Who Was Stefan Halper?
Authored by: Matt Palumbo
Just two months before the 2016 election, former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos received a random meeting request from Stefan Halper, a University of Cambridge professor and member of the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar (CIS), which was founded by officers from British intelligence agencies. Halper was involved in a CIA spying scandal in the 1980s to benefit Ronald Reagan’s campaign, and while his history is as a Republican, he publicly supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
So why was he speaking to Papadapoulos? Because Halper was the FBI’s inside source to infiltrate the Trump campaign.
Halper asked Papadopoulos to fly to London to discuss international relations and the possibility of Papadopoulos writing a policy paper on a gas field in the Mediterranean for $3,000. This was all cover so Halper could try to fish information out of Papadapous. Once they met, Halper was quick to turn to the subject of Russia, asking Papadopoulos, “You know about hacking the emails from Russia, right?” Papadopoulos didn’t offer up any information, and contact with Halper didn’t extend much past that trip. Papadapoulos would finish and submit his policy paper to Halper, but there’s no evidence it was ever used for anything.
So where did that comment about Hillary’s emails come from?
Months prior, Papadapoulos had a serious of meetings with Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor who at one point claimed to have Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails (he didn’t), and Alexander Downer, an Australian diplomat whom Papadopoulos would (allegedly drunkenly) tell he (falsely) had possession of Hillary’s emails. Mifsud reportedly only became interested in Papadapoulos after learning of his role within the Trump campaign, while Downer requested his meeting with Papadapoulos. Both are of note because Mifsud is on record having donated to the Clinton Foundation, and Downer helped broker a $25 million donation from the Australian government to the Clinton Foundation. Neither were political allies of Papadapoulos, but had their sights on him.
Why? To help further a narrative about Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, which Halper was well aware of.
Downer would later go to the FBI to report Papadapoulos’ claim, which would later be the claimed justification for the FBI’s counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign (though John Brennan claims it was actions he took which sparked the investigation). Regardless, the FBI now had a reasonable excuse to spy on the Trump campaign (regardless of their actual motive, to secure Hillary Clinton’s presidential victory).
Papadopoulos says Halper wasn’t the only suspicious person to approach him. There were two others. Papadopoulos’ wife, Simona Mangiante, told The Daily Caller that one of the contacts offered him $30,000 a month during his time with the Trump team to work as a consultant. According to Mangiante:
It looks to be one among a series of attempts to entrap George. The question today to me [is whether] these people are simply shady businessmen or are they part of a greater attempt to entrap George in illegal activity.
And speaking of entrapment, while Papadapoulos didn’t do anything legally wrong, he’d later be charged with lying to the FBI about his conversations. That’s the same charge that Michael Flynn faced, even though the FBI agents who interviewed him didn’t believe that he lied. Unsurprisingly, Halper also spread a bogus warning to American authorities that Flynn was at risk of being compromised by Russian intelligence because of his relationship with a female journalist named Svetlana Lokhova. Why? Because in 2014 Flynn sat next to her at a dinner hosted by CIS. Lokhova said she thought the allegations were a joke, adding “In Britain, I am now being accused of being a Russian spy. In Russia, some think I am a British spy. And I am neither.”
In addition to Papadapoulos, Halper also made contact with Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis and Carter Page, who was surveilled by the FBI.
Halper and the Steele Dossier
Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson first hinted at the existence of Halper when he testified to Congress that the information in Christopher Steele’s dossier mirrored that of an FBI informant in the Trump campaign. Simpson told Congress, the FBI believed “Chris’ information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human.”
Who else could that have been except Halper?
Page and Halper first met at a conference in London on July 11th and 12th, which was when Page was on his returning trip from Moscow (a detail included in Steele’s dossier). The two then remained in contact during the following months. That conference was also attended by former MI6 head Sir Richard Dearlove, an associate of both Halper and dossier author Christopher Steele, who was working with the FBI at the time of Halper’s spying. Dearlove and Steele met in early fall of 2016, so Steele could get his advice on how to move forward with the information in his dossier.
Halper would also met with Sam Clovis, but only once. Halper would later pitch himself as an ambassador to China for the Trump team after his presidential victory. In other words, even after Trump’s victory, the FBI looked to keep a spy planted within the presidency.
Given the excess number of leaks from the Trump White House during the first two years of the presidency, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were others who did manage to make their way in.
For more on the unprecedented infiltration of the Trump campaign, pre-order our forthcoming book “Spygate: The Attempted Sabotage of Donald J. Trump.”