The Justice Department’s inspector general is reportedly scrutinizing the FBI’s use of former professor Stefan Halper as a confidential informant during the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
According to The New York Times, Michael Horowitz, the DOJ inspector general, has inquired about Halper, a former Cambridge professor who has been identified in the press as a longtime FBI and CIA informant.
The Times reports that Horowitz’s investigators “have been asking questions” about Halper’s work with the FBI, including prior to his involvement in the Trump-Russia probe.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reported on March 25, 2018 that Halper, who worked in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, made contact during the 2016 campaign with Trump aides Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos. He was identified as a government informant by The Times and Washington Post in May 2018.
According to The Times, Horowitz is looking into whether the FBI was aware of Halper’s contact with Clovis, who served as co-chairman of Trump’s campaign.
On March 28, 2018, Horowitz began investigating the FBI’s handling of the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government. The investigation has centered on the FBI’s use of the Steele dossier to obtain surveillance warrants against Page. Horowitz has also probed the FBI’s relationship with Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, as well as Steele’s contacts with Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official who served as a back channel between the dossier author and FBI.
Earlier on Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr told Congress that Horowitz is likely to wrap up his investigation by May or June.
President Trump has criticized the FBI over its use of Halper as an informant, dubbing the affair “Spygate.” Government officials have anonymously pushed back on the term, claiming that Halper did not work as a spy against the campaign.
Halper’s first known campaign contact was with Page on July 11, 2016, several weeks before the FBI formally opened its counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. Halper and Page remained in contact through September 2017, the same month that the government ended its surveillance of Page.
Halper reached out to Clovis in late August 2016, saying that he had been in contact with Page and wanted to discuss campaign-related matters. Days after the pair met, Halper contacted Papadopoulos with an offer to pay the young Trump aide $3,000 and a trip to London to discuss writing a policy paper on Mediterranean energy issues. Papadopoulos made the trip, and met with Halper and his purported assistant, Azra Turk.
Papadopoulos claims that Halper and Turk asked him probing questions about his knowledge of Russian plans to release Clinton campaign emails.
Halper, who is in his 70s, may have also been involved in an effort to provide U.S. intelligence with derogatory information on Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser. Halper reportedly raised concerns about Flynn’s interactions with a Russia-born Cambridge graduate student in 2014, when he served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
The student, Svetlana Lokhova, has vehemently denied insinuations in the press that she tried to compromise Flynn during his visit to Cambridge. The Times has reported that one of Halper’s Cambridge associates passed Halper’s concerns about Flynn to American intelligence officials.
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