Former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has been thrust into a national spotlight after he pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators amid a probe into possible Russian influence in U.S. political affairs.
Papadopoulos, who has been charged with making false statements, pleaded guilty this month to lying about his involvement with people he understood had connections to the Russian government.
As The Washington Post’s Rosalind Helderman and Carol Leonnig reported, court documents released Monday show that Papadopoulos met with an unnamed overseas professor in Italy in March 2016. That same month, he was named a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. According to the court documents, Papadopoulos also reported back to campaign officials about his attempts to set up meetings between the campaign and the Russian government.
So who is George Papadopoulos — the man Trump called an “excellent guy?”
- He graduated in 2009 from DePaul University in Chicago, where he studied international political economy, before moving to the University College London to earn a master’s degree in security studies, according to his LinkedIn page. There, he wrote a dissertation “focused on the deleterious effects of low governance and state capacity levels in the Middle East,” his page states. “My research allowed me to safely infer that the rise of pacified and violent Islamist groups was directly correlated with the aforementioned indicators and the paramount reason that the ‘Arab Spring’ currently reverberates throughout the entire Middle East.”
- From 2011 to 2015, he said he worked as a research associate for the Hudson Institute, a well-known conservative think tank in Washington.
- He briefly served as an adviser to then-Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson before joining the Trump campaign in March 2016. Barry Bennett, who had served as Carson’s campaign manager, told The Post in May that Papadopoulos “was someone who worked for me at the Carson campaign for, like, 15 minutes” and then somehow ended up on Trump’s list of foreign policy advisers. “I was, like, how in the hell did that happen?”
- In a 2016 interview with The Washington Post editorial board, Trump said Papadopoulos, an “energy and oil consultant,” was an “excellent guy.”
- As The Washington Post reported in August, days after Trump claimed Papadopoulos as one of his youngest advisers, Papadopoulos sent an email to Trump campaign officials with the subject line: “Meeting with Russian Leadership — Including Putin.” According to an internal campaign email, which was read to The Post, he volunteered to broker “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.”
The proposal sent a ripple of concern through campaign headquarters in Trump Tower. Campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis wrote that he thought NATO allies should be consulted before any plans were made. Another Trump adviser, retired Navy Rear Adm. Charles Kubic, cited legal concerns, including a possible violation of U.S. sanctions against Russia and of the Logan Act, which prohibits U.S. citizens from unauthorized negotiation with foreign governments.
But Papadopoulos, a campaign volunteer with scant foreign policy experience, persisted. Between March and September , the self-described energy consultant sent at least a half-dozen requests for Trump, as he turned from primary candidate to party nominee, or for members of his team to meet with Russian officials. Among those to express concern about the effort was then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who rejected in May 2016 a proposal from Papadopoulos for Trump to do so.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that Papadopoulos’s guilty plea has nothing to do with his campaign activities — only his failure to be honest about them.
“It was extremely limited,” Sanders told reporters during a news briefing about Papadopoulos’s role in the campaign. “It was a volunteer position.”
This story has been updated.