Lawmakers Doubt Basis of Russia-Collusion Probe After Papadopoulos Testimony

October 26, 2018 Updated: October 26, 2018

Republican lawmakers who questioned former Trump-campaign associate George Papadopoulos on Oct. 25, cast more suspicion on the premise of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign in 2016.

“My questioning with Papadopoulos confirmed that he was a 28-year-old policy adviser who’d been on the job a month at the time the Trump-Russia investigation was launched, and to this day he’s never been to Russia nor met anyone associated with the Russian government,” Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) said on Twitter.

“This makes it very hard to understand why the FBI used him as the basis to launch the highest profile investigation in recent times into the potential collusion by a presidential campaign with the Russian government.”

The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign in late July 2016. Papadopoulos is said to be the genesis of that investigation. The FBI reportedly began probing the campaign because Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat about Russians having dirt on Hillary Clinton well before emails hacked from the DNC were released to the public.

Representatives Ratcliffe and Meadows questioned Papadopoulos as part of an investigation by the House Judiciary and Government Oversight committees which are looking into actions taken by the FBI and DOJ in relation to the probe of the Trump campaign and related issues.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) suggested that the government may have violated Papadopoulos’s civil rights, adding that he would refer several law enforcement officials to the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

“I am very troubled that his fourth amendment rights may have been violated and the way that this was conducted was inappropriate,” Meadows told The Washington Post. “Not only was there no collusion but there was not even the opportunity for collusion based on his contacts.”

Papadopoulos was sentenced to two weeks in prison for lying to the FBI. He was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mueller took over the FBI’s counterintelligence probe in May 2017. The special counsel has not charged anyone for colluding with Russia.

Papadopoulos specifically admitted to lying about his contacts with Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor. Mueller alleged that Mifsud had extensive ties to Russia, but voluminous public evidence shows that Mifsud instead had extensive ties to Western intelligence.

Papadopoulos has suggested that Mifsud was working for western intelligence and that he was either a British agent or working for the FBI.

“For any journalist or news channel continuing to propagate the fantasy that ‘the professor,’ Joseph Mifsud, was a Russian agent—you really are committing a grave disservice to the American public. They deserve the true story to come out. Let the truth see light. Report facts,” Papadopoulos said on Twitter on Oct. 26.

Papadopoulos was contacted by at least one FBI spy, Stefan Halper. The spy also met with Trump-campaign volunteer Carter Page in early July of 2016.

The Halper-Page meeting is significant because the FBI went on to secure a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant in October 2016 to spy on Page.

The Page FISA warrant application relied heavily on unsubstantiated claims from the so-called Steele dossier. The dossier was compiled by a former British spy and ultimately funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC. Among a host of other issues, the FBI failed to disclose who paid for the dossier.

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