dined with Vladimir Putin in 2015. He was already informed that the Justice Department was looking into his lobbying for the Turkish government. But it looks like the counterintelligence investigation was looking very closely at both Flynn and Papadopolous at the very same point in time. I suppose it’s possible that two different investigative teams conducted these interviews and that this is a great big coincidence, but it seems like Papadopolous was one of the hottest leads the FBI had very early on, which tells us that he’d aroused a lot of suspicion despite the fact that none of it had surfaced in the newspapers.
I’ll have more to say about how he might have become such a focus, but I just wanted to point this out for you here before I explore the implications.