Former CIA Director John Brennan is set to meet with the prosecutor investigating the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, though the Obama-era spy chief has been told he is not a target of the probe, according to reports.
NBC News reported this week that John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, asked to interview Brennan as part of his investigation. A source familiar with the matter told NBC that Brennan agreed to be interviewed, and the two sides are working out a time to meet.
According to NPR, Brennan has been told that he is not a target of Durham’s investigation, which began in March 2019, as the special counsel’s probe was winding down.
Attorney General William Barr tapped Durham to conduct a sprawling review of the FBI, the CIA and other agencies’ investigative and intelligence-gathering activities related to the Trump campaign and Russia.
Durham’s work has overlapped with a Justice Department inspector general’s investigation, which found that the FBI misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) in an effort to obtain spy warrants against Carter Page, a former Trump aide.
The IG said the FBI withheld information that undermined the credibility of the Steele dossier, which investigators used in applications to the FISC.
Durham is also reportedly investigating an Intelligence Community Assessment developed in late 2016 that said Russian President Vladimir Putin meddled in the 2016 election specifically to help Donald Trump win the presidency.
Durham has chased down other aspects of the Trump-Russia probe. He and Barr reportedly discussed Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud with Italian intelligence officials during a trip to Rome last year. According to George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, Mifsud told him in April 2016 that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton that they might release before the election later that year.
The FBI opened its investigation of the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016 after an Australian diplomat, Alexander Downer, handed over a memo he wrote after a meeting in May 2016 with Papadopoulos in London. Downer claimed that Papadopoulos said that Russia might try to help the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos has denied saying that to Downer.
Trump supporters had hoped that the Durham probe would lead to criminal charges against high-profile Obama administration figures, such as Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, or former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
So far, the only indication of an active criminal investigation is against Kevin Clinesmith, a former FBI lawyer who also worked on the special counsel’s team. According to the IG report, an FBI attorney identified as Clinesmith altered an email to say that Page did not have a relationship with the CIA, when in fact he served as an “operational contact” for the spy agency for years.
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