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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  March 28, 2019 4:30am-5:01am GMT

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the headlines: this is the briefing — the british parliament has rejected i'm sally bundock. a series of plans put forward by mps our top story: as alternatives to the prime minister's brexit deal. no brexit breakthrough: earlier, theresa may promised to step down if her deal is approved. she hopes it will be given a third british mps reject a range vote before the end of the week. of options to end the deadlock. the plane manufacturer, boeing, has unveiled changes to software on the 737 max model theresa may still hopes which has crashed twice to push her deal through — in the past six months. with a promise to step down as prime minister. it's designed to make it easier but key allies refuse to back her. for pilots to override the anti—stall system, food queues and failed which is believed to have building projects. turkey's faltering economy threatens malfunctioned on the lion air flight the future of president erdogan. which crashed last october. and kicking up a stink. how france's cheesemakers are fighting to protect centuries of tradition. in myanmar, the army has been holding its annual parade in the face of widespread international condemnation of its campaign against in business — as that deadlock continues — the royhingya people in rakhine company bosses blast politicians state. the united nations says crimes over their handling of brexit. committed there amount to genocide now on bbc news — hardtalk.
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welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. a massive cloud has just evaporated from donald trump's political horizon. special counsel robert mueller found no evidence that the president colluded with the russians during the 2016 presidential election. even though mueller left open the question of obstruction ofjustice, the president is claiming exoneration. well, my guest today has a unique perspective on all of this. george papadopoulos was the first trump campaign member to be convicted as a result of that mueller probe. leave aside the posturing, are we any closer to the truth?
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george papadopoulos in new york city, welcome to hardtalk. thank you, stephen. you have had a few hours now to digest the news of the headlines that come out of the special counsel's report, as reported by the us attorney—general. you have a unique perspective on this, so give me your initial response. my initial response is that i feel quite vindicated, actually. i'd like to echo the president's sentiment where he stated that he felt "exonerated" to some extent. it is — i guess it really... you're right, i do have a unique perspective because i am one
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of the very few people in the world who has actually sat down with mueller, was involved with the donald trump campaign, his transition team and has actually testified in front of the us congress about this particular issue. so the entire time, i quite fully understood that there would never be any russian collusion and that this story would probably amount to something quite different. you were the guy who set this whole thing off in some ways, because you, as a veryjunior member of the trump campaign, found information back in april of 2016, which was one of the key elements of the decision to launch an fbi enquiry into connections between the trump campaign and the russians. do you feel like some kind of a fall guy today? i think that story about me being the so—called catalyst has been disabused a bit, actually. just yesterday, the congressman devin nunes stated that the investigation was ongoing in late 2015, early 2016. there is much evidence that suggests
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that i was actually not the start of it. and secondly, i wouldn't consider myself a so—called junior member of the campaign. i brokered the meeting between candidate trump and the president. i stayed on throughout the transition team engaging with foreign governments and advising steve bannon, michael flynn and other very senior member transition officials throughout the transition. well, you've packed a lot into that answer, and i do want to grow through a bit of it in some detail. but it strikes me, as you have been convicted of a crime, and you served a very short prison sentence and i believe you are still under a community service order as we speak today, i mean, you have suffered some severe consequences for what you did, and i do need you to go through it with me, because we need to understand,
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now that trump, in this question of collusion with the russians, appears to have been "exonerated", we need to understand what your relationship was with the trump campaign when you had that meeting in april of 2016 with a gentleman, a maltese professor, joseph mifsud, who gave you the information that the russians had hacked democratic party emails, hillary clinton emails and that there was dirt, which mifsud told you was to be released — you were the first to know. yes. let's start to how i met joseph mifsud, this mysterious maltese individual, because i think it's very important — i lay this all out in my book that is being released tomorrow, deep state target — but i think it is very important for the viewers to understand who this person is and how imet him. i met this person through a contact in london. she and i were working for a centre named the london centre for international law practice, and she suggested after she found
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out that i would be joining the trump campaign, that i should go to rome to link campus rome, which, if you simply do a google search on, you will understand that this is a university in rome which trains western intelligence operatives, including the cia, the fbi, the m16, usually host symposiums there as well, and that is where i met the so—called russian intermediary joseph mifsud. now, when i did meetjoseph mifsud in london in april of 2016, i was a member of the trump campaign. yes, this person did tell me that the russians possess hillary clinton emails, but what is subject to tremendous scrutiny today and congress and even the department ofjustice in the united states today is who actually wasjoseph mifsud, and was he working on behalf of a different intelligence apparatus and not the russians?
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and i think that is actually what is coming out now and, quite frankly, goes against the narrative that has been built for the last two years, i understand that, it is very difficult for people to understand, but these are the facts. well, thank you for giving me some of the facts there. the bottom line is what really matters about that story is that as of, i believe it was april 2016, you were in possession of explosive information. that is, you had been told that the russians had this dirt, this hacked email information direct from the hillary clinton campaign, and it seems moscow was intent on using it. that gave you something really pretty incredible. you then, as member, let's not forget, of the trump campaign team, had decisions to make. do you share it with other trump operatives? what do you do with it? now, you want us all to believe that you never shared that information with the trump campaign, and many, many people over many, many months have struggled to believe that. i completely understand your suspicion and a lot of people's suspicions.
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but let's not forget bob mueller has been in possession of my emails, my phone records, my cellphones, basically everything to do with my entire life over the past five to ten years. at the time where i learned this information by the so—called — joseph mifsud and this so—called russian intermediary that the media portrayed him as, i was living in london, and i was living overseas until aboutjune of 2016 while i was corresponding with the campaign, and all of that correspondence was done via email or over the phone. so, if that evidence that you suggest did exist, bob mueller would have certainly presented it in front of the american public and around the world because that was actually the key question that he wanted to figure out was — who did i share this information with? and, obviously, the evidence suggests i did not because i simply didn't because i didn't feel joseph mifsud was a credible person,
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and i explained that in detail. sorry, mr papadopoulos, to interrupt, but one of the reasons people are suspicious about what you did with that information is that you then told lies about the entire episode. when the fbi was ultimately alerted to it and, of course, the fbi became aware of what you knew, because they were told about it by an australian diplomat whom you'd had drinks with and who you spilled the beans to, when the fbi started investigating you to figure out what you knew and when you knew it, you told lies to them. why did you do that? ok, let's look at the facts now. when i met with the fbi injanuary for my first interview, i did tell them, when i was asked the question, "have you spoken to a russian government official or intermediary, and have they discussed hacked emails with you," i said, "no, i have not spoken to a russian government official, but a maltese individual named
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joseph mifsud did tell me that the russians possess thousands of hillary clinton's emails." i did tell the fbi this during my first interview with them. now, what my apparent lie that i was convicted about was not explaining the full extent of my interactions withjoseph mifsud, and basically dismissing him as a "nobody". so i did tell the fbi in my january interview. and also, if i may, you lied about the timeline. yes, i guess i misremembered or i lied about when i actually met joseph mifsud and the extent of my... yes, that's absolutely true, but i did tell the fbi during my interview with them that this person told me this information, so that wasn't part of the lie, and that was a misunderstanding of what the actual lie was about. so, you want us to believe that you didn't tell the trump campaign this explosive information, but at the very same time, we know that you were still
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in london, and now we're talking about the period after april 26, and if i may use a colloquialism, you were blabbing to other third parties about what you knew, including a greek foreign office minister and also, as it turns out, the australian high commissioner, a respected diplomat called alexander downer, a former australian foreign minister, who then wrote a report to his own government in which he actually, at one point, made comment and referred to what you told him, about having knowledge of russian dirt on the democrats and hillary clinton, which is why it then got back to the fbi. it seems very odd that you would be blabbing to all these other people are not telling your own campaign. ok, let's go back to alexander downer for a moment. first of all, alexander downer himself has contested what was actually set at this meeting, which is very bizarre. i have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of ever discussing this
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information with alexander downer, i said the same exact thing to the fbi and to bob mueller about a year before that report came out in the new york times, so let's make one point there. secondly, congress has never received official intelligence from the australian government — this is the house intelligence committee — of alexander downer ever sending this so—called cable notifying what my comments were. and third, during my meeting with congress, and ijust want the viewers to understand that that i was one of only four witnesses in the entire united states to be invited to testify in front of the house oversight committee, along with the other names, jim comey, loretta lynn and sally yates. now, these were the top three officials of the department ofjustice, and then george papadopoulos was also invited to testify, and a lot of my testify happened to deal with alexander downer and his role actually in potentially conspiring with the department ofjustice.
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the fact is, you were exposed as a liar, and the fbi says that you damaged their investigations, they would very much have liked to have gotten hold of this guy, joseph mifsud, who gave you this explosive information in the first place, and they believe they would've had a chance to detain and question him if you hadn't told lies when you first had your encounters with the fbi. you've paid a price, you've served a little bit of prison time, your reputation has been very badly damaged, you're now on a community service order. do you now look at the way the trump campaign was operating, your role in it and, indeed, donald trump then walking away from you and denying that he even knew who you were and tweeting things like "few people knew that young low—level volunteer named george who has already proven to be a liar" — do you look back on all of that and feel that you have been utterly let down by trump and his closest associates? quite frankly, the way my sentencing memorandum was written and crafted and was designed, if
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i was the president, i would have done the exact same thing. in this memo, there were names such as the niece of vladimir putin hacked emails, mysterious professors, diplomats. so, the way it was written, i would have certainly probably distanced myself the way he did. 0n the other hand, as evidence has been growing and is released and testimonies have been given by not only me, but senior members of the department ofjustice under the 0bama administration, you also now have trump allies, such as congressman mark meadows, congressman devin nunes, others in the administration and the media who have actually turned with me, simply, you, yourself or anybody watching this show can read some of the tweets that congressman mark meadows has been levying publicly about me and why it's so important to declassify specific material about my case. now, if i was such a damage to the president or his administration and if i was this liar, that's — yes, i lied, i made a mistake, i did serve prison time, you're absolutely right — but if my case was so damning to the administration,
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the last thing, i assure you, the top ally in congress of president trump would be asking is for my files to be declassified. we're starting to see a great turn of events, there's tremendous support now within america for me personally, within the media now and even within the administration, and, quite frankly, that's all i care about at this point is repairing my name and just making sure the truth comes out there, whether it was something nefarious that was going on or everything was completely innocent. i just want the truth out there. that's what this conversation‘s about. 0k, sure. well, you clearly believe that you were taken down as part of some sort of deep state conspiracy. and, sure enough, donald trump feels just the same thing about the overarching mueller investigation and all of the allegations
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that he and his campaign have faced about the connections with russia. but itjust seems to me that when, as donald trump has tweeted in the last few hours, that the whole investigation was "an illegal ta kedown which failed," donald trump is questioning the integrity, the most fundamental sort of trust and integrity that the american people should have in the fbi, in the intelligence services, in the entire judicial process. is that a healthy thing for the united states of america? the intelligence community is not infallible. it would not be the first scandal that the cia and the fbi were involved in. if it is proven to be as damning as most republicans now in congress and the administration is pertaining it to be... with respect, i'm not sure that's fair. i'm sure most republicans
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are saying what you and, by inference, donald trump is saying which is that there is a deep state at work basically trying to launch some sort of coup against the elected president of the united states. because in essence that is what you and donald trump appear to be suggesting. ok but let's look at the facts again. the leadership of the fbi and the doj under the previous administration, is either fired, demoted or currently under investigation. now, that is not a coincidence. we have to look at those facts. these are not choirboys that we are dealing with. as i stated, i come from a background, i studied in london, i went to university college london, and i worked in the think tank industry. my entire professional career was dedicated with working with high intelligence officials, security officials and politicians. i'm not a conspiracy theorist by any means. the last thing i would have ever wanted to do is talk
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about this situation... hang on a minute, mr papadopoulos, let us be really honest about this. when you joined the trump team as an unpaid volunteer, you were 28 years old, you were pretty fresh out of university, you were described by one senior trump aid later on as nothing more than the coffee boy. let us not overestimate your experience in this world... let's go to the facts. ..of intelligence and diplomacy. let's go to the facts again, please. the person, michael caputo, who made this off the cuff remark was fired within one month of joining the campaign. he didn't even know me because, by the time ijoined the campaign, he was on his way out of the campaign, so you could simply look at that timeline yourself. secondly, by the time ijoined the trump campaign, by the age of 2a, 25, 26, i was sitting in one—on—one meetings with various foreign ministers, even prime ministers of various countries. by the time ijoined the trump campaign i had already worked
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on the ben carson campaign as a foreign policy adviser. and lastly, if i was simply a novice 28 years—old, i would not be brokering meetings between trump and the egyptian president, and have the confidence of various governments around the world... i suppose my contention... these are the facts. you are right to put whatever facts you want out there, but my contention is, if you were perhaps more experience, if you had a longer experience of us governance, would you surely not think very hard before making accusations which amount to the us intelligence apparatus, the fbi and many other agencies, all being involved in some sort of deep state coup against president trump. what you are alleging, it marries up, it matches up with things that donald trump himself has said. it is the most inflammatory take on what is happening inside the united states government today and,
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frankly, you do not have a shred of real evidence to present. i do and ijust stated earlier about the congressional investigations into this matter. there is a new attorney general who is looking into this matter. the former head of the entire justice department, of the 0bama administration, as i stated earlier, is eitherfired, demoted or currently under investigation themselves... with respect, the fact that men likejim comey were fired simply illustrates that donald trump wanted people who would be obedient to his will around him, at the top of agencies like the fbi. well, i do not believe that director christopher wray, who is currently in power, is a person who is obedient whatsoever to president trump. and, look, president trump has his own reasons for firing people, as you saw in the recent revelation of the robert mueller report, there was absolutely no collusion whatsoever
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that was uncovered after this massive operation. and even the question of obstruction which, if i understand your question, you're asking aboutjim comey, part of the obstruction inquiry — there was no evidence about that as well. so i am just stating the facts and the president has the ultimate authority of who he wants to work with and who he doesn't and he is privy to material that you, myself and not even members of congress probably have access to so i'm sure he has his own reasons to make those decisions. just a final thought, if i may, mr papadopoulos. itjust seems to me that many people around the world watching this, both in the us and far beyond, would be a little confused about what to make of the release of the bullet point headlines of the mueller report because, yes, president trump is claiming exoneration but, on the other hand, we know for sure, from all of the work done by us intelligence agencies, that the russians did interfere, manipulate and meddle in the us presidential election of 2016.
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we've got general michael hayden, a respected republican and who worked in the bush administration, former director of the cia, saying it was the most successful convert influence campaign in the entire history of covert influence campaigns. and surely, at the end of all this, what really matters is that the russians were responsible for a massive interference in american democracy. would you agree? 0k, first and foremost, as i respect our intelligence services, i do agree with their assessment and it is likely that the russians and other foreign governments certainly tried to interfere in the 2016 election. the 2016 presidential election was an election unlike any other in us history, actually in the history of the entire modern political history. i do not disagree with that, it is likely that the russians and other governments did try to interfere with the election, with the democratic process and i would like to make the point about russia.
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you simply look at my academic scholarly work, leading up to the ben carson campaign and the trump campaign, i was never a fan of russia. i was never a fan of actually working closely with russia. all my work has actually been exactly the opposite and that is to contain russia, view russia as a competitor and potentially work with them in areas in which there might or might not be some sort of commonality. but that is a very difficult thing to find, especially as myself, who was an energy advisor promoting diversification of energy supplies to europe, and even promoting us lng to the european continent, to help europe diversify away from russian exports of natural gas, which make up over 50% of the federal budget of russia. so, yes, i do agree with your assessment as george papadopoulos, as an individual i certainly believe that russia is a competitor and likely will remain a competitor moving forward. i'm going to break my promise of last question. a final quick thought. you now have a criminal record.
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do you regret ever getting tied up, involved in, the trump campaign? i do not regret it at all. i think it was an event that will never be repeated in history. it was a momentous event, the 2016 election, was a great opportunity. yes, things did not go exactly the way i planned but i see a turn of opinion here in the united states towards me. people are becoming much more friendly in both in government and just your everyday american. so, yes, it was disappointing, yes, i did make mistakes, of course. i'm contrite. i did apologise publicly in various interviews about those mistakes. we all make mistakes in life. but i do not believe that it was a mistake to join these campaigns and you never know what is going to happen. i might end up back in politics in some shape form moving down but we'll see. we will keep tabs on that. for now, george papadopoulos,
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thank you for being on hardtalk. thank you very much. quiet on the weather front. the weather remains settled for the rest of the week but that doesn't necessarily mean the skies are clear. this is a picture from yesterday. it was pretty cloudy in the south—east. it felt quite chilly as well. 0n the other side of the country in st ives, it was beautiful. this sky could almost be in the caribbean. stunning weather there in cornwall. this is the satellite picture. the weather front is heading our way towards the north—west. high pressure not just across the uk but across france and into parts of spain and portugal as well, many parts of western europe at the moment are in a spell
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of settled and dry weather. that is certainly the case across the uk through the course of the night and into early thursday. in the south, under the clear skies, temperatures will dip down close to freezing, for example cardiff will barely be above freezing. that means that under the clear skies we could see mist and fog with those dipping temperatures, particularly across the south—west of the country. 0nly patchy fog here and there, but that can still be dangerous, so take it steady if you're travelling early in the morning. elsewhere across the uk it will start off sunny and crisp, but clouds are expected to build. maybe turning quite cloudy in some areas across the south—east. temperatures will still get up to about 16 in london, 1a in newcastle, 15 in aberdeen. in stornoway, where we have winds off the atlantic, more cloud and maybe some spots of rain, only 10 or 11. friday's weather forecast, again, weather fronts just brushing the north—west of scotland,
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bringing outbreaks of rain, some for the northern isles too. the vast majority of the country should at the very least have a bright day. most temperatures a degree higher — 17 in london, possibly as far north as hull. pleasantly warm for many of us come friday. friday into saturday, there is a change on the way. this weather front will be moving across the uk, and remember, fronts separate milder warm air from cold air that comes in from the north. the winds switch direction into scotland and also northern ireland. that means cold air out of the north arrives here. temperatures will drop and we could be talking only single figures across much of scotland and northern ireland, possibly even one or two wintry showers in the north. in the south, not quite so chilly. 1a degrees expected in london. come sunday, the cold front will have moved through, in fact, reaching the english channel. that means we are all in the fresh air. high pressure also over us, that means drier weather, chillier weather, temperatures on sunday only around 12 degrees.
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after rising at the end of the week they're going down for the weekend. bye— bye.
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