Former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos began his paltry two-week jail term on Monday after a plea deal with Robert Mueller resulted in a severely reduced sentence in exchange for cooperating with the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian collusion with the president’s campaign.
However, a new article in The Atlantic today leads to the conclusion that Mueller may not be finished with Papadopoulos quite yet. The story reveals the existence of a letter sent to Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on November 19th by a yet to be named person who claims to have had close ties with the former Trump campaign aide during the period immediately following the 2016 election.
The letter, if it proves to be true, could be the smoking gun that would prove collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and directly implicates the president in the activity.
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The associate of Papadopoulos — who requested anonymity — details conversations they had together at the end of 2016 wherein the Trump aide spoke about “doing a business deal with Russians which would result in large financial gains for himself and Mr. Trump.” The informer also claims to have been present while Papadopoulos spoke directly to Trump on a phone call.
Here it is, folks. We had to redact portions of the letter as to not give away any details about the Papadopoulos confidant. It's real, and federal authorities are investigating thoroughly. pic.twitter.com/mFGwc0usw4
— Scott Stedman (@ScottMStedman) November 28, 2018
The letter was shared with federal investigators who are reportedly taking its contents “very seriously,” according to the officials who also maintained anonymity due to the ongoing investigation.
According to The Atlantic:
“The confidant—whose name The Atlantic is withholding at their request but whose identity is known to congressional and federal investigators—said they were willing to take a polygraph test ‘to prove that I am being truthful’ and had come forward now after seeing Papadopoulos ‘become increasingly hostile towards those who are investigating him and his associates.’ “
With the exact details of Papadopoulos’ cooperation with the Mueller probe still uncertain, it’s not clear whether any of the allegations in the letter to Rep Schiff have already been disclosed to the Speical Counsel as part of the cooperation testimony.
However, a spokesperson for Congressman Schiff, Patrick Boland said that the committee will want to get “full answers on the range” of Papadopoulos’s “contacts with the Russians and their intermediaries.” He said that the representative and his staff “evaluate all information brought to our attention, and remain concerned about the conduct that formed the basis of Mr. Papadopoulos’ guilty plea, as well as his subsequent and apparently contradictory statements.”
While Papadopoulos serves his reduced sentence for initially providing false information to the FBI about “the timing, extent, and nature of his relationships and interactions with certain foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with senior Russian government officials,” if these new allegations contain information that he hasn’t already discussed with Mueller’s investigators, he may be facing a lot more time in prison than he originally expected.
As for the letter’s effect on the investigation of Trump’s own role in his staff’s contacts with Russia, we’ll have to wait for Mr. Mueller to show his hand to know if this is a breakthrough piece of evidence or just another part of a long and sordid list.
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Original reporting by Natasha Bertrand and Scott Stedman at The Atlantic.