Even as the nation is still trying to get to know the name “Rick Gates” after he was arrested alongside Paul Manafort this morning, yet another name is coming front and center in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has cut a plea deal with the Feds, and in the process he’s exposed a criminal level of collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russian government during the election.
If you’ve heard the name “George Papadopoulos” before, it’s because the Trump campaign initially tried to throw him under the bus when it first began voluntarily turning over campaign emails to Special Counsel Robert Mueller last month. What’s not clear is whether the campaign knew that Papadopoulos was already working with the Feds. According to numerous major news outlets Papadopoulos was caught lying to the FBI back in January, he was quietly arrested in July, and his plea deal secretly became official earlier this month. He’s confessed to the kind of crimes that leave no doubt about Trump-Russia collusion.
According to lengthy official court documents that became public today (link), George Papadopoulos took a meeting with a Kremlin-connected professor who promised to give him emails that had supposedly been stolen from Hillary Clinton. He initially lied to the FBI by claiming that the meeting took place before he joined the Trump campaign. He’s since confessed that the meeting took place while he was working as a Trump campaign adviser.
So now we have a Donald Trump campaign adviser formally confessing to having colluded with the Russian government on behalf of the Donald Trump campaign. Here’s what stands out: today’s criminal charges filed against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates have nothing to do with what Papadopoulos has given Mueller. That means we’re looking at just the start of the criminal takedowns. Trump tweeted this morning that “there is NO COLLUSION!” He couldn’t be more wrong.