Report: DOJ Review ‘Zeroing in On’ Exculpatory Papadopoulos Transcripts

The Trump Justice Department is “zeroing in on” on transcripts of recordings made by at least one government informant who met with former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos in 2016, Fox News reported on Friday.

As part of the DOJ’s internal review, investigators have reportedly honed in on the long-rumored “exculpatory” material found in the recordings and are probing why it was left out of subsequent applications for surveillance warrants, according Fox’s sources.

Investigators are also trying to determine when the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign began, as it appears to have started earlier than the Bureau has alleged.

On Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., challenged former Special Counsel Mueller over when the investigation started.

“The FBI claims the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign began on July 31, 2016, but in fact, it began before that,” House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif. noted during Mueller hearing on Wednesday. “In June 2016, before the investigation was officially opened, Trump campaign associates Carter Page and Stephen Miller were invited to attend a symposium at Cambridge University in July 2016. Your office, however, did not investigate who was responsible for inviting these Trump associates to the symposium.”

A source told Fox News that Attorney General William Barr and U.S. Attorney from Connecticut John Durham are reviewing why exculpatory material was left out of applications to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

“I think it’s the smoking gun,” the source told Fox News.

“These recordings have exculpatory evidence,” the other source added. “It is standard tradecraft to record conversations with someone like Papadopoulos—especially when they are overseas and there are no restrictions.”

That evidence could be what Papadopoulos was alluding to in an interview with the Hill’s John Solomon last October. The former Trump adviser told Solomon that he believes he was being recorded during a September 2016 meeting with FBI informant Stefan Halper in London.

“He was there to probe me on the behest of somebody else,” Papadopoulos said. “He said something along the lines of, ‘Oh, it’s great that Russia is helping you and your campaign, right George?’ ”

When Halper suggested that the Trump campaign was involved in the hacking and release of Hillary Clinton’s emails that summer, Papadopoulos said he was appalled.

“I think I told him something along the lines of, ‘I have no idea what the hell you are talking about. What you are talking about is treason. And I have nothing to do with that, so stop bothering me about it,’ ” he recalled.

Fox’s source seemed to back Papa-D’s claim, saying that the “exculpatory evidence” in the recording transcripts show “Papadopoulos denying having any contact with the Russians to obtain the supposed ‘dirt’ on Clinton.”

Former congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) told Fox Busness in May that he has seen the transcripts and “there is some information in these transcripts that I think have the potential to be a game-changer if it’s ever made public:

In the Spring of 2016,  Papadopoulos met with the mysterious Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud, who told him that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of emails that could damage her presidential campaign.

Mifsud vanished from the public eye in late 2017, but Italian newspaper Il Foglio reported that he was hiding out last year in a rented flat in Rome for several months while being sought by an Italian court. The flat was reportedly paid for by “Link International,” a company co-owned by Link Campus, a small university presided over by Vincenzo Scotti, a former Italian intelligence official, and onetime interior minister.

Link Campus University is where Mifsud in March of 2016 first met George Papadopoulos, about a week after he became a Trump foreign policy adviser. Papadopoulos now believes the university is “a training school for Western spies.”  Mifsud’s lawyer recently told Il Foglio that Scotti is the one who urged him to try to set up Papadopoulos.

The Mueller report suggested that Mifsud was a Russian asset, but it has become increasingly obvious in recent months that Western intelligence agencies attempted to set Papa-D up.

Swiss attorney Stephan Roh, the lawyer representing Mifud, confirmed to Solomon this week that Mifsud was a “longtime cooperator of western intel” who was asked specifically by his contacts at Link University  and the London Center of International Law Practice (LCILP) “to meet with Papadopoulos at a dinner in Rome in mid-March 2016.”

A few days after the March dinner, Roh added, Mifsud received instructions from Link superiors to “put Papadopoulos in contact with Russians,” including a think tank figure named Ivan Timofeev and a woman he was instructed to identify to Papadopoulos as Vladimir Putin’s niece.

A few days after the March dinner, Roh added, Mifsud received instructions from Link superiors to “put Papadopoulos in contact with Russians,” including a think tank figure named Ivan Timofeev and a woman he was instructed to identify to Papadopoulos as Vladimir Putin’s niece.

Mifsud knew the woman was not the Russian president’s niece but, rather, a student who was involved with both the Link and LCILP campuses, and the professor believed there was an effort underway to determine whether Papadopoulos was an “agent provocateur” seeking foreign contacts, Roh said.

The evidence, he told me, “clearly indicates that this was not only a surveillance op but a more sophisticated intel operation” in which Mifsud became involved.

Papadopoulos later allegedly told Australian diplomat Alexander Downer what he had heard about the Clinton dirt and Downer reported the comments to the FBI.

Former Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., now a Fox News contributor, first signaled the existence of transcripts of secretly recorded conversations between FBI informants and Papadopoulos earlier this year.

“If the bureau’s going to send in an informant, the informant’s going to be wired, and if the bureau is monitoring telephone calls, there’s going to be a transcript of that,” Gowdy said in May on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” acknowledging he was aware of the files and suggesting they included exculpatory information.

“Some of us have been fortunate enough to know whether or not those transcripts exist. But they haven’t been made public, and I think one, in particular … has the potential to actually persuade people,” he continued. “Very little in this Russia probe I’m afraid is going to persuade people who hate Trump or love Trump. But there is some information in these transcripts that has the potential to be a game-changer if it’s ever made public.”

The transcripts are currently classified, according to sources, but under President Trump’s move in May to approve declassification of documents related to the surveillance of his campaign during the 2016 election, Barr will likely have access to those documents in a declassified format.

A source told Fox News that without the declassification order signed by Trump, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was not going to give anyone access to the files—over concerns for protecting sources and methods. But another source told Fox News in May that Coats, along with CIA Director Gina Haspel and FBI Director Chris Wray, are all working “collaboratively” with Barr and Durham on the review.

Papadopoulos last month warned his Twitter followers to be wary of CIA Director Gina Haspel, who he suggested may have been involved in the FBI/CIA’s entrapment scheme.

On Friday, Papadopoulos predicted that the Western informants who tried to set him up would be “exposed for the whole world to see” and the corrupt deep state system behind the attempted coup would “fall.”

(Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

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