Mueller Team Interviewed US Embassy Official About Papadopoulos Contacts
- Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team interviewed a U.S. embassy official named Terrence Dudley about George Papadopoulos, The Daily Caller News Foundation was told.
- Papadopoulos questioned why Dudley and an associate reached out to him during the 2016 Trump campaign. He suggested that the pair were sent to spy on him, as did FBI informant Stefan Halper.
- But in interviews with TheDCNF, both Dudley and his colleague deny the allegation, saying they contacted Papadopoulos out of personal curiosity.
Prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller interviewed an official at the U.S. embassy in London last year about his contacts during the 2016 presidential campaign with George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign adviser who sparked the FBI’s collusion investigation.
Terrence Dudley, a former Navy commander who works with the Office of Defense Cooperation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Mueller’s office contacted him to discuss several meetings that he and a colleague had during the campaign with Papadopoulos.
The former Trump aide recently identified Dudley and his colleague, Greg Baker, in a tweet alleging that the pair were sent to spy on him on behalf of the U.S. government.
“I think it’s also important for me to detail my interactions with US intelligence officials from US Embassy, London. Gregory Baker and Terrence Dudley. Both wanted to ingratiate themselves in campaign via myself,” Papadopoulos tweeted on Sept. 12 — just days after he was sentenced to 14 days in jail for lying to the FBI about other contacts he had during the campaign.
Both Dudley and Baker dispute Papadopoulos’ tweet, saying they reached out to Papadopoulos out of personal curiosity.
“We approached him from a more fascinated standpoint trying to figure out what his game was,” Dudley told TheDCNF by phone from London. “Who’s funding him to be here [in London]? How does he actually get away with doing that?”
Dudley, a former U.S. Navy spokesman, said he met with Mueller prosecutors for a little over an hour in spring 2017 for a “fairly comprehensive discussion” about Papadopoulos.
“At the end of the day, I told them this is a naive guy who got in over his head,” Dudley said. “I think whatever input I may have had, I think that may have weighed somewhat into what is a relatively light sentence. I think he was naive more than anything, I don’t think he was ill-intended.”
Papadopoulos’ sentence, which was handed down on Sept. 7, has been widely interpreted as an indication that he did not hold the keys to collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government, as was initially suspected.
Papadopoulos told TheDCNF that he has grown suspicious of Dudley and Baker because they unsolicitedly approached him and seemed eager to meet with him.
Though there is no indication that Dudley and Baker were tasked to make contact with Papadopoulos or to report back on his activities in London, Papadopoulos did have at least one run-in with an undercover informant during the campaign.
In September 2016, Stefan Halper, a longtime FBI and CIA asset, unsolicitedly contacted Papadopoulos with an offer of a flight to London and $3,000 to write an academic paper on Mediterranean energy issues. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: A London Meeting Before The Election Aroused George Papadopoulos’s Suspicions)
Papadopoulos accepted the offer and met with Halper, a former University of Cambridge professor with longstanding ties to the CIA and MI6. Papadopoulos said that during one meeting, Halper asked him whether he knew about Russian attempts to hack Clinton’s emails. Papadopoulos said he told Halper he had nothing to do with the hacks.
Papadopoulos also aired his suspicions about Dudley, Baker and several other encounters he had during the campaign in an interview with Fox News’ Martha MacCallum.
“All of a sudden, I’m approached by two officials from what I think are the Defense Intelligence Agency of the U.S. embassy in London, who decide to meet with me and basically probe me about what’s happening,” Papadopoulos told MacCallum in a Sept. 18 interview.
The approach was made just before Papadopoulos had his now-infamous meeting with Alexander Downer, the Australian High Commissioner to the U.K. Information Downer provided from that May 10, 2016, meeting ultimately sparked the FBI’s collusion probe, which was opened on July 31, 2016.
Downer has claimed that Papadopoulos mentioned that the Russian government had derogatory information on Hillary Clinton. Downer said he passed the information to others in the Australian government and that the details were later provided to the FBI. Downer’s assessment also ended up on the desk of Elizabeth Dibble, then the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in London. (RELATED: Aussie Diplomat Claims ‘Nothing Nefarious’ In Meeting With Papadopoulos)
Dudley and Baker said they were not aware that information from Downer was provided to Dibble.
Baker, who worked in a security role at the embassy and is now in the private sector, told TheDCNF he found Papadopoulos after conducting a Google search following a foreign policy speech that Trump gave on April 27, 2016.
Impressed with the speech, Baker contacted Papadopoulos through LinkedIn requesting a meeting. He said the Trump aide quickly accepted the request. Baker told TheDCNF that he and Dudley met with Papadopoulos four times during the course of the campaign.
A day before the Trump speech that caught Baker’s eye, Papadopoulos met with Joseph Mifsud in London.
Papadopoulos told the FBI in a Jan. 27, 2017, interview that Mifsud, a Maltese professor, told him that he had learned that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands” of her emails. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to lying to the FBI, not about the email conversation, but about the extent and timing of his contacts with Mifsud.
Papadopoulos said he does not recall mentioning emails to Downer. But he has acknowledged mentioning them to the Greek foreign minister during a meeting in late May 2016.
Both Dudley and Baker said that Papadopoulos did not mention emails to them during their multiple encounters, but that Russia was a frequent topic of discussion.
Dudley said that “the hairs on the back of our neck stood up” when Papadopoulos discussed a potential reset with Russia should Trump win the White House.
During that period, Papadopoulos was attempting to set up meetings between Russian government officials and Trump campaign staff. During a March 31, 2016, meeting with the Trump campaign’s national security team, Papadopoulos told Trump that he could arrange a meeting with Russian President Vladmir Putin.
But no meetings took place.
“That’s a very bold thing to be doing, somewhat of a risky naive thing to be doing,” Dudley said. “We simply told him we’re not sure it’s that easy. We told him, we said, it seems to be you’re probably getting in a little too deep on this.”
Baker told TheDCNF that he was not troubled by Papadopoulos’ references to meeting with Russians but said that he warned the Trump aide to “be careful.” Baker said he advised Papadopoulos that it would not have been a surprise if Russian operatives were searching for soft spots to infiltrate the Trump campaign.
Baker said he was not contacted by the Mueller team.