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How Russiagate Became Israelgate

PHOTO: The Daily Beast/Gali Tibbon/Getty/AFP

It’s not about Vladimir Putin anymore

By Lee Smith | 8 June 2018

TABLET — Earlier in the week, the Daily Caller reported that George Papadopoulos’s wife, an Italian lawyer named Simona Mangiante, said her husband had pleaded guilty in July to lying to the FBI to avoid charges by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team that he was an agent of the Israeli government. Her husband’s lawyers tried to throw cold water on her intervention with a statement explaining: “The most accurate account of Mr. Papadopoulos’ plea agreement and plea of guilty is contained in the publicly filed court records and the transcript of Mr. Papadopoulos’ guilty plea.”

However, an article in the Washington Post on Mangiante’s claim suggests that the 29-year-old former Trump adviser’s ostensible ties to Israel have become a subject of general interest, albeit thinly sourced. The Post reports that Papadapoulos wrote for Israeli publications, including Haaretz, and struck up an acquaintance with a Netanyahu aide, Eli Groner.

Needless to say, the mention of Israel was catnip for Russiagate conspiracy theorists — even though Israel is not Russia, and Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu would appear to have some strong differences in, among other places, Syria. “Israeli espionage against the United States is a perennially touchy subject in Washington,” former National Security Agency analyst John Schindler writes this week in the Observer, once owned by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. […]

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