Members of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign encouraged erstwhile foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos to reach out to foreign officials and forge ties on Trump’s behalf, the Washington Post reported on Friday.
The Washington Post reported, citing emails that were described to the outlet, that Papadopoulos discussed his efforts with Steve Bannon, who served as Trump’s campaign CEO, Michael Flynn, a fellow adviser, and Bryan Lanza, the campaign’s deputy communications director.
In September 2016, according to the Washington Post, Papadopoulos informed Bannon that an Egyptian embassy official had contacted him to try and set up a meeting with Trump.
The New York Times previously reported that Papadopoulos worked to set up the meeting.
According to the Washington Post, Bannon asked Papadopoulos to provide talking points about the meeting, which he discussed further on a call with Papadopoulos, and asked Papadopoulos to inform the embassy when they finalized a time for the meeting.
“This is a great move on our side. A home run,” Papadopoulos emailed Bannon, according to the report.
“Agree,” Bannon replied, per the Washington Post. “But very hard sell to DJT.”
Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi met in New York City the next night, according to the report.
Around then, according to the report, Papadopoulos asked Lanza for approval to do an interview with a Russian news agency.
“Received a request from Interfax Russian News Agency with Ksenia Baygarova on U.S.-Russia ties under a President Trump. What do you think?” Papadopoulos asked, according to the report.
“You should do it,” Lanza replied in an email, according to the report, and cited the potential benefits of a “partnership with Russia.” After Papadopoulos offered to send the campaign a copy of the published interview, he said, “You’re the best. Thank you!”
In December 2016, Papadopoulos sent Bannon and Flynn a proposal from Greece’s defense minister, according to the report. Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos has bragged about his ties to Moscow, and met with Papadopoulos in May 2016.
Papadopoulos told Bannon, “They want to sign a government-to-government agreement with the USA for all rights to all energy fields offshore, strategic foothold in the Mediterranean and Balkans.”
According to the Washington Post, Bannon forwarded the message to Flynn and his deputy KT McFarland. Flynn responded to Papadopoulos: “Will work this one.”
Though it was not clear whether Flynn pursued that proposal further, later in the month he told Papadopoulos in an email that he thought Papadopoulos’ ideas contained “great opportunities,” according to the report.
“We will examine these and determine if this is something we should take on early,” Flynn wrote, according to the Washington Post. “Stay in touch and, at some point, we should get together.”
Lanza, Papadopoulos’ attorney Thomas Breen, Flynn’s attorney Robert Kelner and the White House declined to comment to the Washington Post. An attorney for McFarland did not respond to the Washington Post’s request for comment. A spokesman for the Egyptian embassy told the Washington Post that an official did contact the Trump campaign via Papadopoulos.
Kammenos told the Washington Post that, before the election, Papadopoulos sent him an energy proposal, but said he did not seek Papadopoulos’ help to reach the campaign and later concluded that Papadopoulos was “a very young person with dreams,” but not a major player in Trump’s orbit.
Since the end of Trump’s campaign, Bannon became White House chief strategist, left that position, returned to his job as the executive chairman of Breitbart News and then left that position.
Flynn became national security adviser, left the White House in February 2017 and pleaded guilty in December of the same year of lying to the FBI. KT McFarland served as deputy national security adviser, was ousted by Flynn’s successor, was picked to serve as U.S. ambassador to Singapore and later withdrew her nomination.
Papadopoulos in 2017 pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials.