Following George Papadopoulos’s indictment for lying to the FBI, the British newspaper The Guardian – one of the most fervid believers in the Russiagate conspiracy theory – has produced a very interesting timeline of George Papadopoulos’s alleged dealings with the Russians.
It turns out that – as I suspected – the Russian woman who is said to have been introduced to Papadopoulos by the academic as Putin’s niece was in reality no such thing and has no family connection to Putin at all. It also turns out that a meeting Papadopoulos claimed to have had with Alexander Yakovenko – Russia’s formidable ambassador to Britain – never took place.
That begs the question of whether any of the people Papadopoulos dealt with who he claims to have thought were Russian officials really were Russian officials, and if they were what authority they had to negotiate with him?
This further begs the question of the reality of the entire scenario set out in the Papadopoulos indictment?
There has to be at least a possibility that Papadopoulos was set up by someone who was out to prove that there were illicit connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Here it is worth pointing out that there is no doubt that a deception of some sort was being carried out. In at least two cases Papadopoulos believed or relayed false information – that the Russian woman he was dealing with was Putin’s niece and that he had met with ambassador Yakovenko. The only question is who was responsible for the deception?
One possibility obviously is that it was the Russians. However that is scarcely likely. Why would they want to pass off a woman falsely as Putin’s niece when she was no such thing or pretend to a meeting between Papadopoulos and ambassador Yakovenko which never happened? The latter would presumably require the Russians getting someone to play the part of Yakovenko in order to deceive Papadopoulos, which seems farfetched and frankly ridiculous.
The second possibility is that Papadopoulos made these interactions up possibly in order to hype up his own importance. The fact that he lied about his interactions with the academic and the Russians to the FBI suggests someone with an uncertain grip on reality. It is not impossible that in his reports to the Trump campaign he made the people he was dealing with appear more important than they really were, and it may be that it was embarrassment about this which caused him to lie to the FBI.
However the third possibility that Papadopoulos was being set up by someone out to prove a connection between the Russians and the Trump campaign is one which cannot be completely discounted.
I have previously speculated that this may have been the true purpose behind the Donald Trump Junior/Natalia Veselnitskaya meeting of June last year, and I notice that this view is now starting to gain some traction.
There does in fact seem to be a certain amount of commonality between the Donald Trump Junior/Natalia Veselnitskaya meeting and the pattern of Papadopoulos’s interactions with various Russians, which does at least give food for thought.
In both cases there was talk of the Russians possessing “dirt” on Hillary Clinton with (apparently) an implicit offer by the Russians to pass this on to the Trump campaign.
In both cases false information was provided about individuals who were allegedly part of the Russian power structure and who were involved in the discussions.
In the case of the Donald Trump Junior/Natalia Veselnitskaya meeting the individual whose identity was misrepresented was Natalia Veselnitskkaya who was falsely alleged to be a “Russian government attorney” working for a non-existent official called the “Crown Prosecutor of Russia”.
In the case of Papadopoulos’s interactions with the Russians it was the mysterious Russian woman who was alleged falsely to be Putin’s niece.
In both cases the deception appears to have been focused on securing a high level meeting with someone at the top of the Trump campaign.
in the case of the Donald Trump Junior/Natalia Veselnitskaya interactions, the meeting was the one which was eventually held between Natalia Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Junior.
In the case of Papadopoulos’s dealings with the Russians the meeting appears to have been intended to be with Donald Trump himself, with the suggestion of a meeting between Trump and Putin thrown in, perhaps as bait.
In both cases the purported offer of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton failed to elicit a response from the Trump campaign, and in both cases the whole process of interaction with the Russians collapsed shortly after.
Last but not least there is a British connection in both cases.
The person who introduced Veselnitskaya to Donald Trump Junior was Rob Goldstone, a British pop music presenter, who was the person who told Donald Trump Junior that Veselnitskaya was a “Russian government attorney” acting for the fictional “Crown Prosecutor of Russia”.
In Papadopoulos’s case the person who allegedly introduced him to the mysterious Russian woman was a London based academic who the indictment suggests was the person who told Papadopoulos that she was President Putin’s niece.
Perhaps these are all coincidences, but it is possible that there is a pattern here. Perhaps one day we may even find out.
Regardless, the underlying truth of this story is that Papadopoulos seems to have had no background in diplomacy or international relations work but was, like Carter Page – the other Trump foreign policy aide about whom so much has been said – a businessman and a lawyer with a background in the energy industry.
No doubt that explains why he was so far out of his depth and so easy to deceive.
As with Donald Trump Junior’s meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, much about Papadopoulos’s interactions with various Russians remains murky, and the whole truth may never become known.
However in light of the deception which took place the possibility that this was a set up or a sting has to be there.