A former foreign policy adviser for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign pleaded guilty weeks ago to making false statements to the FBI as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
According to statement of offenses released Monday by special counsel Robert Mueller's office, George Papadopoulos, 30, pleaded guilty on Oct. 5, 2017, to making “material false statements and material omissions” during an interview with the FBI in January as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
The document said Papadopoulos "lied to special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, concerning a federal investigation ... about the timing, extent, and nature of his relationships and interactions with certain foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with senior Russian government officials."
The news of Papadopoulos’ admission came as Mueller unveiled two indictments of Trump associates Monday morning: former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner and so-called protégé Rick Gates.
Documents show Papadopoulos told the FBI an overseas professor told him that the Russians had "dirt on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails,’ but stated multiple times that he learned that information prior to joining the campaign.”
In reality, Papadopoulos was contacted by the professor and mentioned Russia had thousands of Clinton emails in April, weeks after he was announced as an adviser to the Trump campaign.
Papadopoulos also lied by downplaying the importance of the professor and his links to Russia, and initially described him as "just a guy talk[ing] up connections or something."
"In truth and in fact, however, defendant PAPADOPOULOS understood that the professor had substantial connections to Russian government officials," the statement said.
Lawyers for Papadopoulos said they had no official comment.
"It is in the best interest of our client, George Papadopoulos, that we refrain from commenting on George's case," his lawyers said in a statement. "We will have the opportunity to comment on George's involvement when called upon by the court at a later date. We look forward to telling all of the details of George's story at this time."
Still, the charges were already leading some on Twitter to speculate that Papadopoulos' status in the Trump campaign shows that the campaign was effectively colluding with Russia, although the statement of offenses only indicate the Papadopoulos is being charged with lying to federal officials.
However, it also noted that Papadopoulos was at a national security meeting with Trump and others, and told that group he had connections that could lead to a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the plea agreement, the government will inform the sentencing judge of his "efforts to cooperate with the Government, on the condition that your client continues to respond and provide information regarding any and all matters as to which the Government deems relevant."
According to the documents, Papadopoulos has reached a plea deal with prosecutors, and has been cooperating with Mueller since he was arrested upon arrival at Dulles International Airport on July 27, 2017.