The entire interview is well worth listening to--to capture Papadopoulos' personality--and also worth reading closely for the details that emerge. Chuck Ross's digest is also useful as a summary. Bongino's tone is remarkable. He's well prepared for the interview and, as he goes into the details of how Papadopoulos was groomed to be a fall guy in the FBI's war against Trump, his tone is incredulous to the point of hilarity at times--the FBI's setup is that transparent. Bongino has difficulty throughout in restraining himself from exclaiming at Papadopoulos' only too obvious naivete. For his part, Papadopoulos is naturally reluctant to portray himself as a complete dupe, but even he at a certain point ends up quoting his wife, who exclaimed to him:
"What on earth are you pleading guilty for, when this guy [Mifsud] is obviously setting you up?"
Rather than attempt an exhaustive analysis of the many intriguing threads of information that can be found in the interview, what I'd like to focus on are two particular themes in Papadopoulos' narrative: 1) That he was the subject of a FISA, and 2) that his conversations with FBI intelligence assets such as Halper, Downer, and Mifsud were "recorded".
Let's take Papadopoulos' FISA assertion first. There are two striking aspects to the FISA assertion. The first is Papadopoulos' claim that the FISA had nothing to do with the Russia Hoax--recall that Papadopoulos had no Russian connections except those that were manufactured by FBI and British intelligence operatives--but instead had to do with his undoubted contacts with Israel. The second aspect is that Papadopoulos claims to have been informed about this FISA by MSM sources. Here's what Papadopoulos said in the interview:
Bongino: Do you think there was a FISA warrant on you?
Papadopoulos: I do.
I think there was a FISA warrant on me and probably … I think the FISA had to do with my work in the energy business – and in Israel in particular. ... I had these contacts – and just to be frank – when the FBI came to my house in January for the first time, they were questioning me about my ties to Israel. And then all of a sudden, when we go into all these other issues – about hacked emails, Russia, there’s a lot more to my story than most people could possibly even imagine.
Bongino: You may have been on the radar prior [to Trump’s foreign policy team announcement].
Papadopoulos: That’s absolutely right.
I was on the target of some intelligence group – and they definitely knew who I was. And just to make it clear to everyone listening, when I met with Mifsud, when I met with Alexander Downer, and when I met with Stefan Halper, do you know what these people all had in common? They all wanted to talk about my business in the Middle East. And what I was doing regarding advising American Oil companies, etc, etc.
It’s public knowledge now that Stefan Halper, himself, paid me $3,000 to write a report about my expertise in the energy business. So, obviously, I had a target on me for that. ... And that’s why I think there was a FISA. Recent information I’ve understood is leading me to believe that even more so.
Bongino: If there’s another FISA out there on you, this would be earth-shattering information.
Papadopoulos: Well, let me make something even more clear that supports my contention of this FISA allegation I’m making.
In April of 2017, before everyone probably listening to your show even heard the name Papadopoulos. This is April of 2017, before I was arrested, I had, let’s say, two representatives from, one, the most powerful newspaper in our country and another representative from the largest network tv channel in our country reach out to me on back-to-back days – a couple days after Jim Wolf was leaking information to Ali Watkins of the New York Times about a FISA. They both reached out to me in April of 2017 and told me we have information that you had a FISA on you.
When they told me this, I laughed it off. I hadn’t been arrested. I hadn’t been embroiled in what I guess I’m in now. So, I was wondering to myself, how could I have a FISA on me when I don’t know any Russians. I don’t know any Russian government officials. What could that possibly be. After that, that’s when this weird guy gives me the $10,000 – a lot of strange things happen after I was told that.
On the face of it, Papadopoulos' assertions regarding FBI interest in his Israeli connections make perfect sense, but may not bear the interpretation that Papadopoulos is offering. Here's why. The shadowy Israeli, Charles Tawil--who gave Papadopoulos $10K to take back to the US and be met at the airport by FBI agents--is known from Wikileaks to be a US intelligence asset. As a dual Israeli-US citizen, it's a good bet that Israeli intelligence was aware of Tawil's relationship with the US. What this looks like, therefore, is a joint operation--an Israeli assist to the FBI in an operation in which the Israelis probably had little interest beyond maintaining good relations with their US counterparts. Overall, it looks like a classic attempt to get a target jammed up in order to coerce him into serving as an asset. Of course, that doesn't mean that the FBI didn't have a FISA on Papadopoulos. As we've already noted, unlike Carter Page, Papadopoulos had no Russian connections to hang a Russia Hoax FISA on, but it's entirely possible that his contacts in the murky politics of the Levant could have been leveraged to obtain a FISA warrant.
Obviously these are areas that will simply remain in the realm of speculation for the indefinite future, but one thing seems abundantly clear: the various FBI assets who contacted Papadopoulos may have begun by talking him up regarding his MIddle East interests, but they all attempted to shift his focus to Russia and the US election--despite his lack of connections in that regard. As far as the election and the Trump campaign went, Papadopoulos would, therefore, have been more of a target of opportunity for the FBI. True, he had no Russian connections, but on the other hand he had been taken on by the Trump campaign, he was already in contact with FBI assets, and he was, above all, very naive.
In that light, consider Papadopoulos' story about being contacted by two major media sources who told him that there was a FISA on him. We can pose two related questions, assuming for our purposes that there actually was a FISA on Papadopoulos. First, would the FBI have hinted to major media contacts that there was a FISA on Papadopoulos? From all we've seen in the Russia Hoax thus far, the answer can only be: unequivocally, yes. However, if the FISA was not actually related to anything to do with Russia, would the FBI have felt obliged to point that out to their media contacts? I think the question answers itself. The Russia Hoax narrative was out there, Papadopoulos had been sucked into making various suggestions about contacting Russian officials, and there you have it. Everyone would naturally assume that the FISA was Russian related--and that would have been precisely what the FBI wanted to accomplish with their leak.
But what about Papadopoulos' repeated assertions that he believes his contacts with the various operatives--Halper, Mifsud, Downer--were all recorded? How does that fit in?
First of all we need to be clear that, assuming that there were indeed recordings made of these contacts with Papadopoulos, that has nothing to do with FISA. Those types of recordings are known as "consensual monitoring," meaning that one of the parties--not the target--consented to the recording. What is presupposed is that some sort of investigation has already been initiated. It could be either a Preliminary Investigation or a Full Investigation, but there has to be an open investigation. I am personally inclined to believe that such recordings did take place. I am further inclined to believe that, if there was already an open investigation that had been used to obtain a FISA on Papadopoulos regarding his Middle East ventures, then the consensual monitoring of his contacts abroad with FBI assets would have been piggybacked off the already opened investigation. This would certainly explain the regular trips that top level FBI Counterintelligence officials--Bill Priestap and Peter Strzok--were making to London at the same time that Papadopoulos was being groomed by FBI assets there.
Now, here I think we've finally arrived at the point where we can understand what a threat Papadopoulos may pose to the entire Russian Hoax: FBI, DoJ, and Team Mueller at the Special Counsel office. To understand this it's necessary to recall the fundamental structuring of FBI investigations, which I laid out in A Guide To Spygate, Informants, FISA. The important thing to keep in mind is simply this: When we speak about consensual monitoring or about FISA we're really speaking about investigative techniques. Many of the articles that are written about the Russia Hoax tend to get involved in the investigative techniques and lose sight of the fact that any use of these techniques presupposes the existence of an investigation--Preliminary or Full--that has been previously authorized based on very specific criteria. No doubt a fraud was perpetrated on the FISA Court in the case of the Carter Page FISA, but that never could have happened unless a previous fraud had already been perpetrated: the opening of a Full Investigation investigation on Carter Page which was simply baseless. That first fraud is the one that will, in my opinion, prove to be fundamental to any prosecution in the Russia Hoax. The FISA fraud--the misuse of a technique--might be argued away on a number of grounds: bad judgment, officials got carried away by the danger of Russian "meddling," etc. It will be much harder to argue away the actual opening of a Full Investigation on Carter Page.
And it will be much harder to argue all that away if it can be shown that the Carter Page case was part of a larger conspiracy. That's where the framing of George Papadopoulos comes in. The FISA on Papadopoulos (again, we assume ...) may or may not have been warranted. We have no way of being sure of that, from our distance. However, when viewed in connection with the baseless investigation of Carter Page, the efforts by the FBI, through their assets, to manipulate Papadopoulos into playing a role for which he had no background, but which would lend at least the appearance of verisimilitude to the whole Russia Hoax narrative, in my opinion offers powerful evidence that a broader criminal conspiracy was at work. The goal of that conspiracy--involving at a minimum the FBI and the DoJ--was to direct through fraudulent means, misusing the investigative powers of the Federal Government, the results of a US Presidential Election.
This is the field of battle that will, hopefully, open up after the Midterm Elections.
In closing, I can't urge strongly enough the importance of reading and pondering over the transcript of the Papadopoulos interview. As further reference I've appended a series of tweets that Papadopoulos wrote on the days preceding and following that interview, but they don't substitute for the whole interview.
The entire “Russia collusion” investigation began because Joseph Mifsud (“the professor”) was a supposed Russian agent who told me that the Russians have Clinton’s emails. Now, Mifsud’s lawyer says he was working for Comey’s FBI to fabricate collusion and sabotage Trump. Truth!
1:46 PM - Oct 31, 2018
The entrapment below is probably just one of only a dozen reasons Comey was fired and his deputies are currently either under investigation, demoted or fired themselves. Director Wray looks like a true leader and a man of honor. This would have never happened under his watch.
2:24 PM - Oct 31, 2018
Hons: @RepMarkMeadows and @RepRatcliffe I am more than happy to deliver the $10,000 in cash I received, as part of what I believe was a sting operation to frame me in summer 2017,to your committee to examine for marked bills. This is in the interest of me being fully transparent.
2:55 PM - Oct 31, 2018
Hons: @RepRatcliffe and @RepMarkMeadows the $10,000 has been safety stored away after the likely asset trying to set me up did not want to take their money back after I told them to retrieve it. Am sure we can get the bills to the committee for examination to see who was behindit
4:42 PM - Oct 31, 2018
The reason my wife has been harassed for a year was because she has known ALL ALONG that Mifsud was connected to the socialists in Europe, Clinton’s and western intelligence circles. Elements of the government have been trying to silence her since summer 2017. Gonna keep fighting
7:08 PM - Oct 31, 2018
When FISA is unredacted after the midterms, a whole new chapter in this saga is about to open. Look out for key characters: Alexander Downer, GCHQ, And a FISA on me being revealed.
10:09 PM - Oct 31, 2018
My biggest regret is not having spoken up even sooner. Am making sure I get as much of the truth out there before the midterms. Everything I have stated for the last two months is backed by incontrovertible evidence. Nothing can be debunked.
8:03 AM - Nov 1, 2018
If my sources were correct in April 2017, largest channel on network tv and one of the two most powerful newspapers in America, and I had a FISA on me; if that country is named, it will rock one of the most important alliances the US has because of Obama DOJ misconduct. No Russia
8:29 AM - Nov 1, 2018
I was a businessman in Israel and Cyprus. Nothing to do with Russia. If there was a FISA on me as very credible sources told me in April 2017, I was being spied on for my work in that part of the world. That is the real scandal.
9:16 AM - Nov 1, 2018
Make sure you get out and vote, America. Our future depends on it. Congress needs to remain red to uncover more and more of the corruption of the Obama administration. FISA abuse will never come out if the republicans lose the house. #VoteRedSaveAmerica2018
6:22 PM - Nov 1, 2018
I was patient zero of “Russia gate”, now this patient is telling you all that “spygate” is more real than ever, and has always been the real narrative. Apologies for not being able to scream it out loud months before. Vote red.
7:16 PM - Nov 1, 2018
I implore everyone to listen to my interview with @dbongino last night. It’s important to clarify exactly what was happening in 2016 and after, how we found ourselves in this position, and why it’s imperative we all vote RED next week.
2:00 PM - Nov 3, 2018
My offer still stands for a public testimony on the hill.
8:32 PM - Nov 3, 2018
If the $10,000 is traced to the Obama DOJ/administration, then we have a massive can of worms that just opened. I will make sure congress has the opportunity to review for marked bills and investigate who authorized an entrapment operation against an American citizen.
12:04 AM - Nov 4, 2018
I think Occam's Razor applies here. The simplest and most direct explanation for ALL the facts currently known is that many senior officials within the Obama Administration willfully and knowingly engaged in numerous Class I felony criminal acts with the explicit purpose of weaponizing the DOJ/FBI/CIA for political ends (and not just against the Trump Campaign, but also many other under-reported scandals). This is not a trivial matter and strikes at the heart of our Constitutional system of governance. The expansiveness and severity of this criminality is so enormous that full exposure may well terminally damage the future credibility of these core institutions. We are at a crossroads. Sessions can coverup and bury these crimes in the hope of limiting the reputation damage, or he can attack it head-on, thoroughly clean house, and honorably restore the integrity of DOJ. I fear he will do the former.ReplyDelete
I agree--it's a crossroads for constitutional government.ReplyDelete
I sometimes ask a question or post an opinion. Today I will just say thank you for running this blog. You are a national treasure. I appreciate your work very much.ReplyDelete
As Sherlock Holmes once said: "My blushes!" (The Valley of Fear) Thanks very much. I do try.ReplyDelete
Yancey, I agree with much of what you're saying. However, I'm still not convinced that the Carter Page FISA refers to the warrant (assuming there was one) on Papadopoulos. My reasoning is that I just don't see any possible connection between the two. Papadopoulos himself does point out 1) his complete lack of Russian contacts--unlike Page, whose whole life from the Naval Academy on had revolved around Russia--and 2) the initial focus of those who contacted him on his Middle East expertise. He strongly believes--now--that the FISA on him predated his joining the Trump campaign and so would likely have been based on Middle East matters and be silent re Russia.ReplyDelete
I very much agree with you that it's important to ascertain who it was who introduced Papadopoulos (and Page) into the Trump campaign. I tried to address that issue in The Spy In The Trump Campaign. We know that Jeff Sessions headed Trump's National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) and that he brought Mike Rogers--the former US Representative from Michigan, not the admiral at NSA--into the campaign as a national security adviser. Sundance at CTH argues--strongly, I think--that Rogers was that "spy in the campaign." Rogers, btw, was an FBI agent for some years before going into politics, and as a Congressman was Chairman of the Permanent Select Committe on Intelligence--so it goes without saying that he would have had a strong relationship with the entire Intel Community but with the FBI in particular. He would have been in an excellent position to work with McCabe and Strzok to find the likes of Papadopoulos and Page for the Trump campaign and then develop the Russia narrative around them.
I also agree with you that the whole business about the LCILP is the part of Papadopoulos' story that cries out for further elucidation.
An especially interesting part of Papadopoulos's story is where Sergei Millian offered him a job ($30,000 a month in a great office in Manhattan) doing public-relations work for "some ex-minister in Russia".ReplyDelete
This offer happened in late September or early October 2016.
Millian seems to be one of the sources for Christopher Steele's dossier.
It this regard, it's important to keep in mind that Papadopoulos had no special qualifications to do public relations for some Russian. Papadopoulos was an expert about petroleum businesses in the eastern Mediterranean.
Why would some Russian pay Papadopoulos $30,000 a month to do PR work instead of hiring someone who had some expertise about Russia?
For sure, this job offer by Millian to Papadopoulos will not explained -- or even mentioned -- in the Special Counsel's report.
Great point, Mike. Tx. Hey, email that to Matt Whitaker, the Big Ten tight end turned Acting AG. He could bring that up with Mueller, now that he's overseeing him.ReplyDelete
I replied to Yancey Ward's interesting comment, but somehow screwed up and deleted his original comment. Yancey, if you're out there and can resend your comment, please do so. I'll be glad to publish it. I'm sure I published it when it first came in, because I was looking at it on the comment page when I wrote my response. I have no idea what happened.ReplyDelete
Yancey, I managed to recover your comment from email but I can't publish it from email. So, the easiest way without changing any settings is for me to publish it under my name and flag it as yours. Tx for alerting me to the problem:ReplyDelete
YANCEY WARD'S PREVIOUSLY DELETED COMMENT:
"First, would the FBI have hinted to major media contacts that there was a FISA on Papadopoulos? From all we've seen in the Russia Hoax thus far, the answer can only be: unequivocally, yes."
I don't think it necessarily the case that someone in the FBI leaked this detail to the press, and that the press then asked Papadopoulos about the FISA. If one believes that Wolfe leaked the unredacted version of the Page FISA application to Watkins (and I think the evidence for this is overwhelming and uncontradicted at this point in time), then it is very likely that the PAGE FISA application refers to a warrant on Papadopoulos as support for the underlying assertions that Page was involved in a conspiracy with the Russian government and members of the Trump Campaign.
I really enjoyed reading Carlson's questions about Papadopoulos' story/interview. Carlson clearly outlines the areas that really do need more explication from Papadopoulos. I, for one, would be interested to know who it was that reached out to Papadopoulos from the Trump Campaign asking GP to become a member of the foreign policy team. It has never been clear to me how it was that Papadopoulos became a Trump Campaign official. This goes back to Papadopoulos' vagueness and outright opacity about the LCILP- what and who that organization is, and how he, Papadopoulos, became an member, and including what he, Papadopoulos, did as a member of that organization. If one could get an answer to who suggested that Papadopoulos be hired by the Trump Campaign in the first place, we might have a big piece of the puzzle. In other words- I am not convinced that Papadopoulos was targeted for a frame because he became a Trump Campaign official, but rather that he was used even before that as a laser guide- this comes back to the claims of an unnamed spy in the Trump Campaign- was that the person who hired or recommended the hiring of Papadopoulos in the first place.
I hope Papadopoulos is interviewed again by someone with Carlson's blog entry in their hands while they do it.
Papadopoulos has already stated publicly that he believes he knows the identity of (at least) one of the moles in the Trump Campaign, and that that information will likely be revealed very soon. Relatedly, this individual may have been involved in recommending/recruiting Papadopoulos to the campaign. If one accepts that Mifsud was acting as an agent in the Spygate caper when he initially made contact with Papadopoulos in early March 2016, then this likely means that Spygate was conceived and initiated much earlier than most people credit. An OP like this does not arise without a lot of planning and review/approval steps (especially if it involved UK & Ausy assets). In addition, the decision to spy on a Presidential Campaign using DOJ/FBI/CIA personnel (and utilize entrapment techniques) is no trivial matter and likely would not have been undertaken unless a prior pattern of similar conduct was existing and authorized. If so, then the problem was/is systemic and not merely about a few bad apples in the bushel. To Big To Prosecute is still in play in my opinion.ReplyDelete
Agreed: "Spygate was conceived and initiated much earlier than most people credit."ReplyDelete
I was doing some research on what I call the legal framework of the Russia Hoax, just last night, and came across an article by a smart former prosecutor who referred to the initiation of the FBI investigation (Crossfire Hurricane) in July. There's no doubt in my mind that, while the July date may be technically true, there was lots going on before then. At least as far back as March, but months earlier if you bear in mind the misuse of NSA searches.
The fact that Mifsud is being hidden is another scandalous aspect, out of many. Yes, there was a whole bushel of bad apples.