No evidence has surfaced publicly indicating that Halper was acting as a government informant. He did not respond to an NBC News request for comment. But the Daily Caller noted that right-wing media personalities have speculated about his role in recent days.
Two sources familiar with Papadopoulos’s account told NBC News he has described being summoned to England in September 2016 by Halper, who was offering to pay him to discuss energy issues involving Turkey, Israel and Cyprus, which was his area of expertise.
Papadopoulos told associates that Halper attended the meetings with his assistant, a young Turkish woman. Papadopoulos said he found Halper’s demeanor odd, and in retrospect believes Halper was working on behalf of an intelligence or law enforcement agency, the sources said.
In an email to NBC News, Page said he didn’t find his encounters with Halper concerning. Page told the Daily Caller he met several times with Halper, including on Halper’s farm in Virginia. Halper’s father-in-law, Ray Cline, was the chief CIA analyst during the Cuban missile crisis.
“At the time, I never found his actions suspicious,” Page told NBC News. “He never offered me one cent. Just 2 foreign policy scholars having some discussions. That’s about all that I took it as.”
Papadopoulos also told associates he was approached over LinkedIn in July 2016 by Sergei Millian, a Belorussian-American businessman who has claimed business ties to Trump, and who also has been named by The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post as a source for the notorious Christopher Steele dossier.
After Trump won the election, Papadopoulos said, Millian called him and said he assumed Papadopoulos would be working in the White House.
Millian wanted to pay Papadopoulos as a consultant at the same time, according to Papadopoulos, hunting for business opportunities for wealthy Russian clients. Papadopoulos told associates he felt such a relationship would have been illegal, and turned it down.
Millian could not be reached for comment.
Several months later, Papadopoulos was arrested. He has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during a Jan. 27, 2017 interview.