August 1987 (age 30)|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Residence||Ravenswood, Chicago, Illinois|
|Education||Niles West High School|
George Demetrios Papadopoulos (born August 1987) is a former member of the foreign policy advisory panel to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. On October 5, 2017, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents about contacts he had with the Russian government in 2016 relating to U.S.-Russia relations and Trump's campaign.
Early life and educationEdit
Papadopoulos was born in August 1987 at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, to Greek immigrants originally from Thessaloniki. His father, Antonis was heavily involved in the local politics of the Greek-American community and the former president of the Pan-Macedonian Union of the United States. His mother, Kate, was born in Greece and listed her hometown on her son’s birth certificate as Worcester, Massachusetts. For years he lived at a large house on the corner of a tree-lined street in Lincolnwood, Illinois and graduated from Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois, in 2005. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science from DePaul University in 2009. He says he speaks Arabic, English, French and Greek. He later went on to earn a MSc degree in security studies at the University College London.
Papadopoulos was an unpaid intern at the Hudson Institute from 2011 to 2015 specializing in the eastern Mediterranean and later worked as a contract research assistant to a senior fellow at the institute.
He describes himself as an "oil, gas, and policy consultant" on his LinkedIn page. In 2014, Papadopoulos authored op-ed pieces in Israeli publications. In one, published in the Arutz Sheva, Papadopoulos argued that the U.S. should focus on its "stalwart allies" Israel, Greece, and Cyprus to "contain the newly emergent Russian fleet"; in another, published in Ha'aretz, he contended that Israel should exploit its natural gas resources in partnership with Cyprus and Greece rather than Turkey. He directs an international energy center at the London Centre of International Law Practice.
Beginning in December 2015, Papadopoulos served on the National Security and Foreign Policy Advisory Committee for Ben Carson's campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. He left the Carson campaign in February 2016. Following his indictment, he was described by HuffPost as "a little-known, little-qualified 30-year-old."
Involvement in Donald Trump's presidential campaignEdit
According to court records, Papadopoulos was recruited to join Trump's foreign policy advisor team in early March 2016 by Sam Clovis. In a meeting on March 6, the official told him that one of the campaign's foreign policy priorities was to improve U.S.-Russia relations, though Clovis later denied having said that. Donald Trump identified Papadopoulos as one of his campaign's foreign policy advisors on March 21, 2016, in an interview with the editorial board of The Washington Post. Trump said: "He’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy".
On March 14, 2016, while traveling in Italy, he met Joseph Mifsud, a London-based professor with connections to high-ranking Russian officials. Mifsud attended meetings of the Valdai Discussion Club regularly, an annual conference held in Sochi, Russia, attended by Vladimir Putin. On March 24, 2016. he met with Mifsud in London, who brought along with him a Russian woman, Olga Polonskaya, whom he falsely identified as Putin's niece. In late April, at a London hotel, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that he had just learned from high-level Russian officials in Moscow that the Russians had “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”
Papadopoulos sent emails concerning Putin to at least seven campaign officials. Clovis, as Trump national campaign co-chairman, encouraged Papadopoulos to fly to Russia to meet with agents of the Russian Foreign Ministry, after being told that Russia had "dirt" on Clinton it wanted to share with Trump's campaign. This occurred before there was public knowledge of the hack of Democratic National Committee and of John Podesta's emails, both of which U.S. intelligence agencies believe were carried out by Russia. In May 2016, Papadopoulos told the top Australian diplomat to the United Kingdom, Alexander Downer, that Russia had "political dirt" on Hillary Clinton, leading the Federal Bureau of Investigation to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Donald Trump presidential campaign.
Between March and September 2016, Papadopoulos made at least six requests for Trump or representatives of his campaign to meet in Russia with Russian politicians. In May, campaign chairman Paul Manafort forwarded one such request to his deputy Rick Gates, saying "We need someone to communicate that [Trump] is not doing these trips. It should be someone low-level in the campaign so as not to send any signal." Gates delegated the task to the campaign's correspondence coordinator, referring to him as "the person responding to all mail of non-importance."
In an interview about Russia–United States relations with Interfax in September 2016, Papadopoulos said that Barack Obama had failed to follow through on his promises to cooperate with Russia, and asserted that the U.S. had made insufficient joint efforts with Russia against terrorism. As foreign policy advisor during Trump's campaign, Papadopoulos helped set up a New York meeting between Trump and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Egyptian head of state. On January 20, 2017, just hours before Trump was going to be inaugurated, Papadopoulos and incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus met with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos. Just after Trump became President, Papadopoulos visited Israel and told settlers in the West Bank that Trump supported their settlements.
Senator Richard Burr, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, said in October 2017 that the panel was interested in Papadopoulos because he had sent e-mails attempting to set up meetings between Trump and Putin. The recipients of emails about outreach to the Russian government reportedly were Clovis, Corey Lewandowski, Manafort, Gates, representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ivan Timofeev, and others.
Arrest and guilty pleaEdit
After being interviewed by FBI agents on January 27, 2017, Papadopoulos deactivated his Facebook account, which contained correspondences with Russians, and created a new one. Papadopoulos was arrested at Washington-Dulles International Airport on July 27, 2017, and he has since been cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation. On October 5, 2017, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to making false statements to FBI agents relating to contacts he had with agents of the Russian government while working for the Trump campaign. The guilty plea was part of a plea bargain reflecting his cooperation with the Mueller investigation. Papadopoulos's arrest and guilty plea became public on October 30, 2017, when court documents showing the guilty plea were unsealed. Papadopoulos is scheduled to be sentenced on September 7, 2018.
Following his guilty plea, Trump belittled Papadopoulos as a "young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar" and said few people in his campaign had heard about Papadopoulos. FactCheck.org and PolitiFact, among others, noted that during the campaign, Trump named Papadopoulos as one of his five foreign policy advisers—alongside Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, Walid Phares and Joseph Schmitz—and described Papadopoulos as an "excellent guy". From March to August 2016, Papadopoulos "was identified as having contacts with senior members of the Trump campaign on at least a dozen occasions." On January 22, 2017, shortly following Trump's inauguration as President, Papadopoulos met with the head of Israel's Shomron Regional Council, Yossi Dagan, in Washington D.C. Papadopoulos was reported to have communicated to Dagan the Trump administration's desire to work closely with Israel on the question of Israel’s West Bank settlements.
Papadopoulos's wife, then his fiancée, said in 2017 that his job in the campaign was to set up meetings with foreign leaders and that he had been in regular contact with high-ranking campaign officials. She later predicted Papadopoulos's role in the Russia investigation would be similar to that of John Dean of the Watergate scandal. Democrats on the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence had arranged for her to testify before the committee, but the plans fell through when the Republican majority refused to reimburse her for travel expenses from Chicago.
As of October 2017, Papadopoulos had lived for the past few years with his mother and brother in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. He married Simona Mangiante, an Italian lawyer and former attorney in the European Parliament, in March 2018.
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