Image via George Papadopoulos’s LinkedIn account

I’m not much for dramatic descriptions in the Russia investigation because I’m generally cynical anyone will be held accountable, but “game changer” are Trey Gowdy’s words, not mine.

At this point, it’s getting hard to keep track of all the different informants the government ran against George Papadopoulos, but one in particular made a recording that is getting renewed scrutiny by the DOJ. It involves possibly “exculpatory” evidence that was purposely not presented to the FISA court in subsequent renewals against Carter Page.

The Justice Department is intent on reviewing transcripts of recordings that at least one government informant made of conversations with former Trump campaign associate George Papadopoulos.

Little is known about these classified transcripts, including who is the source, other than the growing hype about them in conservative circles. Former Rep. Trey Gowdy called them a “game changer” in a Fox News interview in May.

Here are some of the scant details revealed so far.

Investigators looking at why certain “exculpatory” material from these transcripts was not presented in subsequent applications for surveillance warrants against another Trump campaign aide, Carter Page.

“I think it’s the smoking gun,” one source said.

Without Trump’s declassification order, one source said Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats would not have allowed anyone to have access to these mysterious records. But another source stressed that Coats as well as FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel are cooperating with DOJ’s investigation.

It should shock no one that Dan Coats was trying to stonewall this until the president stepped in.

It never ceases to amaze me how pervasive the scheme to protect each other is within our federal bureaucracies. They hide behind claims of “sources and methods,” but if a law (or even department policy) was broken, how is it proper to hide behind secrecy? Without transparency in the face of malfeasance there can be no accountability, and that’s apparently exactly how the FBI likes it.

So who is on the recordings? The best guess is that it’s Steven Halper and Azra Turk. Turk is known for having asked Papadopoulus if Trump was working for the Russians. At this point, it’s essentially been confirmed that she was an FBI informant, with even The New York Times reporting on it. This of course all leads back to Joseph Mifsud, the mysterious man who first told Papadopoulus the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton. That was the beginning of the investigation dubbed Crossfire Hurricane. The lack of prosecution against Mifsud, despite the fact that he lied to the FBI and Mueller’s team at least three times, points to the fact that he was also working for U.S. intelligence, otherwise there would be no reason to continue protecting him.

When you put all this together, you get Papadopoulus as nothing more than a poor sucker who was baited by the U.S. government and used as a pretext to start an investigation against the Trump campaign.

If this recording turns out to show that Papadopoulus actually rebuffed Halper or even that his interest was mostly innocent, it’s going to be another black eye against the FBI’s conduct. I say FBI because if the CIA is involved, then things really get bad for the government from a legal standpoint. Hopefully, AG Barr and the Durham investigation are getting to the bottom of this. The fact that they are going after these recordings does give me hope that they are pulling on every thread.

Time is of the essence though. This can’t drag out into the 2020 election. Things need to start going public sooner rather than later.

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