JD Gordon Says Any Investigators He’s Been Speaking with, He’s Been Honest

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On Monday, I noted that the George Papadopoulos plea deal presented a big problem for Jeff Sessions, as Papadopoulos’ description of a March 31, 2016 meeting made it clear Sessions did know of people reaching out to Russia, contrary to what he has repeatedly stated in sworn testimony. As others caught up to that reporting, and as the Senators that Sessions lied to started pressuring him to fix his past stories, Sessions’ surrogates started pushing back.

At first, that came in the form of anonymous claims that Sessions shot down the idea of setting up a meeting with the Russians. As the week progressed (and as I bitched on Twitter that there was no reason to give anonymity to people who were trying to clear up Sessions’ perjury for him), Trump campaign advisor JD Gordon started going on the record saying the very same things that had previously been said anonymously — sometimes in unmarked updates of the very same articles.

“He went into the pitch right away,” said J. D. Gordon, a campaign adviser who attended the meeting. “He said he had a friend in London, the Russian ambassador, who could help set up a meeting with Putin.”

Mr. Trump listened with interest. Mr. Sessions vehemently opposed the idea, Mr. Gordon recalled. “And he said that no one should talk about it,” because Mr. Sessions thought it was a bad idea that he did not want associated with the campaign, he said.

For the purposes of the Russian inquiry, Gordon is the guy who changed the plank of the Republican platform to be less aggressive towards Russia (one part of the scandal that — as I have written — I think Democrats have overblown).

But longterm readers of this blog may remember that JD Gordon is the guy who, as a press officer covering Gitmo, trumped up a sexual harassment claim against Carol Rosenberg out of her tendency to swear, at him. At one point, Gordon claimed that, “I’ve been abused worse than the detainees have been abused;” at another he accused Rosenberg of “use of profanity that would make even Helen Thomas blush.”

In other words, Gordon has a history of ginning up false claims to try to shut down reporting.

Given Gordon’s rush to explain away the implications of the Papadopoulos plea, I’d like to focus closely on what Sky News bills as an Exclusive interview (for some reason placed with an overseas Murdoch outlet rather than one which might attract more attention here in the states) with Gordon explaining the meeting.

In addition to making the now-familiar claim that Sessions (Gordon’s boss on the campaign) shot down Papadopoulos’ offer to broker a meeting with Putin, Gordon makes a number of other remarkable claims. First, he suggests that, rather than severing any relationship with Papadopoulos (presumably because they were so opposed to the idea of chumming up to Russia), the Trump presidential campaign instead decided to appease a 30-year old nobody so he didn’t embarrass the campaign.

Mr Gordon described Mr Papadopoulos as a “peripheral figure” but someone who “they wanted to appease and not upset, at the same time as reining him in so that he doesn’t embarrass the campaign.”

The only reason you’d have to keep Papadopoulos around and appeased is if he had information that could compromise the campaign. You know, the kind of information he spent 2 months secretly sharing with the FBI?

Gordon then claimed that the reported continued conversations between Papadopoulos and campaign officials about meetings with Russia amounted to Papadopoulos going behind his and Sessions’ backs.

Mr Gordon said he was in a paid role and more senior to Mr Papadopoulos, but claims the 30-year-old advisor went behind his back.

He told Sky News: “I was very surprised that we’re still hearing about it today, because I had no idea that George was going around me, and going around Senator Sessions – his actual chain of command – to pitch this idea to others on the campaign who maybe weren’t there that day, or maybe weren’t paying attention to others.”

Gordon knows nothing and neither does Sessions, I guess.

Gordon then claims that he can’t say about Trump what the stories in which an anonymous source who has said all the same things Gordon has on the record in this interview because he has a Non-Disclosure Agreement.

Mr Gordon said he could not discuss what Mr Trump said when the Russian meeting was raised because of a non-disclosure agreement, but added that the President certainly did not say “yes” to the idea.

Next, Gordon claims to have no idea why Papadopoulos would lie about setting up a meeting because that, in and of itself, wouldn’t have been illegal.

“Which is why it’s such a mystery why George Papadopoulos… would lie to the FBI about his meetings with Russians when they weren’t illegal.

“Maybe a bit shady, but they weren’t illegal.”

Curiously, Gordon doesn’t mention that Papadopoulos’ interlocutors have all the markings of Russian handlers. Nor does he mention that Papadopoulos also lied to hide whether and what he told the campaign about the “dirt” that had been floated, in the form of thousands of Hillary emails. Based on this remarkably incomplete representation of the substance of Papadopoulos’ plea, Gordon insists that allegations Trump cozied up to Russians for help getting elected in exchange for the softening of policies against Russia are a great big hoax.

Mr Gordon described the notion of the Trump campaign colluding with Russia in the 2016 US election as “the biggest hoax in history”.

He said: “There is a lot of smoke and mirrors. The smoke you see is people lighting Trump associates on fire, trying to make a story.”

He blames Hope Hicks, who will soon but has not yet testified to the grand jury, for making the campaign’s discussions with “lots” of Russians look nefarious.

He alleged that Mr Trump’s former press secretary and now White House head of communications, Hope Hicks, had made the situation worse by making unequivocal statements suggesting the campaign had not spoken to Russians when they had.

He claimed the campaign spoke to lots of Russians “but there was nothing nefarious.”

In other words, the guy who claimed a woman who swears sexually harassed him in an effort to shut down a super reporter tells a partial story in an attempt to claim there’s no there there, and blames another woman in the process. Fuck. The same guy claims these meetings and conversations were set up behind his back but admits he knows there were lots of them.

Here’s the part I find most interesting about Gordon’s remarkable interview, though. He dodges when asked whether he has testified or cooperated or what, though makes it clear he has been speaking with investigators.

When asked about whether he was co-operating with the FBI or special counsel Robert Mueller, he said: “I can just say that any investigators that I’ve been speaking with, clearly I’ve been truthful… there’s nothing to hide.

As I noted on Monday — in observing Victoria Toensing’s failed efforts to make Sam Clovis’ testimony to the grand jury look innocuous in advance of his now withdrawn confirmation for a USDA position — and described further to On the Media this week, from this point forward, we should expect those who have been interviewed by the FBI or grand jury to use the press to telegraph what they’ve said, so others can coordinate that story (though usually they do so through hack lawyers like Toensing, not directly). It’s a legal way to compare notes.

I’ve also noted that, at least as of October 18, Jeff Sessions was dodging bizarrely about whether he had been formally asked for an interview. Mind you, that was over two weeks ago, so who knows what has transpired since?

Ah well, if Sessions hasn’t testified yet, he now knows what Gordon told the authorities.

Because I do take Gordon’s comments to be confirmation that he has spoken with the authorities.

Which is interesting given this detail from the affidavit the FBI wrote a month ago explaining why they wanted to seal any notice of Papadopoulos’ plea deal.

The investigation is ongoing and includes pursuing leads from information provided by and related to the defendant regarding communications he had, inter alia, with certain other individuals associated with the campaign. The government will very shortly seek, among other investigative steps, to interview certain individuals who may have knowledge of contacts between Russian nationals (or Russia-connected foreign nationals) and the campaign, including the contacts between the defendant and foreign nationals set forth in the Statement of Offense incorporated into the defendants plea agreement.

If it wasn’t already obvious from the Sam Clovis grand jury timing, the Special Counsel hid the plea from those who might have their own stories to tell about “contacts between Russian nationals (or Russia-connected foreign nationals) and the campaign,” which Gordon admits (while pretending such efforts happened behind his and Sessions’ backs) were numerous, because they planned to “very shortly seek” to lock in those claimed stories.

And those who, like Clovis, appear to have told stories that deviated from the one Papadopoulous told may now be in the same kind of legal pickle that Papadopoulos found himself on July 27, when confronted with evidence that he had lied.

The question is whether JD Gordon is finding himself in the same kind of pickle based on post-Papadopoulos testimony that Clovis appears to be, or whether he just wants Jeff Sessions to know what story he told.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

31 replies
  1. Aleta Cane says:

    Hi,
    Here is a question that has been on my mind: Papadopolous, Page, Stone, Sater, were volunteers,ie, not paid employees of the campaign. That gives them certain abilities to do things others could not. Some of these guys are older and have the luxury of big bank accounts to cushion “volunteerism.” But what of Papandopoulos , who was globe trotting in Italy when he met Mifsud, or living in London earlier where he got to know Clovis. How did he maintain that lifestyle? Was he, possibly, a Russian plant, paid by them to volunteer and link into the campaign? His profile strikes me as the quintessential “willing idiot” that Russia often likes to employ. What do you think?

    • greengiant says:

      All it takes is a phone call in business or politics to have someone else  cut a pay check, grant, consultancy, whatever.   Stone/Manafort and Sater go back years with Trump,  they already know they get taken care of.  Papadopoulos and Page could be paid through cut outs to separate them not just from Trump,  but from Sessions/Pence.  Lots of people on the make “volunteer” with the expected pay back down the road with lobbying or a job.  Yes the concept that Papadopoulos and Page were “operatives” boggles the mind.  But then Trump’s staff boggles the mind.

      • Anon says:

        It is also quite possible that he was just a con artist who swarmed to more than one trough. Campaigns attract a lot of opportunists and right now it looks to me like Papadopolous was one of those people who live by inflating their resume and climbing on the next gravy train. That is why he hopped from Carson to Trump as an international advisor despite zippo real experience. In my experience experienced politicians spend a lot of time working to keep such people at bay. That Trump’s team did not (despite having some experienced pols on it) is staggering. In that respect he does not have to have been planted by the russians to serve their purposes. He might have just been the most easily exploited entry.

        As a side note, now that JD Gordon has given the interview he will also probably be asked by the investigators to explain just why this guy needed to be appeased. If I was on Meuller’s team I would ask that, if only to find out what made him so important to Trump or Sessions.

        • emptywheel says:

          Agree on all counts. But Trump can’t make the same excuse for Manafort, who not only has been involved at high levels before, but is an old friend.

  2. Willis Warren says:

    Are we entertaining the idea that Carter Page is just a doofus that the Trump campaign set up as a potential fall guy? The dossier says he gets the 18% of the company (since sold to an unnamed party). But, would anyone who met Carter Page give him a nickel to put in a meter, let alone a stake in a billions dollar company?

    I’m just curious why anyone would have this guy around

    • sillybill says:

      This 18% figure keeps getting thrown around incorrectly, the amount he would be getting was just the brokerage fee on the 18% of the company another group was financing. Allegedly. Which is still a bunch of cash.

  3. Willis Warren says:

    Also, it’s probably the case that JDG is coordinating his story with Sessions.  I’m a little confused that Trump is still ranting about Sessions recusal, which at this point just seems to be throwing gas on the fire.

    • dalloway says:

      Not EW and just a guess here, but wouldn’t there have been DHS records of Papadopoulos, Page and anyone else in the Trump campaign traveling to Russia, especially after our intelligence agencies had determined (based on what they told the Obama administration at the time) that Russia was interfering in the election?

    • emptywheel says:

      There were reports around that time of FBI reviewing old intercepts and discovering discussions with Russians. Also remember that as of January 3, the FBI would have been able to access raw 12333 data for the first time, which is more likely to pick up conversations (say) between someone in the UK and someone in Russia.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    No one needs to make the Trump team’s discussions with the Russians look nefarious.  They inherently are.  The question is whether they also amounted or led to illegal acts.

    But it’s great to point out these sorts of arguments, because Trump’s team and its defenders in the alt-news business will inundate us with propaganda about them.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    the Trump presidential campaign instead decided to appease a 30-year old nobody so he didn’t embarrass the campaign.

    Unless Papa was Putin’s nephew, Trump would never have dreamt of appeasing him.  He would have jettisoned him as quickly and crudely as Trump jettisons anyone he finds embarrassing.  Because that didn’t happen to a 29 year-old nobody with a badly puffed up resume, it’s because Trump continued to find him useful, or at least convenient.

    Moreover, nobody in Trump’s camp seems to have found their multiple approaches to Putin unseemly, let alone possibly illegal.  Even today, people have to keep pointing out to Trump how problematic they are, just as they have to keep reminding him what’s in the Constitution and how it limits his behavior.

    Trump must imagine that the president’s pardon power is some sort of magic wand.  But anyone who knows the least bit about wand lore knows that the wand chooses the magician, lest its power backfire on the user.

     

  6. Anon says:

    This is the first time that I have seen anyone give an interview which indicated that Trump was a) aware of this; and b) eager for the meetings. Does that mean that Team Sessions has decided to throw Trump under the metaphorical bus by counting on the fact that he isn’t going to be implicated for perjury?

    Or am I misreading this?

    • emptywheel says:

      No. And the other stories–where JD was probably the anon source–vary but all say he was a bit interested in them. In this Sky interview JD also says Trump will probably have to testify before the GJ.

      So he does seem to have been interested.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      You may be giving Sessions too much credit.

      Suspect he is still trying to count alligators at this point, wondering what day it is and which swamp he is supposed to be dealing with on a given day.

  7. Bay State Librul says:

    Chasing the white whale.

    Moby Dick will eventually swallow up Gordon, Caputo, and all those fucking enablers of Don the Con, a brooding, wallowing, obsessive, lying misfit……….

    There are still a few chapters left.

  8. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Gordon showed up remarkably quickly to get his comments on the record, after however long preferring to be quoted anonymously.

    Reporting out of the UK suggests that PapaD had some kind of meeting on behalf of the campaign with a junior UK Foreign Office minister last September at the UN general assembly.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      According to the Guardian article you cite, PapaD also met with a senior FO official in Sept 2016, when he was still working for Trump. The guy’s a weenie, what’s getting him in these doors?  The Trump connection would seem to be the only thing.  But why is such a weak link working for Trump – other than that he makes everyone else on the team look Fabio Fabulous?

      • matt says:

        Is is plausible that there is a “mastermind” behind all this- someone who is pulling strings, in line with Putin’s agenda, and is essentially coordinating/vetting the foreign policy advisers, like Papa & Page.  And, basically telling a clueless Donald what to say and do. Wouldn’t that be Flynn?

        Note: I use the term “mastermind” very, very loosely.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Tobias Ellwood was in the third tier on the ministerial pecking order — parliamentary under-secretary of state. That’s “junior minister” territory. That said, Ben Bradshaw’s probably right that it’s senior enough not to be meeting with randos at the UN.

    • harpie says:

      (((aweisburd)))‏@webradius   

      Of the articles about Prof. Mifsud, this gets a big up-vote from me for naming former 1st Secretary at RU Embassy London: Sergey Nalobin.

      Links to:

      Brexit, the ministers, the professor and the spy: how Russia pulls strings in UK Carole Cadwalladr; The Guardian; 11/4/17; 16:00 EDT [The charges filed against a Trump aide shocked the US – but also shed new light on the complex connections that link Russia to Brexit and the Foreign Office]

       

  9. SpaceLifeForm says:

    OT: Waving Red to a bull

    http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/358766-trump-attorney-well-challenge-mueller-if-he-investigates-old-real

    An attorney representing President Trump in the ongoing investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russia said in an interview published Saturday that his team would challenge special counsel Robert Mueller if the probe began looking at Trump’s former business deals.

    [Just another swamp for Sessions to visit]

  10. Bay State Librul says:

    McConnell is another fucking Republican enabler who lies:

    See Below:

    “I don’t hear much pressure to pass anything,” McConnell replied. “There’s been no indication the president or the White House are not cooperating with the special counsel.”

    Are you that stupid, dickhead?

    He speaks with marbles in his mouth and evil in his heart. Remember what he did to Garland.

    Go to hell, you Kentuckian fuckhead!

     

     

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