Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Papadopoulos Transcripts--Why They Matter

Maria Bartiromo had a two part interview today with retired Congressman Trey Gowdy. We've already referred to the second part of that interview in which the two discussed what happened with John Ratcliffe's bid to become the new DNI. In the first part of the interview the topic was George Papadopoulos. Specifically, the topic was the existence of a transcript of a conversations between Papadopoulos and CIA/FBI/MI6 asset Stephan Halper--and why that transcript has not been released publicly. Gowdy, of course, is one of the Congressmen who has seen that transcript, and he assured Bartiromo that there was nothing so highly classified in it that would prevent its public disclosure.

Gowdy, in his remarks, emphasized that there is exculpatory evidence in the transcript and that the FBI hid this exculpatory information from the FISA court.

Bartiromo, for her part, informed Gowdy that she had spoken last night with Papadopoulos and that Papadopoulos had provided her with his recollection and account of his conversation with Halper:

Papadopoulos told Bartiromo that the transcript of his conversation with Halper will prove he didn’t take the bait when Halper brought up [the subject of obtaining] Hillary’s ‘hacked emails’ [from "the Russians"].
Papadopoulos told Stephan Halper that it would be treason to accept help from the Russians, according to Bartiromo. 
“Are you kidding me? That’s treason! People get hanged for stuff like that! I would never do something like that,” Papadopoulos allegedly told Stefan Halper in a September 2016 meeting in London.

Gowdy again emphasized the exculpatory nature of Papadopoulos' statements to Halper. Even though Gowdy was unable to confirm Papadopoulos' account in detail, he essentially confirmed it by not qualifying it in any way, instead exclaiming:

“What you just described is textbook exculpatory information. It tends to show that a person did not commit a crime.”

In addition, before the segment ended, Gowdy made a point of assuring Bartiromo that there are more of these transcripts--whether all with Halper or (more likely) with other people as well, such as the FBI agent "Azra Turk."

Of course I don't minimize the importance of what Gowdy was saying, regarding the failure of the FBI to report powerful exculpatory information to the FISA court. However, there's another aspect that I find equally or even more significant.

Papadopoulos' statements--taking them as basically accurate, if not word for word--demonstrate that Papadopoulos had no inclination to break the law in these national security areas. Of course, that could change, but as of the point in time when the FBI started receiving the results of these recorded contacts of their informants with Papadopoulos--contacts that showed Papadopoulos wasn't inclined to break the law--then the FBI had no further reason to target Papadopoulos. At least not as regarded Russian "collusion."

The question then becomes: Why was Team Mueller targeting Papadopoulos in the summer of 2017? Why did they try to set him up on money laundering and other charges when he was returning to the US from Israel? Yes, it's true that the FBI may have been investigating Papadopoulos as an agent for Israel, but that wasn't Team Mueller's turf. It looks very much like Team Mueller went to the FBI officials who were investigating Papadopoulos from the Israel standpoint and said, Hey, run this money laundering op against Papadopoulos and we'll grab him at Dulles and flip him against Trump. Except that Papadopoulos didn't bring the money that was planted on him back to the US. However, the bigger issue is: What grounds did Team Mueller have to get involved in this? Because they had total control of what went down when Papadopoulos landed at Dulles.

Team Mueller had the transcripts. They knew Papadopoulos had no inclination to cooperate with "the Russians", so that strongly suggests that Team Mueller wanted to coerce Papadopoulos into making false accusations against Trump. Jeannie Rhee, handpicked Clinton lawyer, threatened Papadopoulos that he'd be sent to jail for life if he didn't cooperate--they were playing hardball. Remember, too: This was right around the same time that Weissmann was offering Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash a sweet deal to do exactly the same thing (Andrew Weissmann: How Corrupt Does The Russia Hoax Get?). But both Papadopoulos and Firtash refused to lie. As did Manafort, when he was kept solitary, in an effort to break him into lying about Trump.

I think we can see a pattern here. Coming out of the starting gate in late spring and early summer of 2017, Team Mueller was looking to make a quick hit against Trump and force him to resign. And they weren't particular about cutting ethical corners  to do that--trying to frame Papadopoulos in an op that had no relevant predication, trying to buy off a Ukrainian oligarch to tell lies.

The Papadopoulos transcripts shine a harsh light on these tactics. Barr and Durham need to be looking at this. There were a lot of very questionable things going on that, in the big scheme of the hoax/fraud, are more important than false statements on a FISA application.

ADDENDUM: Commenter Yancey Ward should be interested in this. It's clear that Rod Rosenstein was fully behind the formation of the Mueller inquisition at this point, and approved all these tactics. But none of them panned out. Maybe that's when Rosenstein started getting "cold feet."


  1. Yeah, Mark, you could be right. At the start, it probably did appear to the conspirators that a quick shock and awe campaign that first month might be all it took to either stitch Trump up or induce him into firing Mueller immediately, thus setting the stage for impeachment and removal.

    I guess the question I now have is this- are there also transcripts of Halper and Page's meetings? Remember, the only FISA we know of at the moment was on Carter Page, not George Papadopoulos. If there is corresponding exculpatory transcripts, then we can be damned sure they were shared with the FISA court.

    1. "shock and awe"--that's good.

      "they were shared" = NOT shared?

      In re Page and exculpatory, the really damning material is the misrepresentation of Page as a Russian agent in NY, when he was actually a cooperating witness for the FBI for 3 years. He also cooperated with the CIA--as anyone could tell from his background.

    2. Yeah, that was a typo- I very often forget to tie my "nots"- a kind of mental tic.

  2. I speculate that Mueller's gang was trying to establish the existence of an "enterprise" in Trump's campaign staff. The "enterprise" supposedly comprised Flynn, Papadopoulos, Manafort and Page.

    Papadopoulos was especially difficult to fit into the "enterprise", because he could not be linked significantly to Russia. Halper had tried to link Papadopoulos to Russia, but had failed to do so.

    However, Flynn and Papadopoulos were linked significantly to Turkish issues. Therefore, the FBI might be able to develop an argument that Flynn had brought Papadopoulos into the "enterprise" by means of Turkish issues.

    Papadopoulos had been advocating primarily that petroleum pipelines be routed around Turkey, through the Mediterranean Ocean. It's likely that Papadopoulos joined Trump's campaign staff because he perceived that Trump was the candidate most likely to demote Turkey or even remove Turkey from NATO.

    Flynn certainly was pro-Turkey, but as a leader in the "enterprise", Flynn might have perceived that he might be able to manipulate anti-Turkey Papadopoulos to cooperate in the collusion with Russia.

    Of course, this all is nonsense, but I speculate that FBI counter-intelligence perhaps perceived Flynn to be plotting along those lines.

    Flynn's special role in the "enterprise" was that he knew that Turkish Intelligence had received, from Russian Intelligence, information from Hillary Clinton's e-mails proving that Secretary of State Clinton had provided visas to Turkish "terrorists" to work as teachers in Gulen's schools in the USA. Clinton had provided the visas because Gulen and his allies had contributed much money to the Clinton Family Foundation.

    FBI Counter-Intelligence believed that Flynn might be plotting with Turkish Intelligence to reveal that information as an October Surprise shortly before the 2016 election, thus helping Trump to defeat Clinton. Turkish Intelligence supposedly had received the incriminating information from Russian Intelligence, which had obtained and studied Clinton's e-mails.

    Papadopoulos's supposed motive to involve himself in Flynn's plot was simply that the scandal might cause a lot of trouble for Turkey, a country that Papadopoulos wanted to suffer.

    In these circumstances, Mueller's gang was trying in the summer of 2017 to incriminate Papadopoulos in the petroleum business in the Mediterranean. That is what Papadopoulos himself speculates was going on.

    Mueller's gang was trying to compel Papadopoulos to say something that would incriminate Flynn -- not Trump! -- in Flynn's Turkish shenanigans.

    If Papadopoulos could be associated with Flynn's Turkish shenanigans, then Papadopoulos might be joined into Flynn's "enterprise" on Trump's campaign staff.

    With four members -- including Papadopoulos -- the "enterprise" on Trump's campaign staff was a more serious threat that deserved the FBI's special attention.

    1. I think Papadopoulos' involvement in the Summer of 2017 is simpler- the people pursuing Trump knew that the Steele Dossier would eventually be revealed to be Clinton Campaign material- it couldn't be hidden and thus couldn't really be used. Up until Mueller was appointed the SC, there was no reason to worry about using the Dossier as the support for getting a FISA warrant on Carter Page. Once Mueller was appointed, though, a report was going to be filed at some point that was going to be moved to Congress for impeachment purposes- so suddenly, in June of 2017, they had to worry about that Carter Page FISA application and its reliance on the Steele Dossier. They needed a cleaner origin story so that the Page warrant could be tossed to the side as irrelevant to the overall picture- they certainly knew by that time, if they didn't in October of 2016 (I believe they knew from the beginning), that Page was completely innocent. So, they decided to stitch Papadopoulos up as neatly as they could, and tried to frame him for money laundering.

    2. Regardless the specifics of their theory, the sickening things is Mueller's Democrats knew they were manufacturing crimes to use against Trump's associates. No big deal, they figured. Because Saint Mueller was the boss, and who would doubt Saint Mueller?

  3. @Mike

    Agreed. As you say,

    "Of course, this all is nonsense..." and

    "...the "enterprise" on Trump's campaign staff was a more serious threat that deserved the FBI's special attention."

    My reaction is..."Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive..."

    The FBI was certainly engaged in a grand deception.