Who indeed? George Papadopoulos blabbed about collusion with Russia!!
In his endless effort to demean the FBI and delegitimize the Trump–Russia investigation, Donald Trump has been pushing the idea that the investigation was started by Clinton partisans who ‘funded the Steele dossier.’ But the New York Times is reporting a very different origin for the FBI’s involvement.
During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton. …
two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.
The FBI opened its investigation long before the election, not on the basis of the dossier or any other opposition research. The investigation began because a member of Trump’s own campaign blabbed to foreign officials that the Trump campaign had knowledge about Russia’s role in stealing information from Democratic officials.
[Papadopoulos’] saga is also a tale of the Trump campaign in miniature. He was brash, boastful and underqualified, yet he exceeded expectations. And, like the campaign itself, he proved to be a tantalizing target for a Russian influence operation.
The FBI began investigating collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, because a member of the Trump campaign bragged about colluding with Russia … which seems like a pretty good reason to investigate.
UPDATE: Let’s examine the NYT story in detail. Trump KNEW about and approved Russian interference in the election.
(THREAD) BREAKING: The NYT has published a bombshell report on George Papadopoulos—the biggest Trump-Russia news since Flynn’s plea. This thread dissects the new revelations—as well as some major implications for the Trump-Russia collusion narrative. I hope you’ll read and share.
1/ First, here’s the article. The NYT foregrounds the story’s significance as a rebuttal of Trump’s claims the Russia investigation began with the Steele Dossier. But in fact, anyone who knows criminal investigations knew long ago Trump’s claim was untrue.
2/ As has been discussed by @AshaRangappa_, the Steele Dossier alone would never have been enough to earn the FBI the July 2016 FISA warrant it was granted to monitor Carter Page. So attorneys and those in intelligence long ago knew the Dossier didn’t launch the probe by itself.
3/ The NYT story gives us—it appears—an additional piece of the warrant application the FBI filed to get a FISA warrant in July ’16. But again, this is merely a piece—as was the Dossier. We know multiple intelligence agencies, not just Australia’s, provided the FBI with evidence.
4/ So Trump’s claim that the FBI grabbed a dossier of raw intelligence it hadn’t yet confirmed and ran to the FISA court to secure a warrant to wiretap Americans connected to the Trump campaign has been laughably false from Day 1. And media has not done enough to underscore that.
5/ What we learn from the NYT (though again it’s not—contrary to what the NYT seems to believe from its headline—what makes today’s breaking news significant) is that the Australians informed U.S. law enforcement in July 2016 that Papadopoulos had made covert contact with Russia.
6/ In fact, while today’s NYT story is indeed this month’s second-biggest Trump-Russia revelation—after the December 1 guilty plea by Mike Flynn—what makes it significant isn’t that it rebuts Trump’s false claims but that it may have *sealed the Trump-Russia collusion narrative*.
7/ If the NYT understood this, it would’ve led with it. But one must know the *prior* reporting on Papadopoulos to understand why today’s news constitutes one of the biggest revelations in the 18-monthy history of the Trump-Russia probe. So I’ll *briefly* summarize what we know.
8/ On September 22—40 days before we learned Papadopoulos was cooperating with the Mueller probe—I said that he had directly identified himself to Trump as a Kremlin agent in March 2016. This led to major-media coverage of the now-infamous “TIHDC meeting.”
9/ It hadn’t previously been discussed that Papadopoulos was at the first meeting of Trump’s national security (NatSec) team at the Trump International Hotel in DC (TIHDC) on March 31, 2016. But he was there—a *week* after revealing himself as a Kremlin agent to the NatSec team.
10/ So when (per the NYT) Papadopoulos revealed in May ’16 to an Australian diplomat that he knew Russia had committed major federal crimes against the U.S.—via computer theft and fraud—it was two months after he told Trump’s NatSec team *and Trump* he was in contact with Russia.
11/ The nature of the contact that Papadopoulos revealed in March 2016 to Trump and his team was that he was a *legal* agent—in the law we’d say “special agent”—of the Kremlin. He was authorized to represent the Kremlin’s interests in setting up a clandestine Trump-Putin meeting.
12/ That authority came to Papadopoulos—from Kremlin officials—through another Kremlin agent, Joseph Mifsud. This is why Papadopoulos, per public reporting by WP, identified himself to Trump on March 31, 2017 as a Kremlin “intermediary” designated not by Trump but by the Kremlin.
13/ As has been exhaustively detailed by WaPo (WP), Trump’s NatSec team spent *two months*—from March to May of 2016—discussing how to handle Papadopoulos’ “offer” of acting as an intermediary between Trump and Putin. They did *not* dismiss the offer in March, whatever some say.
14/ It was in the *middle* of this deliberation by the NatSec team that Papadopoulos, in April 2016, was told the Kremlin had committed federal computer crimes by stealing emails from a presidential candidate. Papadopoulos *knew* his team was then deliberating a Trump-Putin meet.
15/ During this period, Papadopoulos was *personally* hounding top Trump officials—per the WP—to give him more authority and allow him to travel abroad to arrange a Trump-Putin meeting. His April intelligence on the Clinton emails was *without a doubt* a card he would’ve played.
16/ So while Australian law enforcement knew of the stolen Clinton emails in May 2016, and the FBI knew by July 2016 (via Australia), it’s a *lock* that Papadopoulos gave this intel to Trump and his campaign—from whom he wanted present authority *and* a future job—in April 2016.
17/ So when Trump said, in July 2016, “Russia, if you’re listening…” let’s be clear—he a) knew they were listening, b) knew they’d stolen the emails he was urging them to release, and c)—this is key—had already promised, *via Papadopoulos*, to reward them for being good to him.
18/ This is the first real bombshell from the NYT: we now know Papadopoulos helped write the April 27, 2016 speech in which Trump promised Russia a “good deal” if they’d be his “friend,” and that Trump *knew* Papadopoulos would transmit to Russia that that speech was a *message*.
19/ In March 2017, Seth Abrahamson was the first to argue that Trump’s Mayflower Speech was the orchestrated beginning of a negotiation with the Russians—a negotiation about unilaterally dropping Russian sanctions. That thread essentially launched this feed (see link).
20/ The NYT has just confirmed the crux of that March 2017 thread: that Trump had—by April 27, 2016—established sufficient means to send a message to Russia that the careful placement of Kislyak at the event (violating diplomatic protocol) signaled the beginning of a negotiation.
21/ Per the NYT, Papadopoulos was that means. Papadopoulos told Trump he was a Kremlin agent; Trump put Papadopoulos on his campaign’s Russia beat (not Papadopoulos’ specialization); he let him help with the Mayflower Speech; he knew Papadopoulos would communicate that to Russia
22/ Per the NYT, Papadopoulos working on the Mayflower Speech was a signal to Russia negotiations had begun. So: Papadopoulos tells Russia he’s helping with Trump’s foreign policy; Russia tells him of the emails; Papadopoulos tells the campaign; Trump offers Russia a “good deal.”
23/ All of this happens in April 2016, which is why Papadopoulos was feeling pretty damn good about himself in May 2016 when he let slip about the emails to an Australian diplomat.
It also explains why Trump was so frustrated when the Kremlin didn’t give Don the emails in June.
24/ Don was excited to meet Kremlin agents in June 2016 to get Clinton “dirt” because Papadopoulos told the campaign in April Russia had that dirt. When Veselnitskaya left only a slim file with Don, the campaign was dissatisfied. They thought Russia would then release the emails.
25/ That didn’t happen—other hacked info was released instead—which is why Trump made the appeal himself, on TV, in July 2016.
He’d already promised Russia a “good deal” on sanctions if they’d be a “friend”—he said he’d “reward” friends—but he felt they hadn’t delivered enough.