- Dec 2014
- The Milky Way
It surely does as it stinks.
The Papadopoulos Case Needs a Closer Look
Instead, after the big 13-page wind-up, Papadopoulos ends up pleading guilty to a minor false-statements charge — one that is convoluted and, in the scheme of things, trivial. In essence, Papadopoulos is said to have lied about the timing and scope of his contact with the Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud. Mueller, Rhee & Co. allege that Papadopoulos falsely claimed that the contacts started before he joined the Trump campaign. It turns out that they started on March 14, 2016; this was some time after he “learned he would be a foreign policy advisor for the campaign” (page 3, paragraph 4) but a week before the campaign’s March 21 announcement that he was a campaign “policy advisor” (page 4, paragraph 6).
In concluding that this seems picayune, it is not my purpose to challenge the technical legal sufficiency of the charge. The requirement to prove a false statement was “material” (see Section 1001 of the federal penal code) is a very low hurdle. My point is — and has been — that, since allegations of “collusion” have roiled the nation and threatened a presidency for nearly two years, a ho-hum false-statements charge is a strange way to treat the one and only guy who, according to the special counsel, colluded up a storm.
But this only scratches the surface of strangeness.
While much that has gone on in the Mueller investigation is curious, I have assumed the candor of the special counsel’s portrayal of the Papadopoulos case: The young man was approached by an agent of Russia, who eventually informed him (on April 26, 2016) that the Kremlin had “dirt” on the Democratic party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton, in the form of “thousands” of “emails of Clinton” (pages 3–7). To my mind, then, the only questions involved (a) the nature of Mifsud’s relationship to the Putin regime and (b) whether the emails in question were the hacked DNC emails (which Democrats have suggested) or the thousands of emails Clinton deleted from her homebrew server (which seemed to me more likely).
Yet, important reporting by the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross, the Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel, and Lee Smith at Real Clear Investigations calls for a more exacting perusal of Mueller’s allegations. Specifically: (1) Is Mueller really claiming that Papadopoulos was approached by an agent of Russia and (2) did this agent actually claim that the Russians’ “dirt” involved emails — and if so, is there reason to believe he knew what he was talking about?
When one looks carefully at Mueller’s statement of the offense, and at the one-count criminal-information to which Papadopoulos pled guilty, one realizes Mueller is not claiming that Mifsud and his associates truly were Kremlin operatives — only that Papadopoulos was under the impression that they were. The information legalistically accuses Papadopoulos of lying about his “interactions with certain foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with senior Russian government officials” (emphasis added). That is, Papadopoulos is accused of misrepresenting his subjective state of mind, not objective reality.