A New York Times story about a Trump campaign adviser’s drunken night at a London bar last Spring blew up many of the false talking points Trump and his team have relied on when trying to counter the damning details in the Russia investigation.
According to The New York Times, former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos bragged to Australia’s top diplomat to Britain that Russia had “political dirt” on Hillary Clinton in May 2016.
The incident came three weeks after Papadopoulos was told by a Kremlin-linked professor that Russia had thousands of emails that would embarrass Clinton, and were “apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign,” The Times reports.
When stolen Democratic emails began to be published online several weeks later, Australian officials notified the FBI, according to the report.
The move led the FBI to “open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired.”
The report knee-caps many talking points Republicans have used in an effort to discredit the investigation.
For one, Trump and his Congressional flunkies have claimed that the FBI began its investigation because of the Christopher Steele dossier, which they claim is both false and was funded by Hillary Clinton.
The Times report shows that the FBI launched their probe months before Steele turned over the dossier, putting aside the fact that there has been nothing in the dossier that has been proven untrue while many claims have since been verified. The dossier was initially funded by a top Republican donor before Trump won the primaries.
The report also knocks down Trump’s claims that there is bias against him within the FBI. The FBI investigated Trump for months before the election but never notified the public, while making many details in the Hillary Clinton email server public and then abruptly reopening the Clinton investigation weeks before the election.
The New York Times reports that Papadopoulos played a key role in setting up a pre-election meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. He also represented the campaign to foreign diplomats from Israel and Australia and traveled to a number of meetings on behalf of the campaign.
This flies directly in the face of Trump’s claim that Papadopoulos was just a “low-level volunteer” and his advisers’ claims that he was just a “coffee boy.”
Papadopoulos also tried to set up meetings with Russian officials and President Vladimir Putin while “keeping senior campaign officials abreast of his efforts.” Not usually a job tasked to a coffee boy.
It’s also worth noting that much of this happened after the FBI warned Trump to notify them over any Russian overtures or contacts with his campaign. The campaign never notified the FBI of their repeated interactions with Russia and near-constant attempts to obtain “dirt” on Clinton. The FBI had to find out from Australian officials instead.
Trump was grasping for straws in a desperate attempt to counter the narrative after two of his top aides pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and two others were indicted. Now, he’s got nothing.