When Special Counsel Robert Mueller struck a plea bargain with Mike Flynn, leading to yesterday’s historic admission of guilt for lying to the FBI, he already had done the same with a young Greek-American who found himself on Donald Trump’s national security team with very little background in the field.
Those who have followed the case may remember Papadopoulos as the man who, among other things, peddled to the campaign his acquaintance with Vladimir Putin’s niece to show he had channels to the Kremlin – except that the woman in the farce had no connection whatsoever to the Russian president.
A Washington Post OP-ED on 1 December by Randall D. Eliason cites the Papadopoulos deal with the special counsel on the same charge of lying as a direct precedent for Flynn’s mega deal.
‘’Flynn pleaded guilty to a single count of false statements, a felony that carries a sentence of up to five years. This is the same charge that George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to in October. Papadopoulos and Flynn admitted to similar crimes: lying to the FBI during the week after Trump’s inauguration about contacts they had with Russian individuals while working for the campaign or the presidential transition. In both cases, although Mueller’s team is bringing the charges, the lies to the FBI took place several months before Mueller was appointed,’’ the author underlined.
“Papadopoulos, a low-level member of the Trump campaign and a former intern and researcher at the conservative Hudson Institute, claimed the purpose was ‘to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.’ The government case noted, in fact, the woman was not Russian President Vladi¬mir Putin’s niece, and while Papadopoulos expected the professor would introduce him to the Russian ambassador, that never happened. But in the months that followed, Papadopoulos continued to correspond with the woman and the professor about a possible meeting between the Trump campaign, possibly including Trump himself, and Russian officials,” the newspaper reported.
The Greek connection
In Greece, like a latter day Zelig who inexplicably finds himself right beside the high and mighty, Papadopoulos was received by Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and many members of the Athens political and media establishment.
He was the quintessential example of the fact that, to use a famous saying coined by the late painter Yannis Tsarouchis, “In Greece, you are whatever you declare yourself to be.”
But it appears that the same principle applied in the Trump campaign.
Seth Abramson on Papadopoulos
A University of New Hampshire law professor and former public defender, Seth Abramson, has become the most prolific pundit on the Russia Trump Affair and the darling of major international media, from the BBC to Bloomberg.
The Papadopoulos precedent
In his coverage of Flynn’s plea – on just a single charge after the plea bargaining – Abramson compares the Flynn deal to the precedent with Papadopoulos, whom he describes as a ‘top advisor’ to Trump while noting that he is something of a small fry compared to Flynn.
In a twitter thread of about 100 tweets on the occasion of yesterday’s move by Flynn, Abramson makes the following comparison:
“10/ The Papadopoulos plea paled in comparison to this because Papadopoulos was a top national security advisor to Mr. Trump, but still at nothing like Flynn’s level of access and authority. The Manafort indictment pales in comparison because it was just an indictment, not a plea.”
Though his twitter threads are heavy on hypothesis, Abramson is consistently prolific in registering every fresh detail daily in an effort to connect the dots in a complex, multi-level case.
The endless Trump-Russia tweets
What follows are some of the main, numbered tweets in yesterday’s thread, which views the Flynn deal as historic, and the Trump-Russia affair as being as big or even bigger than Watergate:
1/ First, it’s important to understand that Mueller has entered into a plea deal with Flynn in which Flynn pleads guilty to far less than the available evidence suggests he could be charged with. This indicates that he has cut a deal with Mueller to cooperate in the Russia probe.
Flynn serves Turkey secretly
3/ Flynn is widely regarded as dead-to-rights on more charges than Making False Statements—notably, FARA violations (failing to register as a foreign agent of Turkey under the Foreign Agent Registration Act). There’s recently been evidence he was part of a kidnapping plot, too. [This refers to an alleged plot to kidnap and transport to Turkey Erdogan arch-enemy Fetullah Gulen, whom the Turkish president blames for the abortive coup against him. Flynn was a top Turkish lobbyist in Washington].
Nailing Trump and Pence?
8/ What this indicates—beyond any serious doubt—is the following: Special Counsel Bob Mueller, the former Director of the FBI, believes Mike Flynn’s testimony will *incriminate* the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, or both of these two men.
9/ For this reason, what’s about to happen in 50 minutes is far and away the biggest development thus far in the Trump-Russia probe, and likely the biggest development in U.S. politics since President Nixon resigned from office during the Watergate scandal. This is historic.
Heavy toll on GOP
83/ Before this ends, the GOP will have no choice but to disavow Trump as one of the greatest traitors in our history—we’re getting only the first inkling of that eventuality today. But Trump won’t go quietly—he’ll take about half the GOP with him to form a new political party.
‘Bigger than Watergate’
79/ The Guardian’s Luke Harding, who literally wrote the book on Trump-Russia collusion—at least the one we have now (and it’s quite excellent, by the way)—says this scandal is «bigger than Watergate.» I agree and have been saying that since December 2016.