WASHINGTON – Former Chicagoan George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents working on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, said his attorneys asked President Donald Trump for a pardon.
Papadopoulos, a former Trump foreign policy campaign adviser, was released from prison Dec. 7 after serving 12 days of a 14-day sentence. Now 31, he earned a DePaul University undergraduate degree in political science after graduating from Niles West High School in Skokie. He also attended Hinsdale Central High School.
Papadopoulos’ historic role in the Mueller probe is that he unwittingly helped get it started when he passed along to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer – at a bar in London — that he was told Russians had stolen thousands of Hillary Clinton e-mails. That was a factor in the FBI launching the probe in July, 2016.
The man who told Papadopoulos about the Clinton e-mails – the mysterious Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud – and who, exactly he was working for – have not been publicly, conclusively determined. He was known to have had contacts with Russian officials.
Papadopoulos discussed the pardon request in several interviews Tuesday and Wednesday, the publication date of his book, “Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump.”
In an interview Tuesday night on FOX News Channel’s “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” Papadopoulos was asked if he thought he would get a pardon from Trump.
“I have no idea. I have no expectation for it. My lawyers — I know my lawyers have formally applied for one and if I’m granted one it would be a tremendous honor.”
The book rollout and Papadopoulos’ media blitz on Tuesday came as U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, released a transcript of what had been a confidential interview on Oct. 25, 2018 between Papadopulous and GOP and Democratic members and staffers on the House Judiciary and Oversight and Reform Committees.
The testimony in the transcript — and the book — deal with what Papadopoulos in his memoir calls a series of “mysterious encounters,” all “with shady figures.”
Wrote Papadopoulos: “I was the right guy to become the wrong man. A guy set up to become the patsy in an international espionage conspiracy.”
Papadopoulos was thrust from obscurity when Trump named him to his campaign foreign policy team. He was lampooned at the time in press accounts because of his lack of foreign policy experience and unfortunate resume padding. The ambitious Papadopoulos, now living in southern California, did travel extensively, mainly as an energy consultant, with a special focus on Cyprus and Israel.
After he surfaced in the Mueller investigation – Papadopoulos was the first to plead guilty — he was dismissed by Trump as a “coffee boy,” even though he did have enough standing before the 2016 election to broker a meeting between Trump and President Abdel Farrah el-Sisi of Egypt.
On CNN, Papadopoulos explained to “New Day” co-anchor John Berman why he wants a pardon:
“There’s been so much disinformation and misunderstanding about who George Papadopoulos is, how he actually fits into (special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation) in the proper context and what he was doing for the Trump campaign and Trump transition team,” Papadopoulos said.
“So I am simply getting the facts out there for the public to consume, for the media to consume and then for them to articulate something completely different than has been said about me for the past two years. And, based on that, my lawyers believe, as they are the ones who formally submitted the application, that there’s a basis for a pardon.”
When he was sentenced, Papdopulous told U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss: “I made a terrible mistake for which I paid dearly and am terribly ashamed.”
Papadopoulos told the House probers he was asked to wear a wire on Mifsud, and declined. He also said he felt the FBI was threatening him with more serious charges — of being an unregistered foreign agent because of his work with Israelis.
A summary of Mueller’s investigation, issued Sunday by Attorney General William Barr, concluded no one on Trump’s campaign — or anyone associated with it — conspired or coordinated with Russia. Whether or not the report contains more information about Papadopoulos, Mifsud and related figures is not known.
Papadopoulos said in a tweet: “The release of my congressional testimony today was not a coincidence. It will help direct an investigation into the investigators.”