George Papadopoulos, a onetime foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the ongoing Russia probe, the Justice Department announced Monday.
He was charged earlier this year for giving false information to federal investigators about when he met a Russian professor and woman believed to be tied to the government. He pleaded guilty on Oct. 3, but the indictment against him wasn’t unsealed until Monday.
The announcement came hours after former campaign head Paul Manafort and his longtime business associate, Rick Gates, were indicted on 12 counts related to laundering overseas money.
Papadopoulos, who joined the Trump campaign in March, said he met the pair before joining the real estate developer’s Presidential bid.
The Justice Department said otherwise, alleging in a January complaint that he actually met them after joining the campaign, and he was looking for dirt on the Clinton campaign.
The foreign adviser even stood during one of the campaign’s national security meetings with Trump present in March 2016 and said he could set up a get together between the then-candidate and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Papadopoulos met with the Russian professor in April 2016, after he’d returned from a trip to his homeland, saying the Kremlin had dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“They have thousands of emails,” the professor is quoted in the indictment telling him.
Papadopoulos was accused of then continuing to pursue a meeting between Trump and the Russian strongman.
“I have the Russian MF A asking me if Mr. Trump is interested in visiting Russia at some point,” he wrote an unnamed campaign supervisor, referring to the acronym for the country’s Foreign Ministry. “Wanted to pass this info along to you for you to decide what’s best to do with it and what message I should send (or to ignore).”
He spent the summer during the campaign season communicating with a contact at the Foreign Ministry, the indictment says, and setting up an off-the-record meeting between it and the Trump campaign.
He emailed the campaign about making the unofficial trip in June 2016. Papadopoulos didn’t hear back from the campaign supervisor until August, when the person said, “I would encourage you” and other foreign advisors to “make the trip…if it is feasible.”
Papadopoulos, however, never ventured to Russia for the meeting, the indictment claims.
When investigators met with Papadopoulos in January, they said he lied about when he met the professor and the Russian woman, and said the meetings were inconsequential.
He was arrested in July when he arrived at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C.
The announcement could be a sign of more things to come, according to former prosecutors.
“Special Counsel Mueller already has one criminal conviction. And this plea portends more charges to come,” former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump earlier this year, tweeted Monday.
Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School and a former assistant district attorney, noted the publication of Papadopoulos’ plea agreement online sends a certain message.
“You can tell that he’s a cooperator from that,” she told the Daily News. “My only speculation is they’re trying to get people to flip. They’re saying to people, publically, We have more information than you think you have.”