In addition to charges against President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort that were released on Monday, there was another unexpected development in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
George Papadopoulos, identified in March 2016 as an adviser to the Trump campaign during an interview with the Washington Post, admitted to having provided false statements to the FBI about his interactions with individuals tied to the Russian government. Papadopoulos’ credentials as a foreign-policy adviser were questioned immediately by observers; a 2009 college graduate, his LinkedIn page included his work with model United Nations as an “honor and award.”
According to a document unsealed by the FBI on Monday, Papadopoulos admits to having been contacted by Russian agents shortly after being identified as a campaign adviser, contacts that continued for months. After being arrested in July, he then meets with authorities multiple times to answer questions, details revealed only once the Manafort indictment is made public.
Below, a timeline of what the statement details.
March 6, 2016: Papadopoulos learns that he will serve as an adviser to Trump’s campaign. (The timing isn’t clear; it may have been a day before or after this date.)
March 14: While in Italy, Papadopoulos meets a “professor based in London” who is initially “uninterested” in Papadopoulos – until Papadopoulos explains that he’s working for Trump’s campaign. Papadopoulos is interested in the professor because the professor has links to the Kremlin, which Papadopoulos believed would be useful in bolstering his position with the campaign.
March 21: Trump meets with the Post and identifies several campaign advisers, including Papadopoulos.
March 22: Papadopoulos’ credentials are called into question.
On this same day, Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta is sent an email including a fraudulent link to change his Google password. It’s believed that this email was sent by an agent of the Russian government and was used to illegally access his email account.
March 24: Papadopoulos and the professor meet in London. They are joined by a woman who claims to be a niece of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The purpose of the meeting, he later writes in an email to “the Campaign Supervisor and several members of the Campaign’s foreign policy team” (per the statement), is to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin.
Who the “campaign supervisor” is isn’t clear. At that point, the Trump campaign is being managed by Corey Lewandowski. In August, the Post reported that Sam Clovis, a campaign co-chairman who worked with the foreign policy team, had rejected the idea of a meeting over the short term.
“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,” he wrote in an email.
From our report: “In the same email chain, [adviser Navy Rear Adm. Charles] 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.’ ”
March 28: Manafort is hired to manage the Trump campaign’s delegate process.
March 31: At a campaign national security meeting in Washington (also attended by Trump), Papadopoulos tells the group that he had connections that could facilitate a meeting with Putin.
Trump tweeted an image from the meeting. Jeff Sessions, then a senator from Alabama, is seated in the foreground and is speaking. Papadopoulos is sitting two chairs to Sessions’s left.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders described Papadopoulos as an insignificant volunteer.
Here he is at a meeting with Trump + top advisers in 3/2016: pic.twitter.com/P16VkImCmS
— John Haltiwanger (@jchaltiwanger) October 30, 2017
Early April: Papadopoulos emails the foreign policy team to update them about ongoing discussions with the professor and Putin’s “niece.” He details his “outreach to Russia.”
At some point this month, the Democratic National Committee’s server is illegally accessed by hackers believed to be connected to the Russian government. It’s the second such intrusion; the first occurred in the summer of 2015.
April 10 – 11: In an email exchange with the “niece” and the professor, Papadopoulos mentions trying to set up a “potential foreign policy trip to Russia.” The professor replies that it has “already been agreed” and mentions that he’ll be in Moscow later that month for meetings at the Russian Duma and a “Valdai meeting.” (There is such a meeting on April 19.)
The niece replies, “I have already alerted my personal links to our conversation and your request . . . As mentioned we are all very excited by the possibility of a good relationship with Mr. Trump. The Russian Federation would love to welcome him once his candidature would be officially announced.”
April 18: During the period that the professor says he’ll be in Russia, he introduces Papadopoulos over email to a Russian who works for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Later reporting from the Post indicates that this is likely Ivan Timofeev, a senior MFA official.
Late April: Papadopoulos and the Timofeev have “multiple conversations over Skype and email” about setting up a meeting between the campaign and government officials.
April 22: Timofeev and Papadopoulos discuss meetings in Moscow or London.
April 26: Papadopoulos and the professor meet in London. At that meeting, the professor tells Papadopoulos that, while in Moscow, he learned that “the Russians had obtained “dirt” on then-candidate [Hillary] Clinton.” Per Papadopoulos, the professor said that “‘They have dirt on her’; ‘the Russians had emails of Clinton’; ‘they have thousands of emails.'”
April 27: Papadopoulos emails a senior campaign staffer to indicate that he’s gotten some “interesting messages.” He also emails a “high-ranking campaign official” to reiterate that Putin would like to host Trump. The Post’s August report indicates that the high-ranking official who was told about Putin wanting to meet was Lewandowski.
April 30: Papadopoulos emails the professor to thank him for his help, saying that it’s “history making” if the meeting happens.
May 4: Timofeev emails Papadopoulos.
“I have just talked to my colleagues from the MFA,” it reads. “The[y] are open for cooperation. One of the options is to make a meeting for you at the North America Desk, if you are in Moscow.”
Papadopoulos forwards this to Lewandowski and, the next day to the “campaign supervisor,” who is probably Clovis. Lewandowski doesn’t reply; Clovis says, “[t]here are legal issues we need to mitigate, meeting with foreign officials as a private citizen.”
May 21: Papadopoulos emails another high-ranking campaign official – Manafort, according to The Post’s August report – informing him that “Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out to me to discuss.”
Manafort forwards the email to Rick Gates (who was also indicted on Monday). “We need someone to communicate that [Trump] is not doing these trips,” he writes. “It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”
Summer 2016: Papadopoulos tries to set up an off-the-record meeting between the campaign and Russian officials, possibly including himself.
“The Russian ministry of foreign affairs messaged and said that if Mr. Trump is unable to make it to Russia, if a campaign rep (me or someone else) can make it for meetings?” he emails a campaign official on June 19. “I am willing to make the trip off the record if it’s in the interest of Mr. Trump and the campaign to meet specific people.”
The meeting never happens.
July 22: WikiLeaks begins releasing emails stolen from the DNC.
July 27: During a news conference, Trump states that Russia “probably [has] her 33,000 emails” – referring to emails deleted by Clinton after her service in the State Department because her lawyers didn’t believe them to be related to her tenure.
Oct. 7: WikiLeaks begins releasing emails stolen from Podesta.
Jan. 27: Papadopoulos is interviewed at the FBI. During that interview, he makes false statements about the above interactions. He claims:
- That the professor contacted him before Papadopoulos worked with the campaign and that he met the “niece” before him being in that role as well.
- That the professor was an unimportant figure.
- That he was told about the “dirt” on Clinton before serving with the campaign.
Feb. 16: The FBI interviews him again.
Feb. 17: Papadopoulos deactivates his Facebook account. It had included information about his conversations with the professor.
July 27: Papadopoulos is arrested at Dulles Airport in Washington.
Summer: Papadopoulos “[meets] with the Government on numerous occasions to provide information and answer questions.”
Oct. 5: Papadopoulos admits that the statements he gave the FBI are false and agrees to the timeline and details above.
Oct. 30: The statement of offense is unsealed, the same day that indictments against Manafort and Gates are made public.