The wife of Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying about his Russian contacts, asked President Donald Trump to grant him a pardon in a CNN interview on Wednesday.
“George is loyal to the truth, and has been through a lot, and is loyal to his country,” his wife, Simona Mangiante, said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” “He believed in Trump, and I believe in Trump having access to information and awareness now to know that he deserves a pardon.”
“And of course, one of the reasons I want him to pardon is that I love him,” Mangiante added.
Perhaps sensing an opportunity after Trump issued a high-profile pardon last week, Mangiante has embarked on a media blitz and publicly asked the President to grant clemency to her husband.
CNN reported earlier Wednesday that Trump is eyeing pardons for dozens of people, though it’s not clear if Papadopoulos or anyone involved in the Russia investigation is on the President’s radar right now.
Mangiante went on to describe Papadopoulos as a “victim” who got confused and “made a mistake” while being questioned by the FBI. He was interviewed in January and February 2017.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty last October to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign. He has cooperated with the investigation ever since, though prosecutors indicated last month that they might not need his help for much longer, and asked a judge to prepare for sentencing.
Court filings revealed that Papadopoulos was in touch with two Russians and a Kremlin-tied professor throughout the campaign. The filings say one of those contacts, professor Joseph Mifsud, told him in April 2016 that the Russians had dirt on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”
In the CNN interview, Mangiante said Papadopoulos “just confused the date” while telling investigators about his conversations with Mifsud, whom she called “a shady figure.” But prosecutors told a different story in court filings, accusing Papadopoulos of lying about the content of the conversations as well.
“He never had any interactions likely to cause collusion,” Mangiante said. To the contrary, Mangiante said Papadopoulos was the victim of Western intelligence agents who tried to make him look guilty.
Recent reports revealed that a confidential FBI source met with Papadopoulos during the campaign and reported to the FBI, which was investigating Russian meddling in the election at the time. Trump has claimed that this man was a “spy” embedded in his campaign, though senior congressional Republicans who reviewed classified documents about the matter say the President’s claim is unfounded.
Papadopoulos has not given any interviews since his guilty plea. His public appearances have been limited to posts on Twitter and occasional glamour shots posted on Mangiante’s social media. His wife has done all the talking, telling CNN last year that Papadopoulos was “everything but a coffee boy.”