George Demetrios Papadopoulos
August 19, 1987
|Other names||Crossfire Typhoon|
|Citizenship||United States and Greece|
|Education||DePaul University (BA)|
University College London (MSc)
|Criminal status||Released from prison on December 7, 2018; pardoned on December 22, 2020|
George Demetrios Papadopoulos (//; born August 19, 1987) is an author and former member of the foreign policy advisory panel to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. On October 5, 2017, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to a felony charge of making false statements to FBI agents about the timing and the possible significance of his contacts in 2016 relating to U.S.–Russia relations and the Donald Trump presidential campaign. He served twelve days in federal prison, then was placed on a 12-month supervised release. During his supervised release from prison, he participated in the filming of a still-unreleased docuseries. In March 2019, Papadopoulos released his book, Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump. He was later pardoned by Trump in December 2020.
Early life and education
George Papadopoulos was born August 19, 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 is the former president of the Pan-Macedonian Union of the United States. His mother, Kate (Kiki), was born in Greece, but later moved to Worcester, Massachusetts. He grew up in Lincolnwood, Illinois. He attended Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois, graduating in 2005. He then attended DePaul University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 2009. He earned a Master of Science in Security Studies in 2010 at University College London. He speaks Arabic, English, French and Greek.
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. Richard Weitz, a Wikistrat Expert, managed George Papadopoulos while he was at the Hudson Institute.
He described 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. Analysis conducted by Ha'aretz in 2017 showed that Papadopoulos also co-authored an expert opinion that was delivered to the Israeli Energy Ministry on June 20, 2015, on a proposed plan to develop the offshore gas fields, named Leviathan, found in Israel's territorial waters on behalf of the Hudson Institute. Money was donated to Hudson by the CEO of Noble Energy and other staffers of the company. Houston-based Noble Energy is heavily invested in Israeli gas together with the Israeli energy group Delek. Together they have a monopoly over Israeli gas. The opinion written by Hudson supported the interests of this gas monopoly. Noble Energy was given permission on December 17, 2015, to develop the Leviathan gas field worth up to $120 billion.
In September 2015, Papadopoulos left the Hudson Institute and joined Energy Stream, a London energy consultancy, as an oil and gas consultant for four months before joining Ben Carson's presidential campaign.
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 mid-February 2016.
Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo stated that George Papadopoulos’ role in the Trump's 2016 election campaign, was as a volunteer “coffee boy”.
In 2019, Papadopoulos announced he had joined the board of advisors for the medical cannabis company C3, which manufactures the marijuana pill Idrasil.
Involvement in Donald Trump's presidential campaign
Papadopoulos first reached out to the Trump campaign on August 4, 2015, expressing interest in “an advisory role to Mr. Trump on matters of energy security and U.S. policy in the Eastern Mediterranean." Further unsuccessful emails in an effort to obtain a position in the Trump campaign followed, but in December 2015, with the Ben Carson campaign on the verge of suspending, Papadopoulos believed that parts of the Carson campaign would be assumed by the Trump campaign, and decided to pursue this route. Papadopoulos sent his résumé to the Ben Carson presidential campaign, which hired him as a foreign policy adviser for two-and-a-half months, December 2015 through mid-February 2016. Sam Clovis, who at the time was national co-chairman of Donald Trump's campaign team, approved him as an unpaid adviser. In his campaign job interview via Skype from London on March 6, Clovis allegedly told Papadopoulos that one of the campaign's foreign policy priorities was to improve U.S.–Russia relations, though Clovis later denied saying that.
Employed at that time with the London Centre of International Law Practice (LCILP), on March 12, 2016, Papadopoulos was part of an LCILP visiting delegation to the Link Campus University in Rome. There he met Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic who was at the time a teacher at the University of Stirling in Scotland.
On March 21, 2016, in an interview with the editorial board of The Washington Post Donald Trump announced Papadopoulos as one of his campaign's foreign policy advisers. Trump, reading from a list, said: "He's an oil and energy consultant, excellent guy".
On March 24, Papadopoulos met with Mifsud in London. Papadopoulos said that Mifsud brought along with him a Russian woman, Olga Polonskaya, whom Mifsud falsely identified as the niece of the Russian President. On the same day, Papadopoulos performs 9 internet searches of various combinations attempting to find Olga Polnskaya as a niece of President Putin or former President Medvedev. Mifsud, in a later interview, denied he said this.
Papadopoulos joined candidate Trump as well as Senator Jeff Sessions and other campaign officials for a National Security Meeting at the Trump Hotel, on March 31, 2016. Papadopoulos averred that he could facilitate a foreign policy meeting between candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
At a breakfast meeting at the Andaz London Liverpool Street hotel on April 26, 2016, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that he had information that the Russians have "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, "the Russians had emails of Clinton", "they have thousands of emails.":7
From March to August 2016, Papadopoulos "was identified as having contacts with senior members of the Trump campaign on at least a dozen occasions." 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. Papadopoulos sent emails concerning meeting with Putin to at least seven campaign officials. Clovis, as Trump national campaign co-chairman, on June 19, 2016 encouraged Papadopoulos to fly to Russia to meet with agents of the Russian Foreign Ministry, after Papadopoulos had been told by Joseph Mifsud that Russia had "dirt" on Clinton in the form of thousands of emails and wanted to share it with Trump's campaign. This occurred after public knowledge that Clinton had deleted thousands of her emails, but before there was public knowledge of the hack of Democratic National Committee and of John Podesta's emails, the latter two of which U.S. intelligence agencies believe were carried out by Russia.
On or about May 10, 2016, at London's Kensington Wine Rooms, Papadopoulos allegedly told the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Alexander Downer, that he "suggested the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from Russia that it could assist this process with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Mrs Clinton (and President Obama)."
Papadopoulos later said that he had told the Greek Foreign Minister, Nikos Kotzias, during a meeting on May 26, 2016, that the Russians had Clinton-related emails. He said his "biggest regret" was not immediately reporting Mifsud's comment to U.S. intelligence, and the "stupidest thing I did was actually gossiping about it with foreign diplomats".
In July, after the hacking of the DNC server had become known, the Australians told U.S. authorities about Papadopoulos's comment, leading the Federal Bureau of Investigation to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Donald Trump presidential campaign on July 31, 2016.
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. On May 21, 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 adviser during Trump's campaign, Papadopoulos helped set up a September 23, 2016 New York meeting between Trump and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Egyptian president.
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. Two days later, 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. 
Senator Richard Burr, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which investigated 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.
In 2018 his wife predicted that 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 later 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.
Despite his communications with members of the Trump campaign regarding Russia, the Mueller Report found no evidence that Papadopoulos ever shared information with the Trump campaign regarding Russia having "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of her emails or that Russia could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information about Clinton.
Arrest and guilty plea
Papadopoulos was interviewed by FBI agents on January 27, 2017, regarding any Trump campaign connections with Russia. After the interrogation, on the advice of his counsel, Papadopoulos deactivated his Facebook account, which contained correspondences with Russians, and created a new account. On July 27, 2017, Papadopoulos was arrested upon landing at Washington-Dulles International Airport, placed in handcuffs and leg shackles, and put in a prison cell overnight for his arraignment the following day. He was released without bail and subsequently cooperated 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. Following his guilty plea, Trump described 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, reading from a script, 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".
In a sentencing memorandum released on August 17, 2018, prosecutors stated that a sentence of zero to six months was "appropriate and warranted," noting that Papadopoulos had repeatedly lied to investigators and did not provide "substantial assistance" to the investigation, and that his lies had interfered with the investigators' ability in their February 11, 2017 interview of Joseph Mifsud to question and if necessary detain him. Mifsud left the United States about two weeks after Papadopoulos's January 27 interview with the FBI. On September 7, 2018, Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in prison, 12 months of supervised release, and 200 hours of community service; he was also fined $9,500. He began serving his 14-day sentence on November 26, 2018, at FCI Oxford in Oxford, Wisconsin, and was released 12 days later on December 7, 2018.
Allegations of entrapment
Papadopoulos has consistently stated his belief that he was entrapped by people in various government intelligence agencies in order to justify FBI surveillance of the Trump campaign. He fleshed out this belief in his 2019 book Deep State Target. According to Papadopoulos, the meetings with both Mifsud and Downer were arranged by others, and he had no knowledge of either person before he was told he should meet them. Papadopoulos's theory is that the plan was for Mifsud, whom he characterized as a Western intelligence operative, to give Papadopoulos information about Russian hacking of Hillary Clinton's emails, and then for Downer to get Papadopoulos to repeat those same allegations to Downer, in order to establish that the Trump campaign was secretly working with the Russians and begin surveillance. Papadopoulos believes that Downer was recording the conversation with his phone in an obvious manner. Downer has denied all of these charges. In an August 2017 interview, Mifsud denied telling Papadopoulos about his Russian connections, saying that he had "absolutely no contact with the Russian government."
Papadopoulos believes that this entrapment was indirectly coordinated via the London Centre for International Law Practice, an organization that hired him and were among the first to find out, in 2016, that he was planning to join the Trump campaign. A 2017 investigation by reporters for The Washington Post found that no one was there at the supposed address for the LCILP during regular business hours, and that some of the people listed on the LCILP website as being members of the organization had no knowledge of it.
Papadopoulos has also pointed to another 2016 meeting, with Stefan Halper, a Cambridge University professor with ties to the FBI and CIA, that he believes was designed to elicit incriminating statements from him. Papadopoulos has noted that Halper brought with him an attractive, flirtatious woman, who introduced herself as "Azra Turk", who Papadopoulos believes was meant to serve as a honeypot to elicit information. A 2019 article in The New York Times seemed to confirm Papadopoulos's view of the meeting with Halper and Turk, describing Turk as an FBI informant. The FBI has refused to comment on the matter.
Donald Trump initially dismissed Papadopoulos's statements, referring to him in October 2017 on Twitter as "the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar". However, by May 2018, Trump came to agree with Papadopoulos's assessment, and coined the term "Spygate" to refer to the entire alleged enterprise.
Status of Joseph Mifsud
Much of the discussion about the veracity of Papadopoulos's claims has centered around Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor who first met Papadopoulos about a week after Papadopoulos joined the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos has described him as working for Western intelligence, while others have called this a conspiracy theory and some have even called Mifsud an asset of Russian intelligence. Mifsud has not made any public statements since October 2017. In September 2018, a court filing said that Mifsud was missing, had not been heard from in months, and "may be deceased". He officially remains missing, although in April 2019 the Italian newspaper Il Foglio stated that he was still alive and hiding out in an apartment in Rome.
Stephan Roh, Mifsud's lawyer, has repeatedly stated that Mifsud was working for Western intelligence, and that he is hiding out for his own protection as a result. Roh co-wrote, with Thierry Pastor, the book The Faking of Russia-Gate: The Papadopoulos Case: An Investigative Analysis, which argued this case; the book was self-published in June 2018.
Some critics of the Russia investigation have embraced Papadopoulos's view of Mifsud. During Robert Mueller's testimony to two congressional committees on July 24, 2019, Republicans Jim Jordan and Devin Nunes sought to portray Mifsud as a central figure in what they asserted was an investigation based on false and politically motivated premises, while Democrats characterized their assertion as a diversion and conspiracy theory.
Papadopoulos's view has been echoed by Trump allies Rudy Giuliani and Lindsey Graham. In October 2019, Senator Graham, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to the leaders of Britain, Australia and Italy, asserting as fact that both Mifsud and Downer had been directed to contact Papadopoulos, and asking for their help in continuing the investigation. Joe Hockey, the Australian ambassador to the United States, sharply rejected Graham's characterization of Downer. A former Italian government official told The Washington Post in October 2019 that during a meeting the previous month, Italian intelligence services told Barr they had "no connections, no activities, no interference" in the matter; Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte later affirmed this.
A December 2019 report on the FBI's Russia investigation, headed by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, found no evidence that Mifsud had ever worked for the FBI. In response, Papadopoulos wrote on Twitter that this finding "Leaves only one other option: CIA".
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 who used to work for the European Parliament, in March 2018. He had met her through Mifsud. During the months between his guilty plea and his sentencing, she became his public spokeswoman. In a September 9 interview on This Week, she said she understands why the FBI was suspicious of her because her international background might have been considered a "red flag." She commented, "I always said I respect Mueller's interest in my profile because clearly it's quite alarming, the fact that I marry George Papadopoulos in the middle of this storm." George Papadopoulos said that even his family had been concerned that she might be "some sort of Russian spy," a concern he dismissed.
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- Helderman, Rosalind S. (June 30, 2019). "'The enigma of the entire Mueller probe': Focus on origins of Russian investigation puts spotlight on Maltese professor". Washington Post.
- Kim, Soo Rin (April 21, 2019). "Russia-linked figures in Mueller's probe come in from the cold after report's release: With Mueller's report out, some of its subjects are turning up in public again". ABC News.
- Horowitz, Jason (October 2, 2019). "First Barr, Now Pompeo: Italy Is Hub of Impeachment Intrigue for Trump Officials". New York Times.
- Giuffrida, Angela (October 2, 2019). "US attorney general 'met Italian officials to discuss Russiagate'". The Guardian.
- "Here's Why Mueller Kept Getting Asked About a Mysterious Maltese Professor". Time.
- Sullivan, Eileen (July 24, 2019). "Joseph Mifsud, Key to Russia Inquiry, Gets Moment in the Spotlight" – via NYTimes.com.
- Graham, Lindsey (October 2, 2019). "Letter from Senate Committee on the Judiciary to prime ministers of Australia, Italy and UK" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on October 20, 2019. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- Mazzetti, Mark; Goldman, Adam; Benner, Katie (October 6, 2019). "Barr and a Top Prosecutor Cast a Wide Net in Reviewing the Russia Inquiry". NYTimes.com. Archived from the original on November 22, 2019. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
- Zapotosky, Matt; Dawsey, Josh; Harris, Shane; Helderman, Rosalind S. (October 6, 2019). "Barr's review of Russia investigation wins Trump's favor. Those facing scrutiny suspect he's chasing conspiracy theories". Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 11, 2019. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
- Momigliano, Anna (October 23, 2019). "Italy Did Not Fuel U.S. Suspicion of Russian Meddling, Prime Minister Says". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 22, 2019. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
- Yilek, Caitlin (December 10, 2019). "DOJ watchdog finds no evidence that mysterious professor Joseph Mifsud was FBI source". Washington Examiner.
- @GeorgePapa19 (December 9, 2019). "Remember: the Durham probe became a CRIMINAL investigation as soon as he left Rome with information on Mifsud. IG said he wasn't working for the FBI. Leaves only one other option: CIA, and why Brennan and his team have all lawyered up. Bye bye, Brennan" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Stephanopoulos, George; Mosk, Matthew (March 5, 2018). "Russia Investigation Romance: Key witness George Papadopoulos marries Italian lawyer". ABC News. Archived from the original on April 1, 2019. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
- Janssen, Kim. "Mueller witness George Papadopoulos weds Italian sweetheart at Chicago's City Hall". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
- Hadar, Roey (September 9, 2018). "Papadopoulos's wife acknowledges that special counsel team suspected her of being a Russian spy". ABC News. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Gerstein, Josh (December 4, 2017). "George Papadopoulos' late night with the FBI". Politico.
- Witte, Griff (December 10, 2017). "For Trump adviser at center of Russia probe, a rapid rise and dramatic fall in his ancestral land". The Washington Post.
- The Surreal Life of George Papadopoulos, The Washington Post