IR INSIDER

Powered by IR Society at NYU

IR Insider is a production of NYU's International Relations Society. Our goal is to explain and discuss issues in IR in an engaging and thought-provoking fashion. We are written by students, for students, about issues students care about. 

Who is George Padopoulos? Ex-Trump Campaign Staffer Pleads Guilty in Mueller Investigation

George Papadopoulos, 30, is the first person to plead guilty in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Papadopoulos, who had been as a foreign policy adviser to Trump during the campaign, secretly pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to a single count of lying to the FBI — a charge that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison — according to Mueller’s office.

Prosecutors recommended that Papadopoulos be sentenced to no more than six months in exchange for continued cooperation with Muller’s investigation in the guilty plea.

  @reaDonaldTrump / Instagram

@reaDonaldTrump / Instagram

The indictment says that the former campaign staffer had been communicating with Russian officials who were trying to set up a meeting with Trump and Russian leaders. The Russian officials offered Papadopoulos “dirt” on then-candidate Hillary Clinton.

Papadopoulos lied about his associations when questioned by federal agents. He said “he had learned information prior to joining the campaign,” but he had, in fact, communicated with the Russian official after joining the campaign, documents said.

photo

The news about Papadopoulos came shortly after indictments against former campaign chair Paul Manafort and Manafort business associate Rick Gates were unsealed, alleging conspiracy to the United States and financial crimes.

President Trump took to Twitter to attack the Democrats, Hillary Clinton, and the “Fake News” media in the wake of Papadopoulos’ guilty plea and the Manafort-Gates indictments.

He tweeted that the “events mentioned took place long before [Manafort] came to the campaign,” and that “few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George.”

photo.png

However, the unsealed court documents in the Papadopoulos case reveal that a Trump campaign supervisor was aware he was trying to set up a meeting with Trump and Russian leaders.

“Great work,” the unnamed campaign supervisor told Papadopoulos in an email.

 

photo.png

NBC News later reported that Sam Clovis, a former top Trump campaign official, was the campaign supervisor described in the email exchanges with Papadopoulos. Victoria Toensing, Clovis’ lawyer, confirmed this to the news organization.

Papadopoulos’ plea and continued cooperation with Mueller’s team could move the Russia probe forward. As the investigation continues, it would not be surprising if more indictments may be on the horizon for former Trump campaign staffers.