Papadopoulos Spoke Freely with Source 3
These excerpts make clear that the Crossfire Hurricane team uniformly viewed Papadopoulos’s denials to Halper as contrived. In contrast, the IG report makes no mention whatsoever of Crossfire Hurricane team members viewing Papadopoulos’s denials to Source 3 on Oct. 31, 2016, as being similarly suspect. None.
This is where the declassified transcript of Papadopoulos’s conversation proves essential. From the IG report, his conversations with Halper and Source 3 seemed very similar. But the recently declassified transcript reveals a much different relationship between Papadopoulos and Source 3 — and a much different conversation.
Papadopoulos spoke with Source 3 for more than four hours during lunch and at a casino. Papadopoulos shared with Source 3 everything from his views on millennials — they were lazy — to his disdain for condoms. The conversation was friendly and uninhibited. In the midst of these off-the-cuff and cordial exchanges, Papadopoulos chatted with Source 3 about politics, the DNC hack, and Russia.
When Source 3 asked Papadopoulos whether he thought “Russia’s playing a big game in this election,” Papadopoulos said, “That’s all bullsh-t,” adding, “No one knows who’s hacking [the DNC]. … Could be the Chinese, could be the Iranians, it could be some Bernie … supporters.” Papadopoulos said the arguments about Russians are “all … conspiracy theories,” and he knew “‘for a fact’ that no one from the Trump campaign had anything to do with releasing emails from the DNC, because Papadopoulos said he had ‘been working with them for the last nine months. … And all of this stuff has been happening, what, the last four months?’”
Significantly, Papadopoulos told Source 3 that Halper had asked him the same questions and “he believed [Halper] was going to go and tell the CIA or something if I’d have told him something else. I assume that’s why he was asking. And I told him, absolutely not. … [I]t’s illegal, you know, to do that.”
That Papadopoulos told Source 3 he thought Halper was working for the CIA seems a pretty good indication he didn’t have the same qualms about Source 3. Papadopoulos’s insulting commentary on congressmen — “Do you know how many Members of Congress I’ve met that know jack … about anything? Except what their advisors tell them? … They can barely put a sentence together. … I’m talking about Members of Congress dude” — and his braggadocio about making himself a “brand” and monetizing his connections also suggest he had no idea Source 3 was wired.
Something Doesn’t Add Up
So why didn’t the Crossfire Hurricane team members consider the possibility that Papadopoulos’s denials to Source 3 were legitimate? Arguably, the team had a solid basis for discounting his denials to Halper, but the transcript of Papadopoulos’s conversation with Source 3 reveals those same justifications don’t hold. This point goes well beyond FISA abuse and calls into question the entire Crossfire Hurricane investigation: Why was it started, and why did it continue?
And why didn’t the IG report discuss how the Crossfire Hurricane team viewed Papadopoulos’s denials to Source 3? After extensively discussing the reaction of team members to Papadopoulos’s denials to Halper, the IG report is virtually silent on the impact of his continued denials.
The report merely notes that Pientka “received a document with these Papadopoulos statements included in it a few days after the October 2016 meeting,” and that Pientka told the IG that “he was familiar with this CHS meeting at the time and probably reviewed the summary of the interview containing these statements.” Yet when asked why he had not shared the statements with the Office of Intelligence or included it in the FISA renewal applications, Pientka said he “did not recall” but “the information would not have been purposely withheld … but it may have been accidentally omitted.”
The more significant query is why didn’t these denials give the Crossfire Hurricane team pause before it continued its investigation into Donald Trump? Barr is right: this doesn’t smell like a mere mistake.