For weeks, a number of prominent Republicans in Congress have been working overtime to dishonestly smear the reputation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in the hope of sabotaging his investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. The GOP’s primary talking point has been that the investigation and related warrants and arrests are based on the infamous Trump-Russia dossier, a legitimate piece of research that’s also been falsely smeared. Now Mueller is striking back by revealing that the investigation originally emanated from an entirely different source: alcohol.
Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos got drunk early in 2016 and bragged about how he was conspiring with Russia to try to rig the election against Hillary Clinton, according to a New York Times report (link). An Australian diplomat heard it and reported him to the FBI, which set the Trump-Russia investigation in motion. It was later taken over by Mueller after Trump illegally fired FBI Director James Comey in the hope of sabotaging the investigation.
While the New York Times has done extensive reporting here on a number of aspects of the Papadopoulos story, make no mistake: the detail about him mouthing off while drunk had to have come from the FBI itself. Moreover, the FBI wouldn’t have leaked this information to the media without Mueller signing off on it. The timing makes fairly clear that Mueller is putting this out there specifically to counter the Republican Party’s sudden false claim that the investigation originated from the dossier.
Remarkably, this means Robert Mueller and the FBI have been sitting on this detail about George Papadopoulos from the start. They’re only letting this particular cat out of the bag at this time for strategic reasons. This comes after they managed to keep the arrest of Papadopoulos secret for four months before strategically revealing that as well. Mueller and the FBI have been several steps ahead all along.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report