by Chuck Ross
Former South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy urged the release of FBI transcripts Sunday that he indicated were taken from conversations a bureau informant had during the 2016 presidential campaign with former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos.
Gowdy, the former chairman of the House Oversight Committee, also said there are likely to be additional transcripts of FBI informant contacts with Trump aides.
“The one you referenced is a single transcript. There are going to be others,” Gowdy said in an interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo.
Bartiromo asked Gowdy about his past comments regarding an FBI transcript he said has exculpatory information related to the bureau’s investigation of the Trump campaign.
Gowdy told Bartiromo on June 23 that the transcript “changed my perspective” on the Trump-Russia investigation. The retired Republican lawmaker viewed the classified transcript when he served on the House Intelligence Committee.
Other Republicans have alluded to the transcript and suggested it was of a conversation that Papadopoulos had in September 2016 in London with Stefan Halper, a former Cambridge professor who is reportedly a longtime FBI informant.
Watch Gowdy’s full segment (remarks concerning Trump-Russia and Papadopoulos begin at 2:56min):
Halper first met with Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in July 2016. He contacted Papadopoulos out of the clear blue on Sept. 2, 2016, offering him $3,000 and a trip to London under the guise of providing research about energy security issues.
A woman accompanied Halper who he identified as his assistant named Azra Turk. Turk is an alias for a government investigator, The New York Times reported on May 1.
Papadopoulos has told the Daily Caller News Foundation that Halper and Turk both asked him whether the Trump campaign was involved in Russia’s hacking of Democrats’ emails. But the former Trump aide said he rejected the question out of hand, saying that hacking emails would be illegal.
“What you just described is textbook exculpatory information. It tends to show that a person did not commit a crime,” said Gowdy, after Baritromo described the Papadopoulos-Halper interactions.
The special counsel’s investigation did not find that Papadopoulos or anyone else on the Trump campaign helped Russia hack or release Democrats’ emails. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s probe to lying to the FBI about contacts he had with Joseph Mifsud, a mysterious Maltese professor he met soon after joining the Trump team.
Gowdy said he is “clueless” as to why the transcripts are being withheld from public view.
“It is not that level of classification that is going to impact relationships with our allies,” said Gowdy.
For the transcript to be released, President Donald Trump or Attorney General William Barr would have to declassify the document. Trump has said for months he plans to declassify a slew of documents related to the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign, but on May 23 he ceded that authority to Barr, who is leading an investigation into government surveillance activities directed at Trump associates.
Gowdy also hinted Sunday that transcripts indicate the FBI’s investigation was focused more heavily on the Trump campaign rather than on Russia, as numerous current and former FBI officials have asserted.
“The FBI and the DOJ said it was never intended to investigate the Trump campaign, just Russia,” said Gowdy. “Okay, great. Show us the transcripts. Show us what questions you coached the informants or the cooperating witnesses to ask of the Trump campaign officials. If it’s not about the campaign then you win, you’re right. But if you’re veering over into the campaign, or if your questions are not solely about Russia, then you’ve been misleading us for two years.”
“Just release the transcripts, and we can tell for ourselves when it began and what it was about,” he said.
– – –
Chuck Ross is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.