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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The "young, low level volunteer named George"

The title of this post comes from one of President Trump's tweets earlier this morning.

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

George Papadopoulos is third from left in this picture, seated a few feet away from Donald Trump. Yesterday, it was revealed that Papadopoulos had pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with representatives of the Russian government. The photo was posted by Trump on his Instagram feed on March 31, 2016 with the caption  "Meeting with my national security team in #WashingtonDC." Current Attorney General Jeff Sessions (then-head of the national security team) is seated at the opposite end of the table.

The FBI guilty plea agreement says Papadopoulos first met with an alleged Russian intermediary on March 14:
...defendant PAPADOPOULOS met the Professor for the first time on or about March 14, 2016, after defendant PAPADOPOULOS had already learned he would be a foreign policy advisor for the Campaign; the Professor showed interest in defendant PAPADOPOULOS only after learning of his role on the Campaign...
Additionally, Trump mentioned Papadopoulos by name as an advisor in The Washington Post on March 21.  Thus, the picture above isn't some random photo opportunity showing Trump with a campaign volunteer or celebrity.  During at least a few weeks in March 2016, Papadapoulos was meeting with Russians who allegedly had dirt on Hillary Clinton -- and Donald Trump knew him by name and sat with him at a table of national security advisors. He apparently stayed with the team for 7 to 11 months.

On August 14, The Washington Post had a story about Papadopoulos and his efforts to connect Trump and Russia. Lots of people in the story tried to play down the importance of these efforts even as senior officials like Sessions and Jared Kushner actually later took meetings with Russians. For lots of interesting links and assessment amidst some conspiratorial speculation, see this September 22 Twitter thread from Professor Seth Abramson. Continued here and here. All 100 tweets are also on Facebook.


The photo is also here, in case the Trump team takes it down. Fox had an informative news bit about investigator interest in the meeting in late September, 2017.

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