Last week Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed that he had secretly arrested Donald Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos all the way back in July. This made clear that Mueller has been several steps ahead of the public (and several more steps ahead of Trump) all along. However, new details about the arrest of Papadopoulos make clear that it was a rushed affair without significant advance planning – raising the question of what triggered it.
Mueller and his team arrested Papadopoulos when he arrived at Dulles Airport, after having returned home from Munich. According to a new Politico report (link), the decision to arrest him was made so hastily that there wasn’t even yet an arrest warrant in place. This is remarkable, considering that Papadopoulos was arrested in July for lies that he had told the FBI all the way back in January. Something changed, and very quickly, which prompted Mueller to decide to nab Papadopoulos as quickly as possible.
Papadopoulos was arrested on July 27th. Just six days earlier, the Associated Press reported that Michael Flynn had rather curiously announced he was “moving on with his life” and setting up shop in the private sector (link). That’s not the kind of thing you ever hear from someone who’s facing arrest on serious criminal charges as part of the most infamous criminal conspiracy in American history. It was enough to prompt Palmer Report to wonder aloud at the time if it meant Flynn had cut a deal (link). Now that we know Mueller and his team scrambled to arrest Papadopoulos just days after Flynn’s “moving on” announcement, it raises the question of whether Flynn may have indeed cut a deal – and provided evidence that allowed Mueller to determine Papadopoulos had been lying.
There are also other events on the Trump-Russia calendar which line up with the George Papadopoulos arrest date. Longtime Kremlin critic Bill Browder testified before Congress about the Trump-Russia scandal on that same day, July 27th. The Russian sanctions bill also became veto-proof on that day. Donald Trump hired Anthony Scaramucci as an attempted distraction from the scandal on July 21st. Take your pick. But it feels like the most plausible explanation is that Michael Flynn cut a deal and gave up Papadopoulos among others. It would also explain why Flynn isn’t sitting in prison.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report