Mark Steyn Club members can enjoy The Mark Steyn Show in whatever form they wish - video, audio or text. For the audio version of part one of Mark's interview with George Papadopoulos, simply click above. If you prefer the printed version, the transcript follows below.
Mark: Hey welcome along and my guest today is the author of the book, Deep State Target, the subtitle's worth reading too: How I got caught in the crosshairs of the plot to bring down President Trump.
And if you watch a lot of the media, read a lot of the big mainstream newspapers you'll be thinking "Hey that's crazy talk." And what makes this book such a great read is because most of us would think that was just crazy talk until the slow dawning realization that we're in the middle of a terrible setup.
My guest today is the man who was at the center of that setup, George Papadopoulos. George is an ex-convict; he's actually served time in jail for a phony baloney non-crime, the crime of misremembering to the FBI, which in fact should not exist as any crime at all. When they can't get you on anything they get you on misremembering and as a result George went to jail for a fortnight but he got two days off for good behavior so he was out in 12 days and we are thrilled to have him with us.
George I'd like to ask you because basically it's because of your involvement with the Trump campaign that all this happened to you and you were very unusual because you were working at a Washington think tank and you saw Donald Trump come down that escalator at Trump Tower in June 2015 and unlike a lot a swamp dwellers you were pro-Trump from that first appearance, correct?
George Papadopoulos: That's absolutely correct. I was working at the Hudson Institute from 2011 to 2015 as a research associate with swamp creatures like Doug Feith and proxy Scooter Libby who obviously were running the White House and the Pentagon under three administrations before Obama and by 2015, by the summer of 2015 obviously we were in the middle of a presidential campaign season and I was reviewing all the candidates and I saw one candidate with a clear, concise, coherent message that none other candidate really had and it was about trade, immigration, security, trade, immigration, security, trade, immigration, security. Tangible concepts that people can grasp onto and which affect everybody's wallets and livelihoods, and when I would hear people like Marco Rubio, who I think is an articulate person and Jeb Bush talk about the United States as the shining a light on a hill, you know that's fine when the economy is booming, when ISIS isn't out rampaging through the Middle East, when immigration's not unfettered the way it was in 2015 but that's not what was happening. We were in the middle of you know probably an existential threat in this country that Obama was not dealing with because of these three economic and security issues that I just detailed and I remember I told my colleagues at the Hudson Institute, "I think I'm gonna leave and I'm going to either join a campaign I'm gonna move to Europe," where I had my fiancĂ©e at the time and I was going to join an energy consulting group but would you recommend I join the Trump campaign? And they said are you crazy? What are you talking about? You're 28, I think I was 28 at the time, maybe just 27, you have excellent connections, why don't we get you involved with Jeb Bush or one of these guys, you know just get your feet wet. I'll never forget that one, "get your feet wet, have a good time" and then you know just keep going on the trajectory that you're on and I just was tired of it. I had enough, I felt that I achieved what I wanted in Washington from that establishment viewpoints and I wanted to join one of these renegade campaigns but not only because I thought they were renegade but because I thought he was going to win.
George Papadopoulos: And you know people don't believe me until they actually see some emails I was sending Corey Lewandowski in June of 2015 where I was telling him I think you have a winner here and I want to join your campaign and Corey then responds to me let's keep in touch, we're not expanding and just based on this question I predicted Trump would be president but he would have chosen Marco Rubio as his VP, so I was right on one, wrong on the other.
Mark: Well you have a cute way of putting it because you say that you looked on Trump as a stock and the trick with a winning stock is to buy low so from day one virtually you were bombarding Corey Lewandowski because they I think they had two people on the team then, Hope Hicks and Corey.
George Papadopoulos: That's absolutely right.
Mark: You were basically bombarding them hoping that if they expanded the team you'd be on that.
George Papadopoulos: Yes.
Mark: What's fascinating to me is that unlike most people involved in presidential campaigns you were actually overseas for much of the political season, largely based in London. And yet oddly enough London and Cambridge and parts of southern England, as detailed in what happened to you, seem to have been where the national security state in Washington outsourced the campaign to get Trump. In other words you're in London and you keep getting invitations to meet prominent persons in the United Kingdom. And if you read your book the view is that in some sense, somebody in Washington outsourced the campaign to tie up Trump and Putin together to their cousins in MI6 and when you say that initially it sounds like crazy but you were there and is that what you think actually happened?
George Papadopoulos: That's absolutely what I think happened and it's I think it's very important for the viewers to understand what the time was in the saga that I was involved in. In November of 2015 I was living in London and I was working as an energy consultant and I was attending very high level energy conferences with State Department officials in London, Israeli officials, Cypriot officials, Turkish officials, regarding a very sensitive energy security matter that I was dealing on throughout my career and that was a basically Israeli discoveries of offshore natural gas. And it was in November of 2015 when I reached out and join the Ben Carson campaign that I had the first overture by what I believe was the CIA. This individual named David Kovitch, who was...to this day he directs the energy bureau at the London embassy of the U.S. and he reached out to me, I'd like to meet with you, why don't you come to the embassy here and he says why are you joining the Carson campaign? What you what are your ideas? So right away I understood by November of 2015 there were eyes on me in London by American officials, so I joined Ben Carson's campaign, I fly from London, I join Carson we're in Alexandria I think in January for three or four months until he drops out, so now we're in January of 2016 or February, early February. I go back to London where I'm joining this organization named the London Center for International Law Practice. I leave this energy consulting gig and I become a director at this company, which unbeknownst to me at the time was very well connected to MI6, so western governments, western intelligence officials, the FBI and prominent lawyers.
Mark: Just give us the name of that again. London Center for?
George Papadopoulos: London Center for International Law Practice.
Mark: But it doesn't actually seem to practice any law that so called law practice, does it?
George Papadopoulos: No. And why it's so important an element to my story because they reached out to me in November of 2015 along with this David Kovitch from the US embassy and as I'm joining the Ben Carson campaign so I go to their office and they appoint me a director within 48 hours, some sort of cover front position just to get me in the room or to basically analyze who my connections were in Europe and the United States. I join them for three weeks then as I stated I go to the U.S., join Ben Carson and then I go back to London and they say would you like to work with us again? I said sure I'd come back and become a director again, this nominal position where I'm meeting you know Saudi Aramco officials, very high level, the Financial Times I remember was reaching out to me meeting with me, Ed Butler I believe his name is, he's one of the top correspondents from for the energy use department in the Financial Times and it was a very swanky type of crowd but I never understood what I was doing, because it didn't practice law and why is this place so important? Because when Donald Trump's campaign finally told me they're expanding after eight months of back and forth between myself and Corey Lewandowski I told him I am in London but I'd like to come back to United States and I notified my colleagues at this organization in London I'm leaving and they were furious, furious. And it was at that point, when I was introduced for the first time to a woman named Arvinder Sambei. And this woman is very important. I was taken by my hand basically, by another director, this individual named Nagi Idris to an office which was adjacent to our office and he said this woman, Arvinder Sambei and her colleague Martin Polaine, if you simply Google these people you'll see they're connected to MI6, the FBI and even the Australian intelligence services.
Mark: Yeah, yeah.
George Papadopoulos: And she said, "Oh you're Papadopoulos and I understand you're joining the Donald Trump campaign. It's sad that you're leaving us but before you go you should come with us to Rome on a business trip because we have very important officials there for you to meet and they're probably going to help you on the Donald Trump campaign." So this organization, this woman Arvinder Sambei...
Mark: Now she's officially a QC, a barrister in London, something like that isn't she?
George Papadopoulos: She is--I don't know her official title but I know that she worked with Bob Mueller directly after 9/11 on terrorism cases...
George Papadopoulos: And she ended up introducing Alison Saunders, who was the equivalent of the deputy Attorney General of the UK, to Bruce Ohr at this infamous dinner of the Ohrs which is currently under investigation by Congress...
George Papadopoulos: And she also just happened to be the individual who encouraged me to go to Rome, where I met with a man who probably changed my life forever, Joseph Mifsud, who had a CIA, FBI spy school named Link Campus.
Mark: Now let's talk about him, Joseph Mifsud because one of the funny things about the way you're being set up... you're a guy...at that time you're in your late twenties, most of your adult life had been with the Hudson Institute just in a, you know, not terribly prominent position. You fly to London and you suddenly find you're the most in demand guy in town. And what's so striking about this so-called whatever's going on here...there's a lot of British subjects involved in it. Joseph Mifsud who is Maltese, Alexander Downer who counts as Australian. And on the face of it it seems that there's a fairly elaborate operation...in other words at some point someone in Washington decided they were going to go backdoor their way into the Trump campaign by using sort of semi spook or full spook connections they had in the world of MI6. Why on Earth would they take that decision that early in the campaign, as it were?
George Papadopoulos: That's very interesting. Well probably for a couple reasons. One I was living in London so it was obviously much easier to spy on an American outside of the U. S. jurisdiction and as you stated you outsource intelligence. I was clearly known already to various intelligence groups by that point because I did have extremely high connections in the Middle East and in the energy sector in Israel and Cyprus and for many people, maybe you would understand this, you would appreciate it, when you're on a first name basis with the president of Cyprus, as I was, and dealing with a very sensitive matter regarding the energy collaboration between Cyprus and Israel at a moment when the Israeli relationship with Turkey collapsed. MI6 and...which has a very keen interest in promoting and keeping their bases on Cyprus.
Mark: Oh no yeah that's a big...
George Papadopoulos: That for me would be the two reasons why the British and the MI6 would be interested in learning more about me um...
Mark: But I suppose what I'm asking is that...Rush Limbaugh, for example, I think Rush was the first to make this point. Rush suggested that you were the mark and it's easier to nail the mark when he's in a foreign town, because on your home turf...you grew up in Chicago. If you were in Chicago and you got a call from the governor of Illinois saying he wanted to have dinner with you and then two days later the Attorney General of the United States said he wanted to have dinner with you and then and then the Secretary of State wanted to have cocktails with you, you're on your home turf in Chicago and you'd think something weird is going on...
George Papadopoulos: Absolutely yeah.
Mark: When you're not on your home turf, when you're thousands of miles away in a foreign capital it takes you a while to figure out something strange is happening.
George Papadopoulos: That makes sense and I agree with you and of course that's why I mention because I was in London it was much easier to create this spying operation against me. And when I met Mifsud actually for the first time after this organization encouraged me to go to Rome, I met Mifsud, just to be clear, at a camp...at a school named Link Campus, which is a CIA, FBI training ground, which David Ignatius of The Washington Post has written extensively about and he himself attended a CIA symposium at the university in 2004. So a lot of the characters involved in Spygate actually were affiliated with Link Campus, including Michael Gaeta, who currently is under investigation by Horowitz. He was the FBI's liaison in Rome. Steele, Mifsud, London Center for International Law Practice, FBI, CIA, Italian intelligence, MI6. They all were affiliated at this campus and George Papadopoulos was just encouraged to go to the school, which just recently and this is why it's such a pleasure to be talking you to you right now. My wife is Italian...
George Papadopoulos: And she was working...she worked at the European Parliament for seven years and up and she has family members who are high level Italian officials to this day, and she reads the Italian news and she has contacts in Italy, they're letting her know what's going on, and what the new information is that came out recently about Mifsud, my introduction to him are two very fascinating points. The first is that Vincenzo Scotti, the former Italian foreign minister, who was also a rector at this university; he introduced me to Mifsud, so right away you can understand that this was no ordinary passing off to somebody. And the second is that Mifsud's lawyer, last week, in front of the Italian media stated that Mifsud was forced to introduce George Papadopoulos to imaginary Russians and create this bizarre scenario that we found ourselves in moving forward. So from the beginning it looks like this was an entrapment operation designed and probably coordinated by either British intelligence or the FBI using the Italians initially.
Mark: Well let's break that down a bit as to how they got you because Joseph Mifsud, he's a Maltese fellow who I think got a degree as you point out in your book got a degree in education at Queen's University Belfast and yet has somehow wound up as an incredibly well connected person. The rap on you, if you ask people on MSNBC, they say this Mifsud guy has all these ties to Russia. In fact there's not a lot of evidence of any ties to Russia but there is actually quite a lot of evidence about ties to the CIA and MI6 with him.
George Papadopoulos: Well that's why Devin Nunes' letter that he sent I think two days ago to the head of the CIA, the DIA, the State Departments and Secretary Pompeo, where he wrote exclusively about Joseph Mifsud and he said why did Bob Mueller characterize Joseph Mifsud as a Russian cut out when in exhibit A, B, C, and he showed pictures, Joseph Mifsud here is with Claire Smith...
George Papadopoulos: And Claire Smith was, I think, the head of intelligence at MI6...
Mark: I think she's the number two or number three there.
George Papadopoulos: The number two where they were teaching a course together at Link Campus. Here's Joseph Mifsud at a State Department conference in February of 2017 and here's Joseph Mifsud in Saudi Arabia on a panel with Ash Carter, the former secretary of defense under Barack Obama. So where's the Russian connection? And if he is indeed a Russian agent then unfortunately I think we need to do a deep dive into what damage he might have caused to our intelligence services because he infiltrated them so...
Mark: Yeah well what I find odd is that you meeting Mifsud is proof that you and Trump are assets of Putin whereas the number three person at MI6 meeting Mifsud, or the U. S. secretary of defense meeting Mifsud, or what I believe is the last known photographs of Mifsud, which is he's standing next to my old friend Boris Johnson, who was the UK Foreign Secretary at the time and they're all palsy walsy and since that photograph, I don't believe Joseph Mifsud has been photographed, he's officially vanished from human existence. Why if it's so disturbing to Robert Mueller that you've met Joseph Mifsud, is it not disturbing that Ash Carter and Boris Johnson have met Joseph Mifsud?
George Papadopoulos: As I stated he must have infiltrated the upper echelons of Western intelligence services, the CIA and MI6 and he duped everyone, I guess, because he clearly duped Boris Johnson and Claire Smith and Ash Carter and but unfortunately their ties to him didn't mean anything, they weren't indicted...
Mark: No they weren't your cellmates in Illinois.
George Papadopoulos: My cellmates in Wisconsin.
George Papadopoulos: But I ended up being indicted because I misremembered when I met this asset.
Mark: Right, right.
George Papadopoulos: Which is absurd.
Mark: Well as I said I go back a long way with Boris Johnson and I can assure you that if the FBI ever interviewed Boris Johnson about when he first met Joseph Mifsud 90 percent certainty Boris would give them the wrong answer to that. Now the other thing I'm...as I said so you're suddenly...and nothing is quite casual enough to be casual, like the first time you meet Mifsud as you tell it and there's a sort of casual thing about whether you should get together for a drink or dinner or whatever and he goes okay how about tonight? In other words they seem anxious to nail down this relationship between you and him.
George Papadopoulos: Very anxious and fortunately now we have new information of why they were so anxious because he was taking direct orders, according to his lawyer, this individual name Stephen Roh, he's a prominent Swiss attorney who was representing him or he was some sort of colleague of his, where he's gone public in an Italian newspaper named Il Foglio and he stated that Vincenzo Scotti, the former Italian foreign minister, told him to take care of George Papadopoulos while he was in Rome. So clearly the Italians weren't operating on their own, I'm an American.
George Papadopoulos: The Italians are not going to try and do something strange, an American citizen obviously affiliated with a presidential campaign, so they were taking orders from somebody and I believe those orders were coming from the British or the Americans themselves. And as you stated, Mifsud was keen on meeting me very quickly in Rome, getting to know me to probe me and I explain in the book what types of questions he was asking me, about my religion, if I've sensitivities to the bombings in Serbia. These were very strange questions you don't ask people the first time you encounter...
Mark: The religion thing is interesting to me because you have a Greek name, a Greek background and so he's sort of making the assumption that you're Greek Orthodox and with a view to kind of establishing a narrative that that makes you sympathetic to the Russian Orthodox Church. That's basically how they're trying to set this up.
George Papadopoulos: They're trying to do that and you know they're just looking into everything, trying to see if I have any sympathies whatsoever and at that moment, as I explained in the book, Donald Trump was very vocal about wanting to have some sort of meeting or working relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia. So I as a foreign policy adviser with absolutely zero contacts in Russia, let alone a government official, Joseph Mifsud out of the blue becomes my star light, my darling, who says I can connect you to the Russians. The one man I meet at the CIA school in Rome decides he's going to be the middle man between myself, Trump and the Russians.
George Papadopoulos: And then of course the subsequent meetings I had with him in London, where he introduces me to the imaginary fake niece of Vladimir Putin.
Mark: Yes he very yeah sportingly introduces you to the niece of President Putin, who turns out to be no such...now tell us about...because this is...one always suspects that the CIA are not as good at...because the historic record is not favorable to them, they miss everything, they missed the end of the Cold War, they missed the Russians going into Afghanistan, they missed the nuclearization of Pakistan. They miss everything. So in a sense it kind of confirms one's biases against them that they get some guy to set you up and he basically sits you next to some dolly bird he's trying to pass off as Putin's niece. Did you ever believe she was Vladimir Putin's niece?
George Papadopoulos: Here's where it was very...initially when he said that I didn't believe him but here's why this is...why I'm even more suspicious of the company the London Center for International Law Practice. Because I went to the company, the director, Nagi Idris and I said this guy Mifsud wants to meet with me again and he's telling he has the niece of Vladimir Putin he wants to introduce me to. Who is this guy? Is this legitimate and the company said, yes it's her, and yes he's connected to the family. So this company was in on whatever this operation scam was because I assumed they vetted whoever Mifsud and this person was I was meeting, because of course you know you're not gonna go on a random meeting with somebody that you just met in Rome unless he's vetted, especially in the work I was doing and I expected my company to have done that. So I go to this meeting, and as I stated in the book, it's a beautiful young girl the professors...we'll get to the other professor who introduces me to beautiful women, sit down very beautiful girl and she's barely speaks English and Mifsud says this is going to be your key woman, she's going to introduce you to the world and she's already contacted the Russian ambassador and he knows all about you and he wants to meet you next week. So I was thinking okay this is very interesting. I have no Russian connections, no Russia contacts; I'm a foreign policy adviser on this campaign. Trump wants to work with the Russians and now I'm meeting with somebody who was telling me the Russian ambassador wants to meet with me as well very soon. So I was buying it initially until I started to have these very suspicious encounters moving forward by Western intelligence organizations, including the Australians for the first time, and I could get into the last meeting I had with Mifsud in April where he tells me the information that he did that...
Mark: Well there's a pattern to them because you keep get...essentially a certain proportion of your life becomes taken over by being invited to have cocktails with prominent middle aged men who all have some little hottie to sit next to you. It becomes a pattern. And I'd like I'd like to ask you about another old friend of mine who surfaces in this story, Alexander Downer, who was the foreign minister Down Under for many years. This is me this is a photograph of me with Alexander Downer, that's Alexander Downer I think that's the far right as you're looking for it and me in the middle and George in his book describes Alexander Downer as looking rather like Elvis Costello. I don't particularly see it but that's Alexander Downer with me Down Under and then he retires as foreign minister and he becomes Australian High Commissioner in London. And you're about the only American on the planet who actually knows what a High Commissioner is because it's not a term that's used in the U. S. but it's essentially...because there's not a lot of friction between London and Canberra it's essentially a ceremonial post, you're ex officio on the board of the Imperial War Museum in London, the Queen sends a coach and four horses to bring you to the palace as opposed to a coach and two horses which the American ambassador has to make do with, you get to the Cenotaph and lay a wreath on Remembrance Day and yet the Alexander Downer you meet is aggressively partisan and political from the moment you arrive in that west London bar. And I'll add one more about Alexander. As I said it's essentially a ceremonial position in London in many respects and it's quite a grand one. He gets to go to Buckingham Palace to give the Duke of Edinburgh his Australian knighthood and all the rest of it. And yet...and it's a place where he's very well connected, he spent much of his boyhood there where his dad, Sir Alexander Downer, was the High Commissioner in the sixties and seventies. So he's a big guy in that circuit and yet out of the blue the Australian High Commissioner wants to meet you. How does that happen?
George Papadopoulos: That's a great question. By mid-April...so let's look at the timeline. Mid-March I'm in a CIA-FBI school where I meet Joseph Mifsud for the first time. Late March I'm meeting the fake niece of Vladimir Putin with Joseph Mifsud. By April 15 the Australian government reaches out to me for the first time to meet for drinks and chicken wings actually at a pub I used to attend in Kensington. Not too far actually from where I ended up meeting Downer where I saw this young lady named Erika Thompson, mid-thirties, relatively attractive Australian diplomat.
Mark: Yeah a supposedly sort of mid-level person at Australia House but not someone terribly prominent.
George Papadopoulos: Not terribly prominent. She's probing me a bit but I would laugh about it you know because at the time Trump was this renegade, you know a lot of the headlines around was that he was kind of this mad man who was not going to win, so I didn't think too much of it when she was telling me that Australia views him as a pariah and that if you...
Mark: Now did she actually say that?
George Papadopoulos: She did say that.
Mark: And did she represent that to you as her view, as just a low level person and mid-level person at Australia House or as the view of the Australian government?
George Papadopoulos: Well she was an Australian government employee meeting with an American who is affiliated with the presidential campaign, I assume she was speaking on behalf of the government, especially during a first meeting where we're not friendly, I don't her, she doesn't know me. So there's no reason for her to be talking about her own personal opinion considering we weren't friends. So I took it as...I chuckled at it and thought it was tongue in cheek and she was being a bit facetious. I didn't think too much about it until 10 days after this initial meeting with the Australians with Erika Thompson, Joseph Mifsud at a 5 star hotel, in front of probably 50 people at a dining hall, decides to tell me in an open space, "Hey George I just came back from Russia and you know what I learned? That the Russians have Hillary Clinton's emails." And I said what do you mean, Joseph? He said they told me--he was pointing at himself--I never heard who, when, how, except that the Russians have thousands of Hillary Clinton's emails. I also never heard the word Podesta or DNC. So what I thought was happening there was that this person was validating a rumor which had been circulating in Europe that Clinton's private...her State Department emails might have been hacked and that this person was validating a rumor that other people were openly speculating about. I didn't know what to think because by the time that he told me this information he introduced me to no one.
Mark: Let me just stop here because you seem, certainly from the first part of the book to be a serious think tank wonky kind of guy on a particular corner of geopolitical affairs, which is basically the eastern Mediterranean, you're very interested in Cyprus, Israel, Turkey. So you're not one of these kind of gossipy Congressional staffers who likes all the sort of low brow stuff, you're very much into big geopolitical eastern Mediterranean thing, so I take it you weren't terribly interested in Hillary's emails and her server and that kind of thing.
George Papadopoulos: It was unsolicited. I had no idea. It's as if you and I are sitting here and we're having supposedly an interview and I tell you I have a gun in my pocket.
George Papadopoulos: You weren't expecting me to tell you that, of course. You wouldn't sit with me if I told you that and I wouldn't have sat with Joseph Mifsud if he'd told me this information. I wasn't interested in it, I never asked him for it. So I believe he...as part of tradecraft this is known as a dangle operation.
George Papadopoulos: Where you basically throw a bomb....
Mark: Now get can I just ask you that...like tradecraft and dangle operations. I take it until this happened to you didn't know all these spy terms.
George Papadopoulos: Of course not, this is April 2016 and we have no idea there's an active counterintelligence investigation that the CIA, MI6, FBI are zeroing in on Trump and likely other Republican candidates as it was happening and I'm pretty sure that's all going to be revealed as we move forward in the new investigations. So I didn't think anything of it. Of course I had no idea what a dangle operation or any of this and I had no idea he was entrapping me which it seems likely he was doing with all the new evidence we have. So I didn't think anything of it. Like I said I was suspicious because he could never introduce me to anyone of substance in the Russian government or anyone for that matter. The high level connections he introduced me to--the fake niece of Vladimir Putin and a think tank boy analyst in Russia who he introduced me to over email as if I couldn't have done that on my own. So for all his you know bloviating, talking about how he knows the world he introduced me to no one until he gives me this information.
Mark: Because again there's a big trail of him with American and British cabinet ministers but nothing indicating he has any such access in Moscow.
George Papadopoulos: Absolutely, he has no access in Moscow and even Bob Mueller himself and his Dossier I like to call it that--I'm copying Devin Nunes--the Mueller Dossier, not a report because obviously it's made of pure garbage most of it. This person, as you stated, even Mueller himself only wrote that he was supposed to meet some Russian person who was in the past connected with the GRU.
George Papadopoulos: But that meeting never took place but this is a cut out, okay? After Mueller's investigation that was Joseph Mifsud's Russian connection to the hacked emails. Of course that was nonsense so after that I don't think anything of it, you know we finish our 5 star brunch at the Andaz Hotel by Liverpool Street Station where I enjoy it and he leaves, I leave, and that's when the British government from 10 Downing Street calls me on May 1 after I give this interview to the Times of London, where I essentially tell David Cameron, the sitting prime minister, that he should retract the comments that he made about Donald Trump being divisive, stupid, and ignorant regarding his Muslim ban, which the overwhelming majority of Donald Trump's base wanted at the time and quite frankly I think the majority of Americans today don't disagree with his nominal Muslim ban on seven particular countries.
Mark: Well just repeat those words from David Cameron again. David Cameron, who is the prime minister of a friendly--a close ally of the United States--is openly disparaging the man who is likely to be the Republican...because this is early 2016, by which point...throughout the summer, fall, winter everyone's oh no no no this is just rubbish, by the time we get to Iowa and New Hampshire the Trump campaign will have imploded, it's not a serious political campaign. By the time David Cameron said that, it was clear that Trump was gonna be the Republican nominee and it's extraordinary isn't it that friendly governments are openly insulting a major party nominee in the United States?
George Papadopoulos: That was incredible and it was even more fascinating to hear David Cameron state that when you didn't hear any other governments around the world even respond to Donald Trump's purported Muslim ban, the proposal as a candidate, okay? No one else did. And I even made in my Times of London interview the Chinese never even made a statement, the Iranians, nobody, not even a predominantly Muslim country responded. But David Cameron felt in the House of Commons that he had to make these disparaging comments and to stand up for what's right and to fight Donald Trump, which I found very odd. So I of course, during the last question after the beautiful two hour lunch I had with the reporter, Francis Elliot, who was a political editor at the Times in Mayfair he said asked me a last question, so do you think David Cameron should apologize to Donald Trump? And I said he should retract it, it's unbecoming of a sitting prime minister of the UK to make those type of comments whether he agrees or disagrees and of course in the sensationalized manner it was a front page story, "Donald Trump adviser demands apology or you risk the special relationship with America." Of course I never said that but I had Piers Morgan and all these other peopleâ€”BBCâ€”calling me frantically. The campaign called me, you know Sessions was very upset, he wanted to fire me but Hope Hicks told me that Donald Trump liked it so he saved my job. It was an incredible situation but somehow I managed to survive that but I guess I didn't survive my next meeting, which happened after this interview and this is where things--where the meetings become even more strange...Tobias Ellwood 10 Downing Street calls my office at the London Center for International Law Practice and says Tobias Ellwood would like your cell number. He calls me just to get to know me, telling me that he's interested in getting...
Mark: Now he's a foreign office minister.
George Papadopoulos: He was the number two under Boris Johnson. I think he was in the running to be the minister of defense of the UK, so not a low level functionary meeting with a random advisor possibly in London. So he called me and I was pleased and he said I'd like to meet with you and two days after he calls me I'm approached by two gentlemen from the US embassy name named Gregory Baker and Terrence Dudley who emailed me out of the blue. How they had my email I have no idea. These are DIA officials. Terrence Dudley currently still works at the US embassy in London and Gregory Baker I think is in the private sector and they reach out to me and they say can we meet with you? And I said of course I have no issue talking with my American colleagues and immediately upon meeting these people, on May 4 or May 5 they start to talk to me...one talks to me in Greek and the other one tells me that he completed his thesis at Tufts on the energy sector in the Caucasus and why my background is very interesting. So they were interested in a professional point of view on me and then they wanted to know about Trump in Russia, so there was a two pronged attack on me by these two sitting DIA officials. And they were wining me, they dined, they must have of spent the equivalent of $1000 on me over four dinners in London.
George Papadopoulos: So I didn't think too much of it, I felt I was having friendly conversations with U.S. officials. I had no idea that these people were likely spying on me and they're currently under investigation today by Congress. So after this sequence of events, Erika Thompson, the Australian official I met in April, contacts me again. "Hey George you know my boss Alexander Downer would love to meet with you. Are you free to have drinks with us?" And I said of course why wouldn't I meet with Alexander Downer. I Google him, I see he's the ambassador, I didn't think too much of him. I go there and as you suggested earlier his behavior was very disturbing and it wasn't the type of behavior I was accustomed to when I dealt...
Mark: Let me let me ask about that because people who...in Australia he was a long serving foreign minister and people some people like him and some people don't like him but even his political opponents would agree that he's gregarious, charming, amusing, affable if you go drinking with Alexander you'll have a laugh. You saw none of that at all. He sort of came in, he opened the door, came in and went in hard on you.
George Papadopoulos: I was expecting to have a wonderful night of a glass of wine at a upscale winery not too far from where I used to live on Bayswater called the Kensington Wine Rooms and I walk I'm sitting down and I see Erika Thompson and Alexander Downer sitting as far apart as you and I are at the table and immediately upon sitting down, how are you Mr. Downer, I'm George, hello George. "I want to let you know that I'm here to tell you two things. You and your boss Donald Trump should leave my good friend David Cameron alone and don't ever talk about him again." So immediately upon sitting down with this individual he begins to castigate me. And it was an experience that I never had before with any diplomat, let alone of an allied government in London as an American citizen working for a rival presidential campaign. And I told him what do you mean bothering your friend David Cameron? He says your quotes upset people here in London and I said my quotes are you know are a response to something David Cameron should not have said. And immediately as I said that's he pulls his phone out like this and I'm going to describe to you how I described it to the FBI, Mueller, and to Congress, okay? He pulls his phone out and he's holding it like this, as conspicuous as this, looking at me with a stern look and I'm sitting as far apart as we are thinking this man is recording me. Or he's spying on me or there's something going on that should not be going on.
Mark: And this is the only reason you don't say are you recording me, is because he's the High Commissioner and he's a big shot and it's...you wouldn't expect it.
George Papadopoulos: It's so it's one of those experiences where you feel you're in the Twilight Zone, where you think you know what's happening but you feel that your mind might be playing games with you. And I didn't want to embarrass him and tell him will you stop doing what you're doing with your phone, because she wasn't texting or looking at his phone...
Mark: No, no.
George Papadopoulos: It was as I just explained to you.
Mark: Well again my memory is of him...I mean I can remember is that he's actually not one of those guys who's permanently checking his texts when you're having a drink with him. The only time I can remember is one time about two...I made a joke that he couldn't...he kept making references to Burkina Faso and I said what are you on about you don't even know who the foreign minister of Burkina Faso is and he got out his Blackberry, which is how long ago this was, he got out his Blackberry and looked up Burkina Faso on the BBC website. So you actually had to ask him a specific question for him to consult his Blackberry, so this idea that he's sitting there talking to you holding this thing up like that is deeply bizarre.
George Papadopoulos: Incredibly bizarre and we were there to talk about everything except the U.S.-Australia relationship.
Mark: Well that's the other thing that's in your account, you would have no idea from the account you give that he is in London to represent the interests of the government of Australia. Australia never arose as far as I can tell in this conversation.
George Papadopoulos: The only thing I remember he stated about his home country of Australia was that the U.S. has a base or looking to have a base on Perth and I remember the name Perth out of his mouth. I have no idea what Perth is I just remembered that.
Mark: It's a big town on the Indian Ocean, in Western Australia.
George Papadopoulos: That's the only thing I remember. We were there to talk about David Cameron, Cyprus, and he told me is that he was the former UN envoy to Cyprus and why my ideas on Cyprus are problematic.
George Papadopoulos: And why I shouldn't be advising individuals on Cyprus and the Middle East the way I was, and Halper did the same thing but we'll get to him later. And I didn't think too much of it, I thought I was having just a cerebral discussion about foreign policy until he became, you know, a little more belligerent when the topic of Hillary Clinton came up and he said, as I stated in my book, oh this Obama, he's an arrogant son of a you know, he's horrible, I can't wait for Clinton to be president. So it was a forgone conclusion in his mind that Clinton would be president and then he would ask me questions about China and his phone would come out again.
George Papadopoulos: I have absolutely no memory whatsoever of me ever talking about Russia with this man, who I felt was not only rude and belligerent but he was recording and spying on me, okay, and then moving forward this individual ends up passing along some information about me suggesting that the Russians have dirt on Hillary Clinton and then this sparks an entire two-year investigation that you know caused possible diplomatic problems now between the U.S. and these foreign governments.
Mark: Well you...he also revealed, did he not, that he had connections to a so-called consulting firm that's full of MI6 guys.
George Papadopoulos: Great I'm glad you stated thatâ€”Hakluyt--and I didn't know what Hakluyt was and he said I'm connected to a group called Hakluyt, we do consulting here in London, we have offices in Washington and he was just making it clear to me, in retrospect, of course at the moment I don't understand quite what was happening, that he was there as an asset to get information from me. He wasn't there to talk to 28-year-old George Papadopoulos as a High Commissioner about the U.S.- Australia relationship, so my belief that he was an asset sent to make contact with me and retrieve whatever information that Joseph Mifsud might have told me or might have not told me, is what I believe this man did.
Mark: Well let's say he was genuinely interested in talking to you about the U. S.-Australia relationship....he's the High Commissioner, as you said you're a 28-year-old man about London, why didn't he just say why don't you pop in to Australia House at 11 o'clock on a Tuesday morning and we can talk about these. It's...there's nothing normal about this encounter and is it your position that in a sense this whole dance is a way of getting you to reveal that you've got Russian ties? The idea is that Mifsud tells you the Russians have got Hillary's emails, you tell the Australian High Commissioner that the Russians have got Hillary's emails and suddenly they've got a Trump campaign official colluding with Russians. Is it...in other words you're being you're being dangled the line. Your job in that Kensington Wine Rooms is simply to recite the line to Downer, Alexander Downer gets it on his telephone.
George Papadopoulos: Yes.
Mark: And then some guy in Washington can say oh you'll never guess what happened, the Australians have just sent us this remarkable cable saying that a Trump campaign person has heard from the Russians and they've got Hillary's emails. The whole thing is a setup designed to make it look as if there's independent corroboration by friendly allies that Trump's working for the Russians.
Mark: And so one casual drink in a rather odd selection of London wine bar was to prove enormously consequential, to the point that the Kensington Wine Rooms has since put up a mock English heritage plaque to commemorate the event.
For both the FBI and Robert Mueller that gin and tonic with Alexander Downer would become what Alfred Hitchcock used to call the MacGuffin, the pretext that justifies everything else in the caper. In this case an unlimited, multimillion dollar, years long investigation into Donald Trump.
In a recent tweet, Alexander Downer characterized speculation about his meeting as "fun." But it wasn't fun at all for George Papadopoulos and his wife, all of which we'll explore in part II.