George Papadopoulos graduated in 2009 graduate from DePaul University, and obtained a Master’s from the University of London in 2010. Papadopoulos’s stated work history following his graduation is disputed, although it does appear he worked in some capacity at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think-tank. Source
From November 2015 to February 2016, Papadopoulos worked with Ben Carson’s US presidential campaign. Source
The following timeline of events from Papadopoulos’s time with the Trump campaign is largely pulled from a Statement of the Offense issued on October 5, 2017, by the US District Court for the District of Columbia. Additional news sources are also provided for supplemental information. The sealed court document was publicly released on October 30 when the US government revealed that Papadopoulos had pled guilty for making false statements to the FBI about his activities involving Russian agents while he was a member of the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos Statement of the Offense
In early March 2016, Papadopoulos joined the Trump campaign as a foreign policy advisor. When he joined, he was given the understanding that a principal focus of the Trump campaign was an improved US relationship with Russia.
On March 21, 2016, Donald Trump revealed the names of several members of his campaign’s foreign policy advisory team, headed by Senator Jeff Sessions. Source (Transcript) This was the first time George Papadopoulos was identified with the Trump campaign. Many GOP commentators and analysts were puzzled by the membership of the team, which included many who appeared inexperienced and unknown in their fields. Source
Trump identified George Papadopoulos as an oil and energy consultant, although Papadopoulos was relatively unknown among the oil and energy community at the time. While previously working as an analyst and researcher at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C., his experience appeared limited to Israel’s discovery of a natural gas reserve in the eastern Mediterranean. Source
In March 2016, after Papadopoulos had joined the Trump campaign, Joseph Mifsud, a London-based professor, took great interest in him. Papadopoulos also took interest in Professor Mifsud because Papadopoulos knew at the time that Mifsud had substantial links to the Russian government. Source1 Source2
On March 24, 2016, Papadopoulos met Professor Mifsud in London, where Mifsud introduced Papadopoulos to Olga Polonskaya, a Russian woman who Mifsud falsely claimed to be Vladimir Putin’s niece. Mifsud also introduced Papadopoulos to others tied to Russian intelligence. Source1 Source2
Later that day, on March 24, 2016, Papadopoulos emailed Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis, Paul Manafort, Navy Rear Adm. Charles Kubic, Carter Page, and two other senior campaign officials with the subject: “Meeting with Russian Leadership — Including Putin.” In the email, Papadopoulos described meeting Professor Mifsud and the purported niece of Vladimir Putin, and falsely claimed that Mifsud had introduced him to the Russian Ambassador in London. With these contacts Papadopoulos proposed “to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump.” Source1 Source2
Campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis replied to the group, telling Papadopoulos, “Great work,” and said he would work Papadopoulos’s proposal through the campaign. Clovis also suggested consulting with NATO allies before making plans for a meeting. Navy Rear Adm. Charles Kubic also replied, suggesting that such a meeting may violate US sanctions against Russia, as well as the Logan Act, which prohibits US citizens from unauthorized negotiations with foreign governments. Source Manafort forwarded the email to his business colleague Rick Gates, writing that he did not want to have such high-level meetings, instead preferring to leave it to “someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.” Source
On March 31, 2016, Papadopoulos attended a national security meeting with Donald Trump, along with several other Trump campaign foreign policy advisors, including Jeff Sessions, the campaign’s national security coordinator, and JD Gordon, a campaign national security adviser. During the meeting, Papadopoulos told the entire group, including Trump, that he had connections who could help arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin. Additionally, according to Jeff Sessions’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on November 14, 2017, during this meeting Papadopoulos had “suggested an ability to negotiate with Russians.” Source JD Gordon publicly confirmed that Trump “heard him out.” Source
Over the next several months, Papadopoulos repeatedly and incessantly continued to attempt to arrange high-level meetings between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, with the knowledge of Trump campaign officials. The following emails from Papadopoulos to the Trump campaign were revealed in Papadopoulos’s Statement of the Offense, but note that some emails also refer to phone calls, and it’s likely that in-person meetings and other communications of this kind also occurred.
- Early April: Papadopoulos sent multiple emails to the campaign about the Russians and his outreach to Russia.
- April 25: Papadopoulos emailed Stephen Miller, a senior Trump campaign policy advisor, indicating that “The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to meet him when he is ready… The advantage of being in London is that these governments tend to speak a bit more openly in ‘neutral’ cities.” Source
On April 26, 2016, Russian intelligence services used Professor Mifsud to offer Papadopoulos “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including “thousands of emails.” It is noted that this was at least a month before the hacking of the DNC and John Podesta was generally known, and well before Guccifer 2.0 and Wikileaks published any of the hacked emails. Source
- April 27: Papadopoulos emailed Stephen Miller to discuss Russia’s interest in hosting Trump, and mentioned “interesting messages” from Moscow. Source
- May 4: Papadopoulos forwarded an email he had received from his connection at Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to a senior Trump campaign official. Papadopoulos asked whether that official wanted to move forward with the MFA’s proposal for a meeting at the MFA’s North America Desk in Moscow.
- May 5: Papadopoulos had a phone call with Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis and forwarded him the same May 4 email from the MFA, adding the caption, “Russia updates,” to the top of the email.
Mid-May 2016: Papadopoulos met Australian diplomat Alexander Downer at a London bar. During a night of heavy drinking, Papadopoulos told Downer about Russia having “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Later, after stolen DNC emails began to be leaked online, Australian officials passed the information to US intelligence. Source
- May 14: Papadopoulos emailed a senior Trump campaign official about Russia’s interest in hosting Trump.
- May 21: Papadopoulos emailed another senior Trump campaign official with the subject, “Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump.”
On May 27–28, 2016, Russian president Vladimir Putin visited Athens, Greece to discuss Greece’s position with respect to Western sanctions against Russia. Source In advance of his visit, Putin wrote an article for Greek newspaper ekathimerini, strongly hinting at his desire for Greece’s help removing sanctions. In Athens Putin met Greek National Defense Ministor Panos Kammenos (source), whose Institute of Geopolitical Studies had previously signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) (source).
Also, in “late Spring” 2016, George Papadopoulos secretly visited Athens, where Greek journalists reported he conducted targeted meetings with several senior Greek officials. Papadopoulos also visited the defense ministry, where he may have met with Greek National Defense Minister Panos Kammenos. Source (Machine Translation) While the exact date of this visit was not given, based on interviews he gave to ekathimerini, it took place a few weeks after an earlier visit to Athens in May, and was before June 3. Source Thus, it appears possible that during his visit with Kammenos, Papadopoulos may have met with Putin during his May 27–28 visit to Greece.
- June 1: Papadopoulos emailed that senior Trump campaign official again about the proposed Trump-Russia meeting. That official referred Papadopoulos to Clovis, so Papadopoulos then emailed Clovis to again propose Trump visit Russia.
- June 19: Papadopoulos emailed a senior Trump campaign official proposing that, if not Trump, himself or some other campaign representative visit the Russian MFA in an “off the record” trip.
- Mid-June through mid-August: Papadopoulos continued to communicate with that senior Trump campaign about the proposed “off the record” trip. On August 15, the official told Papadopoulos, “I would encourage you” and another foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign to “make the trip… if it is feasible.”
Despite all these now on-the-record communications, until irrefutable evidence was leaked to the press, or published via the Mueller investigation, the Trump campaign uniformly, publicly denied any form of contact or coordination with the Kremlin.
On January 27, 2017, the FBI interviewed Papadopoulos about his Russian contacts. Papadopoulos falsely claimed that he had met Professor Mifsud before he joined the Trump campaign, and lied about his discussions with Mifsud. Following his FBI interview, Papadopoulos changed his phone number and deleted a Facebook account he had used to communicate with Russian officials. Source
On July 27, 2017 (the day after FBI agents raided Paul Manafort’s home), FBI agents secretly arrested George Papadopoulos at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.
On October 30, 2017, George Papadopoulos’s guilty plea was publicly revealed, to the apparent surprise of members of the Trump administration. It was further revealed that Papadopoulos had been cooperating with the Mueller investigation since his arrest. His plea agreement was sealed so that he could act as a “proactive cooperator,” which may indicate he wore a wire during his time at the White House between his arrest and October 30. Source
Papadopoulos’s Position Within the Trump Campaign
Although Trump has downplayed Papadopoulos’s role in the campaign, the evidence shows he was quite heavily involved, over the course of the entire campaign.
In the email chain following Papadopoulos’s March 24, 2016 request that the Trump campaign send a representative to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin, many of the campaign’s most senior officers discussed the offer. Source Further, the volume of emails from Papadopoulos to large groups of Trump campaign members, with significant correspondence and feedback coming from many top campaign officials, makes it clear that the full campaign was well aware of Russia’s offers and willingness to work with them. Source
On March 31, 2016, Donald Trump tweeted a photograph from a national security meeting, showing Papadopoulos among a small group of senior campaign officials at the table.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2016
In April 2016, Papadopoulos traveled to Israel on behalf of the Trump campaign, primarily to discuss US-Russia relations. Source
On November 9, 2016, following Trump’s electoral win, Greek National Defense Minister Panos Kammenos (who appears to have met both Putin and Papadopoulos in Athens in late May 2016) tweeted a congratulations to Trump, stressing George Papadopoulos’s important role for Greece.
Συγχαρητήρια στον νέο πρόεδρο Τραμπ σημαντική η θέση πλέον του Ελληνοαμερικανού Γιώργου Παπαδόπουλου για την Ελλάδα pic.twitter.com/tYDkSqPH7t
— Panos Kammenos (@PanosKammenos) November 9, 2016
In late April 2017, Papadopoulos worked with Trump campaign senior policy advisor Stephen Miller to edit a major foreign policy speech given by Donald Trump in Washington. Source