Two Indictments, One Guilty Plea

Let’s start with the guilty plea, because news of that broke just this morning

A professor with close ties to the Russian government told an adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in April 2016 that Moscow had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” according to court documents unsealed Monday.

The adviser, George Papadopoulos, has pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about that conversation. The plea represents the most explicit evidence connecting the Trump campaign to the Russian government’s meddling in last year’s election.

Here’s the affadavit against Papadopoulos. I haven’t read it through yet, but let’s keep going.

Josh Marshall writes on the Papadopoulos plea:

It shows a Trump foreign policy advisor in active communication with what appear to be Russian government officials or spies trying to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, arrange meetings with Russian government officials (even Vladimir Putin, rather ludicrously) and solicit Russian support. That an active foreign policy advisor was taking these actions while in active communication with the campaign about those actions is quite damning. An unnamed campaign official sent back word that a meeting with Trump himself was not happening.

Papadopolous was arrested in July and has apparently been cooperating since. I see no purely legal reason why the news of his arrest in July and guilty plea in early October had to be revealed today, other than keeping the news from Manafort. One other potential reason is that one of the ‘campaign officials’ referenced in the Papadopolous plea appears to be Manafort. It sends two clear messages. First, we’re not at all done with collusion and we’re making progress. Second, we arrested Papadopolous in July and he pled out in October and no one knew. So don’t think you have any idea what we have.

Josh Marshall concludes by saying, “But in revealing the Manafort news early, giving time for the White House to respond as you’d expect (nothing to do with us or Russia or the campaign) and then following up by revealing this Papadopolous indictment certainly has the feel of sucker punching the White House.” Heh.

By now you’ve heard that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted and taken into custody.

The charges in the indictments against Manafort and Gates are mostly about activities that went on before they became part of Trump’s campaign. The smart people all say that Mueller is trying to flip Manafort and Gates to dish on Trump.

See also:

Paul Manafort’s central role in the Trump-Russia investigation, explained

How Paul Manafort’s arrest fits into Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, explained

I’ll post more links if I come across some good ones.