I suppose that today’s indictments were a huge disappointment to those hoping for a deus ex Mueller event to remove Donald Trump from the White House.
The indictments of Paul Manfort and his business partner, Richard Gates on charges of garden variety tax evasion and money laundering, though, admittedly on an utterly heroic scale (go big or go home, y’all) with no apparent links to either Trump or his campaign or to Russia in the context of the 2016 election.
The outlier was the indictment of a guy named George Papadopoulos. He seems to have been a bit player who gained employment on the Trump campaign because of his employment in the oil/gas industry in Russia and his claims of high level contacts in Russia. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents.
You can take that plea agreement one of two ways. You can see that no one in the campaign showed any interest in his proposals, in fact, Sam Clovis and Jeff Sessions shot them down, or you can see that HE HAS FLIPPED!!1! and will testify against the whole bunch.
I’m going to present these in no particular order of craziness
The FBI interview where Papadopolous lied about his Russia contacts came on the same day, Jan. 27, Trump asked Comey for a loyalty pledge.
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) October 30, 2017
THREAD: What does news that George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI mean? (Hint: He's flipping.)
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) October 30, 2017
Papadopoulos lied… about Trump campaign colluding with Russia. SHS notes his guilty plea was for lying, as if the 2nd part doesn’t exist.
— Sam Stein (@samstein) October 30, 2017
Dear @POTUS: Answer is because of your colluding associates like GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS, and his campaign supervisor, and potentially YOU. https://t.co/PEkqWOjX7l
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) October 30, 2017
Dear @realDonaldTrump: You must have missed the Papadopoulos guilty plea. He colluded & was one of your foreign policy advisors. https://t.co/Ge85d43oWi
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) October 30, 2017
FALSE AGAIN: Papadopoulos guilty plea includes evidence of collusion, see e.g. Para. 2.a. https://t.co/750n018K2f. A one-two punch today! https://t.co/eu7LIpMX5Y
— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) October 30, 2017
This, however, starts my favorite part of the fantasy
Today’s indictments of Manafort and Gates, and Papadopoulos’ guilty plea are key developments in Russia probe. Here’s why: pic.twitter.com/ELNg3LPoe3
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) October 30, 2017
Another smoking gun. Guilty plea documents make clear Russians sought to coordinate with Papadopoulos through the campaign re: Clinton email https://t.co/zFot6UqV0W
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) October 30, 2017
This is all linked to this section of the Papadopoulos indictment:
Defendant PAPADOPOULOS acknowledged that the professor had told him about the Russians possessing “dirt” on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” but stated multiple times that he learned that information prior to joining the Campaign. In truth and in fact, however, defendant PAPADOPOULOS learned he would be an advisor to the Campaign in early March, and met the professor on or about March 14, 2016; the professor only took interest in defendant PAPADOPOULOS because of his status with the Campaign; and the professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS about the “thousands of emails” on or about April 26, 2016, when defendant PAPADOPOULOS had been a foreign policy adviser to the Campaign for over a month.
This allegation is that the Russians had hacked the DNC’s server and told Papadopoulos that they had the product of that breach at least two months before the DNC discovered the breach. This is possible, if you believe in time travel. The Wikileaks metadata for the DNC emails indicates they only cover the period January to May. According to what Schiff is pushing, Papadopoulos was told in April that the Kremlin had emails that hadn’t been written at that point. Alternatively, assuming the contact wasn’t just making stuff up, the emails she was talking about were not the DNC hack.
Another theory pushed is that this person was talking about the Podesta phishing expedition which produced a lot of juicy inside gossip but nothing about Hillary.
And a final point is this footnote:
The government notes that the official forwarded defendant PAPADOPOULOS’s email to another Campaign official (without including defendant PAPADOPOULOS) and stated: “Let[‘]s discuss. We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”
It is pretty clear the official is Manafort. This is how the Post reported the incident earlier:
Papadopoulos made more than a half-dozen overtures on behalf of Russians or people with Russia contacts whom he claimed to know.
On March 24, Clovis, the campaign co-chairman who also served on the foreign policy team, reacted to one proposed Russia meeting by writing, “We thought we probably should not go forward with any meeting with the Russians until we have had occasion to sit with our NATO allies.”
In the same email chain, Kubic, the retired admiral, reminded others about legal restrictions on meetings with certain Russian officials, adding, “Just want to make sure that no one on the team outruns their headlights and embarrasses the campaign.”
Several weeks later, Papadopoulos forwarded the same message from Timofeev to Manafort, the newly named campaign chairman.
“Russia has been eager to meet with Mr. Trump for some time and have been reaching out to me to discuss,” the adviser told Manafort.
Manafort reacted coolly, forwarding the email to his associate Rick Gates, with a note: “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips.”
Gates agreed and told Manafort he would ask the campaign’s correspondence coordinator to handle it — “the person responding to all mail of non-importance” — to signify this did not need a senior official to respond.
To me, the front page’s token, though dedicated Trumpkin, but also a speaker of English, the footnote says exactly what the WaPo story says. The overture made to a very junior campaign staffer seemed suspicious, there was concern that the campaign could be embarrassed (though after a lot of what happened I find that belief to be charming in its innocence), and they wanted to stop that communication without putting a senior staffer in position of acknowledging it and being revealed to have talked to a Russian operative. Even in its worst light you have a hyperactive campaign staffer who is shut down by senior staff.
But what do I know?
Anyway, there you have it. Progressive twitter says the case has been proven and the collusion exists unless you are just in deep denial. There is no charge for conspiracy to overreach on a story and then look foolish, but if there was, a lot of people would be arrested today.