When John Updike’s fictional alter ego Henry Bech was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature , Updike posited the headline reporting the news in the New York Daily News: “BECH? WHODAT???” (The thought was at the same time self-deprecating and self-aggrandizing. Updike was one of the most prominent of those who deserved the Nobel Prize for Literature in the past 25 years while failing to receive it. Now it is Philip Roth all by himself.)
Reading the news of the guilty plea of George Papadopoulos yesterday, I had that Henry Bech feeling. Papadopoulos? Whodat??? Herewith a few notes.
Whoever he is, he’s not very smart. There is no law requiring one to talk to the FBI. There is no law requiring one to answer questions posed by the FBI. There is a law, however, criminalizing false information given to the FBI. In the Statement of Offense unsealed yesterday, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to the violation of that law in an interview with the FBI on January 27, 2017.
Whoever he is, he was a bit player in the Trump campaign. He served as an unpaid foreign policy adviser who attended one meeting with Trump. All of 30 years old, he shows that the Trump campaign lacked a deep bench in foreign policy expertise or in vetting those whose association might embarrass the Trump campaign.
Papadopoulos was arrested on July 27, 2017. The plea document was dated October 5 and filed under seal. The plea document makes it apparent that he is cooperating with the FBI. His arrest was kept secret, however, so that he could cooperate “prospectively.” Secret cooperation is likely to have included the recording of conversations with others who didn’t know what he was up to. Allahpundit pulls the threads together here at Hot Air.
When Paul Mirengoff read news of Papadopoulos’s plea yesterday, he knew “whodat.” Paul’s analysis of the plea is posted here.
The first nine pages of the Statement of Offense (I’ll refer to it as “the plea document”) are critical. They lay out the facts to which Papadopoulo has agreed. The narrative appears to be based in large part on emails provided to the FBI by the Trump campaign.
The plea document’s paragraph 21 in particular requires a close look. According to paragraph 21, from mid-June through mid-August 2016 Papadopooulos pursued an “off the record” meeting of a Trump campaign representative with Vladimir Putin or the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The plea document names no one but Papadopoulos. Everyone else is identified only in his or her professional capacity. Papadopoulos sought to arrange a meeting with the Russian through “the professor” based in London (where Papadopoulos was living) and through a Female Russian National (not even given a professional capacity). The references to “the Professor” put me in mind of Irwin Corey. The Female Russian National is the femme fatale. A film noir or dark comedy is struggling to emerge from the plea document.
Papadopoulos was on the make; he nominated himself to attend the meeting on behalf of the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos communicated by email with an unidentified Trump campaign official identified only as “the Campaign Supervisor.” The Campaign Supervisor complimented Papadopoulos on his efforts and encouraged Papadopoulos and another (unnamed) foreign policy adviser to “make the trip, if it is feasible.”
Papadopoulos’s email communications with the Trump campaign also rope in two (inconsistently capitalized) High-Ranking Campaign Officials. A footnote to paragraph 19 states that the one of the high-ranking officials communicates with yet another campaign official: “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.” Paragraph 21(c) states without further explanation that the proposed trip “did not take place.”
What happened? Papadopoulos failed in his efforts to make himself a big shot courtesy of the Trump campaign. To borrow a line from Cool Hand Luke: “What we have here is failure to communicate.” Or to collude. Now Papadopoulos is a tool of Team Mueller and their own big plans.