Chuck Ross, DCNF
- Former Trump aide George Papadopoulos suspects he was targeted in a sting operation by a businessman who he says gave him $10,000 in cash days before he was arrested in July 2017.
- Papadopoulos does not have direct proof that he was part of a sting, but he wants Congress to inspect the currency he was given during a meeting with the businessman.
- The ex-Trump adviser met at least one FBI informant prior to the 2016 election.
George Papadopoulos wants to give Congress $10,000 in cash.
But the offer, which Papadopoulos extended this week, is not a campaign contribution or a bribery attempt. Instead, the former Trump campaign aide wants lawmakers to inspect a stack of $100 bills he was given during a peculiar meeting he had in a hotel room in Israel in July 2017, just days before he was arrested by the FBI.
“I’m actually trying to bring that money back somehow so that Congress can investigate it because I am 100 percent sure those are marked bills, and to see who was actually running this operation against me,” Papadopoulos said in an interview Friday with Dan Bongino.
Papadopoulos made the same offer on Twitter on Wednesday.
“I am more than happy to deliver the $10,000 in cash I received, as part of what I believe was a sting operation to frame me in summer 2017, to your committee to examine for marked bills. This is in the interest of me being fully transparent,” Papadopoulos wrote on Twitter to North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows and Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe.
The two Republicans are members of a congressional task force investigating the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The task force interviewed Papadopoulos on Oct. 25.
Papadopoulos acknowledged in his interview with Bongino that his claims about his encounters with an Israeli-American businessman named Charles Tawil were “an incredible, insane story.”
“But it’s true,” he asserted.
Papadopoulos told Bongino the he believes that Tawil “was working on behalf of Western intelligence to entrap me.”
Papadopoulos does not have direct evidence that Tawil was working on behalf of a Western government when they met in March and July 2017. Instead, Papadopoulos is speculating based on what he says is the peculiar circumstances of his encounters with Tawil as well as his meetings with at least one known FBI informant.
Papadopoulos also expressed his theory about Tawil in interviews with the special counsel’s office.
According to court filings submitted by Robert Mueller’s team, Papadopoulos told investigators that he believed that Tawil was working as an agent of a foreign government.
“The defendant provided information about $10,000 in cash he received from a foreign national whom he believed was likely an intelligence officer of a foreign country (other than Russia),” reads a sentencing memo submitted on Aug. 17.
Papadopoulos says he left the cash with his attorneys in Greece.
Tawil has told The Daily Caller News Foundation that he contacted Papadopoulos as part of an effort to set up a consulting firm for energy companies doing business in the Middle East and Mediterranean.
Tawil told TheDCNF in August that Papadopoulos was billed to him as a consultant with expertise in the field.
“Unfortunately he very fast disappointed me and the potential first customer (a private company). He acted very unprofessionally and unethically. That was it,” Tawil told TheDCNF.
“I am sure the FBI have the means to know very well who am I and that I am not an foreign agent.”
Tawil could not be reached for comment on Saturday.
Since his Sept. 7 jail sentence in the special counsel’s case, Papadopoulos has spoken publicly about a series of mysterious encounters he had in 2016 and 2017, including with Tawil.
The former Trump aide is considered one of the main players in the Trump-Russia saga because of his encounters with Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor who told Papadopoulos in April 2016 that Russia had “thousands” of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails.
A conversation that Papadopoulos had two weeks later in London with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer would later serve as the FBI’s justification for opening its investigation into the Trump campaign.
And in September 2016, Papadopoulos met with Stefan Halper, a former Cambridge professor who was working as an FBI informant.
Papadopoulos was arrested on July 28, 2017 after arriving at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. He entered a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Oct. 5, 2017 in which he acknowledged lying to the FBI about the timing and extent of his contacts with Mifsud.
Papadopoulos told the FBI in a Jan. 27, 2017 interview that Mifsud told him of the Clinton emails. But Papadopoulos lied when he claimed that his encounters with Mifsud occurred before he joined the campaign.
Papadopoulos says he first met Tawil in March 2017 after being introduced through an Israeli activist they both knew.
Papadopoulos claims that Tawil contacted him again in Summer 2017 while he was on vacation in Greece. He said that Tawil wanted to fly to meet him to finalize their business deal. Papadopoulos said that once Tawil arrived, he asked Papadopoulos to fly to Israel to finalize their business arrangement. During a meeting at a hotel in Israel, Tawil handed Papadopoulos $10,000 in $100 bills, said Papadopoulos.
Papadopoulos told Bongino that he was unsure how to handle the situation. He said he feared for his safety if he rejected the cash. He was also concerned that he would be set up if he took the money.
Papadopoulos ultimately took the money and left it with his attorney in Greece. He said he contacted Tawil to return the money.
“I don’t want my money,” Tawil said, according to Papadopoulos.
He was arrested by the FBI several days later.
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