months before the 2016 election, George Papadopoulos received a strange
request for a meeting in London, one of several the young Trump adviser
would be offered — and he would accept — during the presidential
meeting request, which has not been reported until now, came from Stefan
Halper, a foreign policy expert and Cambridge professor with connections
to the CIA and its British counterpart, MI6.
September 2016 outreach to Papadopoulos wasn’t his only contact with
Trump campaign members. The 73-year-old professor, a veteran of three
Republican administrations, met with two other campaign advisers, The
Daily Caller News Foundation learned.
now questions Halper’s motivation for contacting him, according to a
source familiar with Papadopoulos’s thinking. That’s not just because of
the randomness of the initial inquiry but because of questions Halper is
said to have asked during their face-to-face meetings in London.
to a source with knowledge of the meeting, Halper asked Papadopoulos:
“George, you know about hacking the emails from Russia, right?”
told Halper he didn’t know anything about emails or Russian hacking,
said the source, who spoke
on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the
investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. The
professor did not follow up on the line of inquiry.
first contacted Papadopoulos by email. In a Sept. 2, 2016, message sent
to Papadopoulos’s personal email account, he offered the Trump aide
$3,000 to write a policy paper on issues related to Turkey, Cyprus,
Israel and the Leviathan natural gas field. Halper also offered to pay
for Papadopoulos’s flight and a three-night stay in London.
accepted the proposal, flew to England, and met with Halper and one of
his assistants. He delivered the paper electronically Oct. 2 and
received payment days later, according to documents TheDCNF reviewed.
encounters with Papadopoulos were not the only encounters that the
professor had with the Trump campaign.
Halper speaks at Wellesley College, Oct. 23, 2013. (YouTube
Halper met campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page at a July
at Cambridge regarding the upcoming election, Page told TheDCNF. The pair
remained in contact for several months.
also requested and attended a one-on-one meeting with another senior
campaign official, TheDCNF learned. That meeting was held a day or two
before Halper reached out to Papadopoulos. Halper offered to help the
campaign but did not bring up Papadopoulos, even though he would reach
out to the campaign aide a day or two later.
intentions are unclear, while a source familiar with the investigations
into Russian meddling told TheDCNF Halper’s name popped up on
investigators’ radar. There is no indication of any wrongdoing on his
part, and it is not clear if he has been in touch with investigators.
activities are all the more eye-catching because Papadopoulos and Page
are central figures in the Russia investigation. Papadopoulos, 30,
pleaded guilty in October 2017 to lying to the FBI about contacts he had
during the campaign with Russian nationals and a London-based professor
with links to the Russian government.
professor, Joseph Mifsud, told Papadopoulos in April 2016 he learned the
Russians had possession of “thousands” of Clinton-related emails. That
conversation would later spark the FBI’s investigation into Russian
interference in the presidential campaign. It is not known whether
Papadopoulos told anyone on the Trump campaign about Mifsud’s remarks.
is also a prominent figure in the investigation due to allegations made
against him in the infamous Steele dossier. Page’s trip to Moscow in
early July 2016 is a central piece of the dossier. Christopher Steele,
the author of the Democrat-funded report, alleges Page met secretly with
two Kremlin insiders as part of the Trump campaign’s collusion effort.
attended the Cambridge event Halper set up, four days after that trip to
was a veritable stomping ground for Papadopoulos during the campaign.
addition to meetings there with Halper and Mifsud, the Chicago native
had an encounter that would serve as the catalyst for the FBI’s
investigation into Russian meddling.
May 2016, a month after his meeting with Mifsud, an Israeli embassy
official, who Papadopoulos knew, introduced him to Australian High
Commissioner to the United Kingdom Alexander Downer.
barroom conversation at Kensington Gardens,
Papadopoulos told Downer about the emails Mifsud mentioned to
him, The New York Times reported in
WikiLeaks published a trove of stolen DNC emails in July 2016,
Australian government officials told the FBI about Downer’s interaction
with Papadopoulos. The bureau opened its counterintelligence
investigation July 31, 2016.
Downer, Australia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. (YouTube
What remains unclear is why Downer sought the meeting with Papadopoulos.
Was it to become acquainted with a member of Trump’s foreign policy
advisory team, or was it an opportunity to gather intelligence?
latter scenario — of a spy operation — is what Papadopoulos wonders was
at play when Halper contacted him before the election. There are no
clear connections between Halper and Downer, though the pair did
speak on the same panel at a 2010 Cambridge
and Halper met several times during the London trip, including at the
Connaught Hotel and the Travellers Club — a classic 19th century club
foreign diplomats and politicians frequent. Halper’s research assistant
— a Turkish woman named Azra Turk — also met with Papadopoulos. The
Connaught Hotel meeting was scheduled for Sept. 13, 2016, and the
Travellers Club conclave was two days later.
discussing the policy paper Papadopoulos was to write, Halper made an
out-of-left-field reference to Russians and hacked emails, according to
a source with direct knowledge of Papadopoulos’s version of events.
contacted Papadopoulos to thank him for attending after the meeting.
Papadopoulos delivered the paper through email Oct. 2.
Halper nor Turk responded to numerous requests for comment. A phone call
placed to a number listed for Halper was answered by a man who claimed
Halper was not available. A message left with the man was not returned.
Halper also did not reply to a detailed list of questions about his
interactions with Trump campaign advisers.
resume provides mixed clues about why he might have reached out to
one hand, he worked on several geopolitical policy projects as a
contractor for the Department of Defense’s Office of Net Assessment, the
Pentagon’s in-house think tank. Federal records show he has been paid
$928,800 since 2012 on four separate research projects.
the time of the Papadopoulos meeting, Halper was working on a project
related to China and Russia’s economic relations. There are no public
records of Halper releasing reports on Turkey, Cyprus and Israel.
with Papadopoulos’s theory of Halper’s outreach is the professor’s
longstanding connections to both British and American intelligence
agency officials. He also
worked at the Department of State, Department of
Defense, Department of Justice, and in three presidential
is a close associate of Sir Richard Dearlove — the former MI6 chief.
December 2016, Halper, Dearlove and espionage historian Peter
international news when they announced they were
leaving an organization called the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar due to
concerns Russian operatives had infiltrated the group.
earlier, in early fall 2016, Dearlove reportedly met with dossier author
Steele. Steele sought out Dearlove’s advice on how to proceed with
information he gathered on Trump’s ties to Russia, The Washington
Post reported. Former
MI6 Moscow station chief Steele had been told Trump campaign members
were colluding with Kremlin operatives to release emails stolen from the
Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6. (YouTube
Steele’s dossier does not mention Papadopoulos, though the former spy was
made aware of the Trump campaign aide while he was working on his
anti-Trump document. FBI agents asked Steele during an October 2016
meeting in Rome if he was aware of Papadopoulos. Steele did not have
information on Papadopoulos, the former spy said.
Papadopoulos does have at least one
possible connection to the dossier. During the
campaign, Sergei Millian approached him. Millian is a Belarus-born
businessman who was allegedly an unwitting source for some of the most
salacious claims in the dossier.
also had connections to the CIA — most notably through his late
father-in-law, Ray Cline.
once served as director of the CIA’s bureau of intelligence and
research. He was also the agency’s top analyst during the Cuban Missile
Crisis. Halper got
a job as foreign policy director on George H.W.
Bush’s unsuccessful 1980 presidential primary bid on Cline’s
who has a residence in Virginia, was also allegedly in charge of a team
of former CIA analysts who kept tabs on the Jimmy Carter campaign.
an ironic twist given the Russia probe’s focus on election meddling,
Halper was also linked to a Reagan-era scandal dubbed “Briefing-gate.”
was one of several Reagan White House officials linked to
the scandal, which involved campaign briefing materials stolen from
Carter’s campaign. Prior to the 1980 election, stolen Carter-campaign
briefing papers containing classified information ended up in the hands
of Reagan’s campaign officials.
theft was not revealed until 1983. Halper was not directly implicated in
stealing the documents, but he
was identified as one of the campaign advisers
who handled and disseminated them.
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