- Republican lawmakers are reportedly pressing the Trump administration to declassify fewer than a dozen pages of documents about former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos.
- Republicans have claimed that the documents show that the FBI had “exculpatory” information about Papadopoulos, who is said to have been the catalyst for the FBI’s collusion probe.
- Papadopoulos is scheduled to testify before Congress on Oct. 25.
Ahead of George Papadopoulos’s congressional testimony next week, Republican lawmakers are pressing the White House to declassify a small subset of documents related to the FBI’s investigation of the former Trump campaign aide.
Republican lawmakers have hinted for months that the FBI had exculpatory information on Papadopoulos at the time that the bureau applied for its first a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Fox News first reported that Republicans are interested in less than a dozen pages of documents related to Papadopoulos, who is said to have been the catalyst for the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
The request is substantially narrower than what GOP lawmakers initially wanted President Donald Trump to declassify. Trump ordered the declassification of a slew of documents from the FBI’s Russia probe in September, including 21 pages from a surveillance warrant obtained against Page. Trump rescinded the order on Sept. 21 after consulting with the Department of Justice and intelligence community officials.
Though frustrated by Trump’s backpedaling, Republicans hope that the documents about Papadopoulos can be used in his Oct. 25 closed-door testimony before the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform Committees.
While lawmakers are unable to fully describe the information because it is classified, Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe provided the most detail to date in an interview Sunday on Fox News.
“Hypothetically, if the Department of Justice and the FBI have another piece of evidence that directly refutes that, that directly contradicts that, what you would expect is for the Department of Justice to present both sides of the coin to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to evaluate the weight and sufficiency of that evidence,” the Republican said. (RELATED: FBI Has Evidence That ‘Directly Refutes’ Premise Of Trump-Russia Probe, GOP Rep Says)
“Instead, what happened here was Department of Justice and FBI officials in the Obama administration in October of 2016 only presented to the court the evidence that made the government’s case to get a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate,” Ratcliffe added.
The FISA application to spy on Page also mentions information related to Papadopoulos, according to a memo released by the House Intelligence Committee on Feb. 2.
The FBI opened that probe on July 31, 2016 based on information from the Australian government about Papadopoulos.
Papadopoulos met in London on May 10, 2016 with Alexander Downer, Australia’s top diplomat to the U.K. Downer claims that during their conversation, Papadopoulos mentioned that Russia had derogatory information about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Downer did not think much of the claim at the time, but included it in a cable he sent to others in the Australian government. The Aussies informed their American counterparts of the Papadopoulos information in late July 2016, after WikiLeaks published a trove of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee.
Two weeks before his meeting with Downer, Papadopoulos met in London with Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor who claimed that the Russian government had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of “thousands” of her emails.
Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in jail in the special counsel’s investigation on Sept. 7 after he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the extent of his contact with Mifsud. The former Trump aide has denied conspiring with Russians or of seeing, handling or disseminating stolen emails.
Whether the allegedly exculpatory information on Papadopoulos relates to Downer or Mifsud is unclear. Republicans have refused to discuss the context, timing or even the format of the information.
Papadopoulos’s congressional interview comes after the former Trump aide offered to share information about what he claims are a series of suspicious contacts he had during the campaign. He has alleged that Downer was sent to keep tabs on him during the London interview. And while no evidence has emerged to support the claim, it is known that Papadopoulos was contacted by at least one FBI informant.
A former University of Cambridge professor named Stefan Halper flew Papadopoulos to London in September 2016 under the guise of working on an academic paper about Mediterranean energy issues. Papadopoulos says that during dinner one night, Halper asked him whether he was involved in Russian efforts to obtain stolen emails.
As The Daily Caller News Foundation first reported, Halper had already established contact with Page. Neither Page nor Papadopoulos was aware that Halper had contacted the other. Halper and Page remained in contact through September 2017, when the fourth and final FISA warrant against Page expired.
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