George Papadopoulos on his long, strange path through the Russia investigation

George Papadopoulos sat down for an interview with Austen Fletcher yesterday to tell his story and also promote his just-released book. As we’ve all been told many times by now, the start of the Trump-Russia investigation was Papadopoulos telling an Australian diplomat that Russia was in possession of damaging information on Hillary Clinton. The Australians related that back to the FBI and the hunt for collusion was off to the races. But according to Papadopoulos, the whole series of events of how he came to hear about the emails and how he met with the Australian diplomat, Alexander Downer, seemed like a rather odd set up almost from the start.

Shortly after Papadopoulos was told by Joseph Mifsud that Russia had information on Hillary Clinton, Downer contacted Papadopoulos out of the blue, apparently to rebuke him for an interview which had appeared in the Times of London a few days earlier. In that interview, Papadopoulos had said that UK Prime Minister David Cameron should retract and apologize for some negative comments about Donald Trump. When Papadopoulos met with Downer, he says the Australian immediately told him to leave David Cameron alone and to tell his boss (meaning Trump) to never talk about Cameron again.

Papadopoulos says at that point, Downer took out his phone and began quizzing him while also apparently recording him with his phone. “I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone,” Papadopoulos said of the experience. “He was so overt about it and I was so uncomfortable,” he added.

Papadopoulos says that months later when he was being interviewed by Mueller and some of his investigators that he told them he believed Downer was recording him. One of Mueller’s investigators, Andrew Goldstein, asked how he knew, suggesting to Papadopoulos that perhaps this was supposed to be some sort of secret. Papadopoulos says he demonstrated what Downer had been doing with his phone during the meeting.

“Flash forward, I get this bizarre story in the NY Times about Downer and after that I’m testifying to Congress in October of 2018,” Papadopoulos said. He continued, “Why is this important? Because Mark Meadows…is asking me a couple of questions like this: ‘Did you have any inclination that you were being recorded in any of your meetings?’…And two, ‘Were you ever presented with any transcripts of your meetings with people like Joseph Mifsud, Alexander Downer or Stephan Halper?’ And I was like, no, what are you talking about, basically. And I said the only thing I remember was Alexander Downer and Stephan Halper playing with their phones and I think they were recording me.”

You can read the transcript of Papadopoulos’ congressional testimony here (start around page 36). He did indeed describe the meeting with Downer in this way and said that he’d told investigators the same thing nearly a year earlier

Papadopoulos isn’t shy about what he thinks this all means. He describes it as an attempted coup and an attempt to subvert a duly-elected president. Here’s the interview with Papadopolous. It’s certainly a very different spin on events than most of what we’ve been hearing for the past two years.