The George Papadopoulos file: a timeline
A chronology, from open sources, of the activities of George Papadopoulos relating to the US presidential election of 2016. Sources are indicated in square brackets and links to them appear at the end of this compilation. This is one in a series of articles about the Trump-Russia affair and the characters involved.
Last updated: 19 November 2017
December 2015: Papadopoulos joins Ben Carson’s campaign, works for six weeks, paid $8,500 [WP1]
[WP1]: Carson’s campaign manager, Barry Bennett, recalled that Papadopoulos was hired after sending him an unsolicited message via LinkedIn seeking a job.
At the time, Carson’s campaign was desperate to show it had policy experts advising his campaign, given that most leading Republican foreign policy thinkers had been snapped up by other candidates.
Bennett said his only vetting was to ask a friend at the Washington-based Hudson Institute, where Papadopoulos’s résumé indicated he had worked as a researcher, whether Papadopoulos was “an okay guy.”
“I wasn’t looking for something stellar,” Bennett said. “I wanted to make sure he was okay.”
January 2016 (end of): Carson campaign shedding staff; Papadopoulos leaves.
February: Having left Ben Carson’s campaign, Papadopoulos takes up a post in the UK as head of the Centre for International Energy and Natural Resources Law & Security at the London Centre of International Law and Practice (LCILP).
Note: We still don’t know how Papadopoulos first came into contact with LCILP. Politically, they are not an obvious match and LCILP is not a well-known organisation. However, Papadopoulos had previously studied and worked (briefly) in London.
February 25: Tweet shows Papadopoulos in LCILP group visiting Togo ambassador in London “to discuss water management”.
Early March: Papadopoulos learns that Trump campaign wants him as an adviser [DoJ]. This was on March 6 +/- one day [WP1].
[WP1]: By March 2016, Trump’s campaign, like Carson’s before it, was eagerly searching for foreign policy expertise. As Trump rose in the polls and won Republican primaries, the former reality TV host was under pressure to announce a group of advisers with whom he was consulting on foreign policy issues …
To come up with names, the campaign turned to Sam Clovis, a former Iowa radio host who served as national campaign co-chairman, an attorney for Clovis confirmed Tuesday in a statement.
But the statement did not address how Papadopoulos ended up on the list. Bennett [formerly of the Carson campaign] said he was not consulted and would not have recommended his former employee if he had been asked because he found him unimpressive.
March 7–8: Papadopoulos attends LCILP conference in London: “Energy Arbitration & Dispute Resolution in the Middle East & Africa”. Not listed as a speaker.
March 14 (“on or about”): Papadopoulos meets Joseph Mifsud while travelling in Italy. Allegedly this was their first encounter [DoJ].
[WP2]: While in Italy, Papadopoulos meets a “professor based in London” [Mifsud] who is initially “uninterested” in Papadopoulos — until Papadopoulos explains that he’s working for Trump’s campaign. Papadopoulos is interested in the professor because the professor has links to the Kremlin, which Papadopoulos believed would be useful in bolstering his position with the campaign.
[DoJ]: “Initially, the Professor seemed uninterested in defendant Papadopoulos. However, after defendant Papadopoulos informed the Professor about his joining the Campaign, the Professor appeared to take great interest in defendant Papadopoulos. Defendant Papadopoulos was interested in the Professor because, among other reasons, the Professor claimed to have substantial connections with Russian government officials, which defendant Papadopoulos thought could increase his importance as a policy advisor to the Campaign.”
March 19: Suspicious email to Clinton campaign.
[WP2]: Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta is sent an email including a fraudulent link to change his Google password. It’s believed that this email was sent by an agent of the Russian government and was used to illegally access his email account.
March 21: Trump campaign names five men as its foreign policy team, one of whom is Papadopoulos. Trump personally hails his appointment: “he’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy”.
March 24 (“on or about”): In London, Papadopoulos meets Mifsud who is accompanied by a Russian woman. Mifsud introduces her as a relative of President Putin with connections to senior Russian government officials [DoJ].
[DoJ]: Following his March 24, 2016 meeting with the Professor and the Female Russian National, defendant Papadopoulos emailed the Campaign Supervisor and several members of the Campaign’s foreign policy team and stated that he had just met with his “good friend” the Professor, who had introduced him to the Female Russian National (described by defendant Papadopoulos in the email as “Putin’s niece”) and the Russian Ambassador in London.
Defendant Papadopoulos stated that the topic of their discussion was “to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.” The Campaign Supervisor responded that he would “work it through the campaign,” but that no commitments should be made at that point. The Campaign Supervisor added: “Great work.”
[DoJ] adds: Defendant Papadopoulos later learned that the Female Russian National was not in fact a relative of President Putin. In addition, while defendant Papadopoulos expected that the Professor and the Female Russian National would introduce him to the Russian Ambassador in London, they never did.
In an interview published by La Repubblica on November 1, 2017, Mifsud suggested Papadopoulos was attracted to the Russian woman.
[REP1] quoting Mifsud:
“She’s just a student, a very good-looking one. As many other students, I introduced her at the London Center: Papadopoulos was in, and I learned about his interest in her, very different from an academic one. He offered her to go with him to America.”
The Russian woman has since been identified as 30-year-old Olga Polonskaya from St. Petersburg and the former manager of a wine distribution company:
Ms Polonskaya did not respond to emails from The Times this week. After Politico [POL2] identified her on Thursday by her maiden name, Vinogradova, her brother, Sergei Vinogradov, spoke to The Times on her behalf.
He said she was in London discussing a possible internship with Mr Mifsud, a friend of hers, the morning before the meeting with Mr Papadopoulos. He insisted that she had no connections to the Russian government and never portrayed herself as Mr Putin’s niece, despite the court records unsealed by Mr Mueller.
He said that she only exchanged pleasantries with Mr Papadopoulos, and that she understood only about half of the discussion between Mr Mifsud and Mr. Papadopoulos. He shared a text message from her in which she explained to him the reason: “Because my English was bad,” it read.
“It’s totally ridiculous,” Mr Vinogradov said. “She’s not interested in politics. She can barely tell the difference between Lenin and Stalin.”
March 31 (“on or about”): Papadopoulos attends “national security” meeting with Trump in Washington [REU1].
[WP2]: Papadopoulos told the group he had connections that could facilitate a meeting with Putin.
April: Papadopoulos leaves LCLIP.
Early April: Papadopoulos sends multiple emails to other members of Trump’s foreign policy team regarding his contacts with “the Russians” and his “outreach to Russia” [DoJ]
Early April: Papadopoulos in Israel. Has lunch at Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, quoted in Jerusalem Post on Trump’s foreign policy.
[JP1]: … the young, impressive energy expert George Papadopoulos, was in Israel this week. Over lunch with research associates of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, he expounded on what he says is Trump’s prism on global affairs.
It goes like this: Unlike President Barack Obama, who weakly attempted to “reset” relations with Russia and then spent the latter part of his tenure isolating and sanctioning Russia, Donald Trump would “overtly seek” serious engagement with Russia on a range of common concerns.
Trump, says Papadopoulos, sees Russian President Vladimir Putin as a responsible actor and potential partner. After all, he says, Russia had good trade relations with European countries and with Turkey before recent “incidents” (the Russian invasion of Crimea; the Turkish shooting down of a Russian military jet). Russia has been careful not to cross NATO lines, he adds, an s been respectful of Israeli concerns in Syria and elsewhere, too.
April 8: Stirling University official circulates an email boasting of Mifsud’s international connections, including those with Russia:
[STV1]: In emails obtained by STV News, a university official described Professor Joseph Mifsud to staff in the politics department as someone who “regularly ‘flies the University of Stirling flag’ at high-profile international events”.
The official then lists a number of such engagements when the Malta-born academic represented Stirling, including a “Valdai board meeting” with the Russian president and the leaders of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in November 2015 ...
A second email, sent by the university’s deputy principal John Gardner, said the professor had “truly global contacts in the world of diplomacy and is on first name terms with a wide variety of ambassadors from across the globe”.
April 10–11: Papadopoulos exchanges emails with the Russian woman and Mifsud.
[DoJ]: On or about April 10, 2016, defendant Papadopoulos emailed the Female Russian National, who responded the next day, on or about April 11, 2016, that she “would be very pleased to support your initiatives between our two countries.” Defendant Papadopoulos then asked the Female Russian National, in an email cc’ing the Professor, about setting up “a potential foreign policy trip to Russia.”
The Professor responded to defendant Papadopoulos’s email later that day, on or about April 11 , 2016: “This is already been agreed. I am flying to Moscow on the 18th for a Valdai meeting, plus other meetings at the Duma.” The Duma is a Russian government legislative assembly.
The Female Russian National responded: “I have already alerted my personal links to our conversation and your request. … As mentioned we are all very excited by the possibility of a good relationship with Mr. Trump. The Russian Federation would love to welcome him once his candidature would be officially announced.”
April 13: Mifsud gives public lecture at Stirling University entitled “Controlled or uncontrolled migration — a fortress EU or a global response?”
April 18: Email from Mifsud introduces Papadopoulos to a person in Moscow said to have connections with Russian foreign ministry.
[DoJ]: On or about April 18, 2016, the Professor introduced defendant Papadopoulos over email to an individual in Moscow (the “Russian MFA Connection”) who told defendant Papadopoulos he had connections to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (“MFA”). The MFA is the executive entity in Russia responsible for Russian foreign relations. Over the next several weeks, defendant Papadopoulos and the Russian MFA Connection had multiple conversations over Skype and email about setting “the groundwork” for a “potential” meeting between the Campaign and Russian government officials.
[WP3]: MFA connection may be Ivan Timofeev of the Russian International Affairs Council
April 22: Email from MFA connection to Papadopoulos proposes meeting in London or Moscow.
[DoJ]: On or about April 22, 2016, the Russian MFA Connection sent defendant Papadopoulos an email thanking him “for an extensive talk” and proposing “to meet in London or in Moscow.” Defendant Papadopoulos replied by suggesting that “we set one up here in London with the Ambassador as well to discuss a process moving forward.”
April 25: Papadopoulos notifies Trump campaign of Russian invitation.
[DoJ]: On or about April 25, 2016, defendant Papadopoulos emailed a senior policy advisor for the Campaign (the “Senior Policy Advisor”): “The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to meet him when he is ready. The advantage of being in London is that these governments tend to speak a bit more openly in ‘neutral’ cities.”
April 26: Mifsud tells Papadopoulos about the “thousands of emails” relating to Clinton.
[DoJ]: On or about April 26, 2016, defendant Papadopoulos met the Professor for breakfast at a London hotel. During this meeting, the Professor told defendant Papadopoulos that he had just returned from a trip to Moscow where he had met with high level Russian government officials. The Professor told defendant Papadopoulos that on that trip he (the Professor) learned that the Russians had obtained “dirt” on then-candidate Clinton. The Professor told defendant Papadopoulos, as defendant Papadopoulos later described to the FBI, that “They [the Russians] have dirt on her”; “the Russians had emails ofClinton”; “they have thousands of emails.”
April 27–30: Papadopoulos sends multiple emails to Trump campaign.
[DoJ]: For example, the day after his meeting at the hotel with the Professor, on or about April 27, 2016, defendant Papadopoulos emailed the Senior Policy Advisor: “Have some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.”
Also on or about April 27, 2016, defendant Papadopoulos emailed a high-ranking official of the Campaign (the “High-Ranking Campaign Official”) “to discuss Russia’s interest in hosting Mr. Trump. Have been receiving a lot ofcalls over the last month about Putin wanting to host him and the team when the time is right.”
On or about April 30, 2016, defendant Papadopoulos thanked the Professor for his “critical help” in arranging a meeting between the Campaign and the Russian government, and remarked: “ It’s history making if it happens.”
May 4: Russian MFA connection emails Papadopoulos and Mifsud.
[DoJ]: On or about May 4, 2016, the Russian MFA Connection sent an email (the “May 4 MFA Email”) to defendant Papadopoulos and the Professor that stated: “I have just talked to my colleagues from the MFA. The[y] are open for cooperation. One ofthe options is to make a meeting for you at the North America Desk, if you are in Moscow.” Defendant Papadopoulos responded that he was “[g]lad the MF A is interested.” Defendant Papadopoulos forwarded the May 4 MFA Email to the High-Ranking Campaign Official adding: “What do you think? Is this something we want to move forward with?” The next day, on or about May 5, 2016, defendant Papadopoulos had a phone call with the Campaign Supervisor, and then forwarded the May 4 MF A Email to him, adding to the top ofthe email: “Russia updates.”
May 4: Quoted by the Press Association (UK), Papadopoulos complains about British prime minister’s attitude towards Trump.
[PA1]: David Cameron should apologise for his description of Donald Trump as “divisive, stupid and wrong”, according to an adviser to the US presidential hopeful.
George Papadopoulos said it would be “wise” for the Prime Minister to “reach out in a more positive manner” to the Republican front-runner.
May 13–14: Mifsud sends “update” email to Papadopoulos who then relays information to Trump campaign.
[DoJ]: On or about May 13, 2016, the Professor emailed defendant Papadopoulos with “an update” of what they had discussed in their “recent conversations,” including: “We will continue to liaise through you with the Russian counterparts in terms of what is needed for a high level meeting of Mr. Trump with the Russian Federation.”
The next day, on or about May 14, 2016, defendant Papadopoulos emailed the High-Ranking Campaign Official and stated that the “Russian government ha[s] also relayed to me that they are interested in hosting Mr. Trump.”
May 21: Papadopoulos sends email to Trump campaign headed “Request from Russia to meet Mr Trump.”
[DoJ]: On or about May 21, 2016, defendant Papadopoulos emailed another high-ranking Campaign official, with the subject line “Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump.” The email included the May 4 MFA Email and added: “Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out to me to discuss.”
[DoJ] notes: The government notes that the official forwarded defendant Papadopoulos’s email to another Campaign official (without including defendant Papadopoulos) and stated: “Let[’]s discuss. We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”
May 25: Tweet by Nagi Idris shows Papadopoulos among LCILP delegation on visit to Link Campus University in Italy. (It’s unclear whether this was a meeting in May, or a photo of the earlier meeting on March 14.)
May 27–28: Two-day visit to Greece by President Putin.
Late May: In Greece, Papadopoulos meets President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, defence minister Panos Kammenos, foreign minister Nikos Kotzias and former prime minister Costas Karamanlis [EKA1]. Papadopoulos appears to have been in Greece at the same time as Putin.
June 1: Papadopoulos seeks guidance from Trump campaign.
[DoJ]: On or about June 1, 2016, defendant Papadopoulos emailed the High-Ranking Campaign Official and asked about Russia. The High-Ranking Campaign Official referred him to the Campaign Supervisor because “[h]e is running point.” Defendant Papadopoulos then emailed the Campaign Supervisor, with the subject line “Re: Messages from Russia”: “I have the Russian MFA asking me if Mr. Trump is interested in visiting Russia at some point. Wanted to pass this info along to you for you to decide what’s best to do with it and what message I should send (or to ignore).”
Mid-June to mid-August: Papadopoulos pursues an “off the record” meeting between one or more Trump campaign representatives and “members of President Putin’s office and the MFA” [DoJ].
July 20: Papadopoulos takes part in a panel discussion at an American Jewish Committee event in Cleveland, Ohio. A news report describes him as “director of the Center for International Energy & Natural Resources Law at the London Centre of International Law Practice”. The discussion appears to have been mainly about Iran [CLJ]
July 22: WikiLeaks begins releasing emails stolen from the DNC [WP2].
July 27: Trump says Russia “probably” has the missing Clinton emails.
[WP4]: Republican nominee Donald Trump pleaded directly Wednesday with the Russian government to meddle in the U.S. presidential election by finding and releasing tens of thousands of private emails from his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton — an extraordinary and perhaps unprecedented maneuver in American politics.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said during a news conference at one of his South Florida resorts. He added later, “They probably have them. I’d like to have them released.”
August 15: Trump campaign “encourages” Papadopoulos to meet Russians
[DoJ]: After several weeks of further communications regarding a potential “off the record” meeting with Russian officials, on or about August 15, 2016, the Campaign Supervisor told defendant Papadopoulos that “I would encourage you” and another foreign policy advisor to the Campaign to “make the trip, if it is feasible.”
The proposed trip did not take place.
September 13 (+/-): Papadopoulos has one-to-one “working level” meeting unnamed but high-ranking official at Foreign Office in London [MED1] .
[TPM1]: Papadopoulos tells a reporter with whom he is corresponding that he’s traveling abroad, and around Sept. 13 he says he’s in London.
According to the Washington Post, he uses his trip to seek a meeting with senior British officials. Is granted a meeting at Foreign Office and mentions that he had been in contact with top Russian government officials, the Washington Post reported.
[TPM1]: Official was mid-level.
[MED1]: Official was high-ranking.
September 22–25: Papadopoulos is in New York and meets with Ksenia Baygarova, a reporter for Russian news outlet Interfax.
[TPM1]: The interview, published September 30 describes Papadopoulos as one of Trump’s “foreign political advisors” whose opinions do “not necessarily coincide” with the candidate’s (a disclaimer included at Papadopoulos’ request).
The interview takes place after Papadopoulos had sent written answers to questions the reporter previously had provided him. He refuses to answer any additional questions and only allows minor changes to the written answers he’s already provided, Baygarova told TPM.
“He sounded a little bit inexperienced, but very ambitious, and I had a feeling that he is afraid to make any change into the written text without an approval of somebody else,” Baygarova said, making her think that he had a supervisor at the campaign to whom he was reporting.
[Interfax interview: http://www.interfax.com/interview.asp?id=704556]
Late September: Papadopoulos meets with Greek foreign minister Nikos Kotzias, who is visiting New York for the UN General Assembly.
October 1: Papadopoulos sends his Interfax interview to Mifsud. He also sent the interview to reporters with whom he had been corresponding [TPM1].
October 7: WikiLeaks begins releasing emails stolen from Podesta [WP2].
October 7: Papadopoulos is quoted as a foreign policy adviser to Trump in a policy paper written by freelance journalist Ariel Ben Solomon for the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Israel [TPM1]. Papadopoulos had previously visited the centre in April 2016.
[TPM1]: Papadopoulos first reached out to Solomon in 2014 via LinkedIn, Solomon told TPM. But their correspondence picked up in September 2016 and continued until before the election, when Papadopulos went quiet. Based on what Papadopoulos said in the correspondence, Solomon said “it was clear” he was involved in the campaign, but he wouldn’t go into any more detail.
Late October: Papadopoulos’s relationship with the Trump campaign appears to be wavering. According to Greek journalist Alexis Papachelas, who had been in touch with him, he had a falling-out with the Trump campaign which lasted about a week, though he said everything was now OK [TPM1; EKA2].
Papachelas also commented on how Papadopoulos was perceived in Greece: “He had acquired a new status in Athens and was widely regarded as being the key to having Trump’s ear. He was bestowed with awards, wined and dined by prominent Athenians …” [EKA2].
[KAT1, translated from Greek]: Two weeks prior to the elections we contacted again Mr Papadopoulos, where he informed us that he “had left the campaign” because “he had done his part”. One week later, he told us that he had returned again, but that he was under direction that no one could speak to the Press about any topic except for the FBI’s investigation of the emails of Ms Clinton. Although it is not clear exactly which — but also how close — is his relationship to Trump, just two days before the election, he took the airplane from Chicago to attend an event in Astoria (Greek town in NYC). “Mr Trump thought that it was important for me to come and speak to you”, he says in his introduction.
November: Papadopoulos meets briefly with some lower-level representatives of the British Foreign Office “as part of their normal outreach to both US Presidential candidates” [MED1]
November 3: Papadopoulos quoted as saying he has had “very productive” talks with the British Foreign office.
[TIM1]: The tightening of the race for the White House has coincided with a flurry of British diplomatic activity in Washington. One of Mr Trump’s foreign advisers — George Papadopoulos, a London based-lawyer — told The Times that he had had “very productive talks with representatives of the Foreign Office”.
November 6: Speaking in Greek, Papadopoulos addresses the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York and says he personally will counsel Trump to ensure “new relations, better relations, between Greece, America, and Cyprus” [TPM1].
November 8: Presidential election.
November 9: Tweet from Greek defence minister Panos Kammenos congratulates Trump on his victory and hails Papadopoulos too.
November 22: In London, Conservative Friends of Cyprus and Conservative Friends of Israel hold their first joint meeting in the Houses of Parliament. A Facebook post about this event [CVC1] was “liked” by Papadopoulos using this Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/george.papadopoulos.12532364
Those attending included the High Commissioner of Cyprus, the Ambassador of Israel, Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood, Theresa Villiers MP and Eric Pickles MP [CVC2].
Undated: “During the campaign and presidential transition” Papadopoulos is said to have had contact with Belarusan-American businessman Sergei Millian. Millian was a key source in the dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.
[WP5]: Millian told several people that during the campaign and presidential transition he was in touch with George Papadopoulos, a campaign foreign policy adviser, according to a person familiar with the matter. Millian is among Papadopoulos’s nearly 240 Facebook friends.
December: Papadopoulos visits Greece again, giving impression he will be working in Trump administration.
[EKA1]: In December, he met with the chief of the conservative opposition, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. He had told them he was trying to arrange for Trump to visit Greece and that he had a “blank check” to choose whatever role he wanted in the administration after the elections. Some (like Mitsotakis and his staff) were skeptical of his claims; others (like Kammenos) were excited.
December 1: Addresses Greek mayors in Thessaloniki: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYIiq23q0Vg
December 4: Gives TV interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lse_YUyemyw — Dec 4
January 20: Trump inaugurated as president; Kammenos, in Washington for the ceremony, meets Papadopoulos [EKA3].
January 22: Papadopoulos meets group of Israeli settlers visiting Washington.
[WP1]: Two days after Trump’s inauguration in January, he met in Washington with a group of Israelis headed by Yossi Dagan, a leader of the West Bank settler movement that prepared a video of the session to be shown at home.
“We had an excellent meeting with Yossi and we hope that the people of Judea and Samaria” — the name used by the Israeli right for the West Bank — “will have a great 2017,” Papadopoulos said, according to the video. “We are looking forward to ushering in a new relationship with all of Israel.”
According to an account in the Jerusalem Post, the settler leaders had been invited to attend the inauguration and meet with “senators, congressmen and members of the President’s team.” Dagan, reached by telephone Tuesday in Israel, declined to comment on the visit or who had arranged the meeting with Papadopoulos.
January 27: Papadopoulos interviewed by FBI. Makes false statements [DoJ].
February 16: Papadopoulos interviewed by FBI for a second time, with his lawyer present [DoJ].
February 17: Papadopoulos de-activates his Facebook page [DoJ].
February 23: Papadopoulos changes his mobile phone number [DoJ].
July 27: Papadopoulos is arrested at Dulles international airport, Washington, arriving on a flight from Munich [DoJ; POL1].
Text updated on 12 November 2017 to include details of “the Russian woman” (see 24 March 2016).
Text updated on 14 November 2017 to add entries for November 3, 2016, and November 22, 2016, plus a reference to Sergei Millian.
Text updated on 19 November 2017 to add entries for April 8 and April 13, 2016.