George Papadopoulos, the former foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, revealed during a closed-door interview with congressional lawmakers in Washington the name of the man he believes was a spy working within the campaign, according to a transcript of the testimony reviewed by The Epoch Times.
During a day-long session with lawmakers on the House Judiciary and Oversight committees on Oct. 25, 2018, Papadopoulos, under penalty of perjury, detailed a series of what he described as “strange” interactions with a member of the Trump campaign. The timing and content of that person’s communications led Papadopoulos to suspect that the person was covertly working on behalf of U.S. intelligence.
Papadopoulos previously hinted in public statements and interviews that he knew of a spy in the Trump campaign, but never revealed the person’s name. Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson also has said the FBI had a “human source” inside the campaign.
When asked about the person who Papadopoulos alleged is a spy, another former Trump campaign member told The Epoch Times that he has no such suspicions about the man in question. The Epoch Times was unable to verify the allegation made by Papadopoulos and is withholding the name he provided to Congress. In this article, we refer to him as Person 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 said.
Asked on Jan. 16 by this reporter if he’s still suspicious about the person, Papadopoulos said he is “definitely suspicious of him.”
The alleged spy began contacting Papadopoulos around the time that Papadopoulos met with the foreign minister of Greece in May 2016. Although he isn’t named in the testimony, Nikos Kotzias was Greece’s minister for foreign affairs at the time. The meeting with Kotzias was significant because Papadopoulos claims it was the only time he told anyone directly that Russia was in possession of thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails, a rumor he learned from Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud.
While it’s alleged that Papadopoulos also told Australian diplomat Alexander Downer about the emails, Papadopoulos denies the claim, asserting that he doesn’t remember sharing that information with Downer. Papadopoulos told lawmakers that Kotzias was “a bit shocked” when he learned 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 said.
The alleged spy then re-emerged months later, in September 2016, asking Papadopoulos to attend a meeting between the Greek foreign minister and two senior Trump campaign members. Papadopoulos told lawmakers that “it made no sense to me 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 said.
Papadopoulos learned about the alleged existence of the Clinton emails during a meeting with Mifsud in London on April 26, 2016. Papadopoulos would later lie to the FBI that he wasn’t part of the Trump campaign when the meeting occurred. He served a 14-day prison sentence for that offense last year, as a result of prosecution by special counsel Robert Mueller.
The allegation that Papadopoulos told Downer about the Clinton emails is reportedly the reason the FBI gave for opening the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign. That investigation started in late July 2016 and has since evolved into the Russia investigation headed by Mueller.
Papadopoulos revealed the identity of the alleged U.S. intelligence source in the campaign while answering a question as to whether any U.S. government officials reached out to him between July 2016 and January 2017. That period represents a six-month gap between the start 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 previously described the alleged spy as a “low-level player” in the Trump 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 told talk-show host Dan Bongino during an interview in early November last year.
In late December last year, the House judiciary and oversight committees—which interviewed Papadopoulos and nearly two dozen other witnesses—concluded a joint investigation of actions taken by the FBI and Justice Department (DOJ) surrounding the investigations into the Trump campaign, and also Hillary Clinton’s use of an unauthorized private email server.
The committees concluded that the DOJ under President Obama treated Trump and Clinton unequally, by affording Clinton and her associates with extraordinary accommodations, while potentially abusing surveillance powers to investigate Trump’s associates.
In a previously undisclosed interaction with the FBI, a bureau agent asked Papadopoulos to wear a wire to record Mifsud, according to the transcript.
The offer occurred at Cafe George in Chicago on or around Jan. 31, 2017, just days after Papadapolous’s first interview with two FBI agents on Jan. 27. Papadopoulos, without a lawyer, met a lone FBI agent—one of the two who interviewed him days earlier— who asked Papadopoulos to travel to London and told him he would get a glimpse into an FBI operation from behind the scenes.
While the interview was conducted in an unclassified setting, The Epoch Times is withholding the name of the agent out of an abundance of caution. We instead refer to 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 told lawmakers.
The agent who sought to have Papadopoulos wear the wire also was present at his two previously disclosed interviews with the bureau on Jan. 27 and Feb. 16 in 2017. The same agent was one of the two who arrested Papadopoulos at Dulles International Airport on July 27 later that year. Court documents show Agent A worked with the special counsel on at least one occasion in 2017.
The FBI’s Jan. 27, 2017, interview with Papadopoulos would eventually lead to the perjury charge against him. Papadopoulos told lawmakers that he went into the interview under the impression that he was assisting the government in an investigation. He says he related to the agents what Mifsud told him about Russians having Clinton’s emails.
A much larger delegation from the FBI and the DOJ attended the Feb. 16 interview. Papadopoulos was surprised that none of the questions centered on Mifsud, the man he just revealed as the source of his knowledge 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 said. “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?”
According to Papadopoulos, FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith led the questioning during the Feb. 16 interview. Papadopoulos told lawmakers that Clinesmith and the rest of the team “stormed out” of the meeting.
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 identified as the lawyer who wrote in a text message 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 offer to wear a wire stands out, given the rest of the team’s lack of interest in Mifsud. The timing 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 said. “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 eventually meet Agent A again at Dulles International Airport upon his arrest in July 2017. That encounter capped off a separate set of events surrounding a mysterious $10,000 cash payment Papadopoulos received in Israel.
Papadopoulos told lawmakers he believes that after arresting him, two agents, including Agent A, were looking for the $10,000 he received during a series of peculiar events in Greece and Israel.
Papadopoulos had previously told the story surrounding the $10,000 to Bongino. He relayed the same set of events to Congress under the penalty of perjury.
Papadopoulos told lawmakers he believes that he was the target of a sting operation. The main actor in that purported operation was Charles Tawil, who reached out to Papadopoulos in March 2017, around 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 said.
Papadopoulos said that his suspicions were reinforced by the fact that the FBI agents who interviewed him earlier in the year accused him of being an agent of Israel. [Agent A] accused Papadopoulos of being compromised by the Israelis after he refused to wear the wire to record 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 said.
Papadopoulos was introduced to Tawil by David Ha’ivri, an Israeli political strategist. Papadopoulos described Tawil as a 60-year-old man with a dual Israeli-American citizenship. They first met with 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 said. “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 know how they can hear our conversation unless […] you have 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 said.
Two months later, in May 2017, Papadopoulos flew on vacation to Greece. Before he boarded the airplane, three officers armed with rifles and wearing “full Kevlar” stopped him at the gate and asked him where he was heading and whether he would be coming back.
“So it left an impression on me that I was being watched very carefully, very closely,” Papadopoulos said.
Once in Greece, Papadopoulos said he had friends ask him if he realized that he is 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 said.
During the trip, Tawil contacted Papadopoulos and offered to do some business related to political consulting. After Papadopoulos showed interest, Tawil flew to Greece. Once there, Tawil told Papadopoulos that it was imperative that he travel to Israel to “close a deal of some nature.” Papadopoulos complied.
Tawil picked Papadopoulos up at the airport in Israel and drove him to a meeting room with two ex-Israeli intelligence people involved 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 said.
“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 said.
Papadopoulos left Israel several days later. He told lawmakers that there were “20 dogs sniffing for money” at the airport in Greece, but none caught the scent of the $10,000. He then called Tawil from Greece and asked him to come and take the money back.
The money is still in Greece, according to Papadopoulos. He left it behind when he flew back to the United States in July. After landing at Dulles, he was arrested before he made it to Customs. Agent A was one of the two who aggressively searched through his briefcase for what he believed was the $10,000.
The agents arrested Papadopoulos before he formally entered the United States and cleared Customs, according to the transcript. The agents didn’t show Papadopoulos a warrant for his arrest, or the search of his briefcase, and didn’t read him his Miranda rights, he told lawmakers. One of the agents told him “this is what happens when you don’t tell us everything about your Russia contacts.”
The next day, Papadopoulos appeared in front of a magistrate judge and was charged with obstruction of justice and lying. He eventually pleaded guilty to lying as part of a plea deal 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 said. “But I never received really more details about what that allegation was really about, besides what they told 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 question was posed as to whether Mueller wanted to obtain the exact $10,000 he left in Greece, the counsel for Papadopoulos instructed him not to answer.
Two days after Papadopoulos was sentenced to prison, Tawil reached out to ask for the $10,000. Papadopoulos had the impression that Tawil wanted the specific bills he gave him, adding that Tawil sent an email threatening to sue him and saying Papadopoulos should act like they never 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 said. “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 light on a pattern in his key interactions. While most of the focus has previously been on what was said in his meetings about Russia, the same players devoted significant attention to his connections to Israel.
The pattern, coupled with the pressure he received from the FBI regarding Israel in January and February of 2017, and the threat of being charged as an agent of Israel by the special counsel, suggests that Papadopoulos was being investigated or surveilled over his Israeli ties concurrent with 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 said.
Halper, who has since been identified as a U.S. intelligence asset, probed Papadopoulos about the Clinton emails. Downer was the Australian diplomat who Papadopoulos allegedly told about Russians having “dirt” on Clinton.
Papadopoulos told lawmakers that he believes the pattern of interactions regarding Israel has led him to believe he was surveilled by U.S. intelligence using a Foreign 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 said.
“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 would be the second Trump campaign associate to be surveilled by the FBI. The bureau surveilled former Trump campaign associate Carter Page over the course of a year starting in October 2016. According to the conclusions of an investigation by the House Intelligence Committee, the core of the evidence in the Page FISA application consisted of information from an unverified dossier of opposition research on candidate Trump. The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee funded the dossier, which was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.
Despite hours of questioning, some significant gaps in Papadopoulos’s story identified last year by The Epoch Times still remain.
It’s unclear why he took meetings with people he perceived as strange, despite facing scrutiny by the FBI. For example, in his first meeting with Tawil, Papadopoulos was given several hints about potential involvement by the Israeli intelligence, yet he agreed to meet with Tawil in Greece and Israel and accepted the $10,000 in cash from the man, despite being convinced that he was the target of a sting operation.
Meanwhile, Tawil told a completely different story to investigative journalist Scott Stedman. Tawil said he gave Papadopoulos the $10,000 as a loan because Papadopoulos asked for it and didn’t have an account in Europe.
“The guy is a pathetic liar,” Tawil told 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.”
During the testimony in Congress, the lawyers for Papadopoulos blocked several questions about the circumstances surrounding his plea deal with Mueller. The lawyers advised Papadopoulos to not answer whether he was the one to agree to pay $10,000 or if his attorneys made the decision. The attorneys also blocked a question about whether Papadopoulos still stands by his guilty plea.
Papadopoulos also was advised not to answer whether the special counsel wanted $10,000 in any form or if the prosecutors requested the specific bills in Greece. The attorneys again intervened when a lawmaker asked if Papadopoulos called Trump’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, after being asked to wear a wire.
It’s still unclear how Papadopoulos came to work for the London Center for International Law Practice (LCILP). His colleagues at the center asked him to travel to Rome and made the introduction to Mifsud at a university called Link Campus. In his prior interviews and testimony, Papadopoulos referred to both LCILP and Link as having ties to Western intelligence, casting further significance on the circumstances of how he came to work for the center.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly described George Papadopoulos’s denial of allegations about his conversation with Alexander Downer. Papadopoulos stated that he does not remember telling Downer about any information related to Russians possessing Hillary Clinton’s emails.