Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos, the wife of a former Trump campaign aide whose actions helped trigger the FBI’s Russia investigation in 2016, said lawmakers grilled her Wednesday about her husband George’s role in the campaign and that she’s had no contact with the White House about her call for a presidential pardon for him.
Papadopoulos described her four-hour interview with Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee as “very professional” and said lawmakers were “kind” and “receptive” to her testimony.
Though she once raised eyebrows by comparing her husband to John Dean — the former White House lawyer whose testimony was crucial in the Watergate probe that led to Richard Nixon’s resignation — she downplayed any suggestion that his role would result in a similar outcome.
“John Dean has many characteristics,” she told reporters, adding that the primary parallel is that like Dean, her husband would “reveal something very interesting and major, not necessarily in terms of impeachment.”
George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI when they asked him about his contacts with a Russia-linked professor — Joseph Mifsud — who claimed to be aware that Russians had damaging information about Hillary Clinton in early 2016.
Papadopoulos later relayed that conversation to an Australian diplomat, a tip that eventually made its way to the FBI, which opened a counterintelligence investigation in July 2016. Mueller took over the probe last year after President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. After Papadopoulos pleaded guilty, he began cooperating with Mueller’s team, an arrangement that is ongoing.
Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos called her husband’s decision to cooperate with Mueller a “brave choice” and said he’s probably willing to testify to Congress eventually, too.
She said lawmakers asked her about her relationship with Mifsud as well. More recently, she’s raised questions about whether her husband was entrapped or set up somehow, opinions she said she relayed to lawmakers, who she described as “receptive.”
Papadopoulos also said she couldn’t answer questions about whether Trump campaign officials encouraged her husband to maintain his contacts with Russia throughout the campaign.
“It’s completely beyond my knowledge,” she said.
She also said she couldn’t speak for him about whether he believes Russia was trying to communicate through him to the Trump campaign. She noted that he wanted to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin.
“Everything he tried to do was completely lawful and legal,” she said.
Papadopoulos has appealed to Trump in recent TV appearances for a pardon for her husband, but she said she has not yet filed paperwork.
George Papadopoulos is due for sentencing on Sept. 7.