Today as I was writing up various bizarre new permutations of the George Papadopoulos/Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos story, I didn’t know there was even more bizarreness emerging from a separate interview Simona Mangiante gave The Daily Caller. The Caller interview, which was conducted Sunday, largely tracks with what Mangiante told Tucker Carlson last night on Fox News. The new detail is her claim that George Papadopoulos old pled guilty to the charge of lying to federal investigators because the Mueller team had threatened to charge him with acting as an agent of Israel without registration as such – the same crime Paul Manafort got hit on with Ukraine.
What on earth is going on here?
Let’s take these points one at a time.
Point One: The Israeli agent thing is not as crazy as it sounds. There are various indications that even though Papadopoulos’s boozy statements in London kicked off the Russia probe in July 2016, his cooperation with Mueller may have been more important on the George Nader/United Arab Emirates/Erik Prince part of Mueller’s probe. Whether or not it’s true, the claim that Papadopoulos was threatened with charges of being an unregistered foreign agent do not seem new from the couple. That claim seems to long predate their turn-on-a-dime switch from cooperation with the Mueller probe to full anti-Deep State activists.
Point Two: Mangiante’s story seems to track almost exactly to what Trumpers have been saying since the Halper revelation and the whole “SpyGate” nonsense: the same claims about the emails being about Hillary’s server and the not the DNC emails, what Mifsud said being common knowledge and gossip rather than secret intel, Papadopoulos being set up by the FBI. Basically every counter argument we’ve heard from Trump defenders over the last month or two picking apart the origins of the FBI probe is now an argument Mangiante is making.
Point Three: Mangiante is particularly focused on claiming that George Papadopoulos has absolutely nothing bad or incriminating to say about Donald Trump or even his campaign. My understanding is that that is actually not accurate, in terms of what he told the Mueller team. But who exactly is she trying to prove something to?
Point Four: Mangiante seems to be going out of her way to attack and discredit the Mueller probe itself. Certainly that is going to appeal to Trump and Trump partisans. And they’re looking for a pardon. But that seems like a longshot. And he’s still awaiting sentencing. I don’t have a sense of how likely prosecutors would be to tear up a plea agreement or revisit their sentencing recommendation based on the very weird set of facts in which the wife of a cooperator is on a media tour attacking the integrity of an investigation with which her husband is supposedly cooperating. But this must entail some significant risk. Anyone who has professional experience which gives insight on this, please drop me a line.
Point Five: George Papadopoulos himself isn’t talking. So the Washington Post got a statement from his lawyers in response to Simona’s claims. Here’s that passage …
In a joint statement, Papadopoulos’s lawyers Thomas Breen and Robert Stanley said: “The most accurate account of Mr. Papadopoulos’ plea agreement and plea of guilty is contained in the publicly filed court records and the transcript of Mr. Papadopoulos’ guilty plea.”