Former Trump-campaign adviser additionally advised lawmakers FBI requested him to put on a wire to document Maltese professor in London
Throughout a closed-door interview with Congressional lawmakers in Washington, George Papadopoulos, the previous overseas coverage advisor to the Donald Trump presidential marketing campaign, revealed the identify the person he believes was a spy engaged on the marketing campaign, in response to a transcript of the testimony reviewed by The Epoch Occasions.
Throughout a day-long session with lawmakers on the Home judiciary and oversight committees on October 25 final yr, Papadopoulos, underneath penalty of perjury, detailed a collection of what he described as “strange” interactions with a member of the Trump marketing campaign. The timing and content material of that individual’s communications led Papadopoulos to have suspicions that he was covertly engaged on behalf of U.S. intelligence.
Papadopoulos beforehand hinted in public statements and interviews that he knew of a spy in the Trump marketing campaign, however by no means revealed the identify. Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson has additionally stated the FBI had a “human source” contained in the marketing campaign.
Requested about the one that Papadopoulos alleged is a spy, one other former Trump marketing campaign member informed The Epoch Occasions that he has no suspicions concerning the man in query. The Epoch Occasions was unable to confirm the allegation made by Papadopoulos and is withholding the identify he offered to Congress. In this text, we seek advice from him as Individual A.
“My interactions with [Person A] were quite strange. You know, he would call me on private numbers and kind of ask me where I’m sitting or where I’m living at the moment,” Papadopoulos stated.
Requested on Jan. 16, 2019, by this reporter if he’s nonetheless suspicious concerning the individual, Papadopoulos stated he’s “definitely suspicious of him.”
The alleged spy started contacting Papadopoulos across the time Papadopoulos met with the overseas minister of Greece in Might 2016. Although he isn’t named in the testimony, Nikos Kotzias was Greece’s minister for overseas affairs on the time. The assembly with Kotzias was vital as a result of Papadopoulos claims it was the one time he advised anybody instantly that Russia was in possession of hundreds of Hillary Clinton’s emails, a rumor he discovered from Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud.
Whereas it’s alleged that Papadopoulos additionally advised Australian diplomat Alexander Downer concerning the emails, Papadopoulos denies the declare, asserting that he doesn’t keep in mind sharing that info with Downer. Papadopoulos informed lawmakers Kotzias was “a bit shocked” when he discovered of the rumor.
“My understanding, as far as I remember, was he was like, This isn’t something that should be talked about. So that was it,” Papadopoulos stated.
The alleged spy then reemerged months later in September 2016 asking Papadopoulos to attend a gathering between the Greek overseas minister and two senior Trump marketing campaign members. Papadopoulos informed lawmakers that “it made no sense to me of why this person would want me to join a meeting with the Greek foreign minister, Michael Flynn, and Jeff Sessions unless he potentially was informed of what I told the Greek foreign minister myself.”
“So then I tell the Greek foreign minister, Oh, hey, this information. And then [Person A], all of a sudden sometime later on in the fall, apparently there’s a meeting between the foreign minister of Greece and Jeff Sessions and Michael Flynn. And [Person A] not only wants talking points from me about this meeting, but he also wants me to attend. And he also tells me that it’s very important for you to attend and that I’m doing my best to get you in this meeting,” Papadopoulos stated.
Papadopoulos discovered concerning the alleged existence of the Clinton emails throughout a gathering with Mifsud in London on April 26, 2016. Papadopoulos would later mislead the FBI that he was not a part of the Trump marketing campaign when the assembly occurred. He served a 14-day jail sentence for that offense final yr, because of a prosecution by particular counsel Robert Mueller.
The allegation that Papadopoulos advised Australian diplomat Alexander Downer concerning the Clinton emails is reportedly the rationale the FBI gave for opening the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump marketing campaign. That investigation began in late July 2016 and has since advanced into the Russia investigation headed by Mueller.
Papadopoulos revealed the id of the alleged U.S. intelligence supply in the marketing campaign whereas answering a query as as to if any U.S. authorities officers reached out to him between July 2016 and January 2017. That interval represents a six-month hole between the beginning of the investigation—which was predicated on the interactions of Papadopoulos—and the FBI’s first interview with Papadopoulos.
Q: “And throughout that intervening period, from July of 2016 through January of 2017, you don’t recall any instances where the FBI or anyone in the U.S. Government was attempting to contact you or interview you?”
Papadopoulos: “As I think I stated earlier, I have my suspicions about [Person A] perhaps working on behalf of U.S. intelligence reaching out — oh, openly you said?”
Papadopoulos: “Oh, no, absolutely not, about this particular issue of me involved in a crime of some nature.”
Papadopoulos: [After conferring with counsel] “No, no, absolutely not. I don’t have — I don’t recall any U.S. Government official or intelligence official openly reaching out to me to talk about this.”
Papadopoulos beforehand described the alleged spy as a “low-level player” in the Trump marketing campaign.
“Congress knows who it is. And I’m sure in a report, or whatever they’re going to release, they’ll probably be releasing him as a confidential source. Because I think America deserves to know the truth,” Papadopoulos advised talk-show host Dan Bongino throughout an interview in early November final yr.
In late December final yr, the Home judiciary and oversight committees, which interviewed Papadopoulos and almost two dozen different witnesses, concluded a joint investigation of actions taken by the FBI and Justice Division surrounding the investigations into the Trump marketing campaign and Hillary Clinton’s use of an unauthorized personal e-mail server. The committees concluded that the Obama Justice Division handled Trump and Clinton unequally, by affording Clinton and her associates with extraordinary lodging, whereas probably abusing surveillance powers to research Trump’s associates.
In a beforehand undisclosed interplay with the FBI, a bureau agent requested Papadopoulos to put on a wire to report Mifsud, in line with the transcript.
The supply occurred at Cafe George in Chicago on or round Jan. 31, 2017, three or 4 days after Papadapolous’s first interview with two FBI brokers on Jan. 27. Papadopoulos, with no lawyer, met a lone FBI agent, one of many two who interviewed him days earlier. The agent requested Papadopoulos to journey to London and informed him he would get a glimpse into an FBI operation from behind the scenes.
Whereas the interview was carried out in an unclassified setting, The Epoch Occasions is withholding the identify of the agent out of an abundance of warning. We as an alternative confer with him as Agent A.
“If Mifsud really was working with the FBI, this is incredibly problematic, because, during my second meeting with the FBI agent, [Agent A], he tells me basically, we want you to wear a wire to go after Joseph Mifsud or to get some sort of information about him. I rejected it,” Papadopoulos informed lawmakers.
The agent who provided Papadopoulos to put on the wire was additionally current at his two beforehand disclosed interviews with the bureau on Jan. 27 and Feb. 16 in 2017. The identical agent was one of many two who arrested Papadopoulos on the Dulles Worldwide Airport on July 27 later that yr. Courtroom paperwork present Agent A labored with the particular counsel on at the very least one event in 2017.
The FBI’s Jan. 27 interview with Papadopoulos would ultimately result in the perjury cost towards him. Papadopoulos informed lawmakers that he went into the interview beneath the impression that he was aiding the federal government in an investigation. He says he associated to the brokers what Mifsud advised him about Russians having Clinton’s emails.
A a lot bigger delegation from the FBI and the Justice Division attended the Feb. 16 interview. Papadopoulos was stunned that not one of the questions centered on Mifsud, the person he simply revealed because the supply of his information about Clinton’s emails.
“As I remember, his particular questioning, it wasn’t, had really nothing to do with Joseph Mifsud, who I had just notified the FBI about a couple days ago from that point,” Papadopoulos stated. “It was more, Do you remember talking to a western diplomat in a bar? … And, Do you remember talking about emails with anyone on the campaign?”
In accordance with Papadopoulos, FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith led the questioning in the course of the Feb. 16 interview. Papadopoulos informed lawmakers Clinesmith and the remainder of the workforce “stormed out” of the assembly.
Q: “[As] they were directing the conversation, when you told them that you had not communicated with anybody in the campaign about the emails, what was their response?”
Papadopoulos: “I can’t remember if it was after I told them that I thought that Mifsud was BS’ing, or if it was after I told them I don’t remember meeting this random diplomat that they were alluding to, that they got up, stormed out, and left in a very aggressive manner. And Kevin [Clinesmith] was very aggressive in his exit. That’s how I remember it, but that seemed to be…”
Q: “They all got up and left?”
Papadopoulos: “Yes, basically, you didn’t tell us what we hoped you were going to tell us. And that’s basically what the million dollar question has always been.”
Clinesmith has been recognized because the lawyer who wrote in a textual content message on the day after Trump was elected president that he was “stressed about what I could have done differently.” Two weeks later, he wrote “viva le resistance.”
The FBI agent’s supply to put on a wire stands out given the remainder of the group’s lack of curiosity in Mifsud. The timing of the supply coincided with efforts by Mifsud to re-engage with Papadopoulos.
“I believe Mifsud was reaching out to me around that time, and I kept ignoring him. And he was sending me messages on Facebook, trying to reach out to me,” Papadopoulos stated. “And the FBI agent said, we need you to wear a wire and we’ll pay you and you can go to London and you can kind of look behind the scenes of an FBI operation. It was very bizarre, very strange.”
Papadopoulos would ultimately meet Agent A once more on the Dulles Worldwide Airport upon his arrest in July 2017. That encounter capped off a separate set of occasions surrounding a mysterious $10,000 money cost Papadopoulos acquired in Israel.
Papadopoulos informed lawmakers he believes that after arresting him, two brokers, together with Agent A, have been on the lookout for $10,000 he acquired throughout a collection of weird occasions in Greece and Israel.
Papadopoulos had beforehand informed the story surrounding the $10,000 to Dan Bongino. He relayed the identical set of occasions to Congress underneath the penalty of perjury.
Papadopoulos advised lawmakers he believes that he was the goal of a sting operation. The primary actor in that purported operation was Charles Tawil, who reached out to Papadopoulos in March 2017, round a month after his third interview with the FBI.
“So let’s say a month or so after I’m done, what I thought done talking with the FBI. An individual named Charles Tawil falls from heaven into my lap and begins to essentially try and get me involved in what I think is part of a setup,” Papadopoulos stated.
Papadopoulos stated that his suspicions have been strengthened by the truth that the FBI brokers who interviewed him earlier in the yr accused him of being an agent of Israel. [Agent A] accused Papadopoulos of being compromised by the Israelis after he refused to put on a wire to report Mifsud.
“My recollection of his response was, we know what you’re up to. I know everything about you. I know what you are doing with the Israelis, and you’re lucky they’re allies or we’d bust you, or something weird like that. This is my second ever encounter with this [Agent A],” Papadopoulos stated.
Papadopoulos was launched to Tawil by David Ha’ivri, an Israeli political strategist. Papadopoulos described Tawil as a 60-year-old man with a twin Israeli-American citizenship. They first met Tawil in March 2017.
“And then I believe in March it was, or right after — around the time I’m in discussions with the FBI, David comes back into my life and says, Oh, hi, there’s this man Charles Tawil would like to meet with you and talk business,” Papadopoulos stated. “And at that time, I thought I wasn’t going to join the administration anyway, considering the FBI was all over me. So I was trying to get back into some private sector activities.”
“[Tawil] begins to speak very strange at this business meeting with me. For example, I’ve been trying to reach you for a very long time, but Israeli intelligence wouldn’t let me get near you. So there was some — there was some dog whistle. It was a dog whistle, in my mind, that it might be linked to what the FBI was trying to accuse me of.”
“‘You do realize, George, that everyone here at the restaurant could hear our conversation right now. I said I don’t understand how they will hear our dialog until […] you have got a wire on you of some nature.
“Fast-forward to the end of the lunch. He says, Why don’t you stand there with David [Ha’ivri]. And I said, Okay. And he takes a picture of me. And he took a picture of me, which left this mark of — it was a strange episode,” Papadopoulos stated.
Two months later, in Might 2017, Papadopoulos flew on trip to Greece. Earlier than he boarded the airplane, three officers armed with rifles and sporting “full Kevlar” stopped him on the gate and requested him the place he was heading and whether or not he can be coming again.
“So it left an impression on me that I was being watched very carefully, very closely,” Papadopoulos stated.
As soon as in Greece, Papadopoulos stated he had associates ask him if he realized that he’s being watched.
“I said, what do you mean I’m being watched? And they said, look behind you. And I noticed there were agent-type American-looking, just people, I think, were following me abroad,” Papadopoulos stated.
In the course of the journey, Tawil contacted Papadopoulos and provided to do some enterprise associated to political consulting. After Papadopoulos confirmed curiosity, Tawil flew to Greece. As soon as there, Tawil advised Papadopoulos that it’s crucial that he travels to Israel to “close a deal of some nature.” Papadopoulos complied.
Tawil picked Papadopoulos up on the airport in Israel and drove him to a gathering room with two ex-Israeli intelligence individuals concerned in “some sort of program online that they have that the FBI is a client of that helps with Facebook and social media manipulation, and basically what they were accusing the Russians of doing regarding social media. That was my understanding,” Papadopoulos stated.
“And I was thinking to myself, why am I here in this room with these people? And I started to believe that I was being framed for something,” he added.
“I leave. We go to a hotel room where Charles is saying, I’m going to take care of the hotel for the night. He’s like, Come in my room, and he hands me $10,000 in cash. And at the time, I was incredibly confused. I was intimidated. I didn’t know what really was going on, except that I started to feel that I was being set up,” Papadopoulos stated.
Papadopoulos left Israel a number of days later. He informed lawmakers that there have been “20 dogs sniffing for money” on the airport in Greece, however none caught the scent of the $10,000. He then referred to as Tawil from Greece and requested him to return and take the cash again.
The cash continues to be in Greece, in line with Papadopoulos. He left it behind when he flew again to the USA in July. After touchdown in Dulles, he was arrested earlier than he made it to customs. Agent A was one of many two who aggressively searched by means of his briefcase for what he believed was the $10,000.
The brokers arrested Papadopoulos earlier than he formally entered america and cleared customs, in response to the transcript. The brokers didn’t present Papadopoulos a warrant for his arrest, or the search of his briefcase, and didn’t learn him his Miranda rights, he informed lawmakers. One of many brokers advised him “this is what happens when you don’t tell us everything about your Russia contacts.”
The subsequent day, Papadopoulos appeared in entrance of a Justice of the Peace decide and was charged with obstruction of justice and mendacity. He ultimately pled responsible to mendacity as a part of a plea cope with Mueller.
“What I could say about this is in part of my plea deal, the $10,000 was the exact amount I had to pay, and that I was being threatened by the special counsel to be charged as an agent of Israel,” Papadopoulos stated. “However I by no means acquired actually extra particulars about what that allegation was actually about, apart from what they informed me.
“I don’t know what was behind this except that the FBI and the special prosecutors were actually very keen on receiving that $10,000 back,” he added.
When a query was posed as as to if Mueller needed to acquire the precise $10,000 he left in Greece, the counsel for Papadopoulos instructed him to not reply.
Two days after Papadopoulos was sentenced to jail, Tawil reached out to ask for the $10,000. Papadopoulos had the impression that Tawil needed the precise payments he gave him, including that Tawil despatched an e mail threatening to sue him and saying Papadopoulos ought to act like they by no means met.
“My impression of that is that he was trying to recover evidence, not money of some nature, because he had over a year to ask for it, or he could have simply picked it up after I left him,” he stated. “And I was in Greece, and I told him to come take his money back last year. But all of a sudden, now, after I’m sentenced, he wants this particular money back. So I find it very suspicious.”
“And I believe, I believe, I don’t have evidence about this, but I truly believe that those are marked bills. And there’s a reason I’ve kept that money safe, because I would certainly like to know if that money would potentially be part of some — an operation.”
Russia and Israel
The testimony by Papadopoulos sheds mild on a sample in his key interactions. Whereas a lot of the focus has beforehand been on what was stated in his conferences about Russia, the identical gamers devoted vital consideration to his connections to Israel.
The sample, coupled with the strain he acquired from the FBI relating to Israel in January and February of 2017 and the specter of being charged as an agent of Israel by the particular counsel, means that Papadopoulos was being investigated or surveilled over his Israeli ties concurrent to the Russia probe.
“So that left an indelible impression on me of — that my so-called connection to Israel angered the Department of Justice. And before that, of course, Stefan Halper paid me for information on my ties to Israel. Alexander Downer was interested in my ties to Israel. And you could see there was a pattern,” Papadopoulos stated.
Halper, who has since been recognized as a U.S. intelligence asset, probed Papadopoulos concerning the Clinton emails. Downer was the Australian diplomat who Papadopoulos allegedly advised about Russians having “dirt” on Clinton.
Papadopoulos informed lawmakers that he believes the sample of interactions relating to Israel has led him to consider he was surveilled by U.S. intelligence utilizing a Overseas Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant.
“I– the reason I’m suggesting that there was a FISA was because there was tremendous scrutiny on — with my ties to Israel, to the point where I had apparently a formal charge of acting as an agent of Israel, which I don’t know how that’s even possible really, but there was a charge,” Papadopoulos stated.
“And by the time I had my first interview with the FBI, they led me to believe that they knew about certain meetings I was having, who I knew in the Israeli Government domestically and abroad,” he added.
If there was a FISA warrant on Papadopoulos, he can be the second Trump-campaign affiliate to be surveilled by the FBI. The bureau surveilled former Trump-campaign affiliate Carter Web page over the course of a yr beginning in October 2016. In line with the conclusions of an investigation by the Home Intelligence Committee, the core of the proof in the Web page FISA software consisted of data from an unverified file of opposition analysis on candidate Trump. The Clinton marketing campaign and the Democratic Nationwide Committee funded the file, which was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.
Regardless of hours of questioning, a few of the vital gaps in Papadopoulos’s story recognized final yr by The Epoch Occasions nonetheless stay.
It’s unclear why he took conferences with individuals he perceived as unusual regardless of dealing with scrutiny by the FBI. For instance, in his first assembly with Tawil, Papadopoulos was given a number of hints about potential involvement by the Israeli intelligence, but he agreed to satisfy with Tawil in Greece and Israel and accepted the $10,000 in money from the person regardless of being satisfied that he was the goal of a sting operation.
In the meantime, Tawil informed a totally totally different story to investigative journalist Scott Stedman. Tawil stated he gave Papadopoulos the $10,000 as a mortgage as a result of Papadopoulos requested for it and didn’t have an account in Europe.
“The guy is a pathetic liar,” Tawil advised Stedman about Papadopoulos. “I met him when he was out of a job and offered him a job and gave him, on his demand, a loan, cash as he requested because he did not have an account in Europe.”
“He mentioned that I am working with Mossad or the FBI or some crap like this. He is a lunatic”
In the course of the testimony in Congress, the legal professionals for Papadopoulos blocked a number of questions concerning the circumstances surrounding his plea cope with Mueller. The legal professionals suggested Papadopoulos to not reply whether or not he was the one to comply with pay $10,000 or if his attorneys made the choice. The attorneys additionally blocked a query on whether or not Papadopoulos nonetheless stands by his responsible plea. Papadopoulos was additionally suggested to not reply whether or not the particular counsel needed $10,000 in any type or if the prosecutors requested the precise payments in Greece. The attorneys once more intervened when a lawmaker requested if Papadopoulos referred to as Trump’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, after being requested to put on a wire.
It’s nonetheless unclear how Papadopoulos got here to work for the London Middle for Worldwide Regulation Apply (LCILP). His colleagues on the middle requested him to journey to Rome and made the introduction to Mifsud at a college referred to as Hyperlink Campus. In his prior interviews and testimony, Papadopoulos referred to each LCILP and Hyperlink as having ties to Western intelligence, casting additional significance on the circumstances of how he got here to work for the middle.
Correction: A earlier model of this text incorrectly described George Papadopoulos’s denial of allegations about his dialog with Alexander Downer. Papadopoulos said that he doesn’t keep in mind telling Downer about any info associated to Russians possessing Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Comply with Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov