(CNSNews.com) - In his closed-door testimony with congressional investigators last October, George Papadolpoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, said Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team never asked him about his contact with Stefan Halper, a Cambridge University professor who worked as an FBI informant.
Halper's name returned to the headlines on Thursday, when the New York Times published a report on Papadopoulos's contact with Halper and his "research assistant," a young woman named Azra Turk, who met with Papadopoulos, ostensibly to discuss foreign policy issues.
But according to the New York Times, Turk "was actually a (U.S.) government investigator posing as a research assistant, according to people familiar with the operation. The F.B.I. sent her to London as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to better understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia."
Papadopoulos described his encounter with Halper and his "research assistant" Azra Turk both in his October testimony and most recently, last night on Tucker Carlson's show:
"So briefly describe your experience with the woman you believe was sent to spy on the Trump campaign by the Obama administration," Carlson told Papadopoulos, who responded:
I received an unsolicited email in September of 2016 from a man named Stefan Halper, who was suggesting that he wanted to pay me $3,000 to write a report on energy security questions, that I was a recognized expert on at the time, in Israel, Turkey and Cyprus.
And I looked him up -- I'd never heard of him before. I just saw that he had worked in four U.S. administrations and he was a professor at Cambridge. So I accepted his offer. He flew me to London where he paid for my five-star hotel and flights. He said before I meet with you, I need you to meet my assistant. And he put this assistant in an email chain along with me, and I saw her name was Azra Turk, and I recognized it as Turkish, which was suspicious right away because my policy positions throughout my entire career were very hostile to Turkey. So When I noticed a Turkish name I didn't understand why she'd be involved.
But anyways, I went and I met with her, and she was very suggestive, as you can understand -- younger, you know, very flirtatious. And I right away understood that this wasn't a Cambridge assistant, and you know, she barely spoke English. She was very flirty and she was trying to do two things -- one, to extract information about my professional connections in the Middle East; and two, to see if I had any information that she could potentially extract from me about Trump and Russia, which of course is nonsense.
So anyways, after I met with her, she then is introduced to me again the next day with Stefan Halper, where she goes from this suggestive young lady to now pouring us coffee.
According to Papadopoulos, Halper was "very belligerent" at that meeting. He says Halper invited Papadopoulos "to basically castigate me about my policy positions," which were hostile to Turkey.
Azra Turk later took Papadopoulos to dinner "and was just basically trying to extract information," Papadopoulos told Carlson. "I was very suspicious. And you know, from that moment, I knew there was something wrong, and I was laughing about it. But now, of course, "The New York Times" reported that she was some sort of agent but I don't think she was FBI, I think she was CIA."
(For the record, former CIA Director John Brennan is a fierce and outspoken critic of Donald Trump.)
Carlson noted that Turk "was dispatched by the Obama administration" to "spy on the Trump campaign. Am I missing something? Is that what happened?" he asked.
"That is absolutely what happened," Papadopoulos said. "And I want to make something very clear here. I don't think President Trump was tweeting about U.K. interference out of the blue for no reason last week, because let me explain why.
"The day I met with Stefan Halper and Azra Turk in London, I was invited by the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs to meet with them at their offices, including with Tobias Ellwood who was the number two at the time under Boris Johnson.
"So clearly when The New York Times suggested in their reporting today that the British were told of this operation, I believe the British actually were actively spying on me as well, and I think part of what President Trump was tweeting last week about the British spying was about this involvement in this operation in London. So I guess we have a lot more to find out."
The president last week tweeted a line from One America News Network (OANN), as follows:
"Former CIA analyst Larry Johnson accuses United Kingdom Intelligence of helping Obama Administration Spy on the 2016 Trump Presidential Campaign." @OANN WOW! It is now just a question of time before the truth comes out, and when it does, it will be a beauty!
The New York Times on Thursday reported on Papadopoulos's conversation with Azra Turk in a London Bar in September 2016, saying it "took a strange turn" when Turk asked him, "Was the Trump campaign working for Russia?"
According to the newspaper:
The woman had set up the meeting to discuss foreign policy issues. But she was actually a government investigator posing as a research assistant, according to people familiar with the operation. The F.B.I. sent her to London as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to better understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.
The American government’s affiliation with the woman, who said her name was Azra Turk, is one previously unreported detail of an operation that has become a political flash point in the face of accusations by President Trump and his allies that American law enforcement and intelligence officials spied on his campaign to undermine his electoral chances. Last year, he called it “spygate.”
The decision to use Ms. Turk in the operation aimed at a presidential campaign official shows the level of alarm inside the F.B.I. during a frantic period when the bureau was trying to determine the scope of Russia’s attempts to disrupt the 2016 election, but could also give ammunition to Mr. Trump and his allies for their spying claims.
Ms. Turk went to London to help oversee the politically sensitive operation, working alongside a longtime informant, the Cambridge professor Stefan A. Halper. The move was a sign that the bureau wanted in place a trained investigator for a layer of oversight, as well as someone who could gather information for or serve as a credible witness in any potential prosecution that emerged from the case.
Attorney General William Barr has promised to look into "spying" on the Trump campaign, a topic that is rarely mentioned in the liberal media, until now, apparently, when Barr and the Justice Department inspector general are looking into it.
One final note from Papadopoulos's October testimony, where he explained that he was paid $3,000 by Halper (direct deposit) to show up in London.
Here is his exchange with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) from Oct. 25, 2018:
Mr. Meadows. You did get paid. So when you were talking to the special prosecutor, and you were going over all of this information about your conversations with Mr. Halper, what kind of questions did the special prosecutor ask you about it?
Mr. Papadopoulos. Actually, to the best of my recollection, they never brought up Stefan Halper one time.
Mr. Meadows. Hold on. So you're telling me that you have substantial conversations in London with Stefan Halper and you get paid, and the special prosecutor never brought it up?
Mr. Papadopoulos. To the best of my recollection, I don't think they ever brought up the name Stefan Halper and neither did I in my -- any interaction I had with the FBI or the special prosecutor.
Mr. Meadows. Well, then, let me ask you another question then. If they didn't bring that up and you had other substantial contacts with other foreign individuals, what other individuals did you have contact with that you found them curiously not interested in, or were there?
Mr. Papadopoulos. Foreign contacts, or Americans, or both?
Mr. Meadows. Both. I mean, obviously if the special prosecutor is trying to get to the truth and you're having substantial conversations with Stefan Halper and they don't ask any questions about it, I find that curious. Do you find that curious?
Mr. Papadopoulos. Now I do.