George Papadopoulos: The former Trump campaign adviser who lied to federal agents

George Papadopoulos (third from left) appears in a photograph released on Donald Trump's social media accounts with a headline stating that the scene was of his campaign's national security meeting.
George Papadopoulos (third from left) appears in a photograph released on Donald Trump's social media accounts with a headline stating that the scene was of his campaign's national security meeting. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - Former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has been thrust into national spotlight after he pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents amid an investigation into President Donald Trump's ties with Russia.

Papadopoulos, who was charged with making false statements, pleaded guilty in early October to lying about his involvement with people he understood had ties to the Russian government.

Court documents released on Monday (Oct 30) show Papadopoulos met with an unnamed overseas professor in Italy in March - the same month he was named a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos also reported back to campaign officials about his attempts to set up meetings between the campaign and the Russian government, according to the court documents.

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," he said.

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?" he said.

In a 2016 interview with The Washington Post editorial board, Trump said Papadopoulos, an "energy and oil consultant," is an "excellent guy." As The Washington Post reported in August, days after Trump claimed Papadopoulos as one of his youngest advisers, Papadopoulos sent an e-mail to Trump campaign officials with the subject line: "Meeting with Russian Leadership - Including Putin."

According to an internal campaign e-mail, which was read to The Post, he volunteered to broker "a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump."

The Post reported:"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 Admiral Charles Kubic, cited legal concerns, including a possible violation of US sanctions against Russia and of the Logan Act, which prohibits US citizens from unauthorised negotiation with foreign governments."

But Papadopoulos, a campaign volunteer with scant foreign policy experience, persisted. Between March and September 2016, 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 on 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."