- The Senate Judiciary Committee released a declassified transcript of FBI source Stefan Halper’s conversation in September 2016 with George Papadopoulos.
- The transcript shows that Halper name-checked several former Russian intelligence officials who he has met throughout his storied career.
- The former Cambridge professor plied Papadopoulos with questions about the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia and WikiLeaks.
It wasn’t long into his conversation with George Papadopoulos at a prestigious social club in London weeks before the 2016 election that FBI confidential informant Stefan Halper mentioned his links to several retired Russian spies.
“I have a lot of friends in Russia,” Halper told Papadopoulos during their conversation, which occurred over drinks, and which the FBI recorded.
“My point is that,” Halper said, “the Russians can be very helpful to us at this time and we’ve got some great information coming out.”
Halper, a former Cambridge professor, rattled off the names of the Russians, Vyacheslav Trubnikov, Leonid Shebarshin, and Yuri Traughtoff, according to a transcript of the secretly recorded conversation released on Thursday.
Halper was not bluffing about his friendship with at least one of the ex-Russian spies. He has collaborated with Trubnikov, the former head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR. Halper hosted Trubnikov at two intelligence seminars at Cambridge in 2012 and 2015, and interviewed the former Kremlin insider for a 2015 study on China-Russia relations he did for the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment (ONA).
Halper’s goal in bringing up his Kremlin links was to get Papadopoulos to reveal whether he or the Trump campaign were working with the Russian government or involved the WikiLeaks release of Democrats’ emails, according to the Justice Department inspector general’s (IG) report on the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe.
“You know this stuff out of WikiLeaks is really superb,” Halper said.
In a virtually unprecedented move, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham released the newly declassified transcript on Thursday as part of a GOP-led effort to publish documents related to the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Two other Republican senators have released declassified information over the past week that shows that the FBI had evidence that the infamous Steele dossier was based on Russian disinformation.
The FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation on Papadopoulos and several other Trump campaign aides on July 31, 2016, shortly after WikiLeaks released emails stolen from the DNC.
As part of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, the FBI turned to Halper, a seasoned political veteran of three Republican administrations who had been a confidential human source (CHS) for the bureau since 2008.