Tuesday 31 October 2017

What's the Papadopoulos London photo all about?

The FBI investigation into Russian collusion has announced that Former Donald Trump adviser George Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contact with Russians. The most interesting thing about the announcement is that Papadopoulos was arrested in July 2017, and pleaded guilty on October 5th, meaning that he was already co-operating with the investigation when he apparently visited London last in late October, and probably long before.

Here's what we know:

  • Papadopoulos was arrested at Duelles Airport on July 27th 2017.
  • On 5th October 2017 Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
  • At the time of his guilty plea the case was sealed, making the details invisible to the public.
  • The stated reason the case was sealed was that Papadopoulos was willing to co-operate with the investigation as what they referred to as a "proactive cooperator".
  • A "proactive cooperator" is someone who is willing to wear a wire, so it's almost certain that Papadopoulos wore a wire at some point between October 5th, and October 30th when his arrest was announced.
  • It's also common practice for defendants to prove their willingness and ability to deliver incriminating evidence before they're officially charged with token lesser offences in return, so it's likely Papadopoulos wore a wire before October 5th too.
In light of this information, it seems almost certain that if Papadopoulos was in London, he was there to meet people in the hope they would admit their parts in criminal conspiracies, and it's likely he's been co-operating all the way back to July too.

And if he wasn't actually in London last week 
(as some people are speculating), then the Twitter post was put up deliberately in order to make someone think that he was in London.

It's interesting to imagine who Papadopoulos might have met in London, and there are some interesting candidates. Robert Mercer's election data firm Cambridge Analytica is based in London, Nigel Farage (who is a person of interest in the FBI investigations) is based in London, and Julian Assange is still holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy just a few minutes walk from where the Papadopoulos photo was taken.

If the London photo wasn't actually taken last week and was intended as misdirection, it's interesting to wonder who was being misdirected, and for what purpose.

Anyhow. It would be foolish to imagine that the Mueller investigation into Russian collusion is over with just Papadopoulos charged with lying to the FBI and Paul Manafort facing 12 charges of fraud and tax evasion.

It seems highly unlikely they would have exposed the fact that Papadopoulos had flipped and cooperated with the investigation in return for reduced charges, unless his collaboration had already exposed dirt on a bigger target.

I'm guessing that anyone who has met with Papadopoulos over the last few months must be desperately trying to recall what was actually said, and whether they might have said anything that implicated them or others in a plot to collude with the Russians in order to ease Donald Trump into the White House, or any other criminal conspiracy.

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