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George Papadopoulos wants to know if FBI spied on conversation with Fox News executive

Former Russia case figure also says he had "absolutely no idea" he'd be pardoned by Trump this week.

Updated: December 25, 2020 - 10:54am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Freshly pardoned by President Trump, former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos is demanding to know if the FBI has recordings of a conversation he had in January 2017 with a Fox News executive, and if so, how agents got it.

In a wide-ranging interview with Just the News after his pardon, Papadopoulos said he was troubled by a text message recently released by the Justice Department. In the message, the FBI's lead Russia case agent Peter Strzok appears to be told there is audio of Papadopoulos talking to a Fox News vice president.

In the text, Papadopoulos is referred to by his FBI codename, "Typhoon."

"I know you're not point on this anymore, but typhoon got a call from the VP at Fox News yesterday, who advised that the government was conducting 'checks' on him a few months back," the Jan. 12, 2016 text message from an unidentified FBI employee to Strzok reads.

"I haven't listened to the exact audio, but i'm guess[ing] that's the FARA checks that we did with DOJ on our 4 main guys; especially given the article that you pushed yesterday," the text message added.

Papadopoulos told John Solomon Reports in a podcast aired Thursday that he made a call Jan. 11, 2017 to Fox News vice president John Moody, a respected career newsman who retired from Fox in March 2018 after a controversy over a Winter Olympics column.

"John and I made contact in July of 2016," Papadopoulos said. "He was interested in the campaign. We stayed in touch, we met in his office two or three times, had some phone calls. And apparently, we had a phone call of some nature in early January, before the FBI interviewed me, I think, at the end of January, where they're listening in on this phone call of mine with an American, another American."

A spokeswoman for Fox News did not immediately respond Thursday to an emailed request for comment.

Papadopoulos said he has been led to believe the FBI never got a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) or other warrant to listen in on his phone calls and thus doesn't know what legal authority agents would have had to listen in to a call like the one with Moody.

He said it is among many questions that all Americans should demand answers to in the aftermath of the discredited FBI investigation. He said he does not want to see future presidents or their advisers investigated inappropriately

A former FBI lawyer has pled guilty to falsifying evidence in the Russia case, and several other current and former bureau employees are under investigation by Special Counsel John Durham.  

"I think, looking back at the situation and not fully comprehending what was going on around me until these files were declassified, it's best that all Americans both on the left, the center and the right should never be applauding or happy that unlawful surveillance and abuses [were] created against your fellow Americans," he said.

"That could happen to Democrats in 2022, or 2024," he continued. "And moving forward, we cannot allow the U.S. intelligence community to run amok to obtain surveillance … to wiretap and to essentially manufacture hoaxes to undermine and sabotage rival presidential campaigns."

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in 2017 to a single count of making a false statement to the FBI and was sentenced to 14 days in jail. He said he had no inkling Trump was considering pardoning him and was watching TV when news of his clemency broke earlier this week.

"I had absolutely no idea that the president was going to pardon me, I specifically stayed out of the pardon process because I never wanted my situation to be viewed as a so called political favor that might be used by the left against the president," he said.

In retrospect, Papadopoulos said, he now marvels that he was investigated for colluding with Russia, given that he never set foot in the country and most of the evidence used to justify the investigation came from London, like Christopher Steele's dossier, and other Western countries far from Moscow.

"Russians don't seem to exist in this story," he said. "Everybody who is in this story seems to be connected to either private Western intelligence firms or Western governments with high-level connections to the U.S. intelligence agencies."

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