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WERE INFILTRATORS HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 29, 2020) — In a podcast released last Thursday, January 23, former Trump campaign informal advisor George Papadopoulos claimed that an FBI confidential human source (CHS) served as “an informant embedded in the campaign” as part of the agency’s 2016 “Crossfire Hurricane” probe into alleged ties between campaign staffers and Russians.
In the podcast, the fourth of its kind since Papadopoulos launched the series last month, Papadopoulos provides details of meetings and expensive dinners he was asked to attend by various individuals working in intelligence capacities overseas.
Papadopoulos is author of “Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump” in which he identified at least a half-dozen individuals who approached him while he was working in the energy sector in Europe, with a concentration on Israel and Cyprus.
At 10:48, he stated that “Source 3,” as noted in the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report released December 9, 2019, was the embedded informant.
Papadopoulos went on to say that two intelligence agents detailed to the U.S. Embassy in London, where Papadopoulos was living and working at the time, were “asking the same questions” of him as had “Source 3” and “these same individuals…were actively spying on me on behalf of U.S. intelligence.”
Over the last year or more, Papadopoulos has said on Twitter that he and three others associated with the 2016 Trump campaign were subjects of surveillance by U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies. The inspector general’s report confirmed that the FBI placed Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, Michael T. Flynn, and Carter W. Page under surveillance as part of Crossfire, with the latter the subject of four continuous FISA warrants obtained by the FBI from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).
In total, Page’s communications were monitored between October 2016 and June 2017, well into Trump’s first term. Page was never charged with a crime, and his work as a source for the CIA was withheld from the FISC through an altered email by an FBI attorney who the inspector general referred to Justice for criminal investigation.
Also Thursday, a newly-declassified memo authored by the court’s new chief justice, Judge James Boasberg, revealed that the last two FISA warrants on Page were obtained improperly, prompting the question as to whether or not the first two were also illegitimate. The applications regarding the latter contained “material misstatements and omissions,” Boasberg wrote in his memo of January 7, 2020.
On page 268 of his report, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote that “the three Carter Page renewal applications contained a number of factual representations that were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information in the FBI’s possession at the time the applications were filed.”
While the Horowitz report states that recordings made by the CHS of his or her conversations with Papadopoulos were “consensual,” Papadopoulos has never made that claim, and his use of the phrase “spying on me” would arguably bring it into question.
The report also recounts that Papadopoulos and Flynn accepted “guilty” pleas as a result of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether or not anyone from the Trump campaign engaged in a “conspiracy” to aid such interference. Earlier this month, Flynn, through his legal team, filed documents to withdraw his plea, for which sentencing is scheduled January 28.
Following the release of the report, Papadopoulos, who spent 12 days in federal prison as part of his sentence, said he is weighing his “legal options“
Upon hearing of Flynn’s recent filing, Papadopoulos said that he and the former national security adviser’s “fates” are “intertwined” and named two individuals who approached him in 2016, Cambridge University Prof. Emeritus Stefan Halper and Maltese Prof. Joseph Mifsud, as “spies” on the campaign.
The public release of Mueller’s report last April revealed that investigators were unable to establish improper connections between anyone associated with the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.
The Horowitz report states on pages 335-336 that exculpatory evidence contained in Papadopoulos’s statements to Source 3 were omitted from subsequent Carter Page surveillance applications but in 2018 reported to the FISC by DOJ National Security Division personnel.
On May 18, 2018, President Trump tweeted, “Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president. It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a ‘hot’ Fake News story. If true – all time biggest political scandal!” At the time, The New York Times wrote of newly-outed informant Stefan Halper, “No evidence has emerged that the informant acted improperly when the F.B.I. asked for help in gathering information on the former campaign advisers, or that agents veered from the F.B.I.’s investigative guidelines and began a politically motivated inquiry, which would be illegal.”
Continuing on page 336, Horowitz wrote, “In our review, we also learned that, in 2016, the FBI had several other CHSs with either a connection to candidate Trump or a role in the Trump campaign. Some of these sources were known to and available for use by the Crossfire Hurricane team during the 2016 presidential campaign, while others were not.”
The report states on the same page:
We found no evidence that any members of the Crossfire Hurricane team ever suggested inserting this CHS into the Trump campaign to gather investigative information. SSA 1 told the OIG “that was not what we were looking to do.” SSA 1 added that the Crossfire Hurricane team was “looking for information about the predicate, and didn’t want it to be construed later … as something other than what we were really after.
The paragraph referenced footnote 473, which reads:
SSA 1 did contact the Handling Agent for this CHS after the November 8, 2016 election, and asked for “a read-out from your CHS regarding possible positions in administration.” SSA 1 told the OIG that he sent this email because he thought that the CHS might receive “a position somewhere in the administration” which would become a “sensitive matter that we would need to handle differently.” In late November 2016, the Handling Agent met with the CHS. The Handling Agent later wrote a document stating one purpose of the meeting was “to obtain insight regarding the upcoming Trump Administration following the recent U.S. Presidential elections.” We asked the members of the Crossfire Hurricane team about this statement in the document. SSA 1 told the OIG that he had never seen this document before and that this was not what he intended the Handling Agent to discuss with the CHS. Priestap told the OIG that this statement “absolutely” would have raised concerns if he had learned of it in real time. He said he was not aware that this type of information was being collected from a CHS and that he “hope[d] it was misstated [in the document], because we don’t, well, it’s not what we should be doing.” The Handling Agent told the OIG that, to him, the phrase “obtain insight” was a synonym for asking a “[p]ersonal opinion,” and that he was just making “small talk” with the CHS, the way you would expect to converse with those “tied to political circles” immediately following an election. The Handling Agent added that this information was “not investigative in nature” and was not placed into any case file. The Handling Agent’s SSA said that “because the Trump Administration … was not under any kind of investigation” by her squad, she was not concerned about this sentence when she saw it, and she understood it to be written in the general context of preparation for the CHS’s meeting with a foreign intelligence officer unrelated to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. The Handling Agent added that he was not aware of this document being shared with or accessible to the Crossfire Hurricane team, and we found no evidence that members of the Crossfire Hurricane team ever received this document.
Page 337 begins with:
We also learned about a different CHS who at one point held a position in the Trump campaign. However, by the time that the CHS told his/her Handling Agent about this involvement, the CHS was no longer part of the Trump campaign. After Crossfire Hurricane team members learned about this CHS, they reviewed the CHS’s file, but did not task the CHS as part of the investigation. The OGC Attorney told the OIG that he distinctly remembered the OGC Unit Chief “strongly advising [the Crossfire Hurricane agents] to be cautious with this particular CHS.” Case Agent 1 recalled that, because this CHS was “at one point. .. part of the campaign … we just said, hey, hands off.” Documents in the CHS’s Delta file reflect that the Handling Agent minimized contact with the CHS because of the CHS’s campaign activities, even though the CHS was no longer involved in the Trump campaign. 474
Pages 338, 339 and 340 contain significant redactions pertaining to the work of “CHSs.”
Horowitz concluded that the FBI did not launch Crossfire out of improper motivations, but Attorney General William Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is conducting a criminal investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia “collusion” narrative, immediately disagreed.
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