Former Republican South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy said Sunday that his “perspective” of the special counsel’s investigation changed after he saw a transcript of an interaction between the FBI and a Trump campaign associate believed to be George Papadopoulos.
“I was supportive of [Robert] Mueller. I was supportive of the idea to initiate, to investigate what Russia did, but when I saw this transcript, it actually changed my perspective,” Gowdy said in an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
Republicans have hinted at the existence of a transcript that contains exculpatory information for Papadopoulos, who the FBI claims was the catalyst for its counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign.
Papadopoulos had encounters with several mysterious figures during his stint on the Trump campaign. He met Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud, Australian diplomat Alexander Downer and Stefan Halper, a former Cambridge professor who was identified as an FBI informant in 2018.
Gowdy, who served on the House Intelligence Committee before leaving office in January, said in a May 19 interview on Fox News that the public would likely see the transcript as a “game-changer” if it was ever released.
Gowdy said Sunday the mysterious transcripts were not provided to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which approved four FBI surveillance warrants against Carter Page, another Trump campaign adviser. The applications cited information from the unverified Steele dossier and also mentioned Papadopoulos.
Republicans have accused the FBI of misleading the FISC by withholding details of the information gathered in its investigation of Trump & Co.
Gowdy went on to describe what he says is a pattern of bias at the FBI against the Trump campaign. He pointed to Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the FBI officials who exchanged anti-Trump text messages while working on the Russia probe.
“When you have exculpatory information and you don’t share it with the court, when you give two different kinds of defensive briefings to the candidates depending on who you like and who you don’t, then you’re bias begins to impact the investigation. That’s what what I thought when I saw the transcript, but your viewers should be entitled to make up their own minds,” Gowdy said.
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Former FBI officials have said that the bureau opened its investigation of the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016, after receiving information about Papadopoulos from the Australian government.
Downer, who met with Papadopoulos in London on May 10, 2016, wrote in a memo that Papadopoulos had mentioned that Russia might release information about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton close to the election. The Australian government provided that information to the FBI in late July 2016, after WikiLeaks began releasing emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee.
Downer has denied recording his conversation with Papadopoulos, which took place at a London bar.
Halper, the alleged FBI informant, had contact with both Papadopoulos and Page.
Halper and Page first met on July 10, 2016, at an event held at the University of Cambridge. They remained in contact through September 2017.
Halper reached out to Papadopoulos on Sept. 2, 2016 with an offer of a trip to London and $3,000 to write an academic paper on energy security issues in the Mediterranean Sea. Papadopoulos, who worked in that field at various think tanks, accepted the offer and met with Halper in mid September 2016.
Halper was joined by a woman he claimed was his assistant. The New York Times has reported the woman, Azra Turk, was actually a government investigator.
Papadopoulos has said that both Halper and Turk asked him whether he or the Trump campaign was working with Russia to meddle in the 2016 election. He has said that he denied working with Russia.
The special counsel’s report undercut the premise of the FBI’s initial probe of the Trump campaign. Mueller, the special counsel, said in the report that prosecutors failed to establish that the campaign conspired with Russia to influence the election. The report also said that there was no evidence that Trump associates acted as agents of Russia.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in the investigation to lying about the timing of his interactions with Mifsud, the Maltese professor. Papadopoulos told the FBI in an interview on Jan. 27, 2017 that Mifsud had told him during a meeting in London in April 2016 that he had learned that Russia had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of “thousands” of her emails.
Papadopoulos has maintained he did not tell anyone on the Trump campaign about Mifsud’s remarks and that he did not handle, see or disseminate any Clinton emails. He admitted to making false statements when he claimed that he met with Mifsud prior to joining the Trump team in March 2016.
Chuck Ross on June 23, 2019
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