Speech and Email Release: The Three Public Statement Signals Tied to Russia’s Dirt-as-Emails

In this post I did a timeline of all the known George Papadopoulos communications. The timeline made something clear: on two occasions, Papadopoulos alerted Ivan Timofeev to something in a Trump speech. On each occasion, something happened with emails. And there may actually be a third instance of Papadopoulos signaling to his handler.

April 26 notice of emails precedes Trump’s April 27 speech including a “signal to meet”

First, on April 26, 2016, over breakfast London time, he learned the Russians had thousands of email as dirt on Hillary Clinton.

On or about April 26, 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS met the Professor for breakfast at a London hotel. During this meeting, the Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS that hehadjust returned from a trip to Moscow where he had met with high level Russian government officials. The Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS that on that trip he(the Professor) learned that the Russians had obtained “dirt” on then-candidate Clinton. The Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS, as defendant PAPADOPOULOS later described to the FBI, that “They [the Russians] have dirt on her”; “the Russians had emails of Clinton”; “they have thousands of emails.”

The next day he discusses his outreach to Russians with both Stephen Miller and Corey Lewandowski. He emails Miller to say he “Ha[s] some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.” And he emails Lewandowski, apparently asking to speak by phone, “to discuss Russia’s interest in hosting Mr. Trump. Have been receiving a lot of calls over the last month about Putin wanting to host him and the team when the time is right.”

That all happened while Papadopoulos was helping draft Trump’s first speech, in which Trump said,

We desire to live peacefully and in friendship with Russia and China. We have serious differences with these two nations, and must regard them with open eyes, but we are not bound to be adversaries. We should seek common ground based on shared interests.

Russia, for instance, has also seen the horror of Islamic terrorism. I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia from a position of strength only is possible, absolutely possible. Common sense says this cycle, this horrible cycle of hostility must end and ideally will end soon. Good for both countries.

Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out. If we can’t make a deal under my administration, a deal that’s great — not good, great — for America, but also good for Russia, then we will quickly walk from the table. It’s as simple as that. We’re going to find out.

As the NYT revealed the other day, Papadopoulos helped draft that speech, and he told Timofeev that it was the “signal to meet.”

Papadopoulos was trusted enough to edit the outline of Mr. Trump’s first major foreign policy speech on April 27, an address in which the candidate said it was possible to improve relations with Russia. Mr. Papadopoulos flagged the speech to his newfound Russia contacts, telling Mr. Timofeev that it should be taken as “the signal to meet.”

So the Russians mentioned emails, and the next day Papadopoulos delivered a speech that signaled (at least according to Papadopoulos, who at times oversold these things) Trump’s interest in meeting.

July 21 RNC speech precedes the WikiLeaks dump

A second coincidence comes in July. On July 21, a week after Papadopoulos informed Timofeev that a ““meeting for August or September in the UK (London) with me and my national chairman” had been approved, he then messages Timofeev the day of Trump’s RNC speech, saying, “How are things [Timofeev]? Keep an eye on the speech tonight. Should be good.” This message is one of the ones he tried to destroy by nuking his Facebook account after his second interview with the FBI last February.

Trump’s RNC speech included no mention of Russia. But it did include an indictment of Hillary’s actions as Secretary of State, focusing on a number of the issues that lay behind Putin’s loathing of Hillary.

Another humiliation came when president Obama drew a red line in Syria – and the whole world knew it meant nothing.

In Libya, our consulate – the symbol of American prestige around the globe – was brought down in flames. America is far less safe – and the world is far less stable – than when Obama made the decision to put Hillary Clinton in charge of America’s foreign policy.

I am certain it is a decision he truly regrets. Her bad instincts and her bad judgment – something pointed out by Bernie Sanders – are what caused the disasters unfolding today. Let’s review the record. In 2009, pre-Hillary, ISIS was not even on the map.

Libya was cooperating. Egypt was peaceful. Iraq was seeing a reduction in violence. Iran was being choked by sanctions. Syria was under control. After four years of Hillary Clinton, what do we have? ISIS has spread across the region, and the world. Libya is in ruins, and our Ambassador and his staff were left helpless to die at the hands of savage killers. Egypt was turned over to the radical Muslim brotherhood, forcing the military to retake control. Iraq is in chaos.

Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons. Syria is engulfed in a civil war and a refugee crisis that now threatens the West. After fifteen years of wars in the Middle East, after trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, the situation is worse than it has ever been before.

[snip]

We must abandon the failed policy of nation building and regime change that Hillary Clinton pushed in Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria. Instead, we must work with all of our allies who share our goal of destroying ISIS and stamping out Islamic terror.

The focus on Syria is key: remember that Jared Kushner explained his request to Sergei Kislyak for a Russian-run secure back challenge as an effort to cooperate on Syria.

The Ambassador expressed similar sentiments about relations, and then said he especially wanted to address U.S. policy in Syria, and that he wanted to convey information from what he called his “generals.” He said he wanted to provide information that would help inform the new administration. He said the generals could not easily come to the U.S. to convey this information and he asked if there was a secure line in the transition office to conduct a conversation. General Flynn or I explained that there were no such lines. I believed developing a thoughtful approach on Syria was a very high priority given the ongoing humanitarian crisis, and I asked if they had an existing communications channel at his embassy we could use where they would be comfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to General Flynn.

So it’s possible the attacks on Hillary’s Syria policy were a signal — as the earlier speech’s call for engagement with Russia apparently was — to Timofeev.

In any case, the next day, WikiLeaks started releasing the DNC emails, just in time to bollox the DNC (though I maintain that forcing the Democrats to finally fire Debbie Wasserman Schultz was a necessary move).

A possible third message?

Which brings us to a possible third signal. Another of the Facebook messages that Papadopoulos attempted to destroy was a link he shared with Timofeev to this interview. Among the other things Papadopoulos says in the interview is that sanctions on Russia have hurt the US.

Q.: Do you agree that the U.S. sanctions against Russia did not help to resolve the crisis in Ukraine?

A.: Sanctions have done little more than to turn Russia towards China as a primary market for Russian goods, services and energy. It is not in the interest of the West to align China and Russia in a geopolitical alliance that can have unpredictable consequences for U.S. interests in the South China Sea, Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.

[snip]

Q.: Your professional background is related to global energy. Do you agree that European countries should reduce their dependence on Russian energy?

A.: The U.S. and Russia will compete over both the European and Pacific gas markets. This is inevitable. Unfortunately for the U.S., sanctions on Russia have resulted in massive energy deals between Russia and China.

Papadopoulos also poo poos the idea of expanding NATO.

Q.: How do you see the future of NATO? Do you support a further expansion of the alliance? If so, do you think that NATO should take into the account Russia’s concerns regarding this issue?

A.: If NATO is to expand, all new members must spend the required 2% of GDP on defense expenditure. Currently only five members do. Without a common mission that all countries subscribe to, or the pledge that all members spend 2% of GDP on defense, the alliance in its current form is likely not sustainable. The three largest threats NATO will have to combat over the next couple decades will be a rising and belligerent China, radical Islam and a nuclear Iran. Russia can be helpful in mitigating the dangerous consequences of these three forces colliding simultaneously.

Q.: You did not answer the question on whether you would support a possible NATO extension or not. Russia has repeatedly expressed its concerns about NATO’s military infrastructure moving toward Russia’s borders…

A.: We should look at the circumstances. If mutual confidence between our countries exists, then we will better understand the expectations of each other, and we can more accurately define the ‘red lines‘ which cannot be crossed. However, what is happening today between Russia and NATO, and between Russia and the West in general, creates an extremely dangerous and unstable situation in which every incident could become fatal.

An interview with a policy advisor is nowhere near as momentous as a speech from Trump. But by this point — the NYT informs us — Papadopoulos’ interventions were being reviewed closely by the campaign. So it’s likely this was closely vetted.

Papadopoulos shared that link on October 1. Later that week, the John Podesta emails started coming out.

The timing wasn’t dictated by these speeches

Let me make something clear: I’m not saying that the timing of these email releases were dictated by the speeches. Of course they weren’t. They were timed to do maximal damage to the Hillary campaign (not incidentally, in a way that coincided with the “later in the summer” timing Don Jr asked for in his communications with Rob Goldstone).

Rather, I’m saying that Papadopoulos seems to have been signaling Timofeev, and those signals closely mapped to email releases.

And those signals are among the things he tried to destroy.

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.

36 replies
  1. sapaterson says:

    When I look back at the last year I see there was not much to be thankful for. I won’t list them. But I am so incredibly grateful for Marci Wheeler’s insightful analysis on so many subjects. And emptywheel for allowing me to post my many menial comments.

  2. William Smithers says:

    In my opinion, you are responsible – every time you mention the hacked Podesta emails – to specify that nothing in them has ever been shown to be altered or false.
    Citing these accurate accounts of transmissions to and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, progressive commentators inevitably characterize them as illegally-obtained documents gathered and distributed by a hostile foreign government in an attempt to discredit Clinton and/or to elect Donald Trump.
    True as that may be, the American people deserved, then and now, to know every previously undisclosed statement and act by presidential candidate Clinton and her associates.
    This includes her unpublished statement to Wall Street financiers that candidates should have a “public and private position” on significant policies. (Her later explanation that this simply reflected her emulation of Abraham Lincoln may, or may not, be taken as another example of the behavior a plurality of Americans regarded, then and now, as untrustworthy.)
    It also includes DNC Chair Donna Brazile’s scurrilous secret abetting Clinton’s primary contest with Senator Bernie Sanders by passing on to her debate questions Brazile knew Clinton would be asked.
    Whether Julian Assange knew, or suspected, that the Podesta emails passed on to Wikileaks originated from direct or indirect Russian intelligence sources I don’t know. I do know that if I were in his position, had his resources and had no reason to believe the material was doctored, I would do the same – just as I would with similar material regarding the statements and behavior of Donald Trump or any other political candidate.
    We need to know as much as we can about the actual views, statements and behavior of those who ask us to trust them to govern us.
    William Smithers

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      You appear to have forgotten to include your email credentials in your comment. Please rectify that so we can accurately judge your interests and motives.

      Radical transparency, right?

      • William Smithers says:

        I included my email address, as required, when entering my comment here. I would rather it not be published, but in any case I don’t think it would reveal, as you suggest, my “motives” or political associations.

        William Smithers is my actual name. I don’t hide my opinions behind fake IDs nor do I seek manufactured cover to say what I think. Further, I challenge anyone to dispute what I have cited as factual in my post. What “radical transparency” means I have no idea. ISIS? The KKK? Stalinist communism?

        I live in Santa Barbara, CA and am a member of the city’s Arts Advisory Committee.

        I have long been interested in political, social, economic and environmental issues. For many years I have considered myself a political independent, having been convinced that both major parties in the US are thoroughly corrupted by campaign contributions and other devices such as gerrymandering.

        In this regard, I worked in the street for months gathering signatures to put John Anderson’s name on the California ballot and achieved more than any other state volunteer with 3,012.

        I had the pleasure of introducing Eugene McCarthy to a local gathering during his presidential campaign.

        In the 90s I joined the Green Party in support of Ralph Nader’s candidacy, became a member of its county council and the editor of its newsletter, writing in 2002 an extensive editorial “Fiddling While Earth Burns.” I joined those members who were willing to implement the party’s commitment to clean up trash along two miles of highway. I left the Greens when the party abandoned Nader and decided not actively to contest the election in “swing states.”

        Only the appearance of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders as a primary candidate renewed my interest in the Democratic Party. In my view, the democratic socialism he espouses is the only – and very slim – hope for an American governance that is just (fair) for the most.

        Among those whose political/social/historical/environmental views – and whose personal conduct – I greatly respect are: Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, Howard Zinn, Bill McKibben, Edmund Wilson, Edward Snowden. And though I disagreed with his support of Hillary Clinton, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s trenchant indictment of the failure of the New Left under the other Clinton to provide any effective support for working class and middle class Americans is classic progressive thought.

        I am especially disturbed by those who portray themselves as ardent supporters of truth; fairness; governmental transparency; administrative responsibility; policy judgment before, not after, the fact; proper environmental stewardship, etc., but who deliberately offer excuses or turn their faces away when those in their own political party notably violate these principals. I see this this as dishonorable, and I see it as common.

        Democrats characteristically point to the revelations contained in the so-called Podesta files as stolen, hacked, illegally obtained, a product of illicit cyber tampering by a hostile government. But these Democrats also characteristically avoid adding that the files are faithful and accurate examples of the views and behavior of some of their own. This avoidance is intentional and it is significant.

        That is the reason for my post.
        WS

         

         

         

        • bmaz says:

          Say someone commissioned a black hat hacker to pilfer your personal emails, that included you and your family’s most private records, including medical and psychiatric, and then published them, how would you feel? They would be true. And they would still be illegally stolen. Would you think that a good thing just because they are true? Where does your theory of benefit from felony theft begin and end? Why do you think Mr. Podesta and/or the DNC are not deserving of the same presumption of privacy you enjoy?

          By the way, assuming you are the William Smithers you claim to be, a fine career. I remember the character Merik well. Also, welcome to Emptywheel.

    • emptywheel says:

      Given that I’ve never suggested the emails were doctored, no. I don’t have the obligation to point out that stolen emails were not altered.

    • greengiant says:

      That’s what Putin said.  “Listen, does it even matter who hacked this data?’’ Putin told Bloomberg on Thursday. “The important thing is the content that was given to the public.’’  https://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/putin-interview-dnc-hack-227668

    • Desider says:

      Oh, one of the “Smithers Brothers”? (Post Apple o-to-i elision, of course). Real comedian.
      Yes, Americans and the world have the write to every email Hillary’s written including her years not in government, along with what Trump wrote, Comey wrote, Mueller wrote, Bush wrote, The Pope wrote, etc (I mean Pope Julian, of course), Al Franken, Jake Tapper, Megyn Kelly,…. everyone!
      Information must be free, bwahahaha

      • Silence Hand says:

        Damn, do I ever wish that Tom Lehrer was still writing tunes.  I think you’ve got the start of a great song here!  This would be, in so many ways, Lehrer’s time. Just think about what he’d do with a multisyllabic like “Papadopoulous”……

      • Silence Hand says:

        Just couldn’t resist posting this, OT, but somehow feels right:

        (Tom Lehrer, “So Long Mom!  A song for World War III”)

  3. Wm. Boyce says:

    I appreciate the author’s analytical ability and the asinine idiocy of the Trump creatures who assert that Papa was a “coffee boy”. Don’t they wish.

  4. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Not only has Prof Mifsud has apparently taken a sabbatical from his Rome gig, but the bio of Nagi Idris, the director of the London Institute of Mumble Mumble Stuff has been removed too. And LCILP has also removed the entire “staff” section from its website some time over the past couple of months.

    This is a preamble to start thinking about think-tanks and quasi-academic operations that exist in the blurry world between interest group and foreign influence. We have Ivan Timofeev and RIAC / Valdai Club; we have Sergei Millian and the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce. And we have Papadopoulos whose campaign activities seem focused around interacting with those groups, from mundane things like speaking to Greek-Americans in Astoria to showing up for the UN General Assembly in September.

    Tierney Sneed summed up his known travels in the summer of 2016, though I think she misses that he was based in London for most of that time:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/george-papadopoulos-2016-timeline

    He visited Israel in early April, before the “thousands of emails” interaction with Mifsud, and it was Israeli diplomats who provided the intro to the Aussies.

  5. Davis White says:

    You might want to include a possible fourth signal.

    Tuesday, June 7: Trump said, “I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week (June 13), and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting. I wonder if the press will want to attend. Who knows?”

    He had been fixated on the Hillary emails in that period and taunting her about them via Twitter.

    Thurs. June 9: Trump Tower Russian meeting re: dirt on Clintons.

    Sunday, June 12: Orlando shooting. Trump “delays” speech.

    Monday, June 13: First WikiLeaks release of emails.

    • Arbed says:

      Your timeline is a bit inaccurate.

      June 12, Julian Assange announces on UK national TV that Wikileaks has “emails related to Hillary Clinton that are pending publication”. (These weren’t published until July 22. Although Guccifer 2 claimed on Twitter that he sent his “hack” to WikiLeaks, the USIC didn’t seem to be able to find any link whatsoever between Guccifer2 and WL.)

      Such a high-profile TV announcement (ITV’s Sunday morning political show, Peston on Sunday) means that the whole world was aware of the upcoming Wikileaks release – whatever inferences they drew from it (most people assumed Assange must be referring to the infamous deleted “33,000” emails from Hillary’s homebrew server) – from June 12 onward, and all subsequent events or communications are obviously coloured by that public knowledge. To omit Wikileaks June 12 statement from any timeline distorts the true historical record.

      For example, don’t you agree that Papadopoulos’s post-June 12 emails and messages are notable for the fact they make no mention at all of the Wikileaks emails, given these are claimed to have been the route for the release of the “dirt on Hillary Clinton” in Russia’s possession that Papadopoulos supposedly knew about via his chats with Mr Mifsud in March 2016. Ditto, it’s a bit strange that Australian ambassador to the UK Alexander Downer didn’t think to pass on details of his drunken conversations in May 2016 with Papadopoulos on June 12 after watching Assange on Peston on Sunday. Didn’t he recognise the “Russian dirt on Hillary” from Assange’s words: “we have emails related to Hillary Clinton”? Why did it take a further 6 weeks until Wikileaks published the DNC Leaks on July 22 for the penny to drop and Downer to contact the US ambassador with his suspicions? Could it be anything to do with the fact that Robby Mook and other DNC PR people went on air immediately after WikiLeaks’ release to claim “it was the Russians”?

      • Willis Warren says:

        You keep repeating this like it’s relevant, bub.  The Clinton SOS emails were released in March and were irrelevant to anything we’re concerned about.  So, JAss bragging about having something in June isn’t necessarily going to move anyone into action.

  6. Fool says:

    “Rather, I’m saying that Papadopoulos seems to have been signaling Timofeev, and those signals closely mapped to email releases.”

    Grasping at straws. But that’s ok! I come here for the frothing-at-the-mouth comments, fingering any dissent as having been dispatched by Putin himself. Have at it comrades!

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Foolish is as foolish does.

    I see bmaz will have a busy year moderating this site.  Trump pardoners are already working overtime – unpaid and after hours, of course, as is the American business model – protecting the least qualified president in the modern era.

    Trump daily demonstrates how easily he can be played by the other poker players around the world.  He is committed to deceit and to his pathological narcissism, he is broadly incompetent and so lazy he makes Shrub look like a workaholic.  And yet he fully and accurately represents his party and its draconian priorities, while denying everything he is, what does and the cowardly way in which he does it.

    Now watch me get back to work: this drive will be better than any other drive in history.

  8. Bill Smith says:

    Here the thing…  the emails Papadopoulos was being told about where the 30,000 emails that Hillary had deleted.  After all Trump had asked about them.  They never showed up, did they?  Many people just assume that the emails where the DNC and Podesta emails.  They are wrong.

    • bmaz says:

      And you know that for certain exactly how, Mr. Smith? We will all be waiting to hear that explanation from you. Because we keep pretty good track of these things, and I think you are assuming facts not in evidence. And without support.

    • Silence Hand says:

      The “Move On, People, Nothing To See Here” position, less credible by the hour.  Also, I’m surmising that speech-to-text isn’t parsing Russian-accented “were” properly.

      • mister bunny says:

        Thinking the grammar where supposed to be different?

        In Mother Russia, grammar corrects you.

    • uncle tungsten says:

      Thanks Bill Smith but I have reservations about any of Papadopoulos story and I seriously doubt that any Russian would be offering anyone else a taste of the 30,000 emails that Clinton and Co. so stupidly transmitted/kept on her unsecured server. The Russian government is a sophisticated operation as far as I can read it and unlikely to give the west a free bullet to shoot back at it.

      If any of those 30,000 emails are any where, they will be with the NSA (assuming you can believe their hype about total surveillance) and I doubt they would ever admit that. If those emails ever emerge they will do so from a dark web rabbit hole somewhere and no one will be any more certain of the vector.

      None of this is to say there are no other emails from Clinton and especially the Clinton Foundation out there in the leaker and hacker universe that wont reveal ‘dirt’. Time will tell but the prosecution of the Clintons will be great nightime reading. Mogilevitch will be laughing his hat off.

      • bmaz says:

        Dear Uncle Tungsten: How swell you come forward to challenge Papadapolous, who only has his entire life on the line and is on the sworn record before a court. Where are the “witnesses”, and I am using that term loosely for you, you rely on? Yeah, I didn’t think you had anything on a real record, as opposed to the broken Trumpian one.

        • uncle tungsten says:

          Thanks bmaz for getting back to me so fast. I don’t think for a minute Papadapoulos has his ‘life’ on the line. Are you referring to the calabrian mafia there? But seriously there is a credibility issue with him and I really have my BS detector in operation whenever his name comes up. Maybe Mueller is more trusting but lets wait and see. The Mueller team has had a few hard knocks lately and they need a win even if it is a decade old ‘crime’ they turn up with.

          Please don’t get me wrong or project a ‘Trump backing’ style on me as that really does not apply. I just would prefer all political and wall street criminals to be on Devil’s Island scrubbing sunlight off the stones with a toothbrush. Bring the troops home from everywhere and MAGA

          • bmaz says:

            Yeah? Really? Exactly where have you had “your” butt on the line in a federal criminal prosecution? In the clutches of federal prosecutors….You have “that” experience? Unfortunately, I deal with such people regularly at both state and federal level. If you are not there, do not presume to know about people who are. If you do not think Papadapolous didn’t, under the circumstances, you just do not know.

  9. uncle tungsten says:

    Thank you William Smithers for your comments. Clowns who have high level positions and run totally insecure systems such as Podesta and Clinton deserve all they end up with. Equally culpable is employing IT companies with no brains. Thanks to emptywheel for great insight and enabling comments.

Comments are closed.