George Papadopoulos’ wife, Simona Mangiante, has come forward with new information about her husband’s’ activities on the Trump campaign, telling interviewers a different story than she did just a few short months ago. According to the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross, Mangiante, a former attorney in the European Parliament, said she wants to “reset the narrative” that Papadopoulos colluded with the Russian government.
In an exclusive interview with Ross, Mangiante claimed that the former Trump campaign aide did not collude with the Russian government and that he only pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal investigators because Robert Mueller’s prosecutors had threatened to charge him as a foreign agent of the Israeli government.
Mangiante also claimed that it was Papadopoulos who told the FBI in January of 2017 about Joseph Mifsud, the mysterious Maltese professor who brought up Hillary Clinton’s emails during a meeting with him in London in April 2016.
“George had nothing to do with Russia,” Mangiante told Ross.
However, in previous interviews with ABC News, CNN and The Washington Post, Mangiante seemed to be pushing a very different narrative.
In an interview with The Washington Post on Jan. 22, she compared Papadopoulos to John Dean, the Nixon White House counsel who helped bring down President Nixon by exposing the Watergate cover-up.
“I believe history will remember him like John Dean,” she told the Post.
On Dec. 8, she told CNN that the White House wanted to “disassociate” from Papadopoulos because he had “decided to actively cooperate with the government, on the right side.”
Mangiante said she was limited at the time in what she could discuss about Papadopoulos’ case. But she said she did not intend the reference to Dean to be an indication that Papadopoulos would reveal information about collusion.
“I wasn’t saying that the campaign was trying to collude.”
She also bristles at the impression that she has become a “tool for the liberal media to support the idea of collusion.” She pointed to a recent book by Stephen Roh, an associate of Mifsud’s, who argued that Mangiante’s media interviews have supported the case of collusion against the Trump campaign.
“What are they talking about?” she asked rhetorically.
Russia collusion conspiracists have pointed to Mangiante’s cryptic comments as well as Papadopoulos’ Oct. 5 guilty plea as evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
But Mangiante maintains that Papadopoulos had nothing to do with Russia and only pled guilty to avoid charges that he was an agent of the Israeli government.
It was Papadopoulos’ meetings during spring and summer 2016, which reportedly led the FBI in late-July 2016 to open “Crossfire Hurricane” — the counterintelligence investigation into Russian infiltration of the Trump campaign.
The investigation reportedly began based on a tip from Alexander Downer, a former Australian diplomat.
Papadopoulos and Downer met at a London wine bar on May 10, 2016, about two months after Papadopoulos joined the Trump campaign as a national security adviser. Erika Thompson, an Australian diplomat who Papadopoulos met in April 2016, introduced the Trump aide to Downer. She was with Downer during the meeting with Papadopoulos.
Downer has said Papadopoulos mentioned that Russia had derogatory information about Clinton. The Australian diplomat said in an April interview that he found Papadopoulos’ statement to be “interesting” and decided to pass the information to others in the Australian government. The tip was then passed to U.S. authorities.
Appearing on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, Mangiante lashed out at former FBI director James Comey’s recent claims that George tried to obtain emails from the Russian government, saying his “statement is completely false.”
“George never had any interaction with Russians. He has never been to Russia, either. He doesn’t speak Russian, never talked with Russian officials, yet he’s apparently at the origin of the Russia investigation. This is quite paradoxical,” Mangiante said.
She told Carlson that she knows Professor Mifsud because she used to work with him, but she said she had no idea what Mifsud, whom she called “a very shady character,” was actually up to when he spoke with her husband in London.
“The fact that the professor disappeared is very suspicious,” she said. “What I know about this meeting between George and the professor is that they were talking casually about information that was already in the public domain at the time,” she added. She stressed that they were discussing Clinton’s emails — not the DNC emails. “It’s a completely different topic,” she said. “This information was already highly speculated by all media all over the world at the time.”
Mangiante told Carlson that it is “very fascinating and … frustrating to see my husband at the center of this investigation for talking in a bar.”
What she forgot to mention is that Papadopoulos apparently attempted to set up meetings between members of the Russian government and the Trump campaign, as the Daily Caller points out.
Campaign emails show Papadopoulos pitched several Trump officials on the idea of meeting with Russian government officials. The emails show that the proposals were rebuffed. The special counsel’s statement of offense against Papadopoulos said the meetings did not pan out, and that there has been no other evidence that Papadopoulos successfully brokered meetings with Russians.
She told the Caller that she is speaking out now because she is “very scared” for her husband, who faces up to six months in jail for lying to the FBI.
Tucker Carlson asked her about that.
“Do you think that your husband’s going to prison?” he asked.
Mangiante answered that she’s hoping the president will pardon him, saying he was “very dedicated and committed” when he worked on the Trump campaign. “I trust and I hope and I ask President Trump to pardon him. I hope he will,” she said.