Dan just held a historic interview with George Papadopoulos, the man initially believed to be the spark that ignited the FBI’s secretive counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign, to give his side of the story. We already detailed all the suspicious actors that Papadopoulos encountered in our book “Spygate,” and Papadopoulos revealed that the web is even more tangled than we believed.
A Common Theme – Papadopoulos Was Being Recorded
Throughout all of the key meetings Papadopoulos discussed during the interview, they all shared a common thread in that he was being recorded. At the beginning of various meetings, the person he was meeting with would take out their cell phone and place it on the table, leading him to believe he was being recorded. That’s what happened within minutes of Papadopoulos meeting with Sergei Millian and Stefan Halper. Alexander Downer was a bit more explicit, pulling out his phone and holding it up as if he was video-recording Papadopoulos. He then presumably kept audio-recording as their conversation progressed.
The fact that these meetings (which Papadopoulos believed to be innocuous before they occurred) were recorded is itself noteworthy. What possible reason could they have to record him? We can only speculate – and none of that speculation is positive.
The tale of Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud is a bizarre one. Avinder Sambei (the FBI’s counsel in London) and Nagi Idris (who works at the London Centre of International Law) recommended that Papadopoulos meet Mifsud, which he did on March 14th 2016 in Rome at their request. He initially met Mifsud at a university called Lake Campus, which is a training ground for Western intelligence operatives in Rome.
While Mifsud tried to portray himself as a “man of the world,” Papadopoulos recalled being immediately skeptical of how he represented himself. Mifsud promised that he can put Papadopoulos in connection with members of the Russian government, and that he possesses Hillary’s hacked emails (which was then a topical news story). Mifsud also says he can put Papadopoulos in touch with a woman he claims is Vladimir Putin’s niece.
A second meeting occurs on March 24th in London, this time with Mifsud accompanied by Olga Vinogradova, whom he claims is Putin’s niece (but is not). Papadapoulos says Olga was mostly silent during the meeting, as she (reportedly) barely spoke English, but that he later emailed her and she “magically” became fluent during their correspondence. In those emails, Olga claimed she could help connect him with government officials in Russia. When he texted Olga to confirm that she was the woman emailing him, she never replied. It’s entirely possible that Mifsud brought along someone who didn’t (or at least pretended to not) speak English with the hopes that Papadapoulos would offer up more revealing information. If she indeed didn’t speak English, it was likely Mifsud (or someone else) impersonating her to Papadapoulos, attempting to pry information from him.
According to Papadopoulos, Mifsud’s lawyer said a couple of weeks ago that he was working with both Russia and western intelligence sources. His lawyer said that he’s not a Russian asset and was working for western intelligence.
That certainly would explain an oddly worded question to Papadopoulos on his charging documents. Papadopoulos was asked if he was ever in contact with someone who had a “Russian accent” but not if he was in contact with a “Russian.” A reference to Olga, certainly.
The official narrative as outlined in a New York Times article published in December 2017 was that Papadopoulos drunkenly told Australian diplomat Alexander Downer that he possessed Hillary’s hacked emails (a repeat of Mifsud’s claim), which Downer then reported to the FBI. We were also supposed to believe that the meeting was basically a chance encounter.
Papadopoulos says otherwise – that neither of them was drunk, and this was no random encounter, but one organized through numerous intermediaries. Among those intermediaries were Israeli diplomat Christian Cantor (who expressed disdain of Trump to Papadopoulos), and Erica Thompson (Cantor’s girlfriend, who told Papadopoulos she believes Trump is a pariah). Arrangements weren’t made for a meeting until after Papadopoulos interviewed with the Times of London on May 7th 2016, which centered around negative comments then-Prime Minister David Cameron made about Donald Trump. Papadopoulos called for more constructive dialogue – to much criticism.
The day after that interview, two Americans from the US embassy reach out to Papadopoulos, who he believes was working with the Defense Intelligence Agency, Gregory Baker and Terrance Dudley. They wine and dine Papadopoulos and ask him about Trump and Russia (pretending to be pro-Russian themselves, presumably hoping Papadopoulos would admit to non-existent collusion). The next day, Erica Thompson messages him that Downer wants to meet with him. The Downer meeting occurs on May 10th.
Downer never spoke about the US-Australian relationship during their talk, but instead, Downer wanted to pass a message along to Trump that he needed to oppose BERXIT. He too called Trump a pariah.
But most interesting of all, Papadopoulos says they never discussed Hillary’s emails.
And as Papadopoulos noted, Downer has contradicted himself at least three times over what was said at the meeting.
There are recordings of the meeting, so why can’t Downer release them to prove Papadopoulos discussed Hillary’s emails? Because Papadopoulos never discussed them. And with that, we move on to a man that attempted to create the same bogus narrative about Papadopoulos having Hillary’s emails: Stefan Halper.
Stefan Halper was the FBI’s spy in the Trump campaign.
He had an assistant named Azra Turk, whom Papadopoulos says tried to seduce him in London and goad him into saying untrue things about the Trump campaigns non-existant collusion with Russia. The day after that encounter Papadopoulos met a belligerent Halper, who expressed disdain for Papadopoulos’ views, and Trump. The purpose of the meeting it seemed, was for Halper to belittle Trump and hear more about Russia.
Halper essentially began interrogating Papadopoulos, saying that it’s “obviously in your interest to be working with the Russians” and to “hack emails.” “You’re complicit with Russia in this, isn’t that right George” Halper told him. Halper also inquired about Hillary’s hacked emails, insinuating that Papadopoulos possessed them. Papadopoulos denied knowing anything about this and asked to be left alone.
It seems that Halper was trying to pry information out of Papadopoulos that he already allegedly gave Alexander Downer (if the NYT is to be believed). But if Papadopoulos and Downer indeed never discussed Hillary’s emails, then that attempt at entrapment didn’t go according to plan. Instead, Papadopoulos believes that Halper’s role was to actually bait him into claiming he had Hillary’s emails, so that Halper could be the man cited as turning Papadalpous over to the FBI, sparking the Russia probe – not Downer. Both men failed, but their bogus narrative emerged unscathed.
Sergei Millian is believed to be “Source D” in Christopher Steele’s dossier, who is the source of the infamous “golden showers” claim.
It’s no surprise then that he was one of the suspect characters to approach Papadopoulos, presenting himself as a former Trump associate.. They met once in NY, but the key meeting came months later when Millian contacted Papadopoulos out of the blue in late September/early October 2016. They met in Chicago to discuss work that Millian wanted him to do in Manhattan. Millian offered 30k per month for the job (which would’ve been PR related), with one bizarre condition: that Papadopoulos only could take the job if he did so while simultaneously working in the Trump administration. And even more bizarre? Papadopoulos couldn’t tell anyone.
If that wasn’t suspect enough, Papadapoulos also describes Millian as nervous and sweating as he detailed the desired arrangement. Papadopoulos rejects the offer, and Millian drops off his radar.
The timing is also interesting. Papadopoulos had just met with Halper on September 2nd, and by the end of the month he’s invited to an even more suspect meeting.
And the kicker: at the inauguration, an associate of Millian tells him that Millian was working for the FBI.
Another one of Papadopoulos’ meetings was with Charles Tawil, who requested a photograph with Papadopoulos after they initially met. That’s noteworthy, as all of the intelligence figures that presented themselves to Papadopoulos requested photos of the two together afterward (as proof of the meeting, perhaps).
Tawil later reaches out saying that he wants to “talk business” with Papadopoulos. He meets up with Tawil in Greece in July 2017, where he believes he’s being watched. Tawil then invites him to Israel, and the two meet in a Tel Aviv hotel room. Papadopoulos says he believes he was under threat, so when Tawil offers him $10,000 in cash, he took it. Papadopoulos then flew back to Greece and called Tawil to offer him the money back – which Tawil rejected. It’s unclear what work the money was supposed to be for, but Tawil didn’t seem concerned about having any services delivered for that sum.
Papadopoulos handed the money over to his lawyer in Greece before flying home.
And Then He’s Arrested…
And then when Papadopoulos landed back in America, he was arrested at Dulles International Airport on July 27th. Strangely, he wasn’t shown the warrant for his arrest when arrested, and didn’t know the reason why until the next day. The $10,000 that Tawil paid Papadopoulos in cash is interesting in this context, as it would be the exact amount of money one would be required to declare at customs. Papadopoulos didn’t recall if he was arrested before or after he filled out a customs slip (but didn’t have the money on him).
The $10,000 was likely an attempted form of entrapment (can you imagine the headlines if Papadopoulos was caught passing security with a suspect amount of cash after already having been questioned by the FBI?), but things didn’t pan out as expected for Tawil.
More Spies in the Trump Campaign?
Papadopoulos said he could confirm that there was at least one more spy infiltrating the Trump campaign in addition to Halper but wouldn’t name them for legal reasons. He only revealed that it was a relatively low-level player that most people have never heard of.
More FISA Surveillance?
Like Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, Papadopoulos says he was surveilled. “It was all about my energy business due to my contacts in Israel and others in the Middle East. I brokered a Trump meeting with Egypt. When the FBI came to my house in January 2016, they first asked about my energy business and contacts.” He also said “In April 2017 before I was arrested, two reps from the NYT and CNN (implied not stated) interviewed me to ask about a FISA warrant on me. Since I had no Russian contacts, I was bewildered about that.”
Give it a listen for yourself: