As today’s highly anticipated charges were announced against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner and campaign adviser Rick Gates, it was the third charge that may be the most telling. George Papadopoulos, former foreign policy adviser, was also charged – and pleaded guilty – for lying to the FBI in an interview on January 27, 2017.
On that same day, January 27, 2017 – only one week after Trump was sworn in as President – he summoned then-FBI Director James Comey to the White House for a one-on-one dinner. That dinner would ultimately be remembered for Trump’s “loyalty pledge.”
While Comey did not pledge his loyalty to the President, he did promise Trump that he would always be honest with him. Apparently unsatisfied, Trump again requested Comey’s loyalty. Comey, again, only offered “honest loyalty.”
It’s striking that on the same day that a Trump adviser knowingly lied to the FBI, the President then appealed to the head of that very agency for what effectively amounted to immunity.
It would be extremely coincidental if Trump and Papadopoulos did not have contact on January 27, 2017. On the other hand, it would be wholly unsurprising if, given the fact that the FBI already suspected Papadopoulos of wrongdoing on that day, they did not monitor his communications moving forward. If so, there is a chance that the FBI would already know if Papadopoulos communicated his concerns to the President who, in turn, sought assurance from Comey that any wrongdoing would be overlooked.
If that is the case, Trump could have already easily implicated himself in Mueller’s investigation, in which a man was already found guilty.
While Trump has a penchant for a stunning lack of discretion and even self-incrimination, this obvious link to a man who has already pleaded guilty to federal charges will not bode well for a White House in turmoil.