Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos is scheduled to give a closed-door, transcribed interview next week before House investigators, as Fox News has learned of a renewed push to declassify some Russia records.
Congressional sources say GOP lawmakers want President Trump to declassify fewer than a dozen pages of documents which relate to Papadopoulos. The sources say they believe the records include exculpatory evidence and appear to “undercut” the collusion narrative.
A committee aide said Papadopoulos is coming voluntarily on Oct. 25, before the House oversight and judiciary committees as part of their joint investigation into Justice Department actions in 2016.
The Papadopoulos intelligence was used to help secure the surveillance warrant for ex-Trump campaign aide Carter Page on Oct. 21, 2016, three weeks before the presidential election. The publicly available October 2016 FISA court application is heavily redacted, but it shows the FBI and DOJ relied on the anti-Trump dossier funded by the DNC and Clinton campaign but did not directly reveal its political roots. A memo from House Intelligence Committee Republicans released in February said the surveillance application also included “information regarding fellow Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.”
On Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria Bartiromo, Rep. John Ratcliffe, who sits on the judiciary committee, and has seen the records that Republicans want declassified, claimed “material facts” were withheld from the FISA court.
“The underlying pretext to the entire Trump-Russia investigation... is this idea that George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign associate, had a conversation with an Australian diplomat about getting Hillary Clinton’s emails from the Russians,” Ratcliffe, R-Texas, said, referring to late July 2016 when the FBI formally opened the Russia counterintelligence case.
“Hypothetically, if the Department of Justice and the FBI has another piece of evidence that directly refutes that, that directly contradicts that, what you would expect is for the Department of Justice to present both sides of the coin to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to evaluate the weight and sufficiency of that evidence,” Ratcliffe continued. “Instead, what happened here was, Department of Justice and FBI officials in the Obama administration in October of 2016 only presented to the court the evidence that made the government’s case to get a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate. Declassification would corroborate what I just related to you.”
The FBI reportedly opened its counter-intelligence investigation July 31 2016 because of information about a meeting between the Australian ambassador to London and Papadopoulos where the Trump campaign aide alleged that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton.
The Carter Page surveillance warrant was secured in October 2016, with renewals every 90 days requiring a separate finding of probable cause. Then-FBI Director James Comey signed three FISA applications, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and then-Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente each signed one, with the final renewal certified by current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who now oversees the Special Counsel Robert Mueller probe. Some Rosenstein critics say his role in the FISA renewal presents a conflict.
On Thursday, former top FBI lawyer James A. Baker is expected to complete his transcribed interview before the House panel -- with Nellie Ohr, who worked for opposition research firm Fusion GPS, set for Friday. Documents indicate that her husband, Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, worked with the firm’s co-founder to provide the FBI with the controversial anti-Trump dossier through unofficial channels during the 2016 election. Co-founder Glenn Simpson took the Fifth before the same House panel on Tuesday. His lawyer accused Republicans of trying to protect the president and undercut the Mueller probe.
President Trump announced last month on Twitter he would order the immediate declassification of the Russia records. However, in a rare reversal days later after consulting with the Justice Department, the president directed the DOJ inspector general to review the records, adding: “In the end, I can always declassify if it proves necessary.”
Fox News has reached out to Papadopoulos’ attorney and his wife with questions about next week’s Capitol Hill appearance and the Russia records, asking if they wish to add further information and comment.
Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo contributed to this report.