During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.
About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.
Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts [what an unusual idea! –ed.], according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.
The hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the F.B.I. to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired.
If Mr. Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. and is now a cooperating witness, was the improbable match that set off a blaze that has consumed the first year of the Trump administration, his saga is also a tale of the Trump campaign in miniature. He was brash, boastful and underqualified, yet he exceeded expectations. And, like the campaign itself, he proved to be a tantalizing target for a Russian influence operation.
I deplore this Russiaphobic McCarthyism designed to distract from the graspingly perfidious neoliberalism that Hillary Clinton used to CLEAR THE FIELD of real progressive alternatives like Jim Webb, Rand Paul, and Ron Paul. Of course, I support a full investigation…of Donna Brazile’s compelling charges that she rigged the primaries by alerting Clinton that a debated being held in Flint might have a question about poison water.
And something to keep in mind for when James Comey goes on the most integrity-filled and nonpartisan book tour ever:
Not to question Saint James of Bridgewater Associates but I’m struck that the FBI Director felt the need to offer running public commentary on the email server investigator while staying mum on the Russia thing.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) December 30, 2017