March 13, 2018


George Papadopoulos Claimed Trump Encouraged His Efforts to Establish a Russian Back Channel: And more scoops from "Russian Roulette," the new book co-authored by Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief. (MOTHER JONES, MAR. 12, 2018)

The rest of the book has other significant disclosures. Here's an incomplete list.

- George Papadopoulos claimed Trump encouraged him to connect with the Russian government. As a member of Trump's team of foreign policy advisers, Papadopoulos, a young energy consultant with little national security experience, spent months in the spring and summer of 2016 trying to set up a back channel between the campaign and the Kremlin, in part to arrange a Trump-Putin meeting before Election Day. His efforts were known to senior campaign aides, including campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis and top campaign aide Paul Manafort. According to a later court filing, Papadopoulos, who in October 2017 pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, aimed to set up an "off the record" meeting between campaign representatives and Putin's office. Trump has famously denied there was any relationship between his campaign and Moscow. But Russian Roulette reveals that Papadopoulos has told investigators that at a March 31, 2016, meeting Trump held with his foreign policy team, when Papadopoulos informed Trump he had contacts in the United Kingdom who could set up a meeting between Trump and Putin, Trump said this was an "interesting" idea. Trump, according to Papadopoulos' account, looked at then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), a top Trump adviser at the time, as if he expected him to follow up. Afterward, Papadopoulos, working with Russian cutouts, kept pursuing such a meeting.

- A secret source. According to the book, a US official in Russia in 2014 developed a high-level source in the Russian government who regularly shared inside information about Kremlin doings. After Viktor Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine and a Putin ally, fled Kiev in February, this source told his American contact that Putin was planning to move into Crimea. He also informed the US official that Putin was increasingly under the influence of an ultranationalist Orthodox Russian monk named Father Tikhon Shevkunov and that Putin and his inner circle had total contempt for Obama, denigrating the president as weak but also accusing him of meddling in Russia's affair. Putin's aides often used racist terms when referring to Obama, calling him a "monkey" and using the N-word. But most alarming, this secret source told the US official that the Kremlin was planning a wide-ranging clandestine campaign to undermine Western democracies that would include cyberattacks, information warfare, propaganda, and social media efforts. The US official sent in reports based on the source's information. Yet these warnings garnered little attention within the US government. "Anybody who had any doubt about Putin's intentions," the US official later said, "just wasn't reading what we reported."

- Steele isn't sure the pee party happened. Steele's dossier became most notorious because it included the allegation that Trump had prostitutes put on a "golden showers" performance in his hotel room when he was in Moscow in 2013. Steele's larger point was that the Russian government, according to his sources, had obtained compromising information about Trump's personal conduct that could be used to blackmail Trump. There still is no confirmation anything sordid happened in Trump's suite that particular night. (At least one Trump associate has said Trump engaged in sexual antics on previous trips to Russia.) Steele, according to Russian Roulette, has told people that he believes that 70 to 90 percent of the broad assertions of his reporting--that Russia mounted a campaign to cultivate Trump and in some manner colluded with the Trump campaign--was accurate. But he is less certain about the most sordid allegation. Regarding whether prostitutes in Moscow had urinated in Trump's presence, Steele has told colleagues, "It's fifty-fifty."

Posted by at March 13, 2018 4:21 AM