Government Claims George Papadopoulos Helped Joseph Mifsud Get Away

The government has released its sentencing memo for George Papadopoulos. They recommend he serve time somewhere between 0 and 6 months, with a fine of $9,500 (which is most but not all of the payment he got from a suspected Israeli spy). And given their description, he got off easy (though I do wonder whether he faces additional exposure in the conspiracy in chief).

While the most newsy bit of the memo is a footnote debunking a lot of what Simona has been telling the gullible Chuck Ross since May (which I’ll get to), the most interesting detail is that the government claims that Papadopoulos’ lies and obstruction helped Joseph Mifsud skip the country without being detained, as the government explains by way of describing the damage Papadopoulos did to the investigation.

The defendant’s lies to the FBI in January 2017 impeded the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Most immediately, those statements substantially hindered investigators’ ability to effectively question the Professor when the FBI located him in Washington, D.C. approximately two weeks after the defendant’s January 27, 2017 interview. The defendant’s lies undermined investigators’ ability to challenge the Professor or potentially detain or arrest him while he was still in the United States. The government understands that the Professor left the United States on February 11, 2017 and he has not returned to the United States since then.

This claim is overly dramatic, but it makes the frothy right’s conspiracy about Mifsud being an FBI plant all the more interesting — if he’s an FBI plant, then why did Papadopoulos cover for him while he was in the US? (Yeah, I know the premise is insane but that’s what conspiracy theories do to sanity.)

And, as the government’s debunking footnote makes clear, either because George lied to her or because she’s lying, Simona hasn’t been telling the gullible Chuck Ross the truth about Papadopoulos offering up Mifsud’s name.

In several recent media appearances, the defendant’s spouse has claimed that the defendant “voluntarily reported” to the FBI the Professor’s conversation with him about the “dirt” on Clinton. See CNN, Papadopoulos’ Wife Asks Trump to Pardon Him, Says He’s ‘Loyal to the Truth,’ June 6, 2018 (claiming at approximately 4:08 that the defendant “actually volunteered – he reported to the FBI about this meeting”); Fox News, Rethinking ‘Collusion’ and the George Papadopoulos Case, June 4, 2018, (claiming at approximately 2:11 that the defendant “voluntarily reported to the FBI at the time of their interview”); Chuck Ross, Papadopoulos’ Wife: Trump Aide Was ‘Absolutely Not’ Involved in Russian Collusion, June 4, 2018, available at (stating that it was the “defendant who brought up” the matter).

To the contrary, the defendant identified the Professor only after being prompted by a series of specific questions about when the defendant first learned about Russia’s disclosure of information related to the campaign and whether the defendant had ever “received any information or anything like that from a [] Russian government official.” In response, while denying he received any information from a Russian government official, the defendant identified the Professor by name – while also falsely claiming he interacted with the Professor “before I was with Trump though.” Over the next several minutes in the interview, the defendant repeatedly and falsely claimed that his interactions with the Professor occurred before he was working for the Trump campaign, and he did not mention his discussion with the Professor about the Russians possessing “dirt” on Clinton. That fact only came up after additional specific questioning from the agents. The agents asked the defendant: “going back to the WikiLeaks and maybe the Russian hacking and all that, were you ever made aware that the Russians had intent to disclose information [] ahead of time? So before it became public? Did anyone ever tell you that the Russian government plans to release some information[,]
like tell the Trump team ahead of time[,] that that was going to happen?” The defendant responded, “No.” The agents then skeptically asked, “No?” The defendant responded: “No, not on, no not the Trump [campaign], but I will tell you something and – and this is . . . actually very good that we’re, that you just brought this up because I wasn’t working with Trump at the time[.] I was working in London . . . with that guy [the Professor].” Only then, after acknowledging that the agents had “brought this up” and lying about when he received the information, did the defendant admit that the Professor had told him “the Russians had emails of Clinton.”

Interestingly, the government suggests that Papadopoulos may have lied because he was still trying to get a job in the Trump administration — a job, we’ve since learned, that might have also come with a payoff from Sergei Millian.

But the record shows that at the time of the interview, the defendant was attempting to secure a job with the Trump Administration and had an incentive to protect the Administration and minimize his own role as a witness. (PSR ¶ 50). In January 2017, the defendant had several communications with officials of the incoming Administration in an effort to obtain a high-level position with the National Security Council, the State Department, or the Energy Department. On January 27, 2017, in the hours after being interviewed by the FBI, the defendant submitted his biography and a description of work he did on the campaign in an effort to obtain a position as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Energy Department. (PSR ¶ 50).

And Papadopoulos didn’t provide much assistance at all — significantly, hiding a phone he used in the campaign until the last proffer session (at which point the government had probably identified it by correlating his identities).

The defendant did not provide “substantial assistance,” and much of the information provided by the defendant came only after the government confronted him with his own emails, text messages, internet search history, and other information it had obtained via search warrants
and subpoenas well after the defendant’s FBI interview as the government continued its investigation. The defendant also did not notify the government about a cellular phone he used in London during the course of the campaign – that had on it substantial communications between the defendant and the Professor – until his fourth and final proffer session. This cell phone was not among the devices seized at the airport because it was already in the defendant’s family home in Chicago. Upon request, the defendant provided that phone to the government and consented to the search of that device.

And he didn’t provide much help thereafter.

Following the proffer sessions in August and September 2017, the government arranged to meet again with the defendant to ask further questions in late December 2017. However, upon learning that the defendant had participated in a media interview with a national publication concerning his case, the government canceled that meeting.

All of which leaves you with the sense that Papadopoulos would have happily served as a spy, had the FBI not come knocking on his door at precisely the same time as the White House was first dealing with the Mike Flynn investigation.

Again, the government is letting Papadopoulos off easy. Which makes me wonder whether he’s still exposed in the case in chief.

41 replies
  1. Paul says:

    You also mentioned earlier, and it was in the document, that he deleted his Facebook, which had material information.

  2. jf-fl says:

    So you think the $10,000 cash payout received by GP and referenced in filing is likely from Sergei Millian?

    The filing said GP knew him to be a foreign agent, but not from Russia… i suppose Belarus is not technically Russia in same way Ukraine is not.

    I had heard his wife talking about how GP may have accepted questionable money from Israel, but I haven’t seen that confirmed independently anywhere.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I have been assuming that “not technically Russia” is the dodge that has been behind a large swath of the denials. Especially in early days before the cover stories started shifting to things like adoption and nothing really happened at the Trump Tower meeting.

      • jf-fl says:

        i mis-interpretted marcy’s assertion.   she emphased a distinction in her next article.

        there is both the 10,000 cash payment from a suspected israeli agent (which i still think we only know about from his wife, though i could be mistaken).   and then seperately there is some question about sergei millian attempting to hire GP.

        the latter subject is not something i was familiar with and i haven’t been able to find any reporting about millian’s desire to employ trump’s first”coffee boy”.

        millian apparently provided some information to one of chris steele’s sources that he claims he corroborated elsewhere and was included in the dossier, i believe it was re: sexual kompromat.   millian also tried to put together real estate deals for trump in russia, he and michael cohen followed and tweeted to each other… what a crazy group of characters!

        hoping that marcy will lay out some more of her thoughts and sources on millian.

  3. SteveB says:

    SimonaMP continues to spout rubbish

    Beyond the fact George didn’t commit any crime , he was pushed to sign a plea agreement which goes against the Constitution. Asking hIM To Waive FULLY his right of appeal, is unheard of. IN ADDITION, The deadline SET to accept it gave him only FEW HOURS!
    10:41 PM · Aug 17, 2018”

    As the sentencing memo shows and noted above there were multiple proffer sessions.

    However buffoonery seems to work in certain quarters, and SMP protestations aside, GP was clearly a reluctant dishonest and recalcitrant cooperator with the FBI, which might well count as something approaching the loyalty/fealty DJT expects from supplicants for his perogative of mercy.

  4. Kevin Finnerty says:

    Simona’s twitter feed is interesting tonight. She appears to be spreading the conspiracy theory that Mifsud was a plant. In one tweet, she gives “thanks to the contribution of people reaching out to me” with information about the LCILP.

    • SteveB says:

      And just in case anyone imagines that the George&Simona show might be a re-up of the KellyAnne&George “disrespectful tweeting spouse does not speak for me sources close to KellyAnne’s mouth state”

      Here’s GeorgeP proving again tonight why the government were right to reference his wife’s public statements in their memo

      Looking forward to enjoying my 31st birthday this weekend with my beautiful and supporting wife. I love you.
      4:55 AM · Aug 18, 2018″

  5. Avattoir says:

    Someone should ask Ms S her definition of “information”.

    Speaking of which, since Mueller only ‘speaks’ within the formalities of the court system, I’m thinking the government’s filing on Treasoncurious George’s sentencing partly aims to carpe the dais to clarify one of the largest of the OSC’s themes in its Mission ConfraudUS, the idea fearless leader here has much expiated, the Call And Response nature of Putin’s long distance dalliance with his fair-haired American dumbsel in (financial) distress.

    And girl hardy, if you weren’t a regular reader of emptywheel when all this started taking shape last fall, would all of this ever come as a surprise.

  6. Charles says:

    I am troubled by the light sentence proposed for Papadopoulos. These were serious crimes he was accused of, he gave a key player tiome to escape, and he tied up a lot of investigative time and energy. He did not provide substantial assistance, according to the sentencing memo. The bribe he received is less than the fine proposed. And his wife’s bizarre behavior possibly suggests that some part of his story may remain to be told.

    And yet, for all of this, he may end up with nothing more than probation. Is it any wonder that white collar criminals of the kind that run in Donald Trump’s circles think they can get away with anything? Apparently they can.

    • emptywheel says:

      As I said above, I think he may still be at exposure in the case in chief. In which case this is just an appetizer.

      • Charles says:

        And I hope you are right. I was going to add that you had addressed that point on edit, but the spam filter disappeared the post, so I couldn’t.


        But,  yeah.

  7. Trip says:

    I was not expecting the major verbal slap down, not only to George, but Simona as well. Prison is terrifying at any sentence, but this still seems light (but I guess appropriate for the charge).

    And Joseph Mifsud has not only not returned to the US, but he hasn’t surfaced anywhere. Willis figured him as good as dead by the hands of the Kremlin, and you thought he might be in custody, Marcy. I don’t know who is right (if either), but he’s not in custody in the US (if we read this sentencing memo literally).

    Who talked about giving Pap a job? Maybe Manafort, as the he hadn’t been arrested yet (01/17)?  Cohen? Lara Trump? Junior?  Those are some pretty high positions of authority listed for a common barista, wouldn’t you say?

    • Trip says:

      If there had been any legitimate connection with Pap to Bibi/Israel, then maybe even Ivanka or Jared as possibilities. You never know. I never expected Lara to figure so prominently in the hush money for Omarosa.

    • emptywheel says:

      I don’t rule out him being in US custody, obtained via extradition from Italy. Most likely, though, is he has retired to a dacha in the Crimea.

      • Daryl says:

        He’s probably in Malta. Mifsud is a surname shared by 5% of the population and Joseph (a saints name) is the most common name on the island. I would venture to say on an island of 400K there is probably 300 Joseph Mifsud’s for small.

        An EU member it is very clannish and very much a mafia state. The politics here are tribal and there has been violence in the past. I have never seen a scandal that ever had repercussions here.

        A bit of trivia here;

        The alleged Libyan intel officer that was pinned with the downing of Pan AM 103 was fingered by a small shop owner in Sliema, Malta. He passed away a few years ago, but never worked again after his testimony. He moved into a million euro plus mansion in San Gwann, Malta.

        24 months ago Victoria Nuland (neocon) visited the island on official business. The US embassy moved into the center of the island aka (the middle of nowhere.

        Professor Joseph Mifsud could be in Malta and you’d never find him on this small island.

  8. Tracy says:

    Wow, he’s a snake in the grass! I agree w you and others that this is a light recommended sentencing, then! Thx for this reporting, Marcy!

    I hope he gets what he deserves for conspiracy and treason, and enabling other criminals to also escape justice. He was not cooperative at all, ought to realize that this sentencing rec is a gift! Re: Papa and Miller, so far SC has shown remarkable constraint considering the headaches and obstruction!

  9. Rusharuse says:

    featuring Simona Mangiante as Brigitte Bardot (I am not making that up!)

    SM’s Twitter is right wing paradise- sure enough “Joseph Mifsud is a Clinton Ally and a liberal” features, complete with pic. A Repo/Ruskie Psycho circus . . and I say welcome to the show!

    Mangiante know Butina? One thing for sure: they both think Americans are dumb as shit. Maybe they’re right!

  10. Trip says:

    Anyone catch Cirrhosis Steve with Ari Melber last night? Why did MSNBC give him a platform? No way I would watch. Sloppy armpit/body odor reeking, lying-ass fascist ad revenue; well done MSNBC.

    While I’m at it, why do they regularly have John Podhoretz on?  (GOP-apologist-extraordinaire with no  good answers for anything).

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I wonder if they brought up the NDAs? I don’t see how any organization can justify interviewing or quoting anyone without pushing the legal jeopardy issue to the top. And that should go for current Trump employees as well as past.

      • Trip says:

        Good point as usual @Bob. I wonder if he was asked whether he gets the $15k per month ‘stipend’, too.

        • Tracy says:

          From the short clips I saw he just defended/ pushed T’s line (shocker!) – I couldn’t stomach trying to watch the whole thing.

  11. Stephen says:

    Very impressed with how serious and competent SCO’s office is in all of this.   What a breath of fresh air!

  12. Frank Probst says:

    “Which makes me wonder whether he’s still exposed in the case in chief.”
    Exposed, certainly. But I think the question isn’t COULD he be charged, but WOULD he be charged? And I think the answer is no. Mueller’s team doesn’t seem like the type to do something like that. Yes, they say that this wasn’t a typical plea agreement, but I think they’re pretty much done with Papadopoulos*.
    *This assumes that he keeps his head down and doesn’t do a bunch of bonkers interviews. If he goes on TV and starts screaming “WITCH HUNT!!!”, then all bets are off, but that would be true even if he had a typical plea deal.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      If the Democrats retake one or both houses of Congress, I think it’s reasonably likely there may be second round of prosecutions. Mueller is pretty tightly focused, and other units of DOJ may have other priorities, but a Congressional committee can take off on a brand new direction and uncover evidence that leads to DOJ picking up the trail.

      Having said that, in the event of serious investigations by Congress, I would expect a level of obstruction by the Trumpies unheard of before. Every request for information will be blown off, every followup subpoena will be challenged, and even court orders will be ignored. And Congress will have its own bandwidth issues – there are only so many staff spots, they’ll have to be hired and there may be IT and clearance issues. It will be a slog.

  13. Trip says:

    emptywheel‏ @emptywheel
    June Bug the terrorist foster dog just figured out how to operate Siri (but not how to set the language to Woof).

    Um, Marcy. I wouldn’t say too much until you find out whether or not you get that 10 ton milkbone order delivered from Chewy. *

    * I love June Bug stories. If only we could get her to infiltrate the Trump administration.

    • Tracy says:

      I LOVE that you have a foster doggie, Marcy! My Thai rescue doggie is my true love! :-)

      You are doing a real service there, and she sounds like a real character! :-)

  14. Troy says:

    Given that every accusation of “lying”frames around the timing of accepting a job offer, the most interesting question not asked by Marcy is why he said anything at all to the FBI.  He clearly should have demurred and stonewalled and refused to turn over any devices, until he received the same treatment that Clinton condantes got.

    namely, immunity agreements before he said a word and agreement to destroy the devices and all evidence after they were reviewed. It actually is shocking that Trump would’ve employed someone so incompetent that did not demand equal treatment, same with Flynn.


    • bmaz says:

      Well, that is a load of dishonest crap. The situations are not remotely similar. Perhaps you mistakenly thought you were at Breitbart or Daily Caller or something, but we don’t do that here.

    • SteveB says:

      Troy , you and your timber horse again : no matter how much you polish its turds they still splinter under sunlight.

    • Willis Warren says:

      And Andrew McCarthy is amplifying Ross’ bullshit:

      “When one looks carefully at Mueller’s statement of the offense, and at the one-count criminal-information to which Papadopoulos pled guilty, one realizes Mueller is not claiming that Mifsud and his associates truly were Kremlin operatives — only that Papadopoulos was under the impression that they were. The information legalistically accuses Papadopoulos of lying about his “interactions with certain foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with senior Russian government officials” (emphasis added). That is, Papadopoulos is accused of misrepresenting his subjective state of mind, not objective reality.”

      • SteveB says:

        Andrew Gaslighter McCarthy trying his best to earn his corn IMHO.

        Attempting to create impressions : in this instance that because something is CHARGED according to the accused’s culpable appreciation there is no objectve reality beyond that.

        The man is an obvious fuckwit who has sold his soul and critical faculties to the darkside.

        In a more enlightented era pelting with rotten vegetables would be visited upon him.

  15. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Josh Marshall is somewhat fixated on Mangiante’s background, perhaps because the people he’s spoken to are also fixated, but he’s right to note that she showed up in George’s life at a very opportune time to shape how he interacted with the FBI over the course of 2017.

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