“There is no way this is a Cambridge professor’s research assistant.”
The FBI sent an undercover agent to London to meet with one of President Donald Trump’s campaign adviser George Papadopoulos in an attempt to find evidence of Russian collusion, sources familiar with the situation told The New York Times, who released a bombshell report on the subject on Thursday.
Papadopoulos met the woman, who told him her name was “Azra Turk,” in September 2016. The agent, who was posing as a Cambridge University research assistant, reportedly said she set up the meeting to talk about foreign policy issues with Papadopoulos. In reality, she was allegedly an undercover FBI Agent taking part in the counterintelligence investigation that was opened to investigate Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
The Times reported that not long into their conversation, Turk asked Papadopoulos if “the Trump campaign” was “working with Russia?” The question raised Papadopoulos’ suspicions. In his book, “Deep State Target,” Papadopoulos described thinking, “there is no way this is a Cambridge professor’s research assistant.”
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Until now, the agent’s affiliation with the U.S. government went unreported, adding another layer to an investigation Trump has alleged was designed to interfere with his chances of winning the 2016 election. Last year, Bill Priestap, at the time the FBI’s top counterintelligence agent, told Congress there was no FBI conspiracy against Trump or his campaign.
Turk, who Papadopoulos described in his book as “attractive,” was sent to London to assist Cambridge professor and longtime FBI informant Stefan A. Halper. The day after his meeting with Turk, Papadopoulos met her and Halper in a London club in what Halper claimed was going to be a discussion about a Mediterranean natural gas project.
But Halper quickly started asking Papadopoulos about hacked emails and whether Russia was helping the Trump campaign. According to his book, Papadopoulos quickly cut the meeting short over what he felt was an accusatory line of questioning.
According to The Times, the FBI failed to gather useful evidence against the campaign during the meeting. Turk was sent back to the United States shortly after.
Halper’s work for the FBI didn’t stop in London with Papadopoulos, The Times reported.. Halper travelled to Washington and met multiple times with Trump campaign advisor Carter Page. Page urged Halper to meet with campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis to discuss foreign policy matters.
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After meeting Clovis for coffee in Washington, Halper’s ties to the campaign began to strengthen. After Trump won the election, Halper was invited to meet with White House advisers in 2017 as part of a panel of experts on China.
In recounting his experience with Halper, Clovis told an Iowa radio station in May 2018 that he thought the FBI informant was trying to help the Trump campaign.
“There was no indication or no inclination that this was anything other than just wanting to offer up his help to the campaign if I needed it,” Clovis said.
Halper also met with Trump’s top trade representative Peter Navarro, who had interviewed Halper years earlier for a documentary. According to an Axios report, the Trump administration even considered Halper as a candidate for an ambassadorship.
In an interview with Fox News, Navarro said that he was “duped” by Halper and viewed his role as FBI informant as a betrayal.
Trump has repeatedly accused federal law enforcement and the intelligence community of spying on his campaign, claiming the investigations were nothing more than a politically motivated witch hunt.
Attorney General William Barr recently appeared to echo Trump’s sentiments, telling Congress he planned to investigate whether there was any improper spying on the Trump campaign. Former FBI director James Comey has denied the agency did anything improper.
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