While the Russia-obsessed media self-combust, the biggest takeaway isn’t “Russia collusion,” but the revelation, buried in footnotes, that the FBI has had in its possession “high-level” Trump campaign e-mails since last year — and yet all investigators could get out of them is a false-statement guilty charge against a young, unpaid campaign aide.
From e-mail exchanges among “high-ranking campaign officials” examined by investigators — including Paul Manafort — there apparently has emerged no evidence of collusion or espionage by the campaign.
We can glean this from the just-unsealed indictment of George Papadopoulos, who volunteered to work on the Trump campaign’s foreign policy advisory council, which met just one time.
In the 14-page document, Robert Mueller’s prosecutors maintain that Papadopoulos, a twentysomething think-tank nerd who jumped ship from the Ben Carson campaign, met with individuals posing as Russian officials who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
There was nothing illegal about what Papadopoulos did. The only crime alleged in the indictment is that he lied to federal agents when they asked him about the contacts last January.
It is fairly plain from the indictment that the young campaign volunteer was trying to impress higher-ups in the campaign, perhaps with a White House assignment in mind, but was played for a sucker by con artists who approached him masquerading as Russian honchos tied to Vladimir Putin. (The contact portrayed as “Putin’s niece,” for example, turned out to be nothing of the kind.)
The initial Russia offer by Papadopoulos went nowhere, as other members of the foreign policy team rejected the suggestion, according to a Washington Post story published in August (yes, this is old news, new media huffing-and-puffing notwithstanding). But Papadopoulos persisted, e-mailing then-campaign manager Lewandowski in April 2016 that “Putin wants to host the Trump team when the time is right.”