With the unsealing of indictments against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates, on Monday, the much bigger threat to President Trump can be found in the guilty plea by former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.
Since the legal news on Monday, the White House line has been consistent: None of this has anything to do with the president and isn’t a big deal. But that’s merely a talking point which hides some very dangerous waters ahead for the administration.
Let’s go back to February. At a press conference, a reporter asked Trump:
“I was hoping we could get a yes or no answer on one of these questions involving Russia. Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?”
“Nobody that I know of.”
Until the guilty plea for Papadopoulos was announced, there was no evidence Trump knew about contacts between members of his campaign team and Russians.
But the guilty plea also proved that Trump was being less than honest when he made that declaration back in February, and it implicates him directly in collusion with Russian agents.
Specifically, Papadopoulos swore under oath in his plea that at a March 31, 2016 national security meeting he told a small group, which included President Trump, that he’d had several communications with Russians which might allow him to arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin. As the plea agreement information clearly states:
“9. On or about March 31, 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS attended a ‘national security meeting’ in Washington, D.C., with then-candidate Trump and other foreign policy advisors for the Campaign. When defendant PAPADOPOULOS introduced himself to the group, he stated, in sum and substance, that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin.”
More damning is what The New York Times reports regarding Trump’s reaction to what he was told by Papadopoulos about making contact with Russians to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin:
“Mr. Trump listened with interest and asked questions of Mr. Papadopoulos as he laid out his proposal. In the end, Trump ‘didn’t say yes, and he didn’t say no,’ and Papadopoulos continued to try to broker a meeting.”
In other words, Trump didn’t tell Papadopoulos to cease and desist, didn’t discourage him, didn’t tell him to leave and never come back. Instead, Trump left the door open for future contacts with Russian intermediaries. And clearly, that is how treason was first fostered by Trump and his associates.
As the Mueller investigation moves forward, expect the picture to become even clearer in regard to Trump and his efforts to seek assistance from Russia. The lies are being exposed, and his actions point to a very ugly ending for this president.
h/t Think Progress
Featured Image Via the BBC