Withheld evidence: Papadopoulos told FBI informer Trump campaign wasn't involved in DNC hack

'It's illegal, you know,' Papadopoulos told informer in transcript withheld by agents seeking FISA warrants

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George Papadopoulos arrives at the U.S. District Court for his sentencing hearing in September 2018
George Papadopoulos arrives at the U.S. District Court for his sentencing hearing in September 2018
(Alex Wong / Getty Images)
Last Updated:
April 9, 2020 - 7:36pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Shortly before the 2016 election, former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos told an FBI informant that the Republican's campaign had not been involved with the Russian hack of Democratic National Committee emails, according to a transcript kept from the court that approved surveillance warrants targeting the president's campaign.

Just the News has reviewed the conversation between Papadopoulos and the the FBI informant in October 2016. The transcript, first reported by CBS News, can be viewed here:

The pertinent moments in the 171-page transcript commence on page 159, when the confidential human source (CHS) begins to prod Papadopoulos about Russia’s role in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

CHS: You think Russia’s playing a big game in this election?

Papadopoulos: No

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 bulls--t. No one knows who’s hacking— [Phone notification] —them.

CHS: You don’t think that they, that they hacked the, the DNC? Who hacked the f--king DNC then?

Papadopoulos: Could be the Chinese, could be the Iranians, it could be some Bernie, ugh, supporters. Could be Anonymous.

Multiple FBI applications seeking a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant targeting the Trump campaign failed to note Papadopoulos’s clear denial of any involvement in the DNC email hacks.

When applying for a FISA warrant, or a warrant’s renewal, the FBI is required to submit all verified information as well as any evidence undermining agents' theory of the case. That would include denials, such as the one made in the Papadopoulos transcript.

The FBI's now closed probe into alleged Trump-Russia collusion during the 2016 election is riddled with examples where exculpatory evidence and problems with the bureau's case were withheld from the judges who approved the warrants, the Justice Department inspector general has reported.

Sometimes with salty language, Papadopoulos repeatedly denied in the transcript any involvement by the Trump campaign in the DNC email hack or Russian election-rigging. 

CHS: You don’t think anyone from the Trump campaign had anything to do with f--king over the, at the DNC?

Papadopoulos: No.

CHS: Really?

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 [UI]. And all of this stuff has been happening, what, the last four months?

Later in the transcript, Papadopoulos said that he told a more senior political player that the Trump campaign had nothing to do with the DNC hack. “It’s illegal, you know, to do that sh-t,” Papadopoulos said to the FBI confidential source. 

In his December 2019 report, Inspector General Michael Horowitz criticized the FBI for failing to include evidence that could undermine its FISA warrant applications. But he also noted that the FBI had discounted Papadopoulos's denial for a number of reasons including believing it to be rehearsed. However, Horowitz maintained that all evidence should have been presented.

Under the direction of Director Christopher Wray, the FBI has undertaken a large-scale review of the FISA process. Wray has ordered the implementation of more than 40 corrective suggestions based on Horowitz's report. 

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