It could turn out that George Papadopoulos remains the fairly minor character – the mere “coffee boy“– in the Russia probe that he seemed to be at the beginning of this saga. But as we reported last week, the structure of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s charges against Papadopoulos–in particular how the timeline abruptly stops on July 22, 2016, the day Wikileaks published the hacked DNC emails–suggests there may be a lot more that we still don’t know.
Following up on that story, Tierney Sneed has spent the better part of the last week tracking everything we know about Papadopoulos’ movement and activities since the Republican National Convention. She has filled in a lot of new or newly surfaced information, including translations from the original Greek, that gives a much more textured picture of what Papadopoulos was doing during that key stretch from the convention to inauguration.
A lot of gaps remain in the timeline, but what emerges from Tierney’s reporting is that Papadopoulos was using his newfound status as a Trump campaign adviser to tout himself and his access to the candidate in venues from New York to Greece, from small gatherings of Greek Americans to mid-level official meetings in the UK to confabs with the highest level officials in Greece. Over the course of 2016 and into 2017, we can place him in Cleveland, Chicago, New York, London, Italy, and multiple times in Greece.
One question I had after reviewing the timeline: Where was Papadopoulos getting the money for his extensive travels? His resume is thin and he doesn’t seem to have had held the kind of position that would support this level of international travel. Were his self-styled “consulting” gigs paying better than you might expect for a man in his late 20s? Did he have independent sources of wealth? These are open questions that might not go to the ultimate questions of what if any additional contact he had with Russians after July 22, 2016, and of what he communicated to the campaign about those contacts. But it’s curious.
While the White House, former campaign officials and Trump himself have downplayed Papadopoulos’ role since his guilty plea, the record shows Papadopoulos was jet-setting across Europe from July 2016 through the inauguration and possibly beyond. When he was was arrested in July 2017 at Dulles, he was arriving from Munich, though it’s not clear whether Munich was his original departure, or what he was doing abroad on that trip.
Papadopoulos would not be the first campaign hanger-on to exploit the gap between his actual and apparent authority. Hucksters, grifters, and ambitious wannabes plague every presidential campaign. It’s downright Trumpian even – as was the report in Greek media, which we have not been able to confirm, that Papadopoulos’ sudden minor fame landed him a gig judging a beauty contest on a Greek isle. Trump would be so proud. We’re still trying to track that down. Stay tuned.
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