Mueller pierces Trump’s ‘no collusion’ delusion

In this photo from President Donald Trump's Twitter account, George Papadopoulos, third from left, sits at a table with then-candidate Trump and others at what is labeled at a national security meeting in Washington that was posted on March 31, 2016. Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide belittled by the White House as a low-level volunteer was thrust on Oct. 30, 2017, to the center of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, providing evidence in the first criminal case that connects Trump’s team and intermediaries for Russia seeking to interfere in the campaign.

In this photo from President Donald Trump's Twitter account, George Papadopoulos, third from left, sits at a table with then-candidate Trump and others at what is labeled at a national security meeting in Washington that was posted on March 31, 2016. Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide belittled by the White House as a low-level volunteer was thrust on Oct. 30, 2017, to the center of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, providing evidence in the first criminal case that connects Trump’s team and intermediaries for Russia seeking to interfere in the campaign. (Donald Trump's Twitter account via AP)

Christmas came early yesterday, courtesy of Robert Mueller’s legal eagles, and it brought to mind the opening lyrics in a famous pop song by The Mamas and The Papas:

Monday Monday / So good to me / Monday Monday / It was all I hoped it would be…

It reportedly prompted Donald Trump to fume in front of his TV, and no wonder. As Bob Barker, the famous host of “The Price is Right” would surely be saying:

“George Papadopoulos, come on down!”

This Trump campaign underling, who was barely a blip on our radar screens, is a gift that could keep on giving – precisely because he did make a deal. Turns out, he was arrested back in July. Turns out, he has been singing to the feds because the feds caught him lying about his back-channel contacts with Kremlin-connected operatives who’d told him, back in April ’16, that they had cyber-“dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Turns out, in other words, that Mueller has a cooperative witness from inside the Trump campaign. This we did not know. This we are thrilled to learn.

In the feds’ “Statement of the Offense,” there’s dry language that should ruffle the hair on Trump’s vanilla head: “Following his arrest, defendant PAPADOPOULOS met with the Government on numerous occasions to provide information and answer questions.” Terrified Trumpers, all of whom are lawyered to the max, must surely be wondering what information this guy is providing. Mueller, by releasing this document yesterday, and timing it with the announcement of Paul Manafort’s indictment, has essentially put Trump on notice that the worst may be yet to come.

Naturally, the Trump disinformation factory insists that Papadopoulos was merely some low-level campaign “volunteer,” thus leaving the fake impression that he was licking envelopes. But facts are stubborn things, even in the current dystopia, and the fact is that Papadopoulos literally had a seat at the table during a March 31, 2016 meeting, with Trump at one end and Jeff Sessions two seats away from Papadopoulos at the other end. Heck, there’s even a photo. And 10 days before that meeting, Trump boasted to The Washington Post that the young fella was a great addition to his foreign policy team: “George Papadopoulos, he’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy.”

The gist of Mueller’s court documents is that, starting in the late winter of ’16, this “excellent guy” was forging back-channel ties to Kremlin-connected sources who had inside info about the Russian plot to meddle in the presidential election on Trump’s behalf. He kept his Trump superiors in the loop about what he was doing, and at no time did anybody order him to stop. On the contrary, his supervisor emailed him to say, “Great work.”

By the way, you may have noticed that Trump hasn’t even tried to denounce the documents as “fake news.” Perhaps that’s because Papadopoulos signed the documents and attested that they’re a “true and accurate” account of his involvement in the national security scandal.

Rest assured, Mueller and his crack team of prosecutors already know a lot more than they chose to release yesterday. As the documents teasingly stated, “These facts do not constitute all of the facts known to the parties.” But we already know enough to connect some of the dots ourselves. We learned, just last week, that the data firm working for the Trump campaign asked Julian Assange of WikiLeaks to help them find some of Hillary’s emails. (Trump on the campaign stump: “I love WikiLeaks!”) And we shouldn’t be surprised that Papadopoulos’ supervisor was keen to indulge the “dirt” hunt, because we already know that when Donald Trump Jr. was offered dirt on Hillary, in advance of the June ’16 Trump Tower meeting, he gleefully replied in an email, “If true, I love it!”

All told, Papadopoulos’ “true and accurate” tale, combined with what we already know, contradicts Trump’s tweeted delusion that “There is NO COLLUSION!”

Mueller Monday was easily the best day of the Trump occupation, and, most deliciously, we’re merely at the end of the beginning. But instead of paraphrasing Churchill, perhaps it’s more apt to invoke “Scarface.” I’ll leave that task to Max Boot, an ex-foreign policy adviser to several Republican presidential candidates:

“There’s a good reason why, the day before the indictments were unsealed, Trump was having a meltdown on Twitter. Among his Sunday morning tweets was this desperate plea to his supporters: ‘DO SOMETHING!’ This sounds like something that Al Pacino, as Tony Montana, might have said…as he saw an army of gunmen invading his mansion.”

The doors have been breached, and Mueller’s team is at the foot of the stairs. It makes me proud to be an American.

 

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