By Chuck Ross
Buried at the bottom of a court document Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed Friday is a reference to a mysterious $10,000 cash payment given to George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign adviser who has been charged with giving false statements to the FBI.
On the final page of a memo recommending that Papadopoulos serve up to six months in jail, Mueller said that Papadopoulos told investigators about $10,000 in cash that he received from a foreign national who he suspected to be a foreign spy.
“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),” reads the court filing, which recommends a fine of between $500 and $9,500 for Papadopoulos.
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“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,” it continued.
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.
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.
Papadopoulos and Tawil met through an Israeli political strategist named David Ha’ivri.
Ha’ivri told TheDCNF said that he introduced the pair “at my own initiative” to facilitate a business deal involving an oil and gas project in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.
Ha’ivri said that Tawil “is a part time consultant for companies that operate in Africa and Middle East.” He believed when he introduced Tawil to Papadopoulos that the former Trump aide had “good connections” in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.
“Charles is a consultant for corporations in this region, I thought that they might find common ground and that together we might form a consultancy firm in this area. George had not gone on to join the Trump administration, so I thought that with his background he could be a good candidate for business prospects,” Ha’ivri said in an email.
“When I first reached out to George he seemed to me a good person to be in touch with, as he was a young guy who had been part of the successful Trump for president campaign,” he continued. “We discussed potential consultancy work for business in the Aegean, Cyprus and Middle East focusing on business related to gas and petroleum infrastructure because of Charles’ network of contacts and George specialization.”
Ha’ivri said he was not aware of a payment from Tawil to Papadopoulos. But he said Tawil succeeded in getting a consulting contract with a petroleum and gas infrastructure company.
“That company agreed to give a retainer of $10,000 a month,” Ha’ivri told TheDCNF.
“The retainer would go firstly to cover [George’s] needs as he said that he had financial problems,” he continued. “This first job was to help preparing bidding document to Exxon Mobil for their project in Cyprus and help negotiating a subcontracting deal there.”
Ha’ivri said that the deal quickly fell apart, blaming Papadopoulos’ “immaturity.”
“After that the whole story fell apart. Charles left back to Washington and the story was over,” he said.
Ha’ivri said he did not know that the FBI was investigating Papadopoulos when the Israeli introduced him to Tawil.
“Had we known about them before we would have never reached out to a guy like George,” Ha’ivri said.
Mysterious encounters have become a theme for Papadopoulos, a 30-year-old energy consultant who joined the Trump campaign in early March 2016 after a stint on the Ben Carson campaign.
Papadopoulos, who lives in Chicago, has met with several key players in the Russia investigation.
In an interview in June with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Mangiante Papadopoulos described several “shady characters,” who she said approached her husband during and after the 2016 presidential campaign.
Without naming Tawil, she mentioned “someone we met in Mykonos, an Israeli person who flew to Mykonos to discuss business.”
Shortly after joining the campaign, Papadopoulos first met Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor who worked at the London Centre for International Law Practice (LCILP). Papadopoulos worked at the think tank, as well, but did not know Mifsud. Mangiante Papadopoulos also worked at LCILP and knew Mifsud prior to meeting Papadopoulos.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on Oct. 5, 2017 to giving false statements to the FBI about his the timing and extent of his contacts with Mifsud. The former Trump aide told FBI agents during a Jan. 27, 2017 interview that Mifsud told him in April 2016 that the Russian government had “dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands” of her emails.
Two weeks after his conversation with Mifsud about Clinton dirt, Papadopoulos met at a London wine room with Alexander Downer, who then served as Australia’s top diplomat to the U.K. Downer would later tell the U.S. government that Papadopoulos made some mention of Russians having derogatory information on Clinton. More than two months later, the FBI opened its collusion counterintelligence investigation based on the Papadopoulos information.
Mangiante Papadopoulos has insisted that her husband was not involved in collusion between the Russian government and Trump campaign. She has claimed that the FBI’s investigation was started based on “gossip” and that Papadopoulos did not see, handle or disseminate the emails Mifsud mentioned to him.
Sergei Millian, an alleged source for the infamous Steele dossier, unsolicitedly contacted Papadopoulos on July 22, 2016, requesting a meeting with Papadopoulos. The pair met several times during the 2016 election campaign. Mangiante Papadopoulos has told TheDCNF that Millian offered Papadopoulos a $30,000-per-month contract on behalf of a Russian energy company.
Papadopoulos was also approached during the campaign by Stefan Halper, a former University of Cambridge professor who spied on the Trump campaign as an FBI informant.
Halper flew Papadopoulos to London in September 2016 and paid him a $3,000 honorarium to write a policy paper about Mediterranean energy issues. Papadopoulos has told associates that Halper asked him during one conversation if he knew anything about Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails.
Unbeknownst to Papadopoulos, Halper had also been in contact with Carter Page, another Trump campaign adviser. Halper and Page remained in contact through September 2017.
It is unclear whether the government believes that the Tawil offer has anything to do with the main portion of the case against Papadopoulos. The special counsel’s office declined comment. (RELATED: Papadopoulos Was Approached By ‘Highly Suspicious’ Businessmen, His Wife Claims)
Little else is known about Tawil, who lists himself on LinkedIn as a consultant for a company called Gestomar.
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