Former 2016 Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was secretly recorded by a FBI confidential source (CHS), two weeks before the election, where he denied that the campaign was involved in obtaining the DNC's emails which were later published by WikiLeaks, according to CBS News, which has reviewed a transcript of the conversation.
CHS: You don't think anyone from the Trump campaign had anything to do with the fucking over the, at the DNC?
Papadopoulos: No. I know that for a fact.
CHS: How do you know that for a fact?
Papadopoulos: 'Cause I go, I've been working with them for the last nine months. That's (unintelligible) And all of this stuff has been happening, what, the last four months?
Papadopoulos was then pressed on whether someone from the Trump campaign might have been secretly involved, "like under, undercover or anything like that?"
To which he replied "No, I don't think so…..There's absolutely no reason…First of all, it's illegal, you know, to do that shit."
The conversation between Papadopoulos and the CHS was documented in the DOJ Inspector General's report on FBI surveillance, however this is the first time we have seen excerpts of the actual conversation. Of note, the former Trump adviser's conversation with Australian diplomat (and Clinton ally) Alexander Downer - where he repeated information that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton (told to him by Clinton Foundation member Joseph Mifsud) sparked the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign, dubbed "Operation Crossfire."
The failure by government investigators to include key sections of the Papadopoulos transcripts in the warrants, including denials the campaign "was collaborating with Russia or with outside groups like Wikileaks," to surveil Page was listed among the 17 inaccuracies and omissions documented by Horowitz in his December report. He described the omission this way: "Papadopoulos's statement to an FBI CHS (confidential human source) in late October 2016 denying that the Trump campaign was involved in the circumstances of the DNC hack." -CBS News
Papadopoulos was also asked about Russian election meddling earlier in the conversation:
CHS: You think Russia's playing a big game in this election?
CHS: Why not?
Papadopoulos: Why would they?
CHS: Don't you think they have special interests?
Papadopoulos: Something like that (Banging sound) I don't think so. That's all bull****. No one know's who's hacking— them.
CHS: You don't think that they, that they hacked the, the DNC? Who hacked the f***ing DNC then?
Papadopoulos: Could be the Chinese, could be the Iranians, it could be some Bernie, uh, supporters. Could be— Anonymous.
The FBI informant then pressed Papadopoulos on Russia's alleged interest in Trump:
CHS: Do you think they have interest in Trump?
Papadopoulos: They, dude, no one knows how a president's going to govern anyway, You don't just say, oh I like —
CHS: He is very limited in what he can do anyways so like (laughs)…
Papadopoulos: I mean, the r-the Congress is very hostile with Russia anyways, so…I don't know, I don't know. And even Putin said it himself (unintelligible) (rustling) It's all, it's like conspiracy theories.
The FBI went to great lengths to entrap Papadopoulos during Operation Crossfire Hurricane - sending longtime spy Stephan Halper in with an FBI agent posing as his "honeypot" assistant under the name "Azra Turk" to try and pump the Trump aide for information.
Halper was paid over $1 million by the Obama DoD, nearly half of which was for activities surrounding the 2016 US election. Halper contacted Papadopoulos on September 2, 2016 according to The Daily Caller - and would later fly him out to London under the guise of working on a policy paper on energy issues in Turkey, Cyprus and Israel - for which he was ultimately paid $3,000. Papadopoulos met Halper several times during his stay, "having dinner one night at the Travellers Club, and Old London gentleman's club frequented by international diplomats."
During the IG investigation, the FBI said that they discounted Papadopoulos' denials for several reasons - though a footnote to the OIG report says that the agent realized in hindsight that they were relevant and should have been shared with the DOJ's office of intelligence "in order for OI to make the determination whether [those denials] should be in the application" for Carter Page's FISA warrant.
Horowitz noted in his report intelligence received from a friendly foreign government that Papadopoulos "suggested the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from Russia that it could assist this process with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Mrs. Clinton…"
Faulting the FBI, Horowitz wrote that because the surveillance target has "no defense counsel," there is a special obligation on the FBI and Justice Department to "over tell" the story and include a "full and accurate" presentation of the facts to meet the bureau's standard of "scrupulously accurate." -CBS News
Still, despite serious errors by the FBI, Horowitz wrote in his report that "we concluded that the quantum of information articulated by the FBI to open the individual investigations on Papadopoulos, Page, Flynn, and Manafort in August 2016 was sufficient to satisfy the low threshold established by the Department and the FBI."