The originating document of the supposed Russia investigation by former FBI agent Peter Strzok, dated July 31, 2016, shows that the investigation was always about investigating then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and his campaign, not Russia.
The document, heavily redacted, was obtained by Judicial Watch via a Freedom of Information Act request.
It alleged that the Russian government “had been seeking prominent members of the Donald Trump campaign in which to engage to prepare for potential post-election relations should Trump be elected U.S. President. One of the people identified was George Papadopolous (although public media sources provide a spelling of Papadopoulos), who was believed to be one of Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisers.”
The hook was Papadopoulos, but not to look into Russia. In his final tweet before heading to prison on a false statement process crime, Papadopoulos on Nov. 26, 2018 posted on Twitter, “Still can’t believe the day I am going to a federal prison camp, mainstream media says am going for my Russia contacts. I have never met a single Russian official in my life. I have, however, met many western intel sources — Joseph Mifsud — who people still call ‘Russian.’ Facts. USA…”
Here, Papadopoulos was alleging that Mifsud — and everyone who he introduced Papadopoulos to — were not Russian officials but “decoys” orchestrated by Western intelligence agencies.
So, was it a sting operation?
According to the statement of offense by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in March 2016 and while in Italy, Papadopoulos met Mifsud, based in London who “claimed to have substantial connections with Russian government officials.” Soon, Papadopoulos was introduced to Vladimir Putin’s “niece” — Putin has no niece — to supposedly set up a meeting between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
On April 26, 2016, Papadopoulos was told by Mifsud, per Mueller, that “the Russians had obtained ‘dirt’ on then-candidate Clinton. The Professor told defendant Papadopoulos, as defendant Papadopoulos later described to the FBI, that ‘They [the Russians] have dirt on her’; ‘the Russians had emails of Clinton’; ‘they have thousands of emails.’”
Papadopoulos has since said he thought the emails were not DNC or John Podesta emails that appeared on Wikileaks, but from Hillary Clinton’s private server. That is, that it was possible Russia had hacked the Clinton server. No emails were ever delivered to Papadopoulos.
Here’s the thing. In Mueller’s own filings, he never said that Papadopoulos’ contacts were Russian intelligence operatives. All statements included qualifiers.
Mifsud, according to Mueller, “claimed to have substantial connections with Russian government officials.” On Putin’s “niece,” Papadopoulos “believed that she had connections to Russian government officials…” Or, Papadopoulos was introduced to “an individual in Moscow … who told defendant Papadopoulos he had connections to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
Nowhere does the statement of offense by Mueller does he definitively confirm these contacts actually had the Russian connections they were purporting. Yet, on July 31, Strzok was convinced that the Russians were “seeking prominent members of the Donald Trump campaign in which to engage to prepare for potential post-election relations should Trump be elected U.S. President.”
This makes what really happened with Papadopoulos front and center in determining if the Trump-Russia investigation ever was about investigating Russia. Based on what we’ve seen so far, it looks like it was an attempt to frame Trump for crimes he never committed. That’s Soviet-style banana republic show trials, not America.
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.
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