Did Donald Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos receive $10,000 from Western intelligence in bills that he marked?
That’s the odd story one can glean from Papadopoulos’ Twitter account and the claims of Joseph diGenova, a former federal prosecutor who worked on President Trump’s legal team and has claimed that the government has had it out for Trump and those around him.
It’s a rather complex tale that otherwise takes up a footnote in Papadopoulos’ sentencing documents.
“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),” the court filing read, according to The Daily Caller.
“The defendant has stated that he kept that money in a safe pending his sentencing in this case and Counsel for the defendant has consented to the imposition of this fine amount,” which was between $500 and $9,500.
“While Mueller’s court filing makes no other reference to the individual, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned that a man named Charles Tawil gave Papadopoulos $10,000 during a meeting in an Israeli hotel room in July 2017,” The Caller reported last August.
“Sources familiar with the matter told TheDCNF Tawil flew to the Greek island of Mykonos to meet Papadopoulos and his now-wife, Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos. Tawil invited the pair to Israel, but Mangiante Papadopoulos stayed behind.
“Papadopoulos gave the money to an attorney in Greece before traveling back to the U.S., a source told TheDCNF on the condition of anonymity. Papadopoulos was arrested at Dulles International Airport on a return trip from overseas on July 27, 2017.”
In addition to his role with the campaign, Papadopoulos was an energy consultant, and that’s why Charles Tawil says Papadopoulos was hired.
Tawil says that the money was a loan.
“I heard about George the first time in 2016, reading about a gas and oil conference in a town called Hadera in Israel,” Tawil told the Observer in April of this year. “In 2017, when Trump won and this guy was looking for a job, I thought that I could use his image to bring consultancy business focusing specifically on a company in Cyprus that needed to get close to Exxon. And when he asked for a loan I organized it to him.”
David Ha’ivri, the Israeli businessman who introduced the two, said it was a retainer.
“The retainer would go firstly to cover [George’s] needs as he said that he had financial problems,” he told The Caller. “This first job was to help preparing bidding document to Exxon Mobil for their project in Cyprus and help negotiating a subcontracting deal there.”
The deal soured because of Papadopoulos’ “immaturity,” Ha’ivri said.
“After that the whole story fell apart. Charles left back to Washington and the story was over.”
Well, not quite. That’s where diGenova’s take on Papadopoulos’ subsequent detention at Washington Dulles Airport and the source of the money comes into play.
It’s worth noting, as a matter of caveat lector, that diGenova is a controversial figure in Washington circles. To some, he’s a former federal prosecutor and Trump attorney who has the guts to tell it like it is about what the D.C. establishment has done to delegitimize the president and those around him.
To others, he’s an outré conspiracy theorist who has notecard-and-string hypotheses regarding deep state involvement in literally every aspect of the Mueller investigation.
Thus, we make no judgment on the veracity of what diGenova and his wife/investigative partner Victoria Toensing said during a Friday appearance on the radio show of former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka.
That being said, the two of them said they believe that the cash given to Papadopoulos was a setup by the FBI, particularly since agents already had his luggage and began searching through his belongings the moment he arrived at Dulles.
In fact, Papadopoulos seemed to confirm he believed in the setup theory, retweeting the interview and adding this:
I want congress to investigate this money. They are marked bills. They remain with my lawyer in Athens. Follow the money! https://t.co/TXKDUzxItj
— George Papadopoulos (@GeorgePapa19) May 9, 2019
DiGenova’s theory was that they knew he hadn’t declared the cash and wanted to find it on him. They didn’t. Instead, they think this was part of a botched sting operation and that no whistleblowers have come forward thus far.
“I hear all these people saying, ‘don’t blame the street agents,’ and that’s true generally, but here’s the truth: There were no whistleblowers in the FBI and the Department of Justice. Not a single agent, not a single career lawyer stood up and blew whistles on anybody,” diGenova said.
Papadopoulos’ tweet is a clarion call for congressional Republicans — currently on the warpath to investigate the investigators who worked on both the Hillary Clinton email and Trump/Russia probes — to pick up his case.
That doesn’t seem likely to happen. Even with the revelation that the FBI sent an investigator to spy on Papadopoulos — and therefore the Trump campaign — during the summer of 2016, the former campaign aide isn’t a particularly popular figure and isn’t likely to see his image rehabilitated.
However, it’s certainly a curious case when $10,000 from a possible foreign agent is given to a guy who then gives it to his lawyer.
It’s more curious when the guy is arrested and seen as the possible linchpin of an investigation into contacts between the campaign he was working on and a foreign government, that investigation doesn’t really pan out, and that $10,000 kind of just, well, goes away.
And it gets curiouser when said guy basically intimates those bills are marked, they were from Western intelligence — why else, after all, would he link to the diGenova/Toensing interview? — and that investigators should take a deeper look at where they went.
Think what you want about diGenova and Toensing. Without a fuller explication of what happened here, this is bizarre enough that it warrants a closer look, particularly in light of the latest revelations regarding the FBI’s surveillance of Papadopoulos.